The Plotted Ideological Rajavis Marriage for the Organizational Revival

The ideological marriage of Maryam and Massoud [1984] and intra-organizational obligatory divorces [1988] constitute the strategic hallmarks of the ideological revolution within Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization [MKO] or the Mojahedin Cult as notoriously entitled. Although there is a five-year interval between the two events, ideological divorces are a complementary step to the marriage of Maryam and Massoud that deteriorated the status of family life in MKO. Mehdi Abrishamchi, Maryam Rajavi’s late husband, justifies the act of Maryam’s divorce from him and her remarriage to Massoud as removing the problem of family as a barrier in the way of Maryam and Massoud. It is the first time the structure of family life is put into challenge. He says:

Maryam had to be either unquestionably promoted to a high status in the organization released of any [conjugal] obligation, just like Massoud, and be totally devoted to revolution or had to give it up. Here, the simple issue of family was creating an incongruity. [1]

The contradiction solved through the marriage of Maryam and Massoud as a necessary and inevitable phenomenon, it leads to a peaceful coexistence in the organization. According to Abrishamchi, since Maryam was being promoted to a leadership status and every decision in the organization had to be made by Maryam and Massoud together, the matrimonial obligations and restrictions prevented Maryam to be in Massoud’s company all the time. She had to deny all her obligations and tear whatever bonded her except to Massoud and the revolution. As such, her divorce and remarriage before anything was the accomplishment of a revolutionary obligation. The organization moving on a revolutionary path required Maryam’s all-time presence and thus the marriage was regarded to be totally ideological and revolutionary. As justified by Abrishamchi:

We had to accept the fact that it was probable that in the future there happened an event in which there was a one percent probability that Maryam would be unable to take part in decision making and Massoud had to solve the problems alone or by his other assistants since Maryam was obliged to her husband. In such a condition, Maryam could not take part in confrontation of all organizational challenges and could lead to losing her organizational status. However, the essentiality of being unified with her responsibility was her ever-presence in revolutionary problem solving; otherwise her status of compeer was nothing more than an ideological formality. [2]

However, it is not all the reason justifying the mechanism of Maryam’s divorce and remarriage. It really takes time to develop a true understanding of inter- organizational obligatory and ideological divorces that Abrishamchi termed as an act of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘beheading the emotions’. In fact, the ideological marriage was the first taken step that explicitly predicted what would be required of the members in near future. Niyabati writes:

On that day [Maryam’s divorce and remarriage] it was difficult to fathom what was happening. It was only a matter of a few years to generalize the divorce and remarriage model in the organization, a criterion to decide members’ degree of ideological loyalty. As Massoud had already put it, ‘If you fail to understand now, then wait. I don’t know how long, but one, five or ten years later you will come to understand’. [3]

The strategic objective of the marriage of Maryam and Massoud and finally generalization of obligatory divorces in the organization is an issue which needs to be reflected on carefully and as Rajavi had said, it took some time to be surfaced.

Another possibility that led the organization to mastermind and theatricalize such a show was to open a passage out of the encountered strategic cul-de-sac following the organization’s failure in overthrowing the Iranian regime on the one hand and to deter the possibility of any organizational split or demise on the other hand. According to Abrishamchi and Niyabati, the ideological revolution was a process of externalizing the contradictions and paradoxes in order to prevent any rapture or split in the organization. The marriage in itself was working as a mechanism of shock that could lead to externalizing the doubts and ambiguities remained long latent in the members. As described by Niyabati, the ceremony worked as a key to open those closed boxes which the leadership had failed to open up to that time:

The year 1985 is to accomplish the integrity of Mojahedin organization. The arranged regular revolutionary sessions that were held at the beginning among the top layers of the organization, at the end of the year began to encompass even the most distant spheres of the organization. The doubtful sympathizers who expected inevitable demise of their ideal organization were suddenly coming face to face with scenes that had never been imagined before. Surprisingly in these sessions, they were witnessing both men and women expressing their feelings and emotions openly before hundreds of people disregarding what would be thought of them or happen to them in the future. In such sessions, it was for the first time that some closed boxes were opened; boxes that neither wives nor husbands had ever opened for each other. [4]

Both Niyabati and Abrishamchi acknowledge the fact that ideological revolution in fact was an instrument to unlocking the concealed interior chaotic situation. It was a risk that in the most optimistic presupposition culminated in organizational schism or absolute demise if one was pessimistic. Niyabati speaks more frankly than Abrishamchi when he acknowledges the marriage as the first stage of the ideological revolution:

To unlock the boxes [minds of members] is the main theme and the first stage of ideological revolution. [5]

A larger number of MKO’s separated members especially in recent years have exclusively focused on the ideological revolution and the internal objectives Rajavi sought. In his review, Hadi Shams Haeri writes:

The so-called ideological revolution in 1985 that was much a cover for the strategic failure of the organization and a move aimed at averting accusations posed against Rajavi could not achieve all its objectives and acquit Rajavi completely. Therefore, it deemed necessary to find a scapegoat for the organizational failures and the strategic impasse. The plotted conspiracy against [Ali] Zarkesh was the continuation of the conspired [ideological] revolution in 1985. As such, we come to the conclusion that the other consequent ideological revolutions were in fact conspiracies in order to overcome the challenges at hand in every stage. [6]

A number of other former MKO members also evaluate the ideological revolution in the same way and believe that the ideological revolution was based on the mechanism of externalizing the internal contradictions within the organization and delineating a new line of relation based on an all-encompassing and blind obedience to Rajavi.

As pointed before, Niyabati and Abrishamchi have referred to the objective in their writings. It is worth noting that nearly two years before the development of the ideological revolution and obligatory divorces, Rajavi held a completely different idea on intra-organizational marriages and the concept of family. Believing to be modeling on some legal, Islamic ideological creeds, he encouraged marriage and foundation of family as a revolutionary act. In summarizing his one-year struggle in armed phase, Rajavi has said:

In organizational reports, there are cases in which those members who have lost their wives or husbands in armed operations are so emotionally depressed that have declared they prefer to remain single for ever… But this is not a perfect and revolutionary idea since the Prophet, Islamic Imams and also all the reformers and revolutionary leaders of the world have denounced it. Therefore, the organization advises such members, and also the unmarried, to get married to anybody they will if possible. According to the Holy Quran and the doctrines of our ideological leaders, we have to consider the marriage as a part of our struggle not something to be thrown away. [7]



 1. the delivered lecture by Mehdi Abrishamchi on the internal ideological revolution within MKO, [1985].

2. Ibid

3. Niyabati, Bijan. A different look at the internal ideological revolution within MKO, Khavaran publication, p.38.

4. Ibid, p.42

5. Ibid, p.44

6. Shams-e Haeri, Hadi; The swamp.

7. Summary of one-year armed struggle, p.186


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