Iranian Revolution | History | Shift of Power

Iranian Revolution


The story starts from the 1960s and 1970s. In Iran, Reza Shah, and in Saudi Arabia, Shah Faisal was ruling. They had a good relation. Reza told shah to secularize his country. Giving jobs, land reform, and give rights to women. But he said in response that Iran being an Islamic country will face a difficult situation in the future with such secularism. But Reza pays no heed. He starts a reform with the white revolution. He started to buy lands from the feudal and sold them to the poor. Education was compulsory for everyone. Given the importance to women even they can be a judge. He was preparing another middle class who stay faithful to the government by making feudal families powerless. But all this headed the country to modernization and secularism. Modernization was part of the white revolution.

This revolution was a headache for two groups. One who were thinking Iran as a religious and Islamic country and this group were leading by Ayatollah Khomeini, second were those patriots and communists were thinking that shah government has a lot of corruption and was led by Ali Shariati. The revenue-generating from the Iranian oils industry has major profit to rich peoples. These Iranian communists were inspired by Russian Revolution and want a revolution in Iran too. Besides, modern and secular; they were treating political opposition strictly. They were torturing and were killing them. Forceful modernization and the difference between rich and poor were igniting the people against Shah. People were becoming more rebellious and as a result, the strength of the two groups was increasing. The revolution also paved the way for the cold war in the whole Middle East.

Iranian Revolution 1979

Khomeini during his exile was living in Najaf, Iraq. He was contently addressing people and was also recording audiotapes that were listened to by the people in Iran. Later, in January 1978, the Government of Iran had provoked slanderous remarks against Khomeini. This act ignites the spray of revolution in thousand of Madrassah students. They took the streets and started protesting against the Shah regimes. Thousands of more people start following most of them were unemployed immigrants from the countryside. The Shah was weakened by cancer and was shocked up by the sudden flood of the people against him. Many people were killed by the government’s force. The country was dropped into all-out chaos. Thus, despite all government efforts, violence had begun in the country and each casualty was fueling the protest.

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The secular left and the religious right were protesting under the cloak of Shiia Islam and ignited by the revolution with the slogans of Allah u Akbar. That was heard all across the country. The violence continued to spread. On September 8, the regime imposed martial law. The military start killing dozens of people and even thousands. Over time, the revolution took fire, and government workers start protesting. On October 31, the oil industry was brought to halt. In December, the number of protesters was in thousands in the street of Tehran alone. Khomeini was addressing the people first from Iraq and after 1978 from France demanding Shah’s resignation.

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January 1979, describes what the people and Khomeini were demanding. The Shah and his family fled from Iran. During Shah’s absence, Shahpur Bakhtiar was the Prime Minister but he was unable to tangle the situation properly. He was incapable of compromising with neither with former National Front Colleague nor with Khomeini. Finally, when Khomeini arrived in Tehran on February 1, millions of people were standing to his welcome. After ten days of Khomeini’s arrival at Tehran, Iran’s armed forces declared their neutrality. The Shah’s regime has vanished and Bakhtiar went into exile to France.

Economic and Political Context of the Iranian Revolution

The rich were getting richer that led to the 1963 white revolution of Shah started getting failed. The other reasons are political and economic factors. Surprisingly, the 1979 revolution was not Islamic initially. The political and economic conditions forced people to come out of their houses. In fact, The white revolution of Shah has created great economic uncertainty. Apart from that, he also uses SAVAK (Intelligence Agency) against the political figures to hold their voices. The white revolution satisfied none but instead angered a majority of the population. Religious and secular together protested in 1963 and 1975. The 1979 revolution too was consisted of both but it is still considered Islamic.

The Iranian revolution is intricately linked with Ayatollah Khomeini. The secular force in favor of democracy, political freedom, independence, and social justice started the revolution. So what was the reason that made Iranian Revolution as Islamic Revolution? Scholars failed to differentiate between Shah’s removal and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran as separate events. Ali Shariati was leading the left-wing (communist group). The revolution was labeled as the Islamic revolution because of the disunity of the Iranian left and also due to the death of Ali Shariati overshadowed by Khomeini Islamic Revolution.


On April 1, Khomeini declared Iran an Islamic republic. Left-wing, nationalists, and other allies were positioned to the new regime. Shift from secularism to conservative social values. Family Protection Act of 1967 was amended in 1975, which gives rights to women in marriages. A committee of selected people was patrolling around the streets enforcing the Islamic codes of dressing and give justice to demoralize the enemies. The religious militia was formed by Khomeini to enforce the Islamic system all over the country.

The violence and brutality often exceed the Shah’s time. The clergy and militia both were loyal to Khomeini and their every act was to suppress western ways of living and their culture. Much Western-educated elite fled the country. In November 1979, 66 hostages at the US embassy were arrested by the Iranian protester. The Assembly was mostly dominated by clergy and they put a new referendum and were approved. It created a religious government that was based on Khomeini’s vision of velayat-e-faqih (governance of the jurist) and gave all powers to rahbar or leader. Khomeini himself was the first rahbar. 


To sum up the above discussion, the Iranian revolution of 1979 was the response to White Revolution. Additionally, it also gives way to the cold war that is still going between Iran and Saudi Arabia and in the whole Middle East. Moreover, that very revolution changes the whole structure of the country. Otherwise, Iran will not be the Islamic Republic.

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