Leader's Address to MPs

The following is an excerpt of the speech delivered on June 24, 2009 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution to members of the 8th Majlis.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I would like to welcome the honorable brothers and sisters. I hope this new parliamentary term will be auspicious for all of you.

We are in the holy month of Rajab. Improving our character and purging our hearts of unawareness and darkness are the first things that we have to take into consideration in Rajab, in Sha'ban, and, more importantly, in Ramadan. This is an essential principle. All the events and conflicts of human life, of appointing prophets, and of the divine prophets' social, political, and military battles against the enemies of God are a preliminary step to enable man to be happy when crossing the inevitable line - namely, the line between material life and life after death. All the hardships, victories, and defeats that the divine prophets went through are a preliminary step to prevent man from feeling regretful when crossing the line between life and death. We have been advised to behave well, observe the [divine] rules, fight, and worship God only to let us live our life in the best possible way and achieve the best outcome before we leave this world. Everything is in the hereafter. We are predestined to go there, and this world is only a preliminary step. We must try to make the best of our opportunities in this world. Do not let any advantages slip out of your hands. Do not let any assets go to waste.

The Quranic term "loss" in the ayah "Surely man is in loss" [the Holy Quran, 103: 2] means losing one's assets. All of us are constantly losing our asset. What is our asset? It is our life. We are losing this asset each and every moment. Compared to what we had yesterday, we have lost one more portion of this asset today. This asset is like a candle that we are burning each and every moment of our life. It is dwindling away. But the important point is: What do we get instead? "Surely man is in loss, except those who believe and do good, and exhort one another to Truth, and exhort one another to patience." [The Holy Quran, 103: 2-3] If we gain faith and do good deeds, we will still lose our asset, but we will acquire a better asset instead. Of course exhorting one another to Truth and to patience is the most important portion of good deeds. This is analogous to spending your money in a marketplace. When you want to walk out of the marketplace, you have already spent your money, but what is important is what you bought with your money. You should not leave the marketplace empty-handed. The month of Rajab is a good opportunity. It is a month for dua, reliance on God, remembrance of God, and asking Him for forgiveness. We should constantly ask God for forgiveness. No one should think they do not need to do this. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) said, "Such darkness enters my heart that I ask God for forgiveness seventy times a day." Undoubtedly, even the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) used to ask God for forgiveness many times a day. Everybody should ask God for forgiveness. This is especially true for those of us who are immersed in material activities and the material world. Repenting can purge us of part of this engagement with the material world. Rajab is a month for repenting. By Allah's grace, we will make the most of this opportunity. I congratulate you on the arrival of the month of Rajab. I hope this month will be auspicious for all of us. I hope we will have finished part of our responsibilities by the end of this month and the beginning of Sha'ban.

I deem it necessary to express my gratitude to the esteemed members of the Majlis for their kind support for my humble statements in the Friday prayer sermons. It is good to have unity when declaring the essential positions in the country, especially when you see that there are enemies who are carefully watching us to find a weakness and hesitation in order to grab the opportunity for an immediate attack. In such cases, solidarity becomes especially important and necessary.

I would like to raise a few points regarding the Majlis. Of course you already know these points, but I want to emphasize them. It is good to listen to someone speak about something although you already know it - it has a special effect. Thankfully, the eighth Majlis is highly qualified in terms of its expertise, knowledge, and intellectual characteristics. I am happy about this, and I feel proud.

The first point is that the Majlis is the thinking branch of the government. Your thoughts reveal themselves in the form of laws, and then they circulate in the country. First, you should see how this thinking branch relates to the essential values of the Revolution - after all, the Majlis is an offshoot of the strong tree of the Revolution. Then you should see how it relates to the problems of the country and the needs of the people. You should always keep these two requirements in mind. You should keep our starting point and destination in mind. The origin and the goal must be clear to you. Then the laws you pass will be appropriate, valid, and efficient. If the first requirement is not met, the laws will be like a branch severed from the tree of the Revolution, and will lose their validity. And if the second requirement is not fulfilled, the laws will be valid but will lack popularity. If the laws are not harmonious with the urgent and current demands of society and the long-term needs of the people, then they will lack public acceptance depending on the number of their shortcomings regarding the second requirement. This is one of the points that you should keep in mind.

You said that you pay attention to the policies outlined in Article 44 of the Constitution. That is a yardstick. If we accept the policies outlined in Article 44 of the Constitution, we should avoid passing laws that are inconsistent with these policies. On a larger scale, the same principle is true of the values and principles of the Revolution. You should not forget to review the basic principles of the Revolution. It is not right to say that one doubts the ideas of Imam Khomeini (r.a.). Of course they do not use the word "doubt", but their statements signify the same thing. Imam Khomeini's testament and the collection of his speeches contain the basic principles of our Revolution. Imam Khomeini (r.a.) was a great, knowledgeable man. You should always keep these points in mind. His words should be the basis of our laws, positions, and movement. Different people may interpret his words in different ways - nothing is wrong with this. But our goals and decisions should be based on Imam Khomeini's ideas.

The next point is that the law wields authority. You exert authority in our society through the law. Therefore, the law gives rise to compulsion. There is no debate about this. That is to say, the people - including the members of the Majlis - are under the authority of the law. That is an obvious aspect of the law. The cultural and moral effect of the law on society is another aspect of the law. Any law you pass - even on paper - is related to cultural issues. For instance, an economic law has a direct or indirect cultural and moral effect on the people in society.

"Then evil was the end of those who did evil." [The Holy Quran, 30: 10] When we do something bad, it affects our heart, our behavior, and even our interpretations and assumptions. When we are emotionally dependant on something, this emotional dependence affects our mentality. Our actions and behavior interact with our moral principles. The same is true of the law. Any law you pass - irrespective of whether it is related to road transportation and customs or to foreign policy - will have moral and cultural implications for society. You should pay attention to this aspect of the law. It is good to pass a law that strengthens the spirit of law-obedience among the people. On the contrary, it is not acceptable to pass a law that gives rise to a public tendency to ignore and violate the law, even if this effect is an indirect one. If a law strengthens the spirit of frugality among the people, it is a good law. On the contrary, if a law strengthens the spirit of extravagance among the people, it is a bad law. If a law strengthens the spirit of piety among the people, it is a good law. But if it strengthens the spirit of moral degeneration, it is a bad law. You should pay attention to this aspect of the law - that is, the interactive relationship between legislation and morality. These matters are of paramount importance.

Of course this is the theoretical aspect of the issue. You should pay attention to the practical aspect of legislation as well. That is to say, when you want to take Islamic ethics into account in your legislation, you should practically engage in ethical sessions. Sometimes people feel empty in the middle of their work. In the thick of executive work, it is sometimes necessary to temporarily engage in spirituality. I used to draw an analogy with rainwater, which is pure in the beginning, but then it is contaminated in ponds, lakes, and seas. After it is contaminated, it evaporates and goes up into the sky. Thus, it becomes pure rainwater again. We should go through the same process. We should sometimes make a journey to the world spirituality and purify ourselves. We really need this spiritual journey. Those of us who shoulder heavier responsibilities need spirituality more.

One of the best conventions introduced by the Majlis is to listen to recitations of the Holy Quran before official parliamentary sessions begin. When Dr. Haddad Adel was the Speaker of the Majlis, the recited verses were also translated into Farsi, which was another good convention. I do not know whether the translation of the verses is still read to the MPs or not. The Quran must not be reduced to a superficial recitation. We must listen to the recited verses and benefit from them. We must immerse our hearts in the recitation. Each word of the Quran can give rise to a revolution in our hearts - of course for those of us who read the Quran regularly. My experience tells me that someone who does not read the Quran regularly will not benefit much from it. "Which of you has it strengthened in faith?" [The Holy Quran, 9: 124] Whenever a new verse was revealed to the Prophet (s.w.a.), the hypocrites used to say, "Did that increase your faith?" They did not understand the Quran. When people immerse themselves in the Quran, they will realize that they can benefit from every word of it. Each word of the Quran will enlighten their hearts. You should pay close attention to the Quran and the recitations of it, especially because those MPs who need the Farsi translation can now listen to the translation of the verses recited in the Majlis. We need to listen to lectures on morality, which might contain things what we already know. As I said, listening to someone talk about what we already know has a special effect. There are many things that we know, but we fail to keep them in mind. When someone talks about the realities we already know, we are re-awakened to them.

The next point that I would like to discuss is that the Majlis is a place for debates. The intellectual level of the debates is generally high because the MPs enjoy high levels of intellectual capabilities and knowledge. Different views are expressed, and the MPs consult one another because the Majlis is a place for consultation. I just want to advise you to increase your tolerance for the opposing views expressed in the Majlis. Nothing will happen if an opposing view is expressed. You should just listen to the opposing view and try to refute it through logical reasoning. If you do not have enough time to refute the opposing view or respond to it, you should not vote and take action. If you want to clarify something for your friend, do it in a calm manner. Let others express their views completely. Unfortunately, since the beginning we have had the same problem: Some MPs aggressively raise their voice while someone is speaking at the podium. I remember when I was the president, I went to the Majlis to deliver a lecture. It was a long and detailed lecture. One of the MPs, who was a friend of mine, had different political views. As you know, the reactions were a little strong at that time. In the middle of my lecture, he started speaking in a loud voice from the back of the Majlis. I told him that I would just express my own views and that he might choose not to accept them. He stopped talking. But he interrupted me several times again. I saw him later on, and asked him why he was behaving like that on that day. I told him he should have just listened to my views and expressed his own views in front of the Majlis after my lecture. I told him I was the president and that after me it was the MPs who speak as much as they wished. He said, "No, the point is that when you talk, you may influence some people. That was what I wanted to prevent!" That may be a good technique, but I believe it is not appropriate for the Majlis, which is a place where the elites of the Islamic community meet.

When I was a seminarian, I was used to this kind of arguing. When arguing, seminarians keep interrupting each other. In other words, when a seminarian is in the middle of his argument, another seminarian interrupts and presents a counterargument, who is in turn interrupted by the first seminarian. And the arguments do not often end in a conclusion. Have you heard that sometimes seminarians throw their books at each other when arguing? This is rooted in the fact that they keep interrupting one another. But years ago, seminarians gradually developed a tendency to listen to the person who is arguing until he is finished with his argument. They learnt to first listen to the arguments that might appear to be wrong, false, and weak, and then start presenting their own arguments and counterarguments. I have noticed that some of our friends have preserved their old seminarian tendencies. You listen to their statements until they are finished. But when you start speaking, they keep interrupting and presenting their counterarguments. This kind of arguing is not appropriate for parliamentary sessions.

Therefore, you should pay attention to this point. You should increase your tolerance in parliamentary debates and try to avoid arguments that are rooted in obstinacy. Of course this is easier said than done. I admit that it is hard to put this into practice. Sometimes people may express certain views out of obstinacy and aggression or to oppose a particular person, movement, or group. That is not an appropriate thing to do. That is to say, the views that are expressed should not be rooted in such things as obstinacy or personal and partisan muscle-flexing. You should listen to the statements of all MPs even if they do not belong to your movement, your group, or your front. When you see what they are saying is right, "Then follow the best of it." [The Holy Quran, 39: 18] The Quran advises us to "listen to the Word, then follow the best of it." We should listen to different arguments, and then accept whatever that is good - even if the good arguments are presented by the people we do not like or believe in. That would be an ideal debate. On the contrary, it is not right to reject someone's arguments out of hand just because he or she belongs to the opposition party. I believe this matter is of paramount importance. You should act in a scholarly and logical manner. You should debate in a moral and wholesome manner. Your arguments should not be out of obstinacy. You should be able to tolerate opposing views.

The next point is that you are going to manage the country during the next three years with the cooperation of the new administration. You will pass laws, and the administration will put them into practice. You should work together. Base you relationship on leniency and the spirit of cooperation. Of course in my meetings with the esteemed members of the administration, I have given some warnings to the administration regarding this cooperation. But I want to tell you that you should generally cooperate with the administration. The administration officials are out in the field. Just like you, I have the experience of being an MP. I have also served the executive branch. I know what it means to be in the Majlis and in the administration. Members of the Majlis expect the administration to practice the laws they pass because they believe their laws are the outcome of their efforts. This is a legitimate expectation. But the administration also has its own legitimate arguments. Administration officials say they have to shoulder numerous heavy responsibilities, and they expect the Majlis to help them when they face difficulty handling the executive problems. They expect the Majlis to be lenient sometimes.

Executive work is difficult. I remember that different people used to visit Imam Khomeini (r.a.). They used to tell him about various problems. There are always many problems in different parts of the country, and there were a lot of problems at that time too. They used to complain to Imam Khomeini (r.a.) about the problems. He used to listen to their complaints and would tell them that it was hard to handle the problems. That is a fact. It is one thing to plan things on paper and to draw different charts and graphs, but it is quite another thing to work out in the field. The same thing that looks so easy on paper is very difficult to practice in the real world.

During the war, they used to bring war maps into my room. The officials in charge of military affairs also used to gather there. The commanders used to explain the operation plan. I sometimes heard our friends say, "Oh, this is easy." But a single match stick on the map represented a ten-kilometer advance with numerous casualties. The match stick on the map might have suggested there was nothing to the advance, but in reality it was very difficult. What I am trying to say is that things are difficult out in the field. You should be lenient with the administration.

You should avoid causing friction in the Majlis. The people do not at all like to see tension. Some parliamentary terms were full of frictions, and these frictions in the parliament received highly negative feedback from the people. The people do not at all like such tensions. Whenever the people tuned their radio to the parliamentary station, they had to listen to a quarrel or a sarcastic comment. The people do not like such things. They want the managers of their country to treat each other kindly. They want us to cooperate and be friendly to each other. This does not mean that we should ignore the sins we commit and the mistake we make. Such an attitude is not good at all. It goes against our values. But we should treat each other in a friendly, kind, brotherly, and religiously appropriate fashion.

My speech is becoming too long, but respect for the law is another point that I would like to mention. We really need to consider what the law says as the last word on all national issues. If we observe the law, we will really facilitate the life of the people. We can draw an analogy with the function of traffic lights at crossroads. In this particular case, lack of respect for traffic regulations can cause a lot of problems. Imagine that the traffic lights go red as soon as you reach a crossroads. Naturally, it is difficult to tolerate this because you have to stop there for some time. But if you decide to violate the regulations for the sake of your own comfort, you will get tens of other cars into trouble. You will also cause problems for the traffic warden who is responsible for directing the traffic. In order to prevent all these problems, one should just observe the traffic regulations. This is just an obvious example [of the importance of the law] that people encounter every day, so they often observe the traffic laws. This is true of all laws. If the law is observed, things will be facilitated. If people do not respect the law, everything will be hampered. Of course everybody will anyway present a justification for their illegal action. For instance, some people will claim that their personal rights have been violated because of the law. Different people will present different excuses, but these justifications are not acceptable.

If violation of the law becomes the norm, things will be hampered. To extend the analogy, there will be a traffic jam. The rights of the people will be trampled upon. Everybody should observe the law. Like other things, respect for the law should be promoted as a cultural norm by the elites of society. If you - as elites of our society - do not observe the law, you should not expect ordinary citizens to respect the law. We should not claim to be elites - political and scientific elites - and, at the same time, ignore the law.

I have emphasized the necessity of respecting the law in the case of the recent events, and I will keep emphasizing this point. That is to say, we will not go one single step beyond the laws of the country and the Islamic Republic. Undoubtedly, under no circumstances will the government or the people give in to coercion. The opposite end of respecting the law is dictatorship. Our friends definitely know - and they should know if they do not already - that all of us have an underlying tendency towards dictatorship. You should suppress this tendency. As I said, this inherent tendency should be curbed through religious faith and the law. If we do not do something about it, it will be difficult to find a cure. If the law is pushed aside, the spirit of dictatorship will gradually manifest itself. That is how dictatorship develops in different societies.

The last point is that the esteemed MPs should take the entire country into account when passing legislation. I have repeatedly emphasized this point before. Of course they should definitely take the interests of their own constituency into consideration. There is no doubt about this. However, those interests should be viewed against the background of national interests. It is not good for an MP from a constituency in the eastern part of the country to work for his own constituency, even if it entails acting against the interests of the constituencies in the western part of the country. Similarly, it is not good for an MP from a constituency in the western part of the country to further the interests of his own constituency, although it involves working against the interests of the constituencies in the eastern part of the country. Representing a certain constituency only means that you are more familiar with the needs of your constituency and that you will take those needs into account when passing laws. Representing a certain constituency does not mean that should pass laws only for your own constituency. The laws you pass are for the entire country.

You should also pay attention to the issue of extravagance. Extravagant expenditures and trips are among the things that some of the esteemed MPs tell me about verbally or in writing. You should pay attention to this point. You should not let the Majlis lose its piety. You should pay a lot of attention to this point.

I hope Allah the Exalted will help all of us succeed in what satisfies Him. Hopefully, our position of responsibility will not be an albatross around our neck, and it will help us achieve success and get close to Allah the Exalted. I hope what we do will be acceptable to the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake), and I hope his prayers will benefit us. By Allah's grace, the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) and our martyrs will be satisfied with us.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings