Leader’s Speech to Members of IRGC

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on July 4, 2011 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with members of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I would like to congratulate you dear members of this great revolutionary family on Revolutionary Guards' Day. I would also like to congratulate all believers on the Eids of the holy month of Rajab which remind us of great achievements and on the holy of month of Sha'ban which is the month of mercy, remembrance of God, dhikr and reliance on God.

The interesting idea to have a day for members of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps and to relate this day to the auspicious birthday anniversary of Imam Hussein (a.s.) is a significant innovation which shows us the path. It is necessary to thank those who were the first to think of this idea and to make us notice this concept. This is because the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps has made an impressive promise to safeguard the Islamic Revolution. I will briefly speak about this issue later on.

The concept of guardianship was embodied by Imam Hussein (a.s.) with all its dimensions and with all the necessary and possible means. This is not to say that others did not do such a thing or did not want to do such a thing, rather it means that this movement was fully realized in the behavior of the Lord of the Martyrs (a.s.) during his ten-year imamate. One can clearly notice in his lifestyle all the methods that could have been used by a descendant of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) to preserve the great legacy of Islam which has been passed down by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and his father as well as their genuine followers. We can clearly see everything in the lifestyle of the Lord of the Martyrs (a.s.) - everything ranging from clarification, to forewarning, to promotion of Islam, to provoking the conscience of prominent figures of his time during a sermon in Mina. All these things are tangible in the lifestyle of the Lord of the Martyrs (a.s.). Later on he stood up against a great deviation and laid down his life. Imam Hussein (a.s.) was aware of the consequences of his movement. He was an infallible Imam. Infallible Imams' extensive knowledge and insight are beyond our heads. Imam Hussein (a.s.) revolted to set a role model and he refused to surrender. He asked people to help him and when a group of people from Kufa expressed their willingness to accompany him on this path, Imam Hussein (a.s.) accepted their offer and moved towards Kufa and he did not give up in the middle of the way. Imam Hussein (a.s.) stood up against the deviated current of his time, which was extremely dangerous. And this became a lesson and Imam Hussein (a.s.) himself makes the same point. That is to say, he backed up his action with the order of Islam. He said that his duty was what he was doing. He said that he had to express his opposition, no matter what the consequences were. He said, "It is good if my destiny is a victory and if my destiny is martyrdom, so much the better." This was how Imam Hussein (a.s.) acted.

This was a perfect instance of self-sacrifice and it safeguarded Islam. This move preserved Islam. This move institutionalized values in society. If Imam Hussein (a.s.) had not accepted this danger, if he had not made a move, if he had not taken action, if his blood had not been shed, if those great tragedies had not happened to the shrine of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), to Imam Ali's (a.s.) daughter and to the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) descendents, this event would not have gone down in history. The event that could have prevented that great deviation had to shock people and history as much as the deviation did. This shows Imam Hussein's (a.s.) self-sacrifice.

Of course this is easier said than done. What Imam Hussein (a.s.) did was an extraordinary feat. That is to say, the dimensions of his action are far more than what we estimate. We usually ignore aspects and details. Once I spoke about Imam Hussein's (a.s.) patience. His patience was not limited to enduring thirst or seeing his companions being killed. These things are relatively easy to tolerate. The kind of patience that is difficult to practice is to listen to influential, aware and respectable people who keep creating doubts and telling you that what you are doing is dangerous and wrong. Who did those things? People like Abdullah Ja'far, Abdullah Zubair and Abdullah Abbas. These prominent figures of that time were constantly telling Imam Hussein (a.s.) not to do what he was doing. If it were somebody else, somebody who did not have that determination and stable character, he would have thought, "Well, I did my duty. These people are talking like this and the world is acting like that, so I should just say what I am supposed to say and do nothing else." A person who decides to stand up against such statements, such temptations, such doubts and such efforts to bend sharia and is not dissuaded from continuing his path - such a person is the one who can give rise to such a great transformation. In this regard our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) was similar to the Lord of the Martyrs. I explained this in another meeting and I do not want to go into the details now. This was how Imam Hussein (a.s.) acted as a guardian.

