Leader’s Address to Officials in Charge of Hajj Affairs

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on October 26, 2009 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with the officials in charge of hajj affairs.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I am truly thankful to Allah the Exalted who gave me the opportunity to see the hajj ceremonies once again.

The hajj should be viewed as a blessing and a great divine opportunity. This is true of all kinds of worshiping. Daily prayers are also an opportunity and a blessing. If daily prayers had not been declared as obligatory, we might have sunk into the sea of pure unawareness. Praying is a great blessing that provides us with the opportunity to talk to God and humbly prostrate before him several times a day. The same is true of the hajj. Being international is the advantage of the hajj over other Islamic obligations. During the hajj, solemn praying is manifested in an international form. All Muslims need solemn praying and humility before God. In spite of all their racial, linguistic, and cultural differences, all Muslims engage in solemn and humble praying during the hajj ceremonies. This is an extraordinary phenomenon, but we fail to realize its greatness and importance appropriately because we are used to it. During the hajj, all Muslims assemble in one place, focus their attention on the same thing, and prostrate before the same center. That is how we should view the hajj. We should view it as an opportunity.

If we consider the hajj as an opportunity, then we will have a better view of our obligations and will pay more attention to them. The hajj provides you with the opportunity to worship God near His House [the Ka'bah] along with other Muslims. This is the first opportunity. Considering the hajj as an opportunity requires that we do not at all lose this opportunity. It is a pity to think about petty material concerns instead of engaging in dhikr and remembrance of God when one visits Mecca, Medina, and the shrines of the infallible Imams (a.s.), the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), the Prophet's companions, the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud, and other Islamic figures of history. During the hajj, we should not waste our time in marketplaces or on visiting different places to do the petty things that we constantly do in our life. Every minute and every hour of the hajj is an extremely valuable opportunity, and we should not spend them on the petty everyday activities and untimely entertainment that we engage in at our own marketplaces and in different other places. In Mecca and Medina, we should think of increasing our faith, our spiritual qualities, and our humility before God. This is the first step we should take.

The opportunity to establish a relationship with the world of Islam is another manifestation of this great opportunity. It is ordinary citizens who make up the world, not politicians, not bullying commanders, and not the arrogant powers of the world. Sometimes you hear the arrogant powers attribute the output of their corrupt minds to the global community. They say the global community wants this or that! The global community means billions of ordinary people. The same is true of the Islamic Ummah. The Islamic Ummah is not the individuals who have used various means to dominate a portion of the world of Islam. It is the ordinary members of the world of Islam who make up the Islamic Ummah. It is the willpower of these ordinary members that can cause great changes. It is the movement of these ordinary citizens that can promote Islamic values in the world. Each year during the hajj, hajj pilgrims encounter a large number of these ordinary members of the Islamic Ummah as well as the glory of the world of Islam. This is an opportunity, and it should be appreciated.

How should we appreciate this opportunity? There are various ways to do that. For example, through their behavior and actions, the Iranian Muslims - who live under the flag of Islam and the Islamic Republic - should introduce the kind of Islam promoted by the Islamic Republic. They should show how Islamic education has affected them. This is one of the easiest ways to appreciate this opportunity.

In Masjid al-Haram, in Masjid al-Nabawi, in Baqi', and at the shrines of the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud as well as in Mena and Arafat, hajj pilgrims should show their Islamic education through their behavior. They should show their Quranic education. They should show that they are humble and kind, and that they are not the kind of people to insult other people. Their behavior should show that they want unity, not discord. Sunni Muslims have narrated many traditions about the great divine rewards promised for participating in congregational prayers. In one tradition [attributed to Imam Sadiq], participating in congregational prayers in Masjid al-Haram has been equated with saying one's prayers led by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). What is the meaning of this tradition? Obviously, Imam Sadiq would not have compared the prayers led by an ordinary prayer leader with the prayers led by the Prophet (s.w.a.). What is the meaning of this tradition? It highlights the importance of unity. You should show unity in practice.

For the same reason, our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) advised all of us and all Iranian hajj pilgrims to participate in the congregational prayers held in Masjid al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabawi. You should participate in these congregational prayers because they are a manifestation of unity. When other people are saying their prayers in congregational prayers, Iranian pilgrims should not be carrying their luggage to their hotel rooms. Such things are harmful. Behavior that shows one's Islamic education is one of the most important things [during the hajj]. Even if you do not know Arabic and do not speak to other pilgrims, the mere fact that you behave politely, observe the standards of hygiene, and engage in dhikr and dua as an Iranian pilgrim is like a great effort to promote Islam, which is more important than many kinds of publicity efforts. This great congregation of believers engage in solemn praying, repentance, and weeping. This is itself a kind of publicity for Islam.

Participating in the ceremonies to express your hatred towards polytheism is itself great publicity for Islam, which shows that you have accepted the hajj in its totality. The hajj is the manifestation of monotheism. Monotheism consists of two elements: Allah and no god but Allah. Monotheism includes proving God's Wilayat and rejecting non-divine Wilayat - that is, renouncing polytheism.

Regarding the hajj, there is another point that I would like to discuss: The great caravan of the Iranian pilgrims - which is a source of honor for the Islamic Republic - should try to address the current needs of the Islamic Ummah. We should identify the needs of the Islamic Ummah each year. Islamic unity has been one of the important needs of the Islamic Ummah throughout the past few years. One can feel that unity among different Islamic denominations is one of the current needs. You should consider what the enemies of the world of Islam are doing in order to create a split in the Islamic Ummah. You should consider how much money they are spending in order to line up different groups of Muslims against one another. It is obvious that one of the goals behind the current bloody events is to indiscriminately kill or disable Muslims. You saw one example of these events in Iraq yesterday, and many similar events are currently happening in Pakistan and other parts of the world. Fomenting discord between Shia and Sunni Muslims is one important goal behind these events.

For many consecutive centuries, Shia and Sunni Muslims have lived together peacefully in Iraq. They had the same beliefs in the past as they do today, but such events were unprecedented in the past centuries. They never acted against one another and never fought as seriously as they do today. Who is doing these things now? The same is true of the bloody events that have occasionally taken place in our country as well as the events that happen in Pakistan. Those who do these things are neither Shia nor Sunni. They are directly or indirectly linked to foreigners. They are agents of foreigners. Who are the people who appear out of nowhere and insult Shia and Iranian pilgrims in Baqi', Masjid al-Haram, and Masjid al-Nabawi? Who are the people who insult what Shia and Iranian pilgrims hold sacred? Sometimes they even harass the female family members of the pilgrims. Who are these people? Everybody should be vigilant in this regard. The Saudi government is responsible for safeguarding the pilgrims of the House of God and the shrines of the infallible Imams (a.s.) and the Prophet (s.w.a.). When a person insults or hurts a Shia pilgrim or clergyman, it is not appropriate for Saudi officers to stand by and watch or help the attacker. These things work against unity. The pilgrims of the Ka'bah cannot afford to be unaware of the developments of the Muslim world.

Today Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and some parts of Pakistan are under the pressure of foreign soldiers - they are under the pressure of the measures taken by the arrogant powers. Is it possible for the world of Islam to ignore these things? These are the things that we should pay attention to during the hajj. The hajj should be the manifestation of the willpower and strong determination of the Islamic Ummah against the measures that are aimed at undermining Islamic unity or thwarting the progress of the Islamic Ummah - the measures that are aimed at undermining the flag of Islam, which is thankfully being carried by the Islamic Republic today. We should be alert. These are our duties. Our management of the caravans, our publicity, and other such affairs should be based on these needs. Our cultural and political planning and our choices should be based on these needs.

I would like to express my gratitude to all the esteemed officials in charge of the hajj and all those who have made efforts during the past years to carry out this great duty. I would like to thank Mr. Reyshahri, Mr. Khaksar, and other government officials as well as the esteemed ministers of Culture and Islamic Guidance. I also thank the heads of the caravans, the esteemed clergymen who accompany the caravans, and all the dear officials who have attended this meeting.

Your goal is a great goal, and your responsibility is extremely heavy. I hope Allah the Exalted will bestow success on all of you. I hope you will benefit from the prayers of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake).

Greeting be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings