Leader’s Speech at 4th Strategic Thoughts Forum

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on November 14, 2012 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution at the 4th "Strategic Thoughts Forum".

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

First of all, I am very happy and truly grateful to each and every person who has attended this meeting, particularly the dear brothers and sisters who took the trouble of doing research, writing articles and summarizing them to be presented in this meeting. Clearly, the articles had been summarized and I hope Allah the Exalted gives us the opportunity to read the full text articles which have been published and made available to us. It is unlikely that I will find this opportunity, but it would be good if the friends referred to and reflected on the full text articles. After all, we will continue dealing with these matters in the future. Also, I would like to thank the honorable host, Dr. Vaezzadeh who says a lot in a short speech and carries out a lot of work without any pretention. I am fully aware of the fact that Dr. Vaezzadeh and his colleagues are extremely hard-working.

I also deem it necessary to express my gratitude to the officials who organized this meeting. These days you know that there is a widespread concern in the political atmosphere of the country as a result of the conflict that the arrogant powers of the world and the archenemies of freedom have caused for our country and the Islamic Republic - namely, the economic issues and their effects on the government's performance and on the daily life of the people. None of us are free from this concern, yet this essential and long-term work was not stopped or put on hold. That is to say, this meeting went exactly according to plan and was held at the specified time. This makes me happy and it also makes me grateful to all those who are in charge of arranging this meeting.

The Islamic Republic pursues a number of main goals through "Strategic Thoughts Forums". We do not want to lose sight of these goals. One of the issues is that the country seriously needs thoughts and ideas in areas relating to infrastructure. There are many essential areas to be discussed and this is the fourth meeting that has been arranged. We are aware that we need to reflect upon these essential areas. During the month of Ramadan in a meeting with academics - I do not remember exactly, but it was either with professors or with university students - I referred to a comment which had been made by a person in a similar meeting the previous year. Addressing me, that person said that I always stress science and scientific progress and blossoming and that I should stress thinking and producing ideas as well. I thought about his comment and realized that he was making a very important point. I said in this meeting that we should do something about thinking, production of ideas and activating thoughts. Of course, there are certain requirements and conditions. Some of these requirements already exist and some others do not exist in the country but it is possible to meet them. This is among the essential challenges faced by a nation. Our nation is not stagnant like a swamp: it is like a river that is flowing. This is how our nation is. We are moving forward. We might come up against certain obstacles, but this does not stop our progress. We are such a nation. Therefore, we need to think about this issue. One purpose of such meetings is to address the critical national need for thoughts and ideas, particularly in areas relating to infrastructure.

Another goal is to establish a direct relationship with our outstanding personalities. I might have access to your book and read it, but this is different from listening to you in person even if you have to summarize what you want to say. This is true of all the people who have attended this meeting: you should listen to each other in person. This is an important point. The third point - which is a very important point - is the need to prepare the scientific ground for finding answers to important questions regarding fundamental issues. As was mentioned by some of the friends, we are faced with certain questions and it is necessary to find answers to these questions. Posing such questions is not an attempt to create fallacies and intellectual complications, rather it is an attempt to point out essential issues related to our social life. We claim that we are an Islamic republic, that our system is Islamic. Therefore, posing such questions is an attempt to point out issues that are essential. It is necessary to pose and answer such questions. Has this issue been resolved? Are there clear answers to this question or not? We need to work on this area. This is the goal of this meeting.

Of course, neither tonight's meeting nor any of the previous three meetings aimed to provide definitive answers. Neither you nor myself say the final word in such meetings. We are just trying to prepare the ground. We want to start a movement. Our aim is to launch this movement and get it flowing forward like a river. The main part of the work should be done after this meeting, which will be taken care of by innovative and motivated researchers and professors, both in our Islamic seminaries and in our universities. Dr. Vaezzadeh discussed the measures that were adopted after the first meeting, which was about presenting an Iranian-Islamic paradigm for progress. Good and fundamental things have been done in that regard. The same center was put in charge of the second meeting, which was about justice. The third meeting was about family and important things have been done in this area, both at the center and in certain research institutes and technical centers. The work is under way. I demanded that no labels should be put on the work. Since the beginning, we did not want to put labels on this work. We only want the work to be done and once it has been done, it will be possible to put labels on it. Of course, I recently asked the gentlemen to pursue a particular media policy in order to launch a movement, especially in challenging areas such as freedom. The purpose is to enable intellectuals, interested individuals and those who are suffering from lethargy or are looking for motivation to benefit from tonight's meeting and join the movement. However, we do not want to engage in publicity - in the common sense of the word.

As for the subject of tonight's meeting - namely, the issue of freedom - there are a few points. The comments that were made in this meeting were very good comments. That is to say, when one listens to these comments, one can benefit from them. I am a good listener and I listen carefully. All the comments that the friends made in this meeting were useful to me although some of the comments were more useful than others. Their comments contained noteworthy points. Of course, to be frank, from what the participants said I realized how many shortcomings exist in this area. I will discuss the shortcomings later on.

The truth is that among westerners the issue of freedom has blossomed in an exceptional way over the three, four centuries before and after the Renaissance. In the area of philosophy, in the area of social sciences and in the area of art and literature, few other subjects have been discussed in the western world as extensively as freedom. There are primary and secondary reasons why this is the case. The primary reason is that such fundamental discussions require initial motivation, which often comes in the form of an upheaval. In normal conditions, deep challenges do not occur in the area of fundamental issues. There must be an important event and the ground should be prepared by the event. Of course, as I said I am discussing the primary cause, but there are secondary causes as well. The primary cause was the Renaissance in European countries, which started from Italy and spread to England, France and other places. Afterwards, the Industrial Revolution took place in England in the late 17th century and the early 18th century. The Industrial Revolution was an important event. It was like an intellectual explosion that caused people to think. It caused intellectuals to think. Later on in the mid 18th century the ground was prepared for French Revolution in a region where such revolutions had not happened before. Of course, there were brief revolutionary events in England a couple of centuries earlier, but they were not comparable to the events that took place during the French Revolution.

The requirement for the French Revolution was the domestic preparedness that existed in the French society: it existed under the outer skin of the French society and intellectuals could see it. I would say that the realities of the French society were not influenced by the ideas of the likes of Montesquieu and Rousseau as strongly as these philosophers were influenced by the realities of the French society. Anybody who studies the issue will come to this conclusion. You know that Montesquieu was not even living in France. There were certain realities in the French society. Before that great explosion which took place in 1789, so many events were happening under the outer skin of the French society that it was clear something was going on. The idea of rationality was put forth regarding the issue of freedom. However, I would say that in the French Revolution there might have been only a handful of intellectuals who had this idea, but in the real world, the issue of rationality was not even discussed. No, the only thing that mattered was freedom, mostly freedom from the shackles of monarchy and the autocratic government which had dominated them since a few centuries earlier, namely the rule of the Bourbons who had dominated every aspect of the life of the people of France. It was not just the court, rather each French aristocrat was a king. What you have heard about Bastille and Bastille prisons was not limited to those times only. Bastille probably remained the same for several centuries. It was a chaotic situation. Intellectuals such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu, who were witness to those conditions and had the talent to think carefully, would reach certain conclusions and say certain things. And their ideas and comments were completely ignored in the French society where all the action took place. Notice that there was no reference to the ideas of Montesquieu, Voltaire and others in any of the speeches that luminaries of the time - such as Mirabeau and others - would deliver. Everything they said was about corruption of the ruling system, its autocracy and other such things. This is the truth behind the French Revolution.

In a sense, the French Revolution was a failed revolution. Only eleven or twelve years after that revolution, a powerful empire was established by Napoleon, an absolute monarchy. Even the predecessors of Louis XVI - who was killed in the revolution - did not rule the way Napoleon did. At the coronation ceremony, they invited the Pope to put the crown on Napoleon's head, but Napoleon did not let him do that. He grabbed the crown from the Pope and crowned himself. Of course, these things are secondary issues. In contrast, it would be good if we paid attention to the fact that it was Imam Khomeini (r.a.) who did not let such tragic things happen in our Revolution on a smaller scale in one form or another. It was that commanding and charismatic leader who did not let such things happen in our Revolution, otherwise you can be sure that similar events would have happened. In the twelve-year period between the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon, three different groups of people came to power. Every new group massacred and wiped out the previous group and they were in turn massacred by the next group that came to power. And the people were living in the worst conditions, in complete chaos. This is what the French Revolution was. In many ways, the same is true of the Russian Revolution of 1917. That is to say, the Russian Revolution was similar to the French Revolution, but the conditions were different and various factors guided and controlled the people. It would be good if these things were taken into consideration. Unfortunately, I see that the associations I am in contact with - historical, academic and other such associations - do not pay attention to the points that these revolutions contained.

Of course, as you know, several revolutions have taken place in France. The French Revolution is the one that took place at the end of the 18th century. After around forty years, there was another revolution and around twenty years later, there was yet another revolution, a communist revolution. The first communist revolution in history happened in France, where communes were established. There were several factors that motivated this intellectual movement. The Renaissance was the first factor. The Renaissance was not an abrupt event. Many events took place over the first two hundred years of the Renaissance. One of these events was the Industrial Revolution and another event was the French Revolution. It was they themselves who put forth the idea of freedom, so they have worked on this issue. A large number of philosophers carried out research and wrote thousands of articles and books. In all western countries, hundreds of books have been written on the subject of freedom. Later on when the idea of freedom reached America, the same thing happened in America as well.

Until before the Constitutional Movement in Iran, there was not a good opportunity to launch an intellectual movement and make people think about a subject like freedom. The Constitutional Movement provided a very good opportunity. It was a great event and it was directly related to the issue of freedom. It had the capacity to stir the calm intellectual sea in the country, both in spiritual areas and in non-spiritual areas. It had the capacity to cause a storm and lead to an achievement, just as it did. The ideas relating to freedom were put forth, but there was a big problem which did not let us find the right path and move forward. The problem was that several years before the Constitutional Movement - maybe two, three decades before the movement - western ideas had gradually found their way into the minds of a group of intellectuals as a result of the efforts by aristocratic elements, princes and agents of the monarchy. When we speak about "intellectuals" of that era, we mean aristocrats. That is to say, we did not have intellectuals who were not aristocrats. Our top intellectuals were court officials and those who were affiliated with them. From the beginning, they were exposed to western ideas about freedom. For this reason, when you read about the controversial issue of freedom in the Constitutional Movement, you realize that the same anti-church tendency, which was an important characteristic of freedom in the west, emerged in our country in the form of an anti-mosque, anti-clergy and anti-religion tendency. It was a false analogy. Basically, the orientation of the Renaissance was anti-religion and anti-church and for this reason, it was founded on the basis of humanism. All the other western movements which were launched later on, were founded on humanism and this has been the case until today. In spite of all the differences that existed, the foundation was humanistic - namely, the foundation of kufr, the foundation of polytheism. If there is enough time, I will return to this issue. The same foundation was chosen in the Constitutional Movement. You see that the intellectual essayist, the intellectual politician and even the cleric who associated with intellectuals would say the same things as westerners, and nothing more, when writing articles and books about the Constitutional Movement. This was why the movement did not result in generation of ideas.

Notice that this is the nature of intellectual imitation. When you obtain a prescription from another person in order to read and follow it, generation of ideas becomes meaningless. But when you use the knowledge and ideas of another person and receive motivation from him, you start doing your work and you generate ideas. This did not happen and for this reason, there was no generation of ideas later on. In areas relating to freedom, no novel ideas and theories were put forth. Many of the western intellectuals have their own theories about freedom. Each of the criticisms that has been leveled against the old version of liberalism as well as each of the criticisms that has been leveled against the new versions of liberalism and liberal democracy - which were introduced after the 16th or 17th century - is based on a separate theory. Each of these theories poses numerous questions. We did not build even one single theory in our country despite the fact that there was no shortage of sources, a point which was also mentioned by the friends who spoke in the meeting. We can build a complete theory about freedom, one that would provide answers to all big and small questions. Of course, this requires determined efforts. It is not an easy task. We have failed to build a theory. In spite of the fact that we had our own sources, we imported their theories. Different people imported from different countries. Those who were in contact with Austria imported ideas from Austrian scholars. Those who could speak French imported ideas from French sources. Those who were affiliated with England and Germany imitated those who spoke English or German. They become imitators, and the opponents of imitation - who were considered as enemies of freedom - were also harmed, just like the imitators. The opponents of imitation realized that the imitators were promoting anti-religion and anti-spirituality ideas and they stood up against them.

Today we are suffering from numerous shortcomings. There are numerous gaps. We do not have our own theories despite the fact that we have the necessary sources. In today's meeting, I believe Dr. Barzgar - if I remember correctly - was the only person who presented a theory. You might consider his theory as flawed and it might really be flawed, but this is not the point. We need to move towards building theories. That is to say, we need to put different pieces of this puzzle together and build a complete picture. We need this. And this is not something that can be achieved in a couple of meetings. It can be achieved through teamwork and it requires mastery over Islamic sources as well as western sources. I will return to this point.

Let me discuss two, three issues now. One issue is how to lay out the matter. The friends who spoke in this meeting referred to spiritual freedom. Spiritual freedom, in the sense that has been explained in certain narrations and has been referred to by some of our intellectuals such as Shahid Motahhari, is one of the best human virtues and there is no doubt in this regard, but this is not what we want to discuss in this meeting. We do not want to discuss spiritual freedom in the sense of transcendence towards God, closeness to Him and moving forward in the realm of monotheism, which built personalities such as Mollah Hossein-Gholi Hamedani, the late Mr. Ghazi and the late Mr. Tabatabai.

Our discussion is about social and political freedoms, individual and social freedoms: this is the main issue of the modern world. There might be a hundred other issues as well, issues that the west might not even know about, issues such as different kinds of spiritual transcendence, but today our goal is to discuss freedom in the sense that is common in academic, political and intellectual environments of the modern world. This is what we want to discuss. Spiritual freedom in the sense of transcendence towards God, closeness and attention to Him, love for Him and other such things, is a different issue.

In a sense, there is another kind of freedom which might be called "spiritual freedom". This kind of freedom is freedom from internal factors which prevent people from acting freely in society, factors which prevent freedom of thought in society, factors such as fear of death, fear of hunger, fear of poverty. These fears have been mentioned in the Holy Quran. "Therefore fear not the people and fear Me." [The Holy Quran, 5: 44] "Do not fear them, and fear Me if you are believers." [The Holy Quran, 3: 175] Addressing the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), Allah the Exalted says: "You feared men, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him." [The Holy Quran, 33: 37] The same is true of being deprived of privileges. Imagine that you enjoy a certain privilege in an organization and that if you say certain things or act like a liberated man or advise people to do righteous deeds, you will be deprived of the privilege you enjoy. The same is also true of greed. Greed prevents people from telling powerful individuals their flaws or from treating powerful individuals in a liberated way, only because they do not want to fall from grace. The same is also true of envy, prejudice and rigidity. All of these things are a kind of internal obstacles, and freedom from these things can be called spiritual freedom.

Therefore, spiritual freedom has two meanings. One meaning is transcendence towards God, closeness to Him, love for Him and other such things. We do not want to discuss this meaning. It is a different matter. Another meaning of spiritual freedom is freedom from inner shackles which prevent people from engaging in jihad, from fighting, from speaking frankly, from announcing their positions openly. These inner shackles cause hypocrisy. This issue might be put forth when discussing obstacles that lie in the way of freedom.

The next issue is that we want to find out what Islam has to say. We will not stand on ceremony with anybody: if we follow whatever non-Islamic ideas that come to our minds, we will suffer from the same problems that western intellectuals are suffering from in different areas, including philosophy, literature, art and social issues: contradictory views, which are often not translated into action. What we are after is to discover what Islam has to say.

Notice that as far as the Islamic view of freedom is concerned, the first limitation is one that we ourselves create. What is that limitation? The limitation is that we want the Islamic view: we limit ourselves to the Islamic view, to an Islamic framework. This is the first limitation. When discussing freedom, we should not be afraid of limitations. When the word "freedom" is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is freedom from limitations. For those who want to discuss freedom, anything that goes against freedom from limitations is unfavorable. That is to say, for such people, the rule is absolute freedom and limitations are the exception. They are only after picking out the areas in which absolute freedom does not exist and claiming that absolute freedom exists in all the other areas. One might fall into this pitfall when discussing the issue of freedom. I would say that absolute freedom should not be the assumption and the starting point. Later on I will explain what the origin of freedom is from an Islamic perspective. There should be no such assumption that human beings have a right to absolute freedom and that absolute freedom is a value for human beings, and then look for the exceptions to this rule. This is not how we should think. We should not be afraid of limitations. As I said, when speaking about freedom from an Islamic point of view, the first limitation that we set and observe is that everything should fit into an Islamic framework. What is the meaning of freedom in Islam? Such a question specifies the limitations that should be observed.

In the famous ayah of holy Sura al-A'raf, Allah the Exalted says: "Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures) - in the Torah and the Gospel - for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil. He allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure). He releases them from their heavy shackles and from the guy-ropes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him - it is they who will prosper." [The Holy Quran, 7: 157] This is the ayah which speaks most clearly about freedom, about guy-ropes and shackles being removed. Guy-ropes are used to attach a tent to the ground so that it is not blown away. "But he clung to the earth, and followed his own vain desires." [The Holy Quran, 7: 176] Our "guy-ropes" are what attach us to the ground and prevent us from flying. The ayah says that the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) was sent to earth to free people from shackles. In the same ayah, before saying "He releases them from their heavy shackles and from the guy-ropes that are upon them", Allah the Exalted says: "He commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil." What is the purpose of labeling things as halal and haraam? The purpose is to set limits, to prohibit. When we speak about freedom, we should not at all fear that there might be limitations and prohibitions in our minds.

Some of the gentlemen said that there are essential differences between Islamic and western views and theories of freedom. In particular, they spoke about liberalism in the west. Of course, there are other schools of thought as well, but all of them have this view of freedom in common. Yes, the differences which were mentioned by the gentlemen exist, but the most important difference is that in liberalism the source of freedom - freedom as truth or as a value - is humanism because they believe that in creation human beings are the central element of existence and volition. They argue that being human would be meaningless in the absence of volition and that for this reason human beings should have volition and freedom. Of course, this "volition" is different from free will, as opposed to determinism. The issue of free will and determinism was also mentioned by some of the gentlemen. Free will means that human beings have the "power" to choose, an intrinsic and innate capability. But in this particular case, when we speak about volition, what is meant is the "right" to choose. There is no necessary cause-effect relationship between the power to choose truth and the right to choose. Of course, it is possible to formulate certain cause-effect relationships, but it is not clear whether they will be convincing. In essence, this is what they are saying: human beings are the central element. That is to say, they are saying that in fact human beings are the god of existence and that they cannot exist without the power to choose, without volition. This means that it is impossible for us to imagine that human beings are in charge of existence and yet they lack volition, which is one meaning of freedom. This is the basis of the discussion about freedom. This is the foundation of humanism as far as freedom is concerned.

The issue is completely different in Islam. In Islam, the main foundation of human freedom is monotheism. Of course, the friends who spoke in this meeting correctly mentioned other foundations of freedom, but the main foundation is monotheism. Monotheism is not limited to faith in God. It includes faith in God as well as rejection of taghut, being a servant of God and nobody else. "Come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate anything with Him." [The Holy Quran, 3: 64] The Holy Quran does not say, "We shall not associate anybody with Him." Of course, in other ayahs, "anybody" has been mentioned as well, but this ayah is different. In this ayah, Allah the Exalted says, "And we shall not associate anything with Him." That is to say, if you follow your habits without any good reason, this is against monotheism. The same is true of following other human beings. The same is also true of following social systems, where these systems are not in line with the will of God. All of these things are instances of shirk and polytheism, and monotheism is the rejection of this shirk. "Therefore, whoever disbelieves in Satan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle." [The Holy Quran, 2: 256] Monotheism includes both rejection of taghut and faith in God. This means freedom, in the sense that you are free from all limitations except that you are a servant of God.

Many years ago, I spoke about the issue of freedom during my Friday prayer sermons for ten, fifteen weeks. I said during those sermons that we Muslims consider ourselves as servants of God, but certain religions consider human beings and themselves as children of God. I said at that time that what they say does not really mean anything: they claim to be children of God and yet they are slaves to thousands of human beings and thousands of things. Islam does not say this. Islam says, "It does not matter who your parents are. You just need to be a servant of God and nobody else." The majority of Islamic teachings regarding freedom revolve around this point.

The famous narration by the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - which I think has been quoted by both Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and Imam Hadi (a.s.) - says, "Is there any liberated man who will throw this worthless thing at those who want it?" So far, it is not clear what the Commander of the Faithful wants to say. The only thing that can be understood is that a liberated man is one who throws this worthless thing at those who want it and does not go after it himself. He continues, "... There is nothing other than paradise that is worthy of your soul, so do not trade your soul for anything other than that." Here, it becomes clear that there was a price to be paid for that worthless thing. That is to say, one had to give up one's soul and identity for the sake of that worthless thing. It was a business deal and this narration advises against such a deal. If you want to make a business deal, why do trade your soul for a worthless thing? You should just trade your soul for paradise and worshipping God. This is the essential point. Of course, there is another essential point, which is human dignity and is clearly indicated in "there is nothing other than paradise that is worthy of your soul", but let us not enter into this discussion.

Another point is that when referring to our Islamic sources, we should not just be after disproving that discussions about freedom are a European and western gift to us. As was mentioned by some of the gentlemen, we have many Quranic and non-Quranic sources as well as numerous hadith collections which are related to the issue of freedom. At that time, when I was preparing those Friday prayer sermons, I had researched and collected a number of such sources. Sometimes we use these sources to ask why certain westoxicated people say that we have learnt these concepts from Europeans. We try to show that centuries before these issues emerged in Europe, Muslim luminaries had discussed them. This is one advantage of consulting our Islamic sources, but it is not the only advantage. We need to consult our Islamic sources so that we can extract a theory of freedom from them.

Another point is that we can discuss freedom from four different perspectives. One is from the perspective of truth, which is based on the Holy Quran, not on Islamic jurisprudence. Later on, I will discuss this point briefly. Another is from the perspective of obligations. The third is from the perspective of values, the perspective of a value system. I believe the first perspective is the most important perspective and we need to discuss freedom from the perspective of truth, which is based on the Holy Quran. In the Holy Quran, the word "truth" has been mentioned more than two hundred times and this is extraordinary. Truth has a deep and vast meaning. We can superficially equate the term with an organized system that has a purpose.

In different ayahs, Allah the Exalted says that all creation is based on truth. "We did not create them both but with the truth, but most of them do not know." [The Holy Quran, 44: 39] "And Allah created the heavens and the earth with truth." [The Holy Quran, 45: 22] That is to say, this system of creation - including the existence of man minus the issue of free will and determinism - is an organized and interconnected system which has a purpose. The same thing is said about specifying laws other than the laws of nature. I referred to certain ayahs regarding the laws of nature, but regarding other divine laws, the Holy Quran says: "This is because Allah has revealed the Book with the truth." [The Holy Quran, 2: 176] "Surely We have sent you with the truth as a bearer of good news and as a warner." [The Holy Quran, 2: 119] "Certainly the apostles of our Lord brought the truth." [The Holy Quran, 7: 43] "Truth" is the same in both cases: the difference is that one refers to the laws of nature and the other refers to other divine laws. This means that the laws of nature are completely consistent with other divine laws. The will of human beings can only distort part of the picture. Of course, because everything is in line with the laws of nature and with truth - that is to say, whatever that exists is the result of God's wisdom - in the end, truth prevails over all the minor distortions and deviations. However, there might be certain deviations. One element of creation is human beings' volition and freedom, so it is part of truth. This is the perspective we should adopt: freedom is truth and it is against falsehood.

Truth has a legal meaning as well: rights and entitlements. This is different from the discussion of choice in the area of free will and determinism.

Another perspective on freedom is the perspective of obligations: we need to consider freedom as an obligation. We cannot admit that freedom is a good thing, but then announce that we do not want it. No, this is not possible. Human beings must go after freedom, freedom for oneself as well as freedom for others. Human beings must not let anybody live under oppression and humiliation. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) said: "Do not become a servant to anybody because God created you free." Also, the Holy Quran says: "And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children?" [The Holy Quran 4: 75] This means that we have a responsibility to ensure freedom for other people as well, even through killing, which is a different issue.

The fourth perspective on freedom is the perspective of values. In the values-based system of Islam, this is among the primary elements - of course, this is true of freedom that already exists.

Finally, as people who want to discuss and research the issue of freedom and move forward, what is our attitude towards western views? This is an essential point. The ladies and gentlemen who spoke in this meeting rightly pointed out that there is a wide gap between the Islamic view and the western view. As I said, the difference is largely due to the fact that the standard of freedom in the west is humanism, but in Islam the standard of freedom is rule of God, worshipping God and monotheism. Sometimes when we take a look at western views, we realize that they have not yielded good results, and this is a fact. All those outstanding and great western philosophers - such as Kant and others - have discussed the issue of freedom. But what is the result? In which part of the western world are their behaviors and actions consistent with what those intellectuals said and demanded? The limitations that those intellectuals specified are ignored. If we assume that what we see in the west are the operationalized versions of the ideas of those intellectuals, their conditions must have been as bad as those of the western world because in terms of freedom the conditions of the west are very bad and pathetic - that is to say, their conditions are not at all defensible.

In the west, economic freedom looks like what was described by the gentlemen who spoke in this meeting. In the economic arena, a small number of people seize the economic opportunities. If a person manages to join the club of economically powerful people through clever methods, deception or other things, he gets everything. Of course, in America they do not look at one's aristocratic background, unlike Europe where such matters are still considered important to a certain extent. In America one's aristocratic and family background or other such things are not a factor. In America anybody who manages to take advantage of an opportunity and becomes rich- even if initially a physical laborer- is considered a capitalist and enjoys the same privileges as other capitalists. In the charter that was prepared by the Americans, it was stated by one of the founders, luminaries and pioneers of modern America that America should be managed by those who control the wealth of America. This dates back to over two hundred years ago and I do not remember what his name was. It happened shortly before the French Revolution, when those events took place in America and an American government was established. This is a general principle and they are not afraid of announcing it. The wealth of America is in the hands of a small number of people and the same people are given the exclusive right to rule the country. This is exactly the opposite of the purpose of cooperative companies in which - as was explained by the honorable brother - everybody has the right to play a role in management even if he owns one single share. This is their economic freedom.

As for their political system, you see the game that is played by their two-party system. They have monopolized the political scene and those who are affiliated with these two parties are definitely far less than one percent of the American population. Basically, these parties have no genuine roots in society. In fact, they are exclusive clubs to bring certain people together. Those who vote have either been deceived by their slogans or are under the influence of the western propaganda machine that is extremely powerful and advanced in the west, especially in America which is far more advanced than us in terms of its propaganda capabilities. America is extremely good at distorting realities, at presenting black as white and white as black. They are extremely advanced and competent in these areas. Through these methods, they encourage the people to vote.

As for moral issues, there is the issue of homosexuality which was mentioned by the honorable sister who spoke in this meeting. Of course, they are still committed to certain moral principles. One can guess that this commitment will soon disappear. That is to say, there is no logical reason why incest should be forbidden for these people. If we assume that homosexual activities and cohabitation are permissible because they satisfy human desires, then it is possible that there are a number of people who desire incest. There is no reason why this should not be the case - that is to say, there is no logical reason. Presumably, these limitations and principles will also be removed in the future.

Therefore, the realities of western societies are bad, bitter, ugly and sometimes disgusting. There is no justice. There is discrimination and bullying. There is warmongering in the area of global issues. In order to fill the pockets of weapons manufacturing companies and prevent them from going bankrupt, they start a war between two peoples. They promote fear of the Islamic Republic among the Persian Gulf states, just to sell them Phantoms and Mirages. They constantly do these things.

They adopt a selective attitude towards noble matters such as human rights and democracy. They adopt a very bad and immoral attitude towards these matters. Therefore, the realities of living in the west - whose philosophers have discussed the issue of freedom so extensively - are truly unpleasant.

One way is to look at the existing realities and reject those ideas. I believe that it is wrong to adopt this perspective. Yes, to a large extent these realities show that western intellectuals drifted away from God and started to believe that they did not need divine guidance. They started to depend on themselves alone and they went astray, they led themselves and their people astray, they prepared the way for themselves and their people to go to hell: there is no doubt in this regard. However, I believe it is beneficial for our intellectuals to study the views of western intellectuals and make use of their exchange of views and their expertise in organizing their ideas into theories, on condition that they avoid imitation. This is because imitation runs against freedom. Imitation should be avoided, but their work can help you.

I wrote down other points to discuss in this meeting, but it is very late, especially for me because I usually try to avoid staying awake until this time of night. Being in the company of you dear brothers and sisters fills me with such excitement that I cannot sleep. As the poet says, "You reach the Friend when you do not sleep and eat." We stayed up late tonight: that's as far as "sleep" is concerned, but as far as the "eat" is concerned, we are at your service God willing...

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings