Leader's Speech in Meeting with People from Ilam Province

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on May 14, 2014 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with people from Ilam province on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). The meeting was held in the Imam Khomeini (r.a.) Hussainiyah.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah and peace and greetings be upon His messenger and upon his immaculate and pure household.

I would like to welcome you dear brothers and sisters who have travelled a long distance and who have turned our day into an Eid - in the real sense of the word - with your presence. I hope that, by the blessedness of this birthday, Allah the Exalted bestows His spiritual and material blessings on the people of Iran - particularly you brothers and sisters who have come from Ilam. I hope that He bestows His special blessings and guidance on you.

Divine blessings have always been bestowed on you people of Ilam - all people from Ilam, whether those who live in tribes or those who live in cities. We witnessed this up close in the past. Divine blessings have always been bestowed on you people of Ilam, whether during the Sacred Defense Era or afterwards.

Jihad, resistance, steadfastness and public loyalty are not minor things. These are a source of glory for people and thankfully, you have enjoyed, you are enjoying and you will enjoy these glories. And you - particularly you dear youth - should know that this country belongs to you. Its future belongs to you. It is you on whose strong shoulders this great responsibility should fall, as the youth in the past shouldered this responsibility by defending national honor, the independence of the country and their religion, faith and national identity.

The people of Ilam are one of the manifestations of this defense. I witnessed up close the sacrifices that the people of Ilam made. During the years 1359, 1360 - those difficult times - all the people of Ilam, including men and women, were present on the scene. At that time, they cooperated with one another and the outstanding personalities of your province moved ahead of the people. The same is true of today. I hope that Allah the Exalted helps and bestows success on officials so that they too can completely carry out their responsibilities. Of course, they are trying to do this. They are after solving problems. We should cooperate with them. Everyone should offer their help so that this task will be carried out.

Many things have been said about the Commander of the Faithful (peace and greetings be upon him). However, not everything has been touched upon. What has been said and written about the characteristics of the Commander of the Faithful (God's greetings be upon him) does not constitute all his characteristics. It is only part of his characteristics. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) has been quoted as saying, "My brother, Ali, has characteristics which are countless". That is to say, people cannot count his characteristics because they are beyond the understanding of ordinary people. This is the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.).

Well, we need a role model and a leader. Therefore, we should adopt such an outlook towards the Commander of the Faithful (greetings be upon him). In my humble opinion, everyone - whether those who are interested in writing and research or we who want to study and think about his characteristics - should study the Commander of the Faithful's (peace and greetings be upon him) life in a number of chapters. In my opinion, there are four chapters which are at the top of the list. I will briefly refer to these four chapters.

One chapter is the spiritual positions of the Commander of the Faithful including his monotheistic understanding, his act of worship, his closeness to God and his purity. These are things whose depth and truth are really beyond our reach. All outstanding ulama - including Shia and Sunni ulama and even non-Muslim scholars - have said that they are not able to understand this part of the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) personality. This part of his life catches everyone's eyes with its loftiness and enlightenment. They cannot understand the different dimensions of his life. This is one part of his life.

When Ibn Abi al-Hadid, a Sunni and Mu'tazili scholar, narrates one of the sermons of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - which is about monotheism - in his commentary on Nahjul Balaghah, he says, "Ibrahim al-Khalil al-Rahman should be proud of having such a son". Many prophets emerged from Ibrahim's descendents. However, he says this only about the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). He says, "Ibrahim al-Khalil al-Rahman should say to this son of his, ‘You made certain statements in your monotheism sermon about the Arabs' follies. I could not make such statements about Nabts' [a Bani Israel tribe] follies and I could not illustrate the same truths as you did'". Notice that the narrator is a Sunni and Mu'tazili scholar. This is one part and one chapter of the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) life and it has many unknown dimensions. This part of his life is really a deep ocean.

Another part is the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) jihads. These jihadi and self-sacrificing acts are the peak of sacrifice. The sacrifices that the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) made for Islam, for religion, for saving the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) life, for preserving his religion and for the honor and greatness of the Islamic Ummah are jihadi acts and they are really beyond the capability of humanity.

During his childhood, from the moment that he began to know the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) as his teacher, during the time he was raised by him, when he accepted Islam during his childhood, during the difficult thirteen-year era of his life in Makah, during the difficult event of migration to Madina, during the ten-year era of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) auspicious life in Madina and during all the wars, sacrifices and difficulties, this individual stood on the peak of sacrifice.

He made the same sacrifices after the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) demise. The patience of the Commander of the Faithful was a sacrifice. His measures were a sacrifice. His cooperation was a sacrifice. His acceptance of caliphate was a sacrifice. The measures that he adopted during his short era of caliphate were sacrifices one after the other. The book of the sacrifices that the Commander of the Faithful (peace and greetings be upon him) made is a long and voluminous book for any reader and it really astonishes one.

It is astonishing to see that an individual can offer - with firm determination - his life, his reputation, his capability and his whole existence in the way of God. Understanding this is beyond me and people like me. This is another chapter of the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) life which forms many long books.

The third chapter is the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) behavior during his caliphate, whether his personal, social or governmental behavior. The personal behavior of Imam Ali (a.s.) was his modest life during his government. A vast and large country was at the disposal of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.), extending from the east to Egypt and Africa. This large region constituted an Islamic government and it was under the command of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.).

The personal life and behavior of this great and powerful ruler with a vast and rich country at his disposal was like a poor person. He had only one set of clothes. His food was dry barley bread. He avoided all material pleasures in a way that he himself said to his companions, colleagues, and the politicians of his time, "I know that to adopt such a hard way of life is beyond you" [Nahjul Balaghah, Letter 45].

He said to them that they cannot live such a life and he was right. No one can do this. It is really astonishing that the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) life during his government was like this. His house was modest. His lifestyle was like a poor and needy person. This was while he engaged in all these great tasks. The same is true of his social behavior, his administration of justice and his resistance for the sake of observing divine obligations. Any mind is really astonished in the face of such greatness and such power. What kind of person was he?

This is different from his spiritual positions. This is his political behavior. How did politicians and rulers throughout the world live? How did the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) live? This is another important chapter which has been unique until today and which will be unique forever. The Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) piety, his personal behavior and his act of worship when he was powerful are unique.

Imam Sajjad (peace and greetings be upon him) was asked, "Oh Son of God's Messenger, why do you endure such hardships? Why do you pressure yourself? Why do you worship, fast and endure hunger like this?" Imam Sajjad began to cry and said, "What I am doing is nothing compared to what my grandfather, the Commander of the Faithful, used to do. How can what I do be compared to what he used to do?" Imam Sajjad considered his pious behavior to be inferior to that of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). This is very important. This is the third chapter.

The fourth chapter is the goal that the Commander of the Faithful had for people during his government. This is a very important and fundamental point. I want to put emphasis on this point. The Commander of the Faithful said, "If you obey me, I will help you achieve paradise". These are the exact words that the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) used in one of his sermons in Nahjul Balaghah: "If you follow me, I shall certainly carry you, if Allah so wills, on the path of Paradise". If you listen to and act on what I say, I will - by Allah's favor - help you achieve paradise: "Even though it may be full of severe hardships and of bitter taste" [Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 155].

This move is not a small and easy move. This was the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) goal. Helping people to achieve paradise plays a significant role in intellectual and spiritual areas and in people's social lives.

The reason why I stress this point is that when there is a discussion about guiding the people, about expressing religious truths and about other such issues, some people in a corner of the country say, "Are we responsible for helping the people achieve paradise?" Yes, we are responsible. This is the difference between an Islamic ruler and other rulers. An Islamic ruler wants to do something to help people achieve paradise and find true and otherworldly happiness. Therefore, he should smooth the path.

The issue is not about bullying, imposition, pressure and the like. The issue is about helping people. Man's nature is inclined towards happiness. Therefore, we should open the path. We should make it easy for people to achieve paradise. This is our responsibility. This is what the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) accepted to do. He felt responsible for helping people achieve paradise.

Islamic society is a society that will reach the peak if it acts on Islam in material areas. If it does this, it will reach the peak in terms of science, necessary industries, living conditions, social relations and worldly, public, national and international dignity. But this is not all the things that we should do. This does not help us reach the goal in full. If we live a good life in this world, but we fall into disgrace when we die, then what is the value of this good life?

Imam Sajjad (greetings be upon him) says in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, "Oh God, make me die while I am guided by You, while I have not deviated from the path and while I am eager and willing to die" [Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, Dua 40]. Who goes through this passage with eagerness and willingness? A person who is confident about the afterlife. As you saw, our youth - your youth in those days - entered the arenas of war and danger with reckless abandon. These youth carried out astonishing feats in the operations which were referred to in this meeting - whether the operations in Ilam and Khuzestan provinces or the operations in western provinces of the country.

They humiliated and belittled death because their hearts had become familiar with the truth. When we see the other side, when we see the blessings in it and when we are confident about it, then we live easily, we make sacrifices easily, we endure problems easily and we enter and move forward in arenas of danger easily. This is the issue.

Even if we want to achieve victory in our material goals, we should strengthen our faith, our beliefs and our actions for the world beyond death. The Commander of the Faithful said, "I want to help people achieve paradise." This is our responsibility. We should advise people against evil. We should counsel them to do good. We should prepare the ground for good deeds in the country. We should keep the instruments of evil and malevolence out of the reach of people. These are the responsibilities of government officials.

One of the things which helps people get close to paradise is improving their living conditions: "Poverty leads to blasphemy" [Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 27, page 247]. A society which suffers from poverty, unemployment, insolvable living problems, class inequality, discrimination and class divisions will not benefit from religious tranquility.

Poverty pushes human beings towards corruption and blasphemy. Therefore, it should be uprooted. Economic tasks and activities should be among the serious plans of officials. Well thankfully, officials are after these things today. Their thoughts and ideas should be cohesive and the path should be identified in the right way. We should move forward in the right way.

We spoke about the economy of resistance. It means that if we rely on and trust domestic forces, the innovation of youth and the activities of minds and hands inside the country, we will liberate ourselves from the arrogance of and being beholden to foreign enemies. This is the right path. The meaning of the economy of resistance is that we should take a look to see the infinite capacities which exist inside the country and to activate these capacities by developing good and proper plans. We should do this so that these talents can be utilized.

A couple of days ago, I said in a meeting that in any area we relied on the innovation and talents of our youth, that area bubbled and blossomed like a spring. This happened in different nuclear and pharmaceutical areas and in areas related to different treatments, stem cells, nanotechnology and industrial-defensive plans. Whenever we invested in and relied on young, enthusiastic, religious and pure forces inside the country and whenever we appreciated their value, we managed to move things forward. Well, we should attend to this issue. The same is true of economic issues. Economic capacities should be activated. This is the path to the progress of the country.

If we do this, the country will make progress in material, economic, spiritual, moral and psychological areas and in areas related to international credibility, national dignity and the self-confidence of the people of Iran. This is the path that the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) has shown to us. It is by taking a look at these realties that we can understand what Imam's (r.a.) statement - "America cannot do a damn thing" - means. He mentioned America as an example. Of course America cannot do a damn thing, as it has not been able to do a damn thing until today. But the same is true of other powers. They too cannot do a damn thing. This is not only particular to military areas. They cannot do a damn thing in the general sense of the word.

They cannot bring the people of Iran to their knees. They cannot keep the people of Iran backward. They cannot exert pressures on the people of Iran in a way that they can bring the people of Iran to their knees. This is what they foolishly think they can do. The people of Iran will not be brought to their knees. We thank God that our people are alive. We thank God that our youth move on the right path.

When some people look at the youth, they only see some abnormal behavior and cases. Although there are some abnormal behaviors - we do not say that such conduct does not exist and we are aware of them - the general conduct of the people of Iran and our people is a religious conduct, one that is based on interest in religion, one's homeland, Islam, the Holy Quran, spirituality, nationality and the like. This should not be forgotten and consigned to oblivion. Thankfully, our youth are good youth. One of our responsibilities is to help these youth remain good, move forward in a positive way and - by Allah's favor - render good, valuable and perfect services to their country.

I hope that Allah the Exalted makes the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) satisfied with us. I hope that Allah the Exalted makes the holy heart of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) satisfied and pleased with us because today, he is the soul of the world of possibility. I hope that He helps us benefit from the prayers of that great Imam and I hope that He associates our dear martyrs with the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.).

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings