Sunday Levity: Tell me Khomeini wasn’t a Sikh

Did the Ayatollah qualify for a PIO card?

From Hooman Majd’s excellent The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran:

Some secular Persian intellectuals … reserve a special hatred for Ayatollah Khomeini, not just because he founded the Islamic Republic, but because to them he wasn’t even Persian. Since his paternal grandfather was an India who immigrated to Iran (to the town of Khomein) in the early nineteenth century, some Iranians feel that his “tainted” blood means that a true Persian was not at the helm of the revolution, the most momentous event in their country’s modern history, good or bad. And soon after that revolution, when the time came to change the symbol of Iran on its flag from the lion and sun (which the revolutionaries incorrectly associated with the Shahs), Khomeini himself chose a symbol among those submitted by artists—a stylized “Allah”—which is opponents, at least the more race-conscious ones, continue to insist bears a remarkable similarity to the symbol of the Sikhs.

Some of Khomeini’s enemies see it as proof of a foreign hand in the revolution, perhaps British because of their influence in India, or, worse, a secret conspiracy by an Indian religion to destroy Persia, and today, when Iranian exiles and even some inside Iran want to disparage him, they sometimes refer to him as Hindi (which happened to be his grandfather’s surname but is also Persian for “Indian”). One such Iranian in Tehran, when he found out where I was staying, insisted that I take a short walk in my neighborhood past the Sikh center of Tehran, a large white compound with a garden surrounded, naturally, by high walls. “Look at the logo on the gates of the walls, and then tell me that Khomeini wasn’t a Sikh,” he said. I found that there was indeed a Sikh center, right in my neighborhood, and the emblem on the gates I have to admit, does give one pause while viewing it in the Islamic Republic, where its own emblem is ubiquitous. But after a few moments reflecting on the coincidence of its uncanny similarity to the “Allah” of Iran, I moved on, reflecting instead on my compatriots’ love of and insatiable appetite for conspiracy theories. [Hooman Majd/The Ayatollah Begs to Differ pp168-169]

Khalsa and Iran
The Khalsa and the Islamic Republic

Related Links: With thousand testicles—the Vedic-Avestan divergence; and the ensuing discussion.

One thought on “Sunday Levity: Tell me Khomeini wasn’t a Sikh”

  1. growing up in kashmir i heard that khomeini’s gramps was a kashmiri brahmin who converted to shia islam and moved to iran. now that is a conspiracy i can believe.

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