On January 21, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed an open letter to Western youth on his website, urging them to study Islam first hand instead of believing the “resentments and prejudices” broadcasted by Western media.
“I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
The letter has been written and published at a very important time in the history of Islam. This is the first time a senior Islamic cleric has directly talked to the Western youth about his religion. Ayatollah Khamenei issued the letter two weeks after the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo that brought out a new wave of Islamophobia in the European countries. This is the time of anti-Islamization movements gaining more power and spreading hatred of Islam in the West. That’s why he decided to address the issue by reaching out to the Western youth and urging them to study the doctrines of Islam directly from the Qur’an and Hadith.
“I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West,” the letter said.
The letter addressed the Western youth to present a logical solution for reaching a new mutual understanding between West and East not only about Islam, but also about the hatred between West and East and its roots. It is not an attempt to preach a specific ideology. That’s why he asks the Western youth to study the religion directly from the Qur’an of the Muslims and the teachings of the Prophet of Islam. Rather it’s an invitation to think logically to reject the misinterpretations of Islam introduced by the terrorists and Western media.
“Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies,” he added.
The letter was published in six languages and has been circulating via social media. Western youth use the hashtag #letter4u to post their thoughts and feelings about the letter. There has been mixed feelings expressed by the youths toward the letter, but the majority supported the message and acknowledged the underlying problem of prejudice and hatred toward Muslims by showing positive attitudes to address these issues.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s letter represents a new approach for smoothing the path of dialogue between Muslims and the West. He addressed the younger generations of Europe and North America because Islam is presented to them as an evil. Now, it’s up to them to think and act in order to fight extremism on the one hand, and bigotry towards religions on the other hand.