By selecting Imam Hussein's (a.s.) birthday anniversary as Revolutionary Guards' Day, the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps is in fact subtly suggesting that it will tread the path of Imam Hussein (a.s.). This is auspicious and truly important. Certain perceptive critics might say that a certain mistake has been made or a certain person has acted in the wrong way. It is possible to criticize all currents, all groups, all individuals and all legal and natural persons. But if we consider the movement of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps in a fair way, we will see that the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps has kept its promise since the first day. The Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps has been truly steadfast on this path. Individual members come and go, but the collective identity of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps has remained the same.

During my last meeting with the esteemed members of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps, I raised an important point. I would like to discuss the point briefly. I said that the new generations of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps should try to be a step ahead of the previous generations. That is to say, the world is moving forward. It is moving towards perfection. It is an evolutionary movement. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect a young member who has just entered the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps to push the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps one step forward in terms of knowledge, insight, awareness and selflessness and in terms of willingness to work and doing the job in an appropriate and timely way - these are the characteristics that the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps has demonstrated during these years. It is reasonable to expect the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps to improve in terms of quality after recruiting a new member. And this is possible. Do not say, "How is this possible?" No, it is perfectly possible. Just take a look at the conditions of those days: our enemies had imposed a war on us and they were present on our soil. Armed anti-revolutionaries were fighting us before and after the eight-year war had broken out. This was a strong motivating factor that encouraged even indifferent people to step into that extraordinary and lively arena. Today we are no longer fighting a war, but there is a war that is more subtle and of course more dangerous. Awareness of the depths of this war requires more capability and more vigilance. If we see certain people entering this arena, making efforts, fighting and staying in the arena with insight, then we can say that these people are not inferior to the war veterans in terms of motivation and performance. If their performance is better, we can say that they are even better than those veterans. The situation can be same in the future as well. It is necessary to focus one's efforts on this goal.

Today I will explain that the identity of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps as the guardian of the Revolution should not be interpreted as conservative. Guardianship means preserving and safeguarding. In one analysis, this guardianship can be interpreted as conservative. That is to say, we can say the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps is responsible to preserve the current situation of the Revolution. I do not agree with this interpretation. Preserving and safeguarding the Revolution does not mean preserving its current situation. Why? Because the Revolution is by nature a progressive movement, and an accelerated movement at that. What is the direction? The Revolution is moving towards the goals that have been delineated. The goals will not change. The principles and values which we should insist on and for which we should lay down our life, are the kind of principles and values that have been specified in our goals. The ultimate goal is transcendence, perfection and closeness to God. A less important goal is self-education. A less important goal is to establish an Islamic society in which all the characteristics of an Islamic society are present, including justice, monotheism and spirituality. These are the goals. These goals cannot be changed. That is to say, we cannot afford to give up some of our goals. For instance, we should not say, "Alright, there was a day when we wanted to establish justice, but we realized that we cannot establish justice, so let us just settle for something that looks like justice." No, the goal is to establish justice. Monotheism and establishment of perfect sharia and justice - these are the goals and they cannot be changed. However, we can move towards these goals slowly or fast. The methods can be changed. Different measures may be adopted. The Revolution is moving in this direction. Preserving and safeguarding the Revolution means maintaining this progressive movement. This is the duty of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps. If we adopt this perspective and interpret guardianship in this way, then the dynamism and enthusiasm that is embodied by the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps will be intensified.

Today's youth do not limit themselves to surface manifestations that exist in our society to a large extent. Rather, they pay attention to the depth and nature of things. These are what they pursue. Deep faith and further awareness: these are what we should look for. This is the appropriate interpretation of guardianship - guardianship of the revolutionary movement and progress.

If we want this to happen, there are two things that have to be done in the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps. One is the internal progress of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps. That is to say, the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps should move towards perfection from within. The other requirement is external progress of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps, which should be the driving force behind the Revolution and the Islamic Republic. These two dimensions should move forward hand in hand. If we ignore the first type of progress, we will fail to have the movement which will bring about progress and transcendence in the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps and the second kind of progress will be thwarted - that is to say, the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps will fail to act as the driving force behind the Revolution. Even if the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps makes certain efforts, the efforts will be in the wrong direction.

Therefore, we need two kinds of progress. Certain aspects of internal progress were mentioned by the honorable general of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps. I confirm what the general said in this regard. All the things he spoke about should be done. This internal progress has a material aspect as well as a spiritual aspect. The spiritual aspect consists of paying attention to the values in the real sense of the word - namely, specifying the standards, safeguarding them and evaluating oneself and others on the basis of these standards with the purpose of progress towards the goals in an appropriate way. This is the spiritual aspect. And the material aspect is the good measures that are being adopted by the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps, the measures related to organization, science, research, development, military training and other such dimensions. All these things should be done together. Then the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps will turn into a dynamic and vibrant organization which will be immune to decline. Fortunately today the ground has been prepared for this. The infrastructures have been prepared. There is enough experience and motivation. This is internal progress. Such an organization can be the standard and a role model. Some of our people and youth may not join the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps, but they may choose this organization as their role model in life - the appropriate model for spirituality and prudence, the model for choosing the right method and making the right move in areas related to reconstruction.

When these things happen, it will be time for this internal progress to influence the movement of the Revolution and this is something that will happen automatically. When there is a lively, dynamic and progressive organization that is firmly committed to the principles and values of the Islamic Republic, when this organization moves forward and takes everything into consideration, when this organization has knowledge and insight and is influential, it will definitely play a determining role in pushing the Islamic Republic forward. Of course this is not particular to the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps. I would say the same thing about our Islamic seminaries and governmental organizations, but the importance of these organizations is not the same. Each of them has its own position. Now I would like to limit my discussion to the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps. We desperately need this constructive, progressive and evolving movement. More precisely, today Islam is in need of this movement.

The movement of the Islamic Republic has had its influence on the world. It has been highly significant. It has weakened the arrogant and satanic powers and it has opened up new paths in front of nations. A new chapter has begun in the history of the world. That is to say, one cannot find a parallel movement in history. Of course I have observed or studied the developments that have taken place in various parts of the world, especially in our own region. I have seen revolutions that took place in North Africa and Latin America as well as the leftist revolutions that happened during the 1960s. It is not the case that I do not know the historical background of these developments. No, I have seen these things. But what is happening today is unprecedented. These developments do not have a parallel. The events that happened in the 1960s - in Africa, in Latin America and in certain Asian countries - were often limited to one party or organization spreading its domination over the destiny of a nation with a material and Marxist orientation, a party or organization that lacked spirituality and divine elements. They used to call these developments "popular". But the popular aspect of these developments was that a party seized power and this was often done through a coup. The so-called revolutionary parities and governments that came to power in North Africa, including the governments of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Gaddafi and others - all of them seized power by staging a coup. These were not popular and revolutionary in the real sense of the word.

What is happening today is that people are present in the arena with their body and soul. They are ordinary people. Political parties may also be involved in one way or another, but those who are in the arena are not members of the military. They are not there to conduct a coup. They are ordinary people with a monotheistic and divine orientation, who shout "Allahu Akbar" and take part in congregational prayers. Let the American and Zionist propaganda machines deny this fact. They cannot change the truth by denying it. This is the truth. This is totally unprecedented. According to what I have seen, heard or studied, such widespread developments are totally unprecedented. What is happening is new. That is to say, a new page has been turned in the history of the region and, consequently, the world. A new chapter has begun. What was our role in this? I do not want to claim that the Islamic Revolution was the cause of these developments. And there are some people who are sensitive to the claim that the Islamic Revolution is the source of these uprisings. No, I do not want to make such a claim and it is not necessary to make such a claim. But today the same movement that the Iranian nation carried out about 32 years ago - except for certain regional, local, geographic and historical differences - can be noticed in several Muslim countries. And as I said, the next wave of this movement will happen in places far beyond the region and this will definitely happen. This is encouraging and promising for us. It shows that we should have more hope in the future.

Of course the enemies are working on this issue with all their power. They do not want this role model to be in front of Muslims' eyes. They do not want Muslim nations to see what position Iran has achieved. But this is something that has already happened, whether they like it or not. The scientific and technical work that is being done and the research that is being carried out by the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps and other organizations affiliated to the Armed Forces and the work that is being done outside the Armed Forces in our universities and different research centers - these are the things that specifically delineate future prospects. That is to say, they are the factors that will determine the future. It is these factors which determine to whom the future belongs. Of course this has been achieved due to Islam and the revolutionary spirit and it is necessary to strengthen this spirit. Therefore, this is how we should interpret guardianship of the Revolution. We should interpret it as a dynamic and progressive concept.

One of the things that we need to pay attention to in the arena of action is that we should take care not to let revolutionary organizations become involved with fruitless and possibly harmful activities during this progressive movement. One of these fruitless and harmful activities is the issue of internal disputes. Sometimes a current may stand up against the Revolution with the purpose of defeating it. In this situation it is everybody's duty to defend the Revolution. The Revolution defends itself like any other living creature. If a revolution is unable to defend itself during the time of sedition and different kinds of military, political and other coups, then that revolution is not alive. Our Revolution is alive, so it defends itself and it always wins, just as it did in the year 1388. Other times it is not a matter of trying to overthrow the government: it is simply a matter of differences of taste and opinion. It is necessary to decrease these differences as much as possible. Such things should be reduced as much as possible. It is harmful to fuel these differences of opinion.

One issue is that if a person says something that is wrong, should somebody respond to him? Yes, of course. Responding to a faulty statement should be done in a particular way. Sometimes when somebody makes a faulty statement, we may decide to shout his statement from the rooftops and tell everybody what he said. This is wrong. This is a mistake. I am not at all opposed to clarification by anybody or any organization. On the contrary, I support clarification and I believe in it. That is to say, clarification has been one of our essential strategies since the beginning. Clarification is necessary, but this does not mean that we should constantly fuel internal disputes. Be careful. Everybody should be careful in this regard. The Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps should be especially cautious. During political and intellectual movements and movements that are based on differences of taste, it is absolutely inappropriate to fuel disputes. Thankfully you are aware and you have insight. You are definitely aware of the developments and you know the conditions of the country. Unfortunately people are working against each other. And foreign organizations are extremely happy about this. They analyze these disputes. They say that there is discord among us. They are saying that we are finished. They constantly repeat their wishes. It is clear that this issue is because of our weakness. We should not let this weakness continue or increase. It is necessary to pay attention to this point. The movement should be dignified and logical. If certain people have differences of opinion, they should express their views in a logical way. As I said, I believe in clarification. During the revolutionary activities, I had the same problem with leftist and Marxist elements who were also involved in revolutionary activities. I used to highlight the importance of clarification, but they did not believe in clarification. They used to say something else. They had a different analysis. Basically the Revolution was based on clarification, logical reasoning and avoidance of uproar. Uproar will work against logical reasoning. It may succeed in attracting a few people, but a few other people who are more intelligent will be pushed away. This is what I believe.

The movement should be a progressive movement. There are a lot of requirements. I have written down some of these requirements. One of them is the need to form a unified front and this is related to the issue of unity which I discussed earlier. "Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall." [The Holy Quran, 61: 4] It is necessary to stand up against the enemy's invasion like a firm and impenetrable wall.

You dear youth who have joined the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps and you honorable clergy, religious scholars and active, faithful and young seminarians who represent the Leader in the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps - all of you should be aware of two things. One is that there is a lot things that you should do. Both the young members of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps and the honorable clergy have a lot of things to do. Another issue is that you should know that if you make determined efforts, you can definitely do these things and after some time you will realize that you have made progress. That is to say, if you make determined efforts, progress is definite. If there is determined effort and hope, progress is definite and there is no doubt in this regard. All members of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps should pay attention to this point. Of course preparing plans at the highest levels of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps is something necessary that should be done all the time. These things are being done and they are good. I hope Allah the Exalted will help you. I hope Allah the Exalted will make you benefit from His blessings.

There is another point that I would like to raise because most of the high-ranking officials of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps are present in this meeting. One of the essential things - which I highlight for General Jafari, the head of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps - is to pay attention to the families of our martyrs. And the best kind of attention that they can give to these families is to visit them. Attention is not limited to material assistance. Many of these families do not even need such assistance. But all of them need compassion and empathy. Everybody wants to be treated in a compassionate way. Thankfully some of our proud martyrs are very famous and everybody knows them. And there are some other martyrs who are just famous among God's angels, but they are not very famous among us. You should pay attention to their families. And I hope our friends in the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps will have a unified and organized performance in this regard.

I hope Allah the Exalted will keep you safe and will make you benefit from the prayers of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). I hope the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) and the immaculate souls of our martyrs will be satisfied with all of us.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings