The following is the full text of the speech delivered on April 20, 2016 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the members of Islamic Students Associations on the occasion of Imam Ali’s (a.s.) birthday anniversary.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad and upon his immaculate household
Welcome, my dear ones. This is a very sweet and ideal meeting for me. The presence of youth with such energy and enthusiasm, with their good statements and cogent reasoning, and with the programs that were performed by them really turned our meeting into a sweet meeting. Today will be a memorable day for me, God willing.
First of all, I would like to say a few things about the month of Rajab. There is a spiritual dimension in every human being. Well, humans are a combination of different dimensions and aspects. There are instincts, desires and needs in humans. One dimension of their existence is spirituality which exists in every individual. This dimension is a very delicate dimension. During youth, the delicacy and transparency of this dimension is more than other stages of one’s life. If we humans can strengthen this dimension in ourselves, the other dimensions will be strengthened as well.
This does not mean that the spiritual side prevents the growth of instincts, needs, reasoning and rationality. This is not the case. All these dimensions are important in themselves. This spiritual dimension guides all these dimensions in humans provided that they are preserved and strengthened. Those malicious individuals that you see in the world – who are cruel, mean, materialistic, lustful and gluttonous and whose materialistic side has overwhelmed them – are people who have not grown this spiritual side in themselves. This dimension has been gradually weakened and ruined in them. I will tell you youth that you should benefit from the month of Rajab in order to strengthen this spiritual side in yourselves.
After the month of Rajab, the month of Sha’ban will arrive and after that, the month of Ramadan will arrive which is the spring of spirituality. As Mr. Hajj Ali Akbari pointed out, you are the manifestation of the human spring. This is because you are in the spring of your life. You should benefit from this spring of spirituality as much as you can. Remembering God, engaging in divine dhikr, saying the prayers that exist, paying attention to their meaning, reciting the Holy Quran, saying daily prayers on time, avoiding sins and showing good behavior in this month are opportunities that are available to all of us. However, you youth can benefit from these opportunities better, just like the material opportunities that are available to you.
Imagine an arena at the end of which there is a standard and something else that they have placed there. They say to you and to this humble person that each of us who arrives there sooner than the other can take it. Well, who will arrive sooner? It is clear that you are young, energetic and fresh. By the time I manage to collect myself, you have arrived there and taken it. You should know that the same is true of spirituality. In the arena of spirituality too, you can attain the goal sooner, sweeter and more comfortably and easily than others.
The enlightened individuals who lived in our own time – individuals like Ayatollah Bahjat (r.a.), for example, who was an enlightened individual: an old man who was very enlightened – were people who took care of themselves since their youth – that is to say, in the same stage that you are in your life. Those who start thinking about this self-care at a late time will make fewer achievements. And those who do not think about it at all will be deprived of that enlightenment, transparency and freshness. They will become individuals like the many individuals who live in this world. This is the first thing that I wanted to say to you.
We, we have many things to discuss with you dear youth – you call yourselves “teenagers”, but I call all of you “youth”. There are different things in different areas to be discussed with you. After all, you are the brothers and sisters of this humble person in one sense. In one sense, you are my children and in one sense, you are the grandchildren of this humble person. You are my dear ones. Both you who are present here and those who are not – the several thousand students in Islamic Students Associations and the 12 million students of the country: I am saying these stats on the basis of what that dear youth of ours said in the meeting – have the same position and role.
Well, we have many things to discuss with you. Today, I want to discuss a pivotal matter which involves a request from Students Associations and the Union of Islamic Students Associations. I would like to provide an introduction to my statements: today, we are confronted with an enemy front which is the front of arrogance and its followers and cohorts. This is clear. The pivot of this front is America and Zionism and its followers and cohorts are some of the powers and half-powers that you see in the world. We are in a clash with them. The Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic are in a clash with them. What is this clash about? In other words, in what arenas are we clashing with arrogance? If I want to count the arenas in which we are clashing with them, I can refer to ten arenas. If we sit and think more, their number will increase. Perhaps, we can refer to 20, 30 or even more. These are the arenas of contention between us and arrogance.
One issue, for example, is the issue of the independence of the country – economic, political and cultural independence. This is one of the arenas of contention between us and arrogance. It is in the nature of arrogance and arrogant powers to transgress. This transgression existed whether during the era of imperialism – which happened in the 18th and 19th centuries and which continued until the 20th century – or after that with the newer and modern forms that they established. In the present time too, they are entering the arena, on a daily basis, by updating themselves. Their goal is to transgress. They want to transgress against the interests of nations and countries, to dominate and to infiltrate. This is the goal of arrogance. Well, if a country wants to resist this goal and to defend its independence – whether its cultural, political or economic independence – a clash will naturally break out. This is one of the arenas of contention between us and arrogance.
Another arena of our contention is the issue of progress. If Iran – who has shown self-sufficiency and indifference in the face of global powers, who has not become dependent on these powers and who has not relied on them – achieves progress with such characteristics, this will become an exemplary progress, one that will become a model for other countries and nations to follow. This progress is one of the centers and arenas of our contention with arrogance. We want to achieve this progress and they want us not to achieve it.
One of the main motives that encouraged arrogant powers to deploy their forces against us on the nuclear issue was this. Now, they give other excuses, but they had a few main motives. One of those motives was the capability of a country to achieve progress in an extraordinarily sensitive arena such as the nuclear arena without reliance on America, England or any other power. This was very important to and dangerous for them and therefore, they did not want it to happen. And I am confident that if we let them, they will play games and create problems in the future on issues such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and various other scientific matters as well. Scientific, economic and civilizational progress is one of the sources of contention and conflict between the Islamic Republic and arrogance.
Another source and arena of contention is the issue of the Islamic Republic’s powerful presence in the region and in the world. This powerful presence is blocking the path of arrogance’s plots. In the present time, America has certain plots for West Asia – they themselves refer to this region as “Middle East”, but I insist that we should not use this word for reasons that I stated once [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on August 17, 2015 in meeting with members of Ahlul Bayt World Assembly and Islamic Radio and TV Union]. You witnessed that they have plans for this region in the name of “The Greater Middle East” and “The New Middle East”. These are terms that they have been repeating over and over again in the past 10, 12 years.
These plans have caused them to begin certain things, but the powerful presence of the Islamic Republic has prevented the progress of their affairs. This is one of the arenas of our contention and conflict with them.
Another arena is the issue of Palestine. Another arena is the issue of resistance. Another arena is the issue of promoting western culture and lifestyle. If a lifestyle that is accepted by westerners and Americans is promoted in a country, the outstanding personalities of that country will turn into tame lambs in the face of the policies of America, the west and other opposing powers. They insist that this happens and the Islamic Republic wants to prevent this from happening.
I have referred to some of these arenas of contention. If I want to count these arenas from memory, I might be able to count ten, but if we sit and think – both you and I – ten, twenty, thirty or even more will be added to them.
Now, we have reached the main issue that I wanted to discuss. One of the arenas of contention and conflict between the Islamic Republic and arrogance is the issue of the youth. The issue of the youth. Today, there is a soft, under-the-skin and comprehensive war between the Islamic Republic, and America, its allies and the Zionists on the issue of the youth.
A few years ago, I said to young students that they are the officers of the soft war [Supreme Leader’ speech delivered on August 6, 2012 in meeting with students]. You too are the officers of this soft war. All of you are the officers of this soft war. When youth enjoy motivation, self-confidence, the power to think, and courage, they become officers – officers of soft battles and soft wars. This is the characteristic of youth.
Now, think about an officer with an identity that the Islamic Republic likes and an officer with an identity that the enemy of the Islamic Republic likes. Compare them and see what they are like. And the point of our discussion is a soft war which is more dangerous than a hard war. Sometimes, they threaten to start a hard war, to bomb and attack us and to do such and such things against us, but the hell they will do such things! This will not happen. The ground is not prepared for them to do so and they do not have the necessary courage for that. And even if they do so, they will receive a punch in the mouth!
But a soft war is possible. Right now, there is a soft war going on. The other side is busy attacking. We too are busy. That whether we are busy defending or attacking is another issue. I believe that this side too should engage in attacking instead of defending and meanwhile, it should preserve its defense centers as well. So, there is a war going on. You can liken this soft war to a hard war and a front line of a war, just like the condition that exists in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other countries in the present time. You can liken it to these wars that are going on right now or to the war during the eight-year Sacred Defense Era in Iran.
Now, take the case of an officer who is sitting in his base or trench. This officer can have two different attitudes. He can have two different identities or definitions: he can take the form of a determined, intelligent, motivated, hopeful, diligent, thoughtful, wise, courageous and self-sacrificing individual. If there is such an officer – with such characteristics – in a base or in a trench, we can guess a particular result for that war. So, being courageous, brave, thoughtful, religious, hopeful, determined and motivated is one way of being an officer. The same officer can be imagined with another form and another identity. Imagine that he is a hopeless individual. In other words, he believes that fighting is of no use. He says to others, “You are resisting to no avail. Fighting is of no use”. He is a hopeless individual.
Another scenario is that he easily gives in. He does not have the necessary strength to fight and to resist. He might resist to some extent, but when the pressure mounts and the opposing force becomes stronger, he gives up fighting. Such is his morale. Another scenario is that he is a gullible individual. He easily trusts the enemy’s smiles and tricks or he does not understand that he is trying to deceive him at all. Well, a war is full of tricks and deceptions. All wars are like this. “War is deception” [Al-Kafi, Vol. 7, page 460]. In hard wars, one of the fundamental tasks that a powerful commander can carry out is to deceive the enemy with an operation or with a move so much so that the enemy thinks he wants to deploy his forces from a particular position, thus diverting his attention from his real intention to attack from behind. Now, imagine that this officer is gullible. He does not understand and identify the enemy’s tricks.
Another scenario is that he is a lazy individual. He wants to rest and to sleep. Or he is addicted to drugs, to lustfulness and to these computer games that have become common nowadays. I have heard that some people become addicted to such games. So, he is indifferent to his own fate and the fate of those who have pinned their hopes on him. Another scenario is that he is busy with his base instincts. For example, this officer thinks about satiating his material and animal desires. He busies himself with self-indulgence. So, this officer can be imagined with this form and this attitude as well. What will the result of the war be then? It is clear what the result will be. Therefore, the identity of officers in soft wars can be defined in two different ways.
This is one of the most difficult cases in the clash between us and our enemies.
The enemy likes our officers in soft wars to have a particular manner and the Islamic Republic likes them to have a different manner. That in the Islamic Republic the issue of attending to piety, morality and religiousness and avoiding indulgence of base desires is stressed should not be described as bias and prejudice and as they put it, dogma, reactionary attitude and the like. This is an educational method, one that originates from the definition of an officer and commander of a soft war. This is one of the arenas of our challenge with America. The Americans want our youth not to have the necessary courage, hope, motivation, dynamism and physical and mental capability. They want them to be optimistic towards the enemy and to be pessimistic towards their own commanders and front. They want our youth to be like this. This is the goal of the enemy’s radio, television and internet propaganda and of the other measures that he adopts, all of which are aimed at our youth. He wants to turn Iranian youth into such an element, one that is empty of proper faith, courage, motivation and hope. He wants to turn them into this. The Islamic Republic acts in the exact opposite manner. It wants youth to become active and influential elements.
Now, I want to speak about my request from you dear ones and children of mine: you should play your part in building your friends of the same age – the youth in high school who are as old as you are – according to this definition and to help them become such individuals. This is the responsibility of Islamic associations. Naturally, this is possible only when you have made an achievement in the area of self-edification and self-education. Thankfully, on the basis of what Mr. Hajj Ali Akbari said – I really became happy because of his report: of course I had information in this regard more or less, but he spoke about this matter very eloquently today – such a condition exists to a great extent. You should both build yourselves and others. Islamic associations are not particular to you. You are members of Islamic students associations in schools. However, Islamic students associations in universities have the same responsibility as well.
In any place, if an Islamic association – whether the ones in schools or the ones in universities – moves in the opposite direction of building Iranian youth with the identity and characteristics that were referred to and if it shows laziness in this regard, it has acted against its responsibilities and against what God wants it to do. In Dua Makarim al-Akhlaq, we make tens of requests to God, all of which are very important. One of these requests, which is very important, is, “Use me on the path for which I will be questioned on Judgment Day” [Sahifa al-Sajjadiyyah, Dua 20]. We are responsible. All of us are responsible. You are young and we are old, but all of us are responsible. Just like the elderly, youth are responsible. There is no difference. You should make efforts to do this.
Primarily, the union should try to increase the number of youth and its addressees. I am not saying that you should expand the associations, rather you should expand the scope of associations’ promotions and influence over the youth of the same age. It is possible that your addressees are not and do not want to be members of Islamic associations. There is nothing wrong with this, but associations should do something to find more addressees. They should find and influence a wide scope of addressees. This influence is the same thing that we referred to – that is to say, the formation of an Islamic identity for youth on the basis of the Islamic Republic’s ideal and definition, not on the basis of America’s and Zionist investors’ definition. This is a responsibility that you should pursue. Of course, I am aware of the union’s plans. And they have delivered a report to me in this regard. I have taken a look at it. The report was good. The plans were good too, but you should strengthen them on a daily basis. You should strengthen these plans quantitatively and qualitatively.
The country needs you. The country seriously needs these millions of school and university students whom we have in the country today. We need pious, loyal, hopeful, enthusiastic, active and innovative youth. The country needs them. The future of the country needs them. Although it is true that 37 years have passed since the life of the Islamic Republic – during which the enemy has not done a damn thing – “The enemy cannot be considered to be weak and poor” [from Gulistan of Saadi]. They have long-term plans. Just as we speak about 50 years from now – three, four years ago, I said that we have such and such plans in scientific areas for 50 years from now [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on October 9, 2013 in meeting with participants of 7th Elite Youth Conference] – the enemy too thinks about 50 years from now. He too is thinking in a determined manner to disrupt the continuation of this movement which did not remain exclusive to Iran and which was developed in other places with different forms.
We should not allow him to do so. Who should not allow him to do so? You youth. The future belongs to you. You should build yourselves in the true sense of the word and you should remain steadfast. In the future, you will go to university. Presence in a university should strengthen, not weaken, in you that religious and revolutionary identity. Some people are like this. Before going to university, they are such and such individuals, but when they go to university, they become different. This should not be the case. This identity should be strengthened. And our universities are Islamic universities. They belong to Islam. They belong to the Revolution. They belong to our revolutionary people. So, this identity should continue. You should become steadfast because this steadfastness is very important.
And your relationship with one another should not break up. In the present time, associations have certain relationships with one another. These relationships should not be cut off. You should try to preserve these relationships. You should preserve this blessed chain and these relationships whether in the present time or after going through the path of being school students and entering the path of being university students or anywhere else that you will attend. You should become the manifestation of “Those who enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience” [the Holy Quran, 103: 3]. You should preserve and hold one another like those mountaineers who tie waists to one another with a rope in difficult places. If one of them slips, he does not fall down. When they are tied to one another with a rope, if one of them slips, those who have not slipped hold and pull him up. Having a relationship is like this: “Those who enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience.” You should advise one another to take the path of truth and the path of patience. Patience means endurance, resistance and steadfastness. It means not slipping, shaking and having doubts in the face of bitter events. This is what I wanted to discuss with you.
Of course, officials have certain responsibilities as well. Fortunately, the educational system benefits from good and pious management in the present time. This is an opportunity which should be utilized. When piety rules at the top of the system, many good tasks can be carried out. These kids – these two dear children of mine and these two boys and girls – made very good statements. The points that they raised are really correct points. I recommend that the members of my own office write them down and pay attention to and pursue them. I also recommend that the educational system stress the points that they raised.
What I want to say is that some free time should be given to all students – not just Islamic associations – so that they attend to revolutionary work. They should develop educational and ethical methods – but primarily educational methods – in a way that our young students do not have to spend all their time and all their physical and mental power and energy on studying their books. Sometimes, this is the case. We see that all their physical, mental, intellectual and psychological power is dedicated to their books. They do not have any time to have fun, to do sporting activities and to carry out revolutionary tasks. Well, this is a flaw. They should do something to help our students have free time. Of course, this cannot be done in a matter of one, two days. This task requires planning. They might not be able to do it today or tomorrow, but they should pursue it so that it will be done. Children should be raised in a revolutionary manner. So, they should give them the time to do revolutionary work and thinking. This is one issue.
The second point is that they should provide opportunities for trustworthy student groups such as Islamic associations and this union. This union is a student group, one that is trustworthy and pious. Another example is Basij: Student Basij which is a trustworthy and pious group. They should provide opportunities for them so that they work. They should give them opportunities and resources. As these youth said in the meeting, they should give them both worldly and otherworldly resources. They should give them opportunities and appreciate their value.
If we wanted to engender the motives that you have with money and with promotions, this would never happen: “Not if you had spent all that is in the earth, could you have produced that affection” [The Holy Quran, 8: 63]. I too would like to say that even if we had spent all our wealth, we would not have been able to gather such enthusiasm, power, excitement and interest. This is bubbling from the inside. This is the work of God. Hearts are in the hands of God. The hearts of you and I are in the hands of God. We should appreciate the value of this. In the present time, they have entered the arena. Our youth in Islamic Students Associations, Basij and the like have entered the arena and they want to work for God, for the Revolution and for the country. Therefore, they should be given opportunities. They should be provided with worldly and otherworldly assistance.
The third point is that in some schools, revolutionary tasks meet with opposition. This was pointed out by these two dear youth as well. I too had heard about and was aware of it. Imagine that children want to plan and to prepare themselves for the 22nd of Bahman rallies, for example. However, the officials of the school create obstacles instead of helping them. Sometimes, they officially prevent them. This attitude should be confronted. Children should study their lessons and they should study them well. I am an advocate of studying, as you know. However, studying should be done alongside revolutionary work.
My dear ones, the youth of our country are inspirers of hope. The youth environment in our country is a hope-inspiring environment. This does not mean that I am not aware that there are a bunch of youth who commit some wrongdoings and who do some bad deeds. I am aware of such a thing, but in general when we take a look at the youth environment of the country, we thank Allah the Exalted. Despite all these deviating elements and all these motivations, and despite this large enemy front that is focused on our youth, we have a large society of youth that is religious, pious and revolutionary, that is interested in reliance on God and that loves spirituality. This is not a minor phenomenon, rather it is a very important and great phenomenon. Some individuals are interested in the Holy Quran, some are interested in performing itikaf, some are interested in Arbaeen rallies and some are interested in showing resistance in the arenas of the Revolution. This is very magnificent. This is very valuable. However, the enemy is opposed to all these things.
And I will tell you that the enemy of the Islamic Republic has been defeated until now. You should know that there is no doubt about this. It has been defeated until now. I have said this many times and the reason for this is in front of everyone’s eyes. This is completely clear. The reason for this is not something complicated and vague that is not understandable to anyone. The reason is that when this Revolution came into being and when the Islamic Republic was formed, they decided from the very first day to destroy this system, at least not to let it grow. However, 37 years have passed and during this time, this system has grown and become stronger on a daily basis. This tree has become strong and it has grown leaves and fruits. And the enemy has not managed to do a damn thing against it!
So, it has not managed to do anything until now. And this is not particular to our country. Take a look at the world of Islam and see what they did to revolutionary and religious youth in Lebanon and Palestine. What could they do? How many promotional and practical activities they did against Hezbollah of Lebanon! They issued threats and they put them into practice. However, Hezbollah is showing its magnificent stature in the world of Islam. Let us assume that such and such a dependent, corrupt, hollow and empty government condemns Hezbollah in such and such a manifesto and with its money and oil revenues. Well, the hell they do that! Who cares? Over there, Hezbollah is shining like a sun! Hezbollah is a source of pride for the world of Islam! The youth and members of Hezbollah of Lebanon are a source of pride for the world of Islam!
They made such an achievement that could not be achieved by the armies of three Arab countries in two, three wars. They defeated Israel. Before inflicting such a defeat on Israel, the armies of three countries – countries like Egypt and Syria, that had strong armies, and Jordan – deployed their forces against the Zionist regime at least in two wars and they were defeated in those wars. In the first war, not all countries participated, but in the second war, Egypt, Jordan and Syria deployed their armies against Israel and were defeated.
However, Hezbollah managed to defeat the Zionist regime – which had become stronger after those wars – in the course of just 33 days. Is this a small feat? Is it a minor achievement? Is it wrong to say that they are a source of pride for the world of Islam? Now, even if a piece of torn paper condemns them somewhere, who cares? The truth is growing and blossoming. The truth might face some difficulties on its path, but it will eventually become victorious. The Holy Quran says, “But the torrent bears away to foam that mounts up to the surface” [The Holy Quran, 13: 17]. Foam has an eye-catching appearance on the surface of water. When you take a look at the surface of a river, foam catches your eye when the water bubbles, but this foam does not survive: “But the torrent bears away to foam that mounts up to the surface.” The foam goes away and is destroyed: “While that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth” [ibid]. The thing that is beneficial and the thing that is a source of life for people – that is to say, flowing, clear water – will remain.
The same is true of the truth. It is the truth that will eventually become victorious. The truth will attain its goals. Of course, there are some problems on its path. The condition for achieving victory is that it does not get lost in the face of these problems. The soldiers, officers and followers of the truth should not get lost in the face of these problems. When they are not lost, when they stand firm and when they endure problems, they will produce results as they produced results during the early Islamic era and whenever there was any resistance. They produced results during our own time – which is a time of the domination of materialism – as well.
My dear ones, the truth belongs to you. You are the followers of the truth. The future belongs to you. By Allah’s favor, a day will come when thanks to your resistance, these problems will decrease in number until they will gradually go away. And then, you will stand at the peak, God willing. Send my greetings to the kids who did not come here today. They said that this meeting should be held every year. I do not know what the date should be, but this is alright with me. The more I see you, the better it will be for me.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings