Leader’s Speech to Laborers

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on April 27, 2011 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution to thousands of laborers from across the country.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I would like to welcome the dear brothers and sisters who are active in the arenas of labor. This is an opportunity for me. Each year I get an opportunity to sit down with you dear laborers and make a few comments.

Labor and the position of laborers are very important issues from Islamic and rational perspectives. If we consider the issue from a rational perspective, labor is an essential link in the chain of our vital needs. That is to say, if a society had all the money in the world but lacked the element of labor, it would not be possible to address the needs of the people of that society. What addresses the needs of human beings is the element of labor. And labor depends on laborers. Therefore, the capable hands and creative minds of laborers play an obviously important role in the life of human beings - both their individual life and their social life. Those who ignore the working class and labor communities are in fact ignoring this essential role. And the same is true about the people who think of laborers as an instrument, just like other instruments. This is the rational perspective, and the logic is totally sound.

But the logic of Islam is superior to this rational perspective. According to Islam, the work that laborers do to feed themselves and their family is a kind of worship and good deed. That is to say, the work that laborers do is not limited to this world, rather Allah the Exalted has attached great importance to the issue of labor in His comprehensive plan for the life of humanity in this world and in the hereafter. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) said, "This hand will not feel hell fire." When the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) kissed the hand of a laborer, everybody was surprised. Then the Holy Prophet said, "This hand will not feel hell fire." That is to say, when we engage in midnight prayers, recite the Holy Quran and rely on Allah the Exalted, we are in fact building walls between ourselves and hell fire. And when we work, we do the same thing. This is a very important point. This is the Islamic view.

Now let us discuss labor communities. I will only discuss what is related to our country, especially what concerns the Revolution and the revolutionary activities. First of all, our laborers played an important role in helping the uprising of the Iranian nation achieve victory. If the labor community - particularly those who worked for the oil industry and other strategic places - had not stepped in, the Revolution would have faced serious problems. Afterwards, the Sacred Defense happened. Before the Sacred Defense Era and during the early years of the Revolution, we were faced with other issues. Many of you dear youth were not present then, or you were too young to remember the events. I was witness to these events. Our laborers and labor community played a role. I was present in one of the factories close to Tehran on the 22nd and 23rd of Bahman. I was among the laborers of that factory, and I saw how the leftist elements of that time - namely, the communists and their followers - were seeking to start a so-called "labor movement" from somewhere and turn the Islamic Revolution into a communist and Marxist revolution. This was what they were doing in Tehran. It was our laborers who stood up against them. Of course that factory did not have more than 100 laborers, but they wanted to use that factory as a stepping-stone. I went there, and the laborers showed a tendency towards religion. They did not even know me. I was just an ordinary seminarian. But they realized that the voice of religion was familiar to them and that the voice of anti-religion elements was unfamiliar. The voice of anti-religion elements was unacceptable to them. I wish some of those laborers could tell us about the events that happened during the three or four days that I used to go to that factory. I used to stay there for hours. It was an important experience for the country. This was how the laborers played a role. That is to say, those who wanted to pitch the labor community against Islam and the Islamic Republic were totally disappointed by our laborers. This has always been the case over the past years. Later on the eight-year Sacred Defense happened, and our laborers participated massively in the war. After the war, our laborers were present in the arena of labor.

There was an interesting line in the song performed by the dear brothers: "The arena of labor is a battlefield for us." This is a fact. Proud and honorable Iranian laborers consider their labor as a battle. Your labor is a kind of battle against the people who want to plunge the country in economic decline and failure. Our honorable labor community should know that their serious and innovative labor is a battle. You are fighting the world of arrogance through your labor. Everybody should pay attention to this point.

Thankfully the general atmosphere of our country is imbued with sincerity, love and brotherhood among laborers and their employers. This is not to say that there are no people who want to oppress our laborers. This is not to say that the needs and rights of our labors are never ignored. Such things happen. But the policy of the Islamic Republic and its officials and the general orientation of the Islamic Republic is to create solidarity, cooperation and friendship among all those who are involved in labor - namely, laborers, their employers and government officials. The points that were mentioned by the honorable Minister of Labor and Social Affairs are important points. Some of the things he spoke about have already been done, and the rest should be done as quickly as possible through persistence and patience. We should try to help our working class become an advantaged social class.

This year is "The Year of Economic Jihad". Economic jihad refers to an essential point regarding the management of the country: today the enemy has focused on our economy in order to counter Islam and the Islamic Republic. This is not to say that they have forgotten other areas. No, they are doing whatever they can in the cultural, security, political and all other areas against the Islamic Republic. Their failure does not mean that they do not put much effort into it. They are doing their best. However, their main focus is on economic issues. Their purpose is to separate the people from the government. They want to create a rift between the people and the Islamic Republic. They are after creating economic problems for the country. Therefore, economic jihad is necessary. Economic jihad means that we should continue this battle, but we should do so with the spirit of jihad, with all our power and with pure intentions. And we should know what we are doing. This is the meaning of "The Year of Economic Jihad". By Allah's favor, we will make a quantum leap if the economic sectors of the country are committed to this jihad in all governmental and private organizations. And all our people will share the success.

I advise our working class to fulfill their responsibilities well. I have repeatedly quoted this hadith from the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.): "God bless those who do their duty well."

We must make efforts to produce high-quality products so that Iranian and non-Iranian consumers come to believe that our domestic products are enduring, well-designed and beautiful. This is the goal that our labor community and production managers should strive towards. Of course there are certain requirements that have to be met. It may be necessary to arrange training courses, and this is the responsibility of governmental organizations. But the goal should be producing high-quality products. When Iranian laborers use their innovation, taste and skill, what they produce is interesting and attractive.

The works produced by Iranians in the past are the result of combining art and skill, and the same is true today. This is tangible and obvious. Whenever Iranian art is utilized, the final product turns out to be interesting and timeless. Fortunately many of our domestic products are already better than similar foreign products. And some of our products are far better than foreign products: they are more beautiful, more enduring and more interesting. We should try to achieve this quality in all our domestic products, including foodstuff, everyday products, clothing and ornamental products. We should take this into consideration in all our products, and we can do so. Our labor community, our designers, our engineers, our investors and our laborers can do this. This must be our aspiration: producing enduring, beautiful and high-quality products. This is a large-scale task.

Consuming domestic products is a point which I would like to address to all our people. Dependence on foreign products is one of the serious social problems which is rooted in the era of taghut. There was a time when we did not have many domestic products or our domestic products were not good enough for consumption. This is not the case today. Our domestic products are high-quality today. This is while there are some people who love to say that their clothes and foodstuff have foreign brand names on them. This is a kind of disease, and it is necessary to cure it. This shows that they do not care about the fact they are living in this country and that they are benefiting from the divine blessings which have been bestowed on this country. So they channel the money has been earned inside the country into the pockets of foreign laborers, money that should go into the pockets of our domestic laborers. This means that we are ignoring the needs of our domestic laborers who are making efforts and producing goods for us. This means that we prefer foreign laborers to our domestic laborers. This is a very bad habit.

I believe one way in which our people can engage in economic jihad is to decide to consume domestic products. Of course the other side of the issue is that the quality of our domestic products should be acceptable. The durability and quality of our domestic products should be acceptable to our consumers. Both of these things are necessary.

Of course there many issues which should be seriously pursued by our government officials regarding "The Year of Economic Jihad". The issue of employment is very important. Creating job opportunities is very important. Paying attention to the economic infrastructures of the country - which have been investigated and worked out by our experts - is very important. Industry, agriculture and different issues related to these areas are very important. All these things are essential. Engaging in any of these areas is an instance of jihad in the way of God.

One can see that the blessings which have been bestowed on this country are so many that the obstacles will be removed one after the other and the nation will move forward. This progress is the destiny of our nation, and the efforts made by the enemies are futile. They are just provoking further divine wrath and causing further material and spiritual loss for themselves. Their efforts will not get them anywhere.

Today arrogant, oppressive and anti-human organizations - and organizations which have been disgraced in the world - have deployed their forces against the Islamic Republic in the hope that they will manage to deal a blow to this symbol of Islamic and human honor and glory. They were hoping to prevent the Iranian nation from becoming an inspirational role model for other nations. They are trying their best, but their efforts will prove futile. They wanted to isolate the Iranian nation, but what happened was the opposite. They arranged many trips to this region and they held many meetings with corrupt individuals in the region, hoping that they will manage to isolate Iran. After the impressive popular uprisings in the region, thankfully the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic are the focus of attention in the region. The Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic are now respected more than ever before, and this is exactly the opposite of what they wanted.

The US government, which is among the top governments that are accused of having acted against humanity and human rights, wanted to take action to isolate the Islamic Republic. The US President delivered a speech in Egypt last year. Addressing the world of Islam with words which he though were precious, he tried to attract hearts and restore the respect which America had lost in the region. What was the result? Today nations of the region hate the US government more than any other government.

That is the way of the world. If a nation moves towards divine goals keeping God in mind, Allah the Exalted will assist it. Thankfully, today our nation is such a nation. Our government officials and our people are making efforts. They are working hard. In our country people make efforts to achieve divine goals. Therefore, Allah the Exalted helps us.

On the other hand, there are people who work against God's servants, God's path and divine goals. They will have a bad destiny. They may be successful for a short time, but their initial success will not get them anywhere. The result is what our opponents and enemies and the arrogant powers can see. By Allah's grace, the future of this region will be far better than its current situation. Thanks to the determination of nations and their efforts to tread the path of Islam, God will bestow far more blessings on the people of the region.

We should ask Allah the Exalted to help us treas this path of success. We should pray to God to help us pursue this path and this purity in continuing our movement. By Allah's favor, we will benefit from the favors of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). I hope Allah the Exalted will bestow His mercy and blessings on our dear martyrs and the honorable laborers who have been martyred. I hope God will associate all of them and the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) with His friends in the hereafter.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings