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Shafa’s war against obscurantism was, and remains, Iran’s war


By Amir Taheri



“…In the cold days at the end of 1978, when the Khomeinist insurrection was provoking fire and bloodshed in some of our cities, no one knew that Agha Shoja, as friends called him, was destined for a second , and entirely different career as political philosopher, social critic and nationalist activist.


But that is how history works; it is never written in advance.


The long years of exiles proved that, in his second career too, Agha Shoja was an exception. Now, he saw himself as a soldier engaged in a war that, in his opinion, had started with the Arab invasion of Iran over 14 centuries ago. In the first few years, Agha Shoja’s seemed to belong to the club of lost causes. The “Arab affliction”, as he called Islam, seemed to be triumphant and on the offensive on all fronts. Nothing could stop the self-assured Khomeinist ideology that, having seized control of the Iranian state, dreamed of world conquest in the name of its brand of Islam.


Once again, Shafa proved an exception in his foresight. He was among the first to realize that Khomeinism was a nine-day wonder, an epiphenomenon that, despite the damage it could do to Iran, would not be able to alter the fundamentals of Iranian life…


…What mattered, he would say even in the darkest days, is for those who believe in Iran, a different Iran, an ideal Iran, even an Iran that might not become reality in their life-time, is to work and work and work…


…Both among the millions of Iranians in exile and for many more inside Iran, Shafa’s message has found a resonance far beyond what his friends hoped and his foes feared.


Shafa’s war against obscurantism was, and remains, Iran’s war. In that war, a true fighter does not set time-limits; nor does he even make his participation in battle conditional on a guarantee of victory.


“Iranians have fought in this war for more than fourteen hundred years,” he would say. “They may have to fight for many more years. That fight has defined us as a nation, prevented us from losing our identity, and inspired the creation of our rich culture.”


Shafa’s message was: the fight must go on!


Agha Shoja, the fight will go on!”

For An Enlightened Iran

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