Leader's Speech to Exemplary Nurses

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on April 21, 2010 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution to a large number of exemplary nurses from across the country.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

First of all, I would like to congratulate all the dear brothers and sisters as well as all the esteemed nurses of the country on the occasion of Nurse Day and the birthday anniversary of Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.). I hope as a reward for your great services and precious efforts, Allah the Exalted will bestow His grace and guidance on all you dear nurses and all health professionals of the country.

The main purpose of today's meeting is to thank our nurses for their efforts. One should be grateful to all nurses throughout the country. And the challenging and heavy duty you nurses are shouldering should be appreciated.

Health issues are among the most important issues in human communities. "There are two blessings whose value is not appreciated: Health and security." There is indeed an essential point in this famous hadith. Both health and security are among the blessings that cannot be properly appreciated before they are taken away - just like the air we breathe. As long as you can breathe easily, you will not understand the importance of this free and plentiful blessing. But when breathing becomes difficult, you will know what a great blessing you have lost. In fact, this great blessing is provided for society by the health and nursing profession. And nurses have a very prominent role in this regard. Nurses are constantly faced with a spiritual and psychological challenge. They are not just faced with a physical challenge. It is very difficult to see the sufferings of patients and feel duty-bound to provide physical and spiritual treatment for them. This is a grueling duty that is shouldered by nurses.

I assure you that you will receive a reward from Allah the Exalted for every moment of your work and your sense of responsibility to the patients who are in pain. Not even a single moment will go unrewarded. One should not think that the painful moments that a nurse spends at the bedside of a patient will not be noticed by God. Every moment of your work and every effort you make deserve a divine reward. Every time you exercise patience in the face of the hardships will be recorded by Allah the Exalted. It is necessary to appreciate these challenging duties which have crucial implications for society.

Of course you also have obligations that are difficult to meet. It is necessary to pay attention to these obligations as well. For example, doctors and nurses have a religious obligation to observe medical ethics. You will receive great rewards for your work, but the obligations you need to fulfill are equally great. That is because your patients are human beings, not machines. Your patients are not like a machine made up of simple nuts and bolts. Your patients have emotions and a soul, and they need compassion, especially when they are in pain. They need to be treated kindly. Sometimes a simple smile is more effective than the medicine you give them. Patients - especially those who are seriously ill - may be suffering from psychological distress as well. Physical recovery is not the only thing that such patients need. Physical recovery may be possible through drugs, injections, and medical treatment. But psychological side effects of illnesses can only be treated through kindness and compassion. Sometimes such psychological support may even be used as an alternative to physical treatment. This has been scientifically proven. And human experience has shown that psychological and emotional well-being has positive effects on the body. This is in the hands of nurses.

Nurses have a challenging job. They will receive great rewards for their work, but the duty they have to shoulder is very difficult. The balance between one's rights and obligations is one of the greatest tenets of Islamic thought. The esteemed Minister spoke about in-service training, which is a very valuable thing to do. It would be appropriate if in-service courses could provide professional as well as ethical training for our nurses. It is indeed necessary to prepare a charter of ethics for our nurses, and it should be taught to them so that they realize the importance of their work and do their job appropriately.

I wish to encourage our esteemed nurses across the country, especially the exemplary nurses, to continue their efforts. I pray to God to help and reward you for your valuable work. I wish you success.

In the Islamic Republic, Nurse Day has been chosen to coincide with Zeinab al-Kubra's (s.a.) birthday anniversary. This has great significance. Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) is a prominent role model in history and shows the significance of a woman's presence in one of the most important events in human history. Blood gained a victory over the sword on the day of Ashura, and Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) was the cause of that victory. This was because the forces of righteousness were apparently defeated in a military fight in Karbala, but Zeinab al-Kubra's (s.a.) behavior was the factor that turned this apparent defeat into a permanent and decisive victory. That victory was due to the role she played after the day of Ashura. That is a very important point. The event proved that women are not on the periphery of history. It proved that women can have a central role in important historical events. This has been pointed out in several places in the Holy Quran as well. But Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) is a recent example and does not belong to ancient times. The story of her life is a tangible event. She played a brilliant role, making the enemies - who had apparently won the battle and slain all their opponents - feel humiliated in their own base. She branded them with permanent disgrace and turned their victory into a defeat. That was what Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) did. She proved that it is possible to turn feminine morality and modesty into glory and a great jihad.

The greatness of Zeinab al-Kubra's (s.a.) movement is reflected in what is left of her sermons. Her unforgettable sermon in Kufa's market place was not just an ordinary speech. It was not just the personal opinion of an important figure. Her sermon was a great and beautifully-worded analysis of the Islamic community's situation at that time. The sermon included the most profound Islamic concepts. See how strong her character was. Her brother - her Imam and leader - had been martyred in a desert just two days before. Her dear ones, her children, and many other people had been martyred. She and tens of other women and children were taken captive on the same day. They were paraded in different places. Some of the people who were watching them were cheerful and some were shedding tears. Zeinab (s.a.) suddenly started her great mission in that critical situation. She spoke like her father did when he was delivering a sermon to his people during his rule. She spoke with the same tone. She spoke using the same kind of words Imam Ali (a.s.) would use. She was equally eloquent and precise, and her words were equally profound. "O plotters and pretenders, maybe you yourselves were starting to believe that you were following Islam and the Holy Prophet's household, but you failed miserably in the test. You proved to be blind in the fitna. Do you pledge allegiance while you are planning a conspiracy? You can do nothing but engage in shifting allegiance, hypocrisy, flattery, self-humiliation, and empty talk. Your actions were different from your words. You became arrogant and wrongly thought that you were pious. You thought you were still revolutionary. You thought you were still the followers of the Commander of the Faithful. But the truth was something else. You were not able to deal with the fitna. You were not able to save yourselves. You ruined everything you had done before. Because of your lack of insight, your lack of knowledge of the situation, and your inability to distinguish right from wrong, you ruined everything you had built. You look faithful and you keep making revolutionary claims, but deep down you are empty and weak." Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) presented a deep analysis of her society's pathologies.

She spoke firmly and eloquently in that difficult situation. It was not the case that she had an audience sitting in front of her and listening in silence. She was not speaking the way an orator would speak to his audience. She was surrounded by the enemies, holding spears in their hands. There were also some ordinary people there - the same people who gave up Moslem to Ibn Ziad, the same people who wrote letters to Imam Hussein and then broke their allegiance to him, the same people who hid in their homes exactly when they were supposed to stand up to Ibn Ziad. Among the people there were also some individuals who were not courageous enough to do what they should have done, and they were watching Imam Ali's daughter in tears on that day. Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) was faced with this motley and unreliable crowd, yet she spoke in a firm manner. She was an exemplary woman in history. Such women cannot be considered weak. This faithful feminine nature may reveal itself in difficult conditions. She is a role model for all great men and women in the world. She presented a deep analysis of the problems facing the revolution started by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and Imam Ali (a.s.). She said, "You could not distinguish between right and wrong in the fitna. You were unable to fulfill your duty. As a result, they severed the head of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) grandson and put it on a spear." We can understand the greatness of her character when we consider such things.

Nurse Day has been chosen to coincide with Zeinab al-Kubra's (s.a.) birthday anniversary. This is a warning to our women to identify their role. They should understand the greatness of being a woman by combining feminine modesty and morality with pious dignity. That is how faithful Muslim women are.

The corrupt western world tried to impose its wrong and misguided redefinition of women on the people of the world - which was degrading to women. They tried to convince the world that in order to develop a personality, women have to look attractive to men. What kind of personality is that? They said women have to give up their modesty and morality and use their physical appeal in order to gain the approval of men. Is this humiliation or respect? Influenced by Zionist elements, the ignorant and intoxicated western world presented this idea under the guise of respect for women. And some people were taken in. The greatness of women does not depend on their ability to attract the attention of immoral men. Such an ability is not an honor for women. It will not bring about respect for them. It will only bring about humiliation. The greatness of women depends on their ability to preserve their God-given modesty. Their greatness depends on combining this ability with pious dignity and a sense of responsibility. They should use their feminine delicacy and their pious inflexibility appropriately. The combination of delicacy and pious inflexibility is particular to women. That is the advantage that Allah the Exalted has bestowed on women. Therefore, the Holy Quran mentions the names of two women as examples of religious faith for both men and women. "And God sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh" [The Holy Quran, 66: 11]. "And Mary the daughter of Imran" [The Holy Quran, 66: 12].God mentions the wife of Pharaoh and Mary as two examples of faith. These are some signs that point to an underlying Islamic ideology.

Our Revolution is based on the characteristics of Zeinab al-Kubra. Since the beginning of the Revolution, women have played a very prominent role in the course of the Revolution. Undoubtedly, both during the Revolution and the Sacred Defense Era what Iranian mothers and wives went through was not less painful and testing than what our soldiers experienced. A mother - who has spent about 20 years of her life to raise a child with her motherly love - sends her young child to the battlefield, and she is not even sure whether the body will be returned to her. Is this comparable to the sacrifice made by her young child who volunteers to go to the battlefield? With his youthful enthusiasm as well as his religious faith and revolutionary nature, her child volunteers to go to the battlefield, but the greatness of the sacrifice made by the mother is not less, if not more, than the sacrifice made by the child. And when her child's body is returned to her, she feels proud that her child has been martyred. Is this something insignificant? There were many such cases during our Revolution. They were similar to the sacrifices made by Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.).

Dear brothers and sisters, this was how our Revolution continued. The power and glory of this Revolution is due to fascination with spirituality and divine blessings. When the enemy triumphantly asked Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) to describe what she had seen, she said, "I did not see anything but beauty." Her brothers, her children, her dear ones, her closest companions, and many others had been violently killed in front of her eyes. She had seen the enemy put their heads on spears, but she said, "I did not see anything but beauty." Now try to combine this beauty with the narration according to which Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) did not fail to say her midnight prayers even on the eleventh day of Muharram [the day after Ashura]. Her relationship with Allah the Exalted was not undermined during her captivity. On the contrary, her relationship with God was strengthened. She is a role model.

Even the small traces of this reality in our society have imbued our Revolution with glory. It is due to these reasons that our nation has become an inspiring nation much to the despair of the enemy. Today the Iranian nation is known as an inspiring nation among Muslim nations. Of course the enemies do not like this, and they try to deny this fact. But that is the truth.

The power of this nation does not depend on missiles, cannons, tanks, warplanes, and other military weapons. Of course these weapons are also necessary, and we thankfully have them, but the power of this nation is due to its faith. Thanks to God's grace, guidance, and assistance, our nation has managed to make quantum leaps in various fields. And the facilities that we currently have at our disposal are not comparable to the facilities we used to have at the beginning of the Revolution - or before the Revolution for that matter. Nor are our facilities comparable to many of the countries that did not have to deal with the difficulties we have faced - the countries that have pinned their hopes on the assistance of foreigners and their enemies. By Allah's favor, the Iranian nation has made a lot of progress in these areas as well, but these factors are not the source of our power. An Islamic country relies on the faith of its people as the source of its power. The existence or lack of material facilities does not make a difference for an Islamic nation. Thirty years ago this nation stood up against the enemies. It is 30 years now that the enemies have been threatening and attacking us. They have been hatching plots against us. They have been pitching complex political and security networks against our nation. But our nation has been making increasing progress on a daily basis. It has not retrogressed or stopped making progress. Actually, its progress has been beyond ordinary levels. Therefore, the greatness of the Iranian nation is due to its faith.

Now there are some dim-witted people who are threatening the Iranian nation! The US President implicitly threatened us with a nuclear attack last week. Such threats will not affect the Iranian nation. But the threat will be a source of disgrace in the political history of America. It will be a black spot on the American government's record. The threat revealed what was going on behind their pretended love for peace and humanity and their commitment to nuclear treaties. It revealed what lies behind the hand of friendship extended towards the Iranian nation. Their fox-like rhetoric became wolfish. Until now they were saying that they were willing to extend a hand of friendship. It became clear what was behind their claims. It revealed the intentions of their bloodthirsty and domineering nature. They want to use their nuclear power as a means to dominate the world. This is true of all nuclear powers. They all want to use their nuclear power as a means to dominate other nations and the entire world. None of them have signed the IAEA's nuclear treaties. They have not accepted to conform to them, neither will they ever do so. They are blatant liars. But then they start finding fault with other nations and complain that they have failed to conform to a particular part of the treaties. The nuclear powers do not believe in these treaties. They only want to prevent other countries from becoming their nuclear rivals. That is the problem.

We have transparent nuclear policies. We have repeatedly said before that we are not the kind of people to use destructive nuclear weapons. But they should know that their threats and bombastic language against the Iranian nation will not get them anywhere. The Iranian nation will bring them to their knees in spite of their claims.

International communities must not pass over the American President's threat. They must not consign the threat to oblivion. They must follow up the issue. They must hold them responsible for this. Why are they threatening another country with a nuclear attack? Why are they threatening the world with destruction? How dare they speak like that? No one should be allowed to make such threats against humanity. Even uttering such threats is unacceptable - even if they announce they did not mean it, even if they admit it was a mistake. They must not even utter such threats. The world cannot afford to pass over the statements that pose a threat to global peace and security.

Of course the Iranian nation will not be affected by such statements. They cannot force the Iranian nation to retreat through such things. We will not allow the Americans to re-establish their infernal hegemony over our country through such means. The Iranian nation will not allow this. They are still dreaming about re-establishing the domination they had achieved over our country due to the treachery of the evil Pahlavi regime, the domination that lasted for many years. They are dreaming about going back to those days. The Iranian nation will not allow such things.

By Allah's grace, we will make progress in all areas despite the enemies' will. The enemies should know this. Our youth are making efforts. By Allah's favor, the increasing faith of our youth and the increasing insight of our nation will overcome these threats as well as the plots that are hatched with the aim of creating chaos in the country - including the plots similar to what we saw in the year 1388.

Our nation has insight. Our nation is faithful. I hope Allah the Exalted will increase this insight on a daily basis because of the pure prayers of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). I hope God will make you successful in all arenas. Hopefully, you dear youth will see the glory and development of your country in the near future. By Allah's grace, you will see the day when the superpowers will need you.

Allah's grace be upon the immaculate souls of our magnanimous Imam and our martyrs. I hope Allah the Exalted will bestow success on all of you.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings