Book Review:

Leader Mosque

The oral history of Keramat Mosque

Malihe Kamaledin
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: "Leader Mosque" is the title of the book on the oral history of the Keramat Mosque, which has been prepared in the Oral History Unit of the Cultural Front of the Islamic Revolution. The research and interviews of this work were conducted by Ahmad Asgari, Seyed Mohammad Amir Ahmadi Tabatabai, and Hossein Soltani and were written by Morteza Ansarizadeh. This is the first book about the mosques of the revolution and was published in 2020 by Rahyar Publications.

     As the mosques have been at the center of many social and political developments in in Iran, and it has made a unique and reciprocal relationship between the Islamic Revolution and mosques. Meanwhile, one of the mosques that illuminate the path of revolutionary growth from several decades before the Islamic Revolution is the Keramat Mosque in Mashhad. At a time before the revolution, the supreme leader of the revolution (Ayatollah Khamenei) was the Imam of the congregation for the mosque, which is located near the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), and this makes it a distinguished case in many ways. As stated in the book's preface: "Ayatollah Khamenei is the connecting point of all seemingly different movements that have achieved unity and prosperity under the flag of revolutionary Islam and the heavy pressure of rival schools and methods."

       The leader Mosque book is a report on the formation and activities of the Keramat Mosque, which in addition to reading thousands of documents, there is the text of interviews with more than seventy people related to this mosque. These interviews started in 2009 and its writing has started in early 2016. The book consists of four general chapters with the titles: "From the Association and Center to Keramat Mosque", "The Keramat Mosque in the Field of Educational Ideological Struggle", "Collection of the Keramat in the Field of Social and Political Activities" and" The Karamat Mosque in the Field of Political Struggle" and they are several subsets for each chapter.

        Since the formation of Keramat Mosque was not a sudden event, it can be said that this mosque is the result of a series of activities and developments that different aspects of this formation with the analysis of role-making and the experiences of many people and their views on social and political arenas have been studied in the first chapter of the book. In this chapter, first, the social conditions of Mashhad in the years before and after 1941 are mentioned and then a brief look at the Center for the Publication of Islamic Facts and the Association of the Followers of the Qur'an. In the continuation of this chapter, Haj Mahmoud Keramat is introduced as a humble founder and then there are oral narrations about how Keramat's house was changed to Keramat building and then Keramat Mosque.

      Due to the type of popular activities that led to the victory of the Islamic Revolution and its difference from the traditional political patterns, some mosques had become a base for the continuation of the movement. The approach of the revolutionaries, which was based on educating the people by expressing religious teachings and Islamic political thought, made this method of struggle, in addition to being effective, led to less violence and human costs. In the second chapter of the book, a piece of complete information is given about this intellectual struggle and the pivotal role of Ayatollah Khamenei and his attitude towards the mechanism of formation of social changes in the revolutionary struggles. After reviewing his background, this chapter has discussed how he settled in the Keramat Mosque, congregational prayers and lectures that were held in this mosque, and his efforts to make a stream in the propaganda.

       The public reception of Ayatollah Khamenei's programs at the Keramat Mosque and the opposition to his activities there, as well as the SAVAK's intolerance against revolutionary movement in this mosque due to his presence and finally the ban on his prayer in that mosque, are the cases mentioned in the second chapter. In the continuation of this chapter, it is discussed about Marvi Samavarchi as the Imam of the congregation for this mosque as well as Qur'an sessions and special programs.

        Some prominent members of the Quran Association, including the late Abdul Reza Ghanian, engage in a range of social and political activities on the grounds that religiosity is not achieved through individual worship alone. Thinking that religiosity requires a sense of responsibility towards others and society, these people set up Alavi High School, Ayatollah Boroujerdi Clinic, Imam Hassan Askari Charity Center, and other similar centers. These activities had both social and public benefit dimensions and were considered as a kind of political propaganda that was generally formed through designing the Keramat Mosque as a coordination base. In the third chapter of the book, the role of this mosque as a place for the continuation of communication between people separated from the association is explained in detail.

        Since the set of activities of Keramat Mosque mentioned in the second and third chapters of the book were not interpreted in the category of political activities, the author in the fourth chapter of the book deals with aspects and activities of this mosque that explicitly pursued political goals including the struggle against the Pahlavi government and helping the victory and stabilization of the Islamic Revolution as a priority. The issues covered in Chapter 4 include: "Before the protests to be publicized, the midst of the revolution and preventing the deviation of the method of struggle, the focus on the ways of demonstrations, the provision and distribution of banned books and leaflets, and the formation of the Revolutionary Committee in Keramat Mosque."

       The final parts of the book are dedicated to a chronology of the Keramat Mosque from 1954, that is, the beginning of the prayer sessions of Abdolreza Ghanian until the 12th of Bahman 1979, when the Revolutionary Committee was formed in this mosque. After that, there is a brief introduction of the narrators, pictures and documents, and finally a list of people and places at the end of the book.

This book has been published with 262 pages, in the size A5, and at the price of 50,000 Toman (Iranian currency) and is available for the interested reader.



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