History of Political Activities and Struggles
Generally speaking, the major aspects of Ayatollah Saanei’s political strife and activity, prior to the victory of the Islamic revolution fall into the cultural and propagation area. His effective fights against injustice and oppression included promotional works, speeches and sermons, participation in mass demonstration and protest marches and publication of political manifestoes and statements.
As noted in the third volume of the Documents of the Islamic Revolution, the name and signature of Ayatollah-ul-Uzma Saanei are to be found at the foot of about thirty political and revolutionary announcements, the first of which was a letter addressed to the great leader of the revolution by the clerics of the Qom Seminary after the Imam was transferred from his place of exile in Turkey to the Holy City of Najaf in Iraq.
The letter bears the date of the month of Mehr, 1344 Hegira (September, 1965).
And the last revolutionary document bearing Ayatollah Saanei’s signature next to those of other supporters of the revolution is the statement issued in opposition to Bakhtiar’s administration on the seventeenth of Dei, 1357 Hegira (December, 30th, 1978). Of course, what appear in the Documents of the Islamic Revolution by no means exhaust the list of the statements issued during those turbulent times.
The most important statement by the Qom Seminary clerics was a strongly worded declaration entitled "Depose the Shah from ruling Iran" which was endorsed by a group of the Qom Seminary lecturers and bore the Ayatollah’s name and signature.
The subject of the declaration, like other political statements of the time, dealt with a highly sensitive and dangerous question to the extent that only the true revolutionaries and the brave disciples of Imam Khomeini had the courage to put their names to it because the Pahlavi government took a grave view of such statements and considered the action of those who endorsed them as an unpardonable offense, deserving of capital punishment.
Perhaps the consideration of the serious consequences of the declaration calling for the fall of the Shah was the reason why only very few clerics dared put their signatures to it.
The leaders of the Pahlavi regime, in an attempt to forestall the rising tide of the Islamic revolutionary movement, were hard at work to cast doubt on the question of the Imam Khomeini’s position as a Marja’ (a top religious authority) and in this way, undermine public faith in his academic, political and religious competence.
In response, a group of the seminarians, including Ayatollah Saanei, put some of their political and academic weight behind efforts to counter this conspiracy in order to establish Imam Khomieni as a proven Marja’.