Leader’s Speech to International Conference on Women and Islamic Awakening

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on July 11, 2012 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with participants of the international conference on "Women and Islamic Awakening" in Tehran.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

First of all, I would like to welcome all you dear brothers and sisters, my dear daughters, outstanding ladies from different Islamic countries. Consider our country as your own home. I hope Allah the Exalted makes this conference and this meeting auspicious for the Islamic Ummah.

I believe this gathering is of paramount importance. The gathering of outstanding ladies from across the world of Islam is more important than an ordinary conference on Islamic Awakening. This is because such gatherings provide outstanding ladies throughout the world of Islam with an opportunity to become acquainted with each other and this is very important. It is a hundred years that the west has been trying to impose western culture and lifestyles on women in Muslim communities by relying on its money, power, weapons and diplomacy. Efforts have been made over the past one hundred years to isolate Muslim women from their identity. All instruments of power and propagation have been employed to achieve this goal. Money, propaganda, weapons, different deceptive material tools, the sexual instinct - they have employed all these things to isolate Muslim women from their Islamic identity. Today making efforts to restore this identity to Muslim women is the greatest service that you can render to the Islamic Ummah, Islamic Awakening and Islamic dignity. And this gathering can be a long and effective stride in this direction. Do not limit yourselves to sitting down together and exchanging views for a few days. Make this meeting a prelude to a great and permanent movement, one that has the potential to affect the world of Islam. Islamic Awakening and Islamic dignity will be strongly affected by women's awakening, women's sense of identity, women's awareness and insight. This is the first point that I wanted to discuss in this meeting.

Some of the ladies made certain suggestions in their informative and carefully planned speeches. We support efforts to pursue these suggestions.

Regarding the Islamic view of women, there is an essential point that I would like to discuss. This Islamic view is the opposite of the western view of women. The western view of women is an insulting view. They call it "freedom", but it is not in fact freedom. Over the past two, three decades, westerners have chosen beautiful names for their crimes. Whenever they committed murder, whenever they plundered a country, whenever they enslaved people, whenever they confiscated other nations' sources of wealth, whenever they imposed wars on nations and whenever they committed other crimes, they chose deceptive and beautiful names for their actions: liberation, human rights, democracy and other such things. Describing the western attitude towards women as "freedom" is a lie. It is not freedom. The basis of western culture is that women should be presented in society as a product, an object that men can benefit from. Promoting immodest clothing is a step in this direction. Over the past 100, 200 years violence against women has been on the rise. There has been no decrease in this regard. Sexual freedom and unprincipled sexual behaviors in the west have not curbed sexual desires, which are natural and instinctive. In the past they used to promote the idea that men and women should be allowed to have free relationships with each other so that their sexual desires are diminished. Later on it became clear that what happens is the opposite. The more men and women are allowed to have free relationships with each other in society, the more the resulting situation increases sexual desires. Today westerners do not feel ashamed of promoting homosexuality as a value. This makes any dignified human being blush, but they do not feel ashamed. The western view of women is a degenerate, flawed, misleading and wrong view. The Islamic view of women brings about dignity, honor, growth and an independent identity for women. This is our claim and we can prove it with very compelling reasons.

In an Islamic environment, a woman achieves scholarly growth. She achieves personal growth. She achieves ethical growth. She achieves political growth. She becomes a pioneer in the most essential social issues. Yet she remains a woman. Being a woman is an advantage, a source of pride. Isolating women from womanly environments and characteristics will not bring about any honor for women. Housekeeping, raising children and taking care of one's husband must not be considered a source of disgrace for women. Western culture made the family collapse. Today one of the great problems of the western world is the breakup of the family and the increase in the number of abandoned children. The west will suffer from the consequences. Social developments build up over time. The west will be harmed most by this problem and the flashy materialistic civilization of the west will collapse along the fault lines of this problem.

Islam regards women as dignified. Men and women share the same human characteristics. A human being is a human being before being a man or a woman. People are equal as far as their human nature is concerned. This is the Islamic view. Allah the Exalted has bestowed certain physical characteristics on men and women. Both men and women play a role in creation, in the growth and transcendence of humanity and in the course of history, but women's role is more important that men's role. The most important duty of human beings is to help humanity survive through reproduction. And in this regard, the role of women is not comparable with the role of men. This is why the home environment is important. This is why the family is important. This is why imposing restrictions on the sexual instinct is important. This is the view that should be adopted on Islamic issues and sharia. The west, which has strayed away from the right path, calls these things "limitations", and calls its misleading bondage [of women] "freedom". These are among tricks that the west has played.

Today one of the most important responsibilities that you should shoulder as outstanding ladies is to delineate and highlight the role of women from an Islamic perspective. The greatest service to human and Islamic societies is to help women develop their human characteristics. This movement should be launched. Of course, it has already started, but it should be strengthened. It is should become widespread. This movement will definitely achieve victory. This is one of the essential things that should be done.

The next point is related to the role of women in social developments - in revolutions, in the great wave of Islamic Awakening. I would say if women do not take part in the social movement of a nation, that movement will not reach any results. It will not succeed. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"] If women take part in a movement with awareness and insight, that movement will continue at a fast speed. In this great wave of Islamic Awakening, women play an unparalleled role and it is necessary for them to continue this role. It is women who prepare and encourage their husbands and children to step into the most dangerous arenas. We have clearly witnessed the significance of the role women played during the time we were fighting taghut in Iran and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution. If our women had not fought in the battlefields during the eight-year war which was imposed on us, if they had not been present in different national arenas, we would not have achieved victory in that difficult test. Our women helped us achieve victory. The mothers and wives of our martyrs and war veterans created an atmosphere with their patience in which our youth and men were encouraged to have a determined presence. And this atmosphere spread to every part of the country. As a result, the general atmosphere of our country was filled with selflessness and self-sacrifice, and we achieved victory. This is the case today with the world of Islam - in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya, in Bahrain, in Yemen and in every other place. If women strengthen and continue their presence on the front lines, they achieve victories one after another. There is no doubt in this regard. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"]

The next point is about the essence of the issue of Islamic Awakening. This great event has happened in the world of Islam. It started in Tunisia and developed into a great movement in Egypt. Later on it spread to other countries. It is an amazing and unprecedented event. It is a great event in our history. It is not an ordinary event. This event can change the path of the world. It can put an end to the oppressive domination of the arrogant powers and Zionism over the world of Islam, which has continued for many years. It can unite the Islamic Ummah, providing that it continues. The Islamic movements have accomplished certain achievements, but they are threatened with certain failures and problems. It is necessary to identify and prevent these problems. Fortunately Muslim nations of North Africa had a brilliant performance. The movement is a great movement and thankfully it has been successful as well, but pay attention to the fact that the west - headed by America and Zionism - have stepped into the arena with all they have and they will continue their efforts in a more determined way so that they can curb this movement and ride its waves. Nations should be vigilant. They [westerners] were taken off-guard. They could not predict what was going to happen and this was a divine plan. "And they planned and Allah (also) planned, and Allah is the best of planners." [The Holy Quran, 3: 54]

In the case of the issue of Lebanon, the victory of the Lebanese resisting youth over the well-equipped Zionist army also took them off-guard. They were also taken off-guard 33 years ago by the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It is necessary to continue these surprises. They were taken by surprise in these events and they could not predict and prevent what was going to happen, but they are making preparations. One of the things that they are trying to do is to undermine the motivation of the people. The youth of the world of Islam - including men, women and outstanding personalities throughout the world of Islam, particularly in the countries that have carried out a revolution - should know that if they stay present on the scene and resist, they will definitely achieve a victory over the arrogant powers in spite of all the facilities that they enjoy. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"] All the instruments of power that the arrogant powers enjoy are ineffective against the presence and religious faith of the people. Take care not to lose this religious faith as a result of discord, as a result of the enemies' efforts to keep young and old people and pious and impious individuals busy with different things in one way or another. The unity of the people on the basis of religious and Islamic slogans is the only thing that can help these nations move forward. We have had long and continued experiences in this regard.

My dear sisters, my dear children, we have been faced with hostilities by the arrogant powers for thirty three years. Today they have created global hype about the sanctions they have imposed on Iran. They do not understand that they have been vaccinating us against sanctions for thirty years. We have been under sanctions for thirty years. We have been vaccinated against sanctions. Sanctions do not harm us. The people of Iran stood firm. The people of Iran sacrificed their lives, their wealth and the lives of their loved ones in order to resist in the face of the enemy's machinations. Today we are a hundred times more powerful and advanced than we used to be thirty years ago. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"] As far as science, politics, economy, managing the affairs of the country and the insight of the people are concerned, today we are far more advanced than we used to be during the early days of the Revolution. And the people of Iran have achieved this while being faced with hostilities by the enemies.

Today Muslim women in Iran are proud and dignified. They use thousands of propaganda tools in order to distort this truth, the truth has remained intact: today our educated women are the most pious and revolutionary people in our country. Today our women, our educated women, our young women are active in the most advanced laboratories and scientific and scholarly centers. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"] Our pious and revolutionary youth are among the most active women in political, scientific and managerial areas. They are highly educated and they think critically. The advances that the Iranian nation has achieved are due to resistance. If the people of a country resist for the sake of God and in the way of God, Allah the Exalted will help them. This is a divine promise. And divine promises are inviolable. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"]

The organizations affiliated with the arrogant powers did everything in their power in order to discourage the Islamic Republic from supporting Palestine. We stood firm in the case of the Palestinian issue. They tried to magnify sectarian and ethnic issues. The Islamic Republic stood by its Muslim brothers who followed different Islamic denominations, including Shia and Sunni Islam and different other Islamic denominations. The Islamic Republic is, and will be, present wherever there is an Islamic movement, wherever efforts are made to defend the Islamic identity, wherever efforts are made to defend the oppressed. America, Zionism and the corrupt political network of the arrogant powers have not been able to defeat the Islamic Republic and they will not be able to do so in the future either. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"] By Allah's favor, we stood by the Palestinian nation. We stood by the Muslim nations that carried out a revolution. We stood by all those who are opposed to America and Zionism. We are standing firm and we support them and we will not take the interests of any individual or any power into consideration in this regard. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar"]

What Allah the Exalted has bestowed on us and on other Muslim nations is divine mercy and blessings. We should act in a way that we stay qualified for divine mercy, and we should ask Allah the Exalted to bestow on us what brings about divine mercy and blessings. And by Allah's favor, this is what will happen.

Try to appreciate this movement by Muslim ladies and this opportunity that has been provided for you to become acquainted with each other from across the world of Islam. Use this opportunity to launch a great movement among members of the Islamic Ummah, and by Allah's favor, the movement you start will result in greater victories.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings