The following is the full text of the speech delivered on March 30, 2016 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the panegyrists of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) on the occasion of Fatimah Zahra’s (s.a.) birthday anniversary
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem al-Mustafa Muhammad and upon his immaculate, pure, chosen and infallible household and upon those who guide the guided.
Allah, send Your greetings to Fatimah, her father, her husband and her children. May Your greetings and the greetings of Your angels and Your saints be upon them.
I would like to congratulate you on this auspicious eid and I thank the brothers who performed a program. We really enjoyed and benefitted from it. The song that is always sung at the end of this annual meeting is a good conclusion for it. It is Mr. Sazegar who sings this song every year. This year too, it was performed very well: it contained good concepts, lessons and recommendations and it was instructive.
In this meeting in which you dear brothers are present – of course, there are some esteemed sisters as well – more than others, I would like to address the brothers who have the honor of reciting panegyrics for the Master of Martyrs (God’s greetings be upon him) and Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Thankfully, the number of panegyrists – particularly, young panegyrists – in this arena is very large and satisfactory and their quality in some areas is really good as well. The issue of eulogy in our country is a phenomenon. We do not have something like this in any other part of the world.
Of course, the characteristics of the Shia community and the special and exceptional qualities that do not exist in other Islamic and non-Islamic societies are many. For example, the phenomenon of mourning or reciting elegies for Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) – which is usually accompanied by words of advice, admonitions and expression of concepts and issues of the time and other statements and issues which are suitable for different periods of time – are particular to Shia. This has continued since the time of the Imams (a.s.) until today. This does not exist in other places and they feel a void as a result of it. They feel a void as a result of this which they are trying to fill somehow, but they cannot.
This phenomenon of reciting panegyrics and singing songs in the area of eulogy, mourning, elegy and the like is another thing that is particular to Shia. This does not exist anywhere else either, or it does not exist in this fashion. In other places, this is not as popular and comprehensive – whether in terms of quantity or in terms of concept, meaning and the like - as it is in our country. Therefore, this phenomenon deserves scholarly work. There is really room for our students, our university professors and our researchers to sit and think and work on this phenomenon. They can both interpret and analyze it and show and teach us the scholarly ways to develop it.
In fact, we have underestimated the significance of this phenomenon. This is a very important phenomenon. Well, during the past 30-plus years, we have thankfully had the blessing and the opportunity to hold a meeting every year – like this year – with our brothers in the area of panegyric. Perhaps, among you people, there are many individuals who are not older than this meeting. It is 30-plus years that we have been holding this meeting. Therefore, this is a good opportunity to speak a little about this phenomenon.
We are really and truly to blame about Hazrat Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her). I am not saying this as a person who wants to observe some formalities and to speak about things that are common and ordinary. We are too small and humble to speak about the position of that magnificent personality. Our tongues, our words and our understanding are too limited to utter words about the truth of that enlightened person and other individuals like her – the Imams (a.s.): “Allah has created you in the form of light and He has placed you around His throne” [speaking in Arabic]. This is the story about the light of the infallible Imams (a.s.). Now, what else can we say? However, there are many things to say about the behavior of those great personalities and their being role models as humans. And many things have been said in this regard. Some of you brothers have referred to this in your poems that were recited today. The arena is very wide for speaking about this matter. Now, I would like to say a few things in this regard as well.
We should take the second outlook about Hazrat Zahra (a.s.) – that is to say, her being a role model. In the Holy Quran, Allah the Exalted has referred to two women as role models for believers and He has referred to two women as examples of kufar: “And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh” and in the next ayah, He says, “And Maryam the daughter of Imran” [The Holy Quran, 66: 11-12]. He has given two examples for believers – men and women both, not only believing women. We can look at these great personalities and learn lessons from them with this outlook. Well, Fatimah Zahra (s.a.) is Siddiqat al-Kubra among other siddiqin and siddiqat. Kubra means that this great personality is the greatest siddiqat.
Now, we want to learn lessons from her. Both women and men should learn lessons from her. Everyone – including knowledgeable and ignorant individuals – should learn lessons from her. We should see what words of praise the infallible Imams (a.s.) have said about this great personality. In Imam Ridha’s (a.s.) ziarat, when it is Hazrat Zahra’s (s.a.) turn for salawat – this is a ziarat which is full of greetings and salawat – he says, “Allah, send greetings to Fatimah, the daughter of Your Prophet” [speaking in Arabic]. So, this is one characteristic which is a very important one. Of course, this is not a characteristic that others can follow. Not everyone can be the Holy Prophet’s (s.w.a.) daughter. However, being associated with the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) as his daughter is a sign of one’s lofty position.
“And the wife of Your wali.” This is the second characteristic. Of course, this characteristic cannot be followed by others either because not everyone can be the wife of God’s wali, but it shows the lofty position, status and magnificence of that great personality. “And the mother of two children: Hassan and Hussein, the masters of the youth of paradise.” This characteristic has a more practical aspect than the other two: raising two sons which has a practical aspect to it. They are two children who are the masters of the youth of paradise. Their mother is this great personality. It is the pure lap of this mother that has managed to raise these two children. This is what can work as a model for us.
After that comes “Al-taharah, al-tahirah, al-motahharah, al-taqiah, al-naqiah, al-radhiah and al-zakiah.” All these characteristics have a practical aspect to them. The purity of Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) has been expressed with three words. Of course, these three words – taharah, tahirah and motahharah – are different in terms of meaning, but all of them are related to the concept of purity and cleanliness: the purity of one’s soul, heart and mind. They mean the purity of one’s lap [chasteness] and purity throughout one’s life. Well, this has a practical aspect to it and it is a lesson for us. We should try to cleanse and purge ourselves. Without the purity of our nature, we cannot achieve lofty positions, nor can we get close to the haven of these great personalities’ Wilayat.
So, the purity of one’s nature is necessary and it is achieved with piety, abstinence and care. It is constant and continuous care that leads to purity. Of course, humans are allowed to make mistakes. Some degree of darkness may overwhelm us, but God has also shown and taught us the way to purge ourselves from that darkness which is: repenting and doing istighfar. Istighfar means apologizing. “Istaghfurullah” means “God, I apologize to you.” We should really and sincerely apologize to Allah the Exalted. This is istighfar. It purges that darkness and stain. Well, this is what “al-taharah, al-tahirah and al-motahharah” mean.
“Al-taqiah” means piety and “al-naqiah” means the purity of one’s nature and heart. These are the characteristics of Fatimah Zahra (s.a.). We should pay attention to these characteristics as models and paradigms and we should get close to them.
Now, when you want to speak about Fatima Zahra (s.a.) as panegyrists, you should include these concepts in your statements, poems and eulogies. When the spiritual positions of the Imams (a.s.) and Fatima Zahra (s.a.) are expressed in words, the hearts of listeners are enlightened. When you recite about their spiritual positions, our hearts become enlightened and develop a sense of presence and humility. These are very good and necessary in their own right, but they are not enough. Now that there is a sense of presence and now that you have a sense of humility, you should learn lessons. And lessons lie in these practical characteristics.
In every minbar – whether during Fatemiah and Ashura days or in other occasions - there should be an effort to include lessons about the Imams (a.s.), about becoming true humans and about perfection and closeness to God. We should learn lessons. We should learn. Showing our kindness to them is not enough. Of course, kindness works, but it is not enough. What is necessary is Wilayat. Wilayat means following and obeying those personalities. It means taking the path that they took. This is what is necessary.
In my opinion, there is one point that should receive attention by panegyrists – particularly by vocalists: the poets who compose poems on this matter. Sometimes we see that some panegyrists speak about virtues that do not exist in any narration and in any quotation from the infallible Imams (a.s.). In fact, they are no virtue at all. A poet said, “Those who liken your face to the moon by mistake are actually reducing your value” [from a poem by Wuthuq ul-Dowlah]. Likening someone to the moon and the sun is not something that increases their value, nor does it increase the value of those great personalities whose spiritual and divine positions dazzle the eyes of mystics and those who have a great understanding, let alone us who do not have such an understanding.
And sometimes, some generalities are expressed out of which nothing can be understood. Listeners cannot benefit from such generalities. Therefore, the first thing that I want to say to you dear brothers is that when reciting panegyrics for those great personalities –whether Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) or other Imams (a.s.) – you should certainly use those practical issues that exist in their lives.
Another issue that is fortunately common to a great extent among our panegyrists in the present time is attention to the developments of the times. Today, in different parts, you heard issues about the defenders of the holy shrines [in Syria and Iraq] and other developments of the times. These are very important matters. These are fundamental matters. We should not think that such matters are outside the circle of our religion. Notice how active and diligent the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) – who is the master of all humans in the world, who is superior to all creatures created by Allah the Exalted and who is the introducer of the same religion and the same Islam that we claim to be following - was when it came to the political issues of his country – a small country that existed at that time. He did not only engage in teaching Islamic rules about daily prayers, fasting, praying and keeping a vigil at night. This was not the case. He used to gather the people in the mosque so that he could invite them to jihad, unity and awareness in the face of the enemy. These are the same issues that are important to us in the present time. The developments of the times are not issues that can be forgotten about.
Notice that there is a system in the world which is the system of arrogance, of bullying and of oppression. Of course, such systems existed in the past as well, but today they have become modern and they have equipped themselves with new instruments. Big powers bully nations and there is no limit to their bullying. If nations have certain assets, they take them away. If they have competent manpower, they steal it. If they have a talent that threatens them and that is a rival to them, they suffocate it. Bullying has various kinds. Today, such bullying exists in the world.
The international system – which they refer to as the international community – means a system for bullying. Otherwise, by the international community, they do not mean governments and nations in the world. Governments and nations in the world hate the appearance of these few superior powers that call themselves “the international community”. The international community means this: individuals whose basis of work is bullying all nations and countries. And we in the Islamic Republic have witnessed instances of this bullying both before and after the formation of the Islamic Republic, but in different ways. Today, there is such a system in the world.
Of course, this system has many opponents. Many nations are dissatisfied with it, but nations cannot do anything because no one hears their voice. They do not have media at their disposal, nor does anyone listen to their cry. Let us assume that 10,000 individuals gather in an electronic unit – such as an electronic network – and the like to say something against this system, or let us assume that they gather on the streets. So what? On the issue of the American attack that was launched 15, 16 years ago, several [massive] demonstrations were held in opposition to America in all the streets of Paris and some other European countries, but what was the result?
Nations cannot do anything on their own. It is governments that can say something against them with the support of their peoples so that what they say is highlighted in the world. There is not such a government in the world, however. There are some, but they are afraid. They are dissatisfied, but they are afraid. I think it was in the speech that I delivered in the beginning of the year that I said the heads of the taghuti regime too were dissatisfied, on many occasions, with what America used to do. When we take a look at the memoirs of some taghuti survivors, we see that they were sometimes dissatisfied and they used to curse them [Americans] in private, but they did not dare oppose them. They did not dare oppose them as a government, as a political system and as managers of society. Today too, this is the case in the world. Many people are dissatisfied, but they do not dare oppose them.
In these anarchic circumstances and in this chaotic and frenzied jungle of oppression and bullying, a system has been created in the world which has certain principles. These principles are the exact opposite of the principles on which today’s global system has been founded. They are the exact opposite of oppression, exploitation, warmongering and corruption. This system is the Islamic Republic. This system has been created on the basis of Islam, religion and original Islamic thoughts.
From the beginning, people have stood at the top of this system who have by nature not been afraid of big powers. These people are the clergy. Today, western analysts and sociologists themselves are acknowledging this. From the beginning of the Revolution, they have been saying, “These akhunds are not afraid of us.” Of course, some clergy might be – and indeed are – dependent elements, but the nature of the akhundi system is such a nature.
Now, as it happens, they are at the top of this system and the people are accompanying them as well. First of all, our people are a talented people and second, there are many youth among them. Our population has almost reached 80 million from the 35 million that existed in the beginning of the Revolution. This means that the population has increased all of a sudden although they are working against this as well. So, there are many talents and they are courageous and fearless talents as well.
Well, when there is a country whose people think like this and whose leaders are not intimidated by this global might, this is a danger to arrogance, a very grave one. This is why some fronts have been formed against it. In the present time too, some fronts have been formed against the Islamic Republic. These fronts have not just come into being, rather they have existed from the first day of the Revolution. An enemy front has been created against the Islamic Republic. In those days, it was the Soviet Union and America. Of course, these two were the exact opposite of each other, but if they had differences on a hundred or more issues, but they had the same viewpoint when it came to the issue of the Islamic Republic and opposition to it. They used to work with each other on this issue. It lies in the nature of arrogance to show enmity towards such a system.
So, they formed a front which exists in the present time too and which is using all sorts of methods. For example, the internet did not exist 20 years ago, but it does today. Tools and instruments are becoming more advanced on a daily basis. They are using the largest number of tools and the fastest and most comprehensive instruments against the Islamic Republic. The Islamic Republic too should prepare itself for using all tools. The enemy is using the tool of diplomacy. Diplomacy and political discussions, negotiations and exchanges are one of their tools. They are using this tool.
I am not against political negotiations, of course not with everyone. There are some exceptions. I am alright with political negotiations at an international level. I have had certain ideas in this regard since the time of my presidency and I have always pursued such matters. They should not pretend that we are against the essence of negotiation. This is not the case. We agree with it more than they do and in some cases, we know how to negotiate better than they do. We know how to act in this regard. The enemy is using political negotiations as well. Therefore, we should be careful.
So, he is using negotiations, economic exchanges, economic sanctions, and threats to start a war and to use weapons. We should have a defensive power in the face of all these tools.
Some people say, “The future of the world is all about negotiations, not about missiles.” If this is said out of ignorance, well it is ignorance, but if it is said knowingly, it is treason! How is such a thing possible? If the Islamic Republic pursues science and technology, political negotiations and various financial and economic projects – all of which are necessary of course – but lacks a defensive power and the power to defend, then any rogue and any small and tiny government will threaten it with missiles if it does not do such and such a thing. Well, if you do not have the opportunity to defend, you will be forced to retreat.
When you see that powers in the world speak in a harsh tone, behave in an oppressive manner, make extravagant claims, say bad things and bully others, they do so by relying on the weapons that they have. So, under such circumstances, should we empty our hands of such things in the face of them?
When the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps displays its missile achievements, this is a source of pride and honor not only for Iranians but also for other nations. When its missiles are tested with such precision and with such beauty, many freedom-seeking peoples around us - who are really angry at America and the Zionist regime - become happy as well. When such things are being done, should we criticize the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps by saying that the era of missiles is over? No, the era of missiles is not over! The enemy is continuously preparing himself and updating himself. So, should we retreat like naïve individuals and say that this is not the case?
These statements are like the ones made in the beginning of the Revolution when they wanted to sell and return our F-14s, but I did not allow them. I received news that one of the officials in the interim government of the day said, “The F-14s that the taghuti regime bought are of no use to us. What do we want to do with them? We should give them back.” However, we opposed this, made vehement criticisms, conducted interviews and confronted them. As a result of this, they did not dare do so, but they wanted to give them back. A short time later, the Iran-Iraq war began. They attacked us and it became clear how much we needed those weapons that were available to us – the F-14s, F-4s and the like. Today too, some people are singing the same song by saying, “What are missiles? What do we want missiles for? The present era is not the era of missiles.” So, the present time is the era of what?
The present time is the era of everything. It is the era of negotiations as well. We should be strong in the area of negotiations. We should negotiate in a way that we will not be deceived later on. However, if we negotiate, put something on paper and then sign it and if they do something for show without lifting sanctions and without improving our finance, it is evident that there is a problem somewhere. We should not allow these problems to arise. So we should strengthen ourselves in this area as well.
The same is true of our domestic economy. We spoke about action and implementation. Talking is enough: “Two hundred words are not like half an action” [from a poem by Ferdowsi]. When we repeat this issue many times and when we constantly speak about the economy of resistance, it loses its taste. In other words, when it becomes a cliché, it becomes boring. We should act. The purpose of discussing this issue is because the country needs such a thing.
All these things stand on the one side and the effort that the enemy is making to change the people’s beliefs stand on the other side. It is here that you can have and play a role, one that is very important. Even when you defend the defenders of the holy shrines, this is a very valuable task. The poems that were recited and the statements that were made today are very valuable in themselves. There is no doubt about this. During the Sacred Defense Era too, the poems that were recited and the songs that were sung were very influential.
Without a doubt, this can exert influence in the present time as well. However, in addition to this, there is another task whose significance is not less – if not more – than this and that is strengthening the beliefs of the youth. The enemy wants to change beliefs: the belief in Islam, in the efficiency of the Islamic government, in efficiency itself and in the possibility for the survival of the Islamic Republic. He even works and propagandizes against those things that are clearly true. Sometimes, he works against things that are obvious and they want to prove their point with tricks, deception and illusions. Since the day the Islamic Republic was born, it has constantly been exposed to heavy invasions: heavy invasions in the area of the military, propaganda, sanctions and the like. Despite this, the Islamic Republic has grown during the past 37 years. There was not a single day when its growth witnessed a halt. It has achieved growth in all areas. It has achieved power and magnificence in all areas.
Today, the enemy takes a look and sees that the thin and skinny sapling that came into being in the beginning of the Revolution has turned into a strong tree: “It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord” [The Holy Quran, 14: 25]. They are witnessing this in front of their eyes. Well, this system – that enjoys so many talents for survival, development and strength – will become stronger from now on too. It will become stronger on a daily basis. The things that we have formulated for the future panorama are not illusions, rather they are realities.
Three, four years ago, I said to young students and knowledgeable personalities that they should act in a way that in 50 years, if someone wants to have access to new scientific findings, they will have to learn Farsi [Supreme Leader’s speech in meeting with participants of seventh elite youth confrence delivered on October 9, 2013]. This can be done. This is possible as we witnessed that in the past 10, 15 years, the scientific movement and development has taken the same path that we had predicted. When youth show determination, when men of determination and willpower show diligence, all difficult tasks become easy. We can move forward.
Despite this, the enemy wants to change our youth’s beliefs. He wants our youth to say, “What is the use of this? This is not possible. It is of no use.” These are the arenas in which the enemy is launching his psychological war. As panegyrists, you can exert influence. You can strengthen youth in terms of their intellectual build-up.
This is the reason why I complain to some panegyrists about some behaviors during the 10-day mourning ceremonies in Muharram. When we take a look, we see that - for example - in one ceremony everyone is jumping up and down. What is the value of this? Sometimes, they bring up the images of such ceremonies particularly in the present time that there are many means of mass communication in this regard. Of course, I do not have such means, but they bring and show such images to me. What is the effect of this? How can this be a mourning occasion? When I complain, this does not mean that I am unhappy about the youth’s excitement. Well, youth like excitement because they are a source of energy. They constantly like to work off their energy. The reason why I say this is that these great responsibilities should not be abandoned. When five, ten thousand youth gather together on a specific occasion and entrust their hearts to you, then with a superb, artistic and meaningful performance, you can turn them into efficient individuals who will pursue tasks with strong determination. Of course, you can also turn them into indifferent, silly, hopeless and spiritually empty individuals. This can be done as well. You should benefit from this opportunity to choose the former. This is what I want to say to you.
The subject of panegyrics is eulogizing the best creatures of the world – that is to say, Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Therefore, it enjoys a lofty position and status. A panegyric is naturally this. However, in addition to being a eulogy about the best creatures of the world, a panegyric has another aspect. Take a look and see what a poet like Debel Khozayi says in his qasida “Madaris al-Ayat”. The qasida “Madaris al-Ayat” is a qasida for which he was highly praised by Hazrat Ridha (a.s.). He received some garments and money by Imam Ridha because of that qasida. This is a qasida that questions the essence and the philosophy of Bani Abbas. He condemns them through this qasida.
In other words, it was completely political. It was not a mere rowza and elegy. Of course, an elegy is necessary, but the task that used to be carried out alongside an elegy was what the Imams (a.s.) paid attention to. As well as Debel’s qasida, there was a qasida composed by Komit and there were different other qasidas composed by the poets of those days. And those qasidas were recited by others. Like you who recite panegyrics, they too – whether poets themselves or others – used to read them out for the people in a loud voice. At that time, these were the means of mass communication. Today too, you can use means of mass communication. You can benefit from them in order to guide the people. In my opinion, this is a very fundamental task.
There is a well-known saying that says the value of any field of knowledge depends on its subject. Any field of knowledge whose subject is of more value is more valuable than other fields of knowledge. Now, if we extend this to jobs and occupations, the subject of your occupation, your vocation and your endeavor is eulogizing Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), increasing insight and awakening your audience. This is the most valuable occupation. It is very valuable. Therefore, you should benefit from this value. Thankfully, the population of panegyrists is very large. The number of panegyrists throughout the country is much larger than the number of the people who are present here although the number of those who have gathered here is large as well. So, their number is thankfully very large. There are certain individuals who are interested in this occupation and who engage in it.
In any case, this is a very important mission. You should attach significance to it. Of course, poets play an important role as well. Poets – who compose poems – play an important role. However, without a good recital, poetry has little effect. It is when you deliver a good and excellent performance that poetry produces an effect.
I hope that Allah the Exalted will bestow success on you. I hope that He will bestow success on us as well so that primarily, we can identify and understand our responsibilities and secondly, carry them out God willing.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy