The following is the full text of the speech delivered on July 5, 2007 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with Panegyrists of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) household.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
I congratulate each and every one of you on this great Eid and this auspicious birthday anniversary. I express my deep gratitude to all the honorable people who have attended this meeting, particularly those dear brothers who had a role in the program that had been arranged for this meeting. I thank the esteemed presenter of the program, each and every one of the dear panegyrists, the poets who had composed these poems. I thank each and every one of you. You enlightened our meeting and our hearts with the light of the characteristics of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) daughter and the greatest woman in human history.
This is a miracle of Islam. That is to say, in her short life, Fatima Zahra (s.a.) achieved the position of the mistress of all women. In other words, she is superior to all great and saintly women throughout history. What factors, forces and what kind of inner strength could make a person become such an ocean of wisdom, piety, sanctity and spiritual transcendence in such a short time? This is a miracle of Islam.
Another point is the blessed descendants of this great person. The association of Sura al-Kauther with Fatima Zahra (s.a.) - even if such an association had not existed in our hadith collections - is an accurate association. There are so many blessings that have been bestowed on the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) household and on each and every one of the Imams (a.s.). The world is full of enjoyable individual, social, worldly and otherworldly melodies which came out of the pure throats of the Imams (a.s.). Hussein ibn Ali (a.s.), Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.), Imam Hassan al-Mojtaba (a.s.), Imam Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and each and every one of the Imams (a.s.) would produce these melodies. See what a great excitement exists in the world of spirituality and in the path of guidance because of the words of these great personalities and their lessons and teachings. They are the children of Fatima Zahra (s.a.).
We should sincerely thank God. A number of the poems, which were recited by the friends, contained this point. The love of Fatima Zahra (s.a.), also known as Siddiqat al-Kubra, is a great blessing for us. Thank God we became familiar with her. Thank God we relied on her kindness and thank God we appreciated her value. Thank God we relied on her, asked her to help us gain an understanding of things and expressed our love for her. These are great blessings. We should preserve these blessings.
The second issue that I am going to discuss is the role of you dear panegyrists. Although there is no doubt that religion is based on rationality, philosophy and reasoning, no rational, philosophical and logical organism can grow, develop roots and become eternal in history without being nourished by emotions and faith. This is the characteristic of religions. The difference between religions and various ideologies or philosophies is that religions attract faith. Faith is different from knowledge. Faith is different from reasoning. Faith is different from philosophy. Faith originates from one's heart. Faith enjoys the same position as emotions and feelings. Faith means engaging and devoting one's heart. Therefore, the heart plays an important role. Emotions have maintained their position throughout the history of religions in such a way.
In the war between philosophies, there is no philosophy which can resist the philosophy of religions and the philosophy of monotheism - particularly a philosophy like Islamic philosophy. But this is not the point. Many people know Islamic principles and concepts and they know a certain truth, but they do not believe in them from the bottom of their hearts. Do you think that those people who had heard the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) himself speak about the righteousness of Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) did not know this? They knew. We have read in narrations that they had heard this from the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) himself. They knew about it. But what was lacking was faith. They did not have faith in something which they had full knowledge of. That is to say, they did not believe in it from the bottom of their hearts. What blocks the path of faith? Many things, but this requires another long and detailed discussion.
Art, poetry, literature and one's presence in arenas of action in order to strengthen the spirit of faith play a very significant role. You can see the role of panegyrists in this regard. They strengthen people's faith, they build culture and they strengthen the spiritual relationship between the Imams and their followers. They play such a role. This role is a very important role.
Since we started to hold these meetings, I have said a few things about eulogy, panegyrists and other such issues every year. It is more than 20 years that we have been organizing these meetings with the honorable panegyrists - since I was President during the 1360s. I do not want to repeat the same things. I want to say that the brothers who recite panegyrics should recognize the significance of this. When a person understands the significance of this, he will realize that he has a responsibility towards it.
What does responsibility mean? It means that we will be questioned. You read in Dua Makarim al-Akhlaq: "Help me to answer the questions that you are going to ask me tomorrow." [Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, Dua 20] It means that God will ask us certain questions on Judgment Day. So we ask Him to help us prepare the answers to the questions that He is going to ask us tomorrow by taking care of our actions. This is the meaning of this prayer. Therefore, you have a responsibility. He will ask you certain questions regarding this responsibility. You should act in a way that you can answer those questions.
When this is understood, then we should find out how we should carry out this responsibility. All the things that we said - the things that responsible and wise panegyrists said and the points that you discussed in these meetings - is an effort to answer this question: what should we do? This "what should we do" is a question about which a book, full of answers, can be written. We want to draw on three answers out of this book:
The first is that when we recite our poem, we should think of increasing the faith of the audience. Therefore, not any poem should be recited and not any way of recitation should be chosen. We should recite it in a way that the words produce an effect together with the meaning and the rhythm. For what purpose? For increasing the faith of the audience. Of course, this is easier said than done. It is difficult to do this, but you can do it. You have good voices. You have a good memory. You have energy and enthusiasm. You can do all the things I said.
I advise the youth to avoid discarding methods of experienced panegyrists. I approve of innovation. There is nothing wrong with innovation. But if you want to achieve perfection in innovation, you should use the methods that have been applied in the past.
Innovation is only valuable when you improve upon past methods. Imagine that one storey has been built. If you build another storey on it and if another person adds yet another storey, then you will have a tall building. If you destroy a storey that somebody has built and if another person destroys the storey that you have built and builds another one in place of it, you will have a one-storey building. You should learn the skills of your teachers, experienced panegyrists and those who are more experienced than you in this work and you should add to it. If new methods are developed in such a way, it will be good.
In the past, we heard from well-known musicians that Persian traditional music has been preserved by panegyrists and those who re-enacted Islamic events such as Movafeq Khans, Mukhalef Khans and people who played the role of Ali Akbar and Ghasem. Each of them was given a dastgah. This helped the unwritten Persian music - which did not have any notes, any written records or other such things - to be passed on to the hands of those who could record and preserve it with notes and new methods. Now imagine that today our young individuals, whether a person who sings on television and radio - unfortunately, the situation is not good in this regard - or a panegyrist suddenly begin to sing European songs. And they do it in the wrong way. Imagine that we learn styles introduced by such and such a western singer or an Arab singer who imitates him and then we begin to sing after the fashion of such people. Of course, they used to do this before the victory of the Islamic Revolution. They spoiled the Persian traditional music which could have a halal form - of course, one kind of this traditional music is harram and there is no difference between Iranian and non-Iranian music in this regard. The situation became better after the Revolution, but it is not appropriate for a certain panegyrist or singer to appear on TV or radio and sing in the style of a certain western song or a song which is usually sung on indecent occasions. Doing such a thing in spiritual environments is not appropriate. It is good to innovate, but you should not do it in such a way. The points that I discussed are related to melody. A good voice can be spoiled with a bad melody. An average voice can be improved with a good melody. Melody itself is an important issue.
Let us switch to the issue of poems. This is a complex issue. First, the words used in a poem should be good. Not everybody knows good poems. Just because an incompetent individual thinks that a certain poem is good, this is not a good reason to believe that it is good. An individual who is an expert in poetry should confirm that a certain poem is good. What is the advantage of having a good poem? The advantage is that it will have an unconscious effect on the audience. This is art. An excellent form of art will have a deeper effect on the audience than a cheap and lewd form of art although the audience may not consciously know that it is excellent. The words should be powerful, good and beautiful. The themes should be interesting, attractive, new and innovative. The content - which is the main thing - should be instructive.
Apart from words, there is a certain issue, namely the issue of content. That is to say, what you are saying should be instructive. Imagine that a preacher sits at the minbar and speaks about things - from the beginning to the end of his speech - which do not add anything to the knowledge and wisdom of his audience. Well, he has wasted his and others' time. The same is true of a panegyrist.
Imagine that you recite a poem about Fatima Zahra (s.a.) and you use good words. But if it contains things which the audience does not at all benefit from, if this poem does not add anything to the knowledge of the audience about this great personality, if they do not learn anything about her monotheistic attitude and her efforts and if they do not understand anything about her behavior and characteristics - which are lessons for people because she was infallible and every move that she made is a lesson and an example for humanity - then this poem is flawed.
Therefore, the responsibility of you dear panegyrists is difficult. Unlike what certain people think, your job is not to memorize words. Such people think that having a smooth voice is enough. No, it is very difficult. Your work should be artistic, significant and instructive.
We have many issues today. Our issues are not only about America and nuclear energy. Today all intellectual centers, global powers and propaganda campaigns are thinking of ways to destroy this permanent and firm root which has developed in this country. They are trying to destroy this Islamic faith, this commitment to Islamic and Quranic principles and these religious hearts. You are sitting here and think that life is just going on. It is not so. There is a war, a real war between this society, the Islamic Republic, the intellectuals and activists of the Islamic Republic in different arenas - including you who are panegyrists of the country - and the opposing camp.
The opposing camp is comprised of people who want to take away faith from this sacred country and these pure hearts. They want to do this because they have found out that the kind of political system and the kind of structure which have been founded on the basis of such faith are not in line with their greedy, selfish and cruel interests. They have understood that such a system and structure does not get along with the transgression of global arrogance and its desire for domination. By using all kinds of tricks, they are seeking to empty people's hearts of belief in monotheism, belief in wilayat, love for the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) household, steadfastness in following religious principles, belief in fighting oppressors and belief in the fact that surrendering to oppression is a bad thing. They are using all kinds of tricks and they even speak about it openly.
The US Congress said that it has spent millions on, for example, promoting democracy in Iran. They call it democracy. Well, they are free to call it whatever they want. It is obvious what the truth is. What they really want is to destroy the firm ideological foundation which completely dominates these people and these hearts and souls and which leads them towards the straight path.
They want to spend the money that they speak about on such a plan. Much of this money is not spent on bombs, bullets and other such things. It is spent on propaganda campaigns and cultural work in different forms. Of course, our camp puts up a resistance against them and sometimes it attacks them. Therefore, this is a war. In such a war, the people whose work involves people's faith, hearts, understanding and the auspicious names of the Imams (a.s.) and the Holy Prophet's (a.s.) household, have a heavy responsibility. Dear brothers, you should know this responsibility properly and you should carry it out in the right way.
Thankfully, we have heard good things from different people. Of course, there are certain rumors here and there. One of the things that I want to stress is the issue of Islamic solidarity which I have spoken about before. Islamic solidarity means that Muslims' religious emotions should not be provoked. You should not do anything to provoke non-Shia Muslims' emotions against yourselves. Similarly, they should not do anything to provoke your emotions against themselves. The enemies want this.
Notice that two Palestinian groups are fighting with one another now. What is better than this for Israel? Instead of pointing guns at the Israelis, they are fighting one another. Well, this is a very good thing for Israel. Creating such a situation is worth spending so much money. Imagine that in Lebanon too, a group of people emerge who decide to fight with another group of people. Which blessing is greater than this for Israel and America? Is this situation better for them or the one in which a group of people like Hezbollah enters the arena and everybody follows them - some out of faith and some others out of fear of reactions from public opinion - to defeat Israel? It is obvious that the situation in which there is discord is better for Israel and America. This is the way things are in the world of Islam.
Is it better for America to see Muslims in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Turkey and other places go to streets and shout slogans in support of the Islamic Republic or when it silences the voice of these nations and makes a number of them express their opposition to Islamic Iran whenever it makes its voice heard on a certain issue? It is obvious that the latter is better for America. How can they do that? It is very easy. They can do something to revive Shia and Sunni differences. They can say to Sunni Muslims, "These are Shia Muslims. They swear at the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). They insult what you hold sacred." They want to separate us from one another. This is what they want. The person who shouted the slogan of unity between Shia and Sunni was thinking of these things when such ideas were introduced. Why do some people fail to understand this? Our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) - who shouted the slogan of unity between Muslims - loved and believed in the Imams (a.s.) more than those who claimed to do so. Did he have a better understanding of wilayat or an ordinary person who does illegal actions in the name of wilayat and who says nonsensical things in public and private meetings? You should preserve unity.
If you see that there are some people among you in society who do the opposite, you should drive them away. You should tell them that you are opposed to them. Such people inflict harm and they deal a blow to Islam, Shia Islam and the Islamic community. This is one of the most important issues.
Today Islamic unity is to the advantage of Islam and the Islamic Revolution. Moving against this orientation is to the advantage of America, the Zionists and those bullies who have filled their pockets with petrodollars and who do not like elements like the Islamic Republic and the people of Iran to exist. Anyway, we ask Allah the Exalted to guide all of us.
Dear God, bestow Your blessings and Your kindness on these pure and enlightened hearts and these tongues which praise and remember You. Dear God, send our endless greetings and the greetings of our martyrs, past generations and our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) to the immaculate soul of Fatima Zahra (s.a.). Dear God, make that holy person satisfied with us. Make us be followers of those great Imams (a.s.). Dear God, make our nation become more glorious on a daily basis. Make the holy heart of the Imam of the Age (a.s.) satisfied and happy with us.
Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings