Imam Khamenei

The Presence of the People in the Elections Frightens the Enemies of the Islamic Republic: Ayatollah Khamenei

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on May 7, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with a group of teachers from throughout the country. The meeting was held on the occasion of Teachers' Week.

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 Muhammad, and upon his immaculate household

I would like to welcome all the dear brothers and sisters. The society of teachers is really a dear and loved society for everyone who knows the value of teaching and education.

It is the month of Sha'ban now. The month of Sha'ban is the month of supplication, praying and attention to God. It is an introduction to the auspicious month of Ramadan. In ma’thur prayers [which have been narrated by the infallible Imams (a.s.)] of this month] the paths of happiness have been clarified for us: "Oh God, bestow upon me a heart whose enthusiasm helps it get close to You. And bestow upon me a tongue whose sincerity reaches You and bestow upon me truth-seeking eyes that seek You…Bestow upon me the perfection to separate from everything and to join You" [from Dua Sha'baniyah].

These are the lofty wishes of divine saints. They have taught these things to us in the form of words so that they can guide our minds towards the things that one should ask for, towards the path that one should take and towards the relationship that one should have with God. My dear ones, my youth, dear teachers, you should appreciate the value of this opportunity and you should benefit from the month of Sha'ban.

The Fifteenth of Sha'ban is the auspicious birthday anniversary of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). It is a really auspicious day and night thanks to this holy birthday anniversary. Besides, the night of the Fifteenth of Sha'ban itself is a very great night. Some have said that it is one of the Nights of Qadr. You should keep the night of the Fifteenth of Sha'ban in mind and you should give fresh impetus to your souls with dua, with supplication, with dhikr and with the remembrance of God. During that night, you should share your requests with Allah the Exalted and you should speak to Him.

On the occasion of Teachers' Day, I would like to commemorate our dear and great Shahid – the late Ayatollah Motahhari (may Allah the Exalted bestow paradise on him). He was really a teacher. He was an educator and teacher in the real sense of the word: a teacher in words, in action, in lifestyle and in familiarity with the requirements of the time. We lost him. The enemies of humanity, the enemies of the country and the enemies of Islam took him away from us. However, his works thankfully exist. I seriously advise you – Mr. Minister pointed this out as well which is completely correct – to benefit from the viewpoints of that great personality as much as you can, whether in the area of educational matters or in other areas. His books guide, cultivate and enrich the mind with correct and sound Islamic teachings.

I have a few points to raise with you on three matters: one is about teachers, one is about the educational system and one brief word about the upcoming elections which is our present-day matter. By Allah's favor, I will speak about these matters.

As for teachers, their significance lies in the fact that all the graduates of the country are indebted to their teachers. This is a very important issue. If you find every knowledgeable, well-informed, educated and literate individual, they consider themselves indebted to their teachers. Teachers have such a status. Everyone accepts that the power, strength, credibility and reputation of a country depends on the human resources of that country more than everything else. Is this true? All of us agree with this. Well, who cultivates human resources? Who prepares human resources? Who activates them? It is teachers who do so. This is the value of teachers. These are the real signs of teachers' value.

Why are we saying this? We are saying this so that primarily the society of teachers appreciate the value and the significance of this position and this profession. This is very important. The statement that Mr. Minister made was very good. I really enjoyed hearing that teaching is not merely being an employee in an office, rather teaching is a position, a status and a standing. Primarily teachers themselves should know this. If we know of our status in every area, we will not give in to degradation, to frailty and to malevolence. This is the first reason behind saying these things about teachers.

And the second reason is that we want to help society appreciate the value of teachers and to hold teachers in great respect. And also, we want officials to understand this significance. I have said many times that the educational system and spending on teachers is an investment. They should allocate budgets for teachers. This is one of our responsibilities – the responsibilities of the officials of the country and of the administration.

Another point that should be raised following this admiration and respect for teachers is that teachers should prepare themselves for this responsibility. Well, with what means should teachers prepare themselves? With the means that the government provides. Therefore, I would like to emphasize that officials should take Farhangian University [the teacher education university] seriously. They should take Farhangian University – which produces teachers – seriously. They should invest in it as much as they can. In one sense, this university is more important than all other universities.

Every teacher is a moral cultivator – the teacher of morality – as well. A math, physics and natural sciences teacher is a teacher of morality as well. Sometimes in a classroom, the teacher says something about spiritual and religious matters in the middle of a geometry or chemistry class. Sometimes, this brief statements influence students' minds more than a book, leaving a permanent mark in students' minds. With their behavior and disposition, moral teachers cultivate morality in students. Broad-minded, patient, pious and dignified teachers pass these characteristics and qualities to their students with their behavior, even if they do not say anything in these areas. This is the role of teachers. Therefore, teachers are very important.

This is the reason why, since long ago, I have been criticizing those who want to use the society of teachers as a tool in political areas. This is an unjust course of action. Of course, this does not happen today. It dates back to 1360s. Some individuals used to adopt such methods. This is the position of teachers. This precious diamond cannot be used as a toy to play with. Teachers have a special position and status. Such is the significance of teachers' position.

Of course, I have been informed that in the not-too-distant future, a large number of teachers – let us not mention the figures – will retire and there will be a need for teachers. This is one of the needs of the educational system in the near future. Now, what should we do? Assuming that the capacities of Farhangian University and Shahid Rajai University are not enough, what should we do? Should we open the way and employ individuals in the educational system in an uncalculated manner? No, we should think. First of all, the capacities of these teacher education universities should be increased as much as possible. This is the most important step. If this does not work, certain regulations should be adopted. The main centers should sit and adopt some regulations for employing teachers. This is one point about teachers.

As for the educational system, the educational system is the main infrastructure for knowledge and research in the country. The infrastructures of the country are very important. The engineering, scientific, literary and cultural infrastructures of the country are very important. When infrastructures are provided in a country, production will become easy. The infrastructure for knowledge and research is the educational system. If the educational system pursues the correct moves with its policies, with its behavior and with its correct plans, this infrastructure will improve and become stronger on a daily basis.

Under these circumstances, the country will be enriched in the area of knowledge and research which is our main, fundamental, long-term, short-term and medium-term need. Such is the significance of the educational system. If we abandon the educational system and if we do not take proper care which might result in the emergence of some problems in the educational system, this infrastructure will be damaged. If this happens, the damage will be immeasurable.

Once, during the time of my seminarian studies in Qom, we had a wise and clever tailor who made clerical clothes and qabas [a long coat]. He made a qaba for a well-known scholar of the time. The scholar was not pleased with one part of the qaba. The tailor answered, "Gentleman, if tailors make a mistake, qabas will be ruined, but if scholars make a mistake, the world will be ruined" [speaking in Arabic: Audience laughs]. He said that if he does not do his job correctly, there will be a problem in the scholar's qaba, but if, God forbid, the scholar makes a mistake, "The world will be ruined." Notice what will happen if, God forbid, the educational system makes a mistake.

The responsibility of the educational system is to educate a generation. If we take the medium-term needs into account, the educational system wants to educate a generation for the near future. How will it educate it? What lessons will it teach? The educational system should be able to cultivate a religious generation. The main thing is faith. Irreligious and unbelieving children are not committed to anything. In the future, such children will neither be valuable to themselves nor to the country and society. So, the most important thing is faith. 

The educational system should cultivate a religious, loyal, responsible, self-confident, innovative, honest, courageous, modest and intelligent generation which is interested in thinking and in employing its mind: a generation which loves its country, the political system and the people. It should cultivate a generation which loves its country, which considers the interests of its country as its own interest and which defends these interests. Such a generation should be cultivated: a generation that is strong, powerful, determined, decisive, pioneering and active. It is such a generation that is necessary.

This is a task that befalls the educational system. Notice what significant task this is. I am saying that this is the responsibility of the educational system, not teachers. Despite the fact that teachers are the means, they are not the only means for cultivating such a generation. It is the educational system which prepares the ground for teachers, for students, for parents, and for decision-makers and writers of school books. These are all efficient. So, it is the educational system which carries out these tasks.

Pay attention to this: I receive certain reports showing that some "orientation" – I have the feeling that it is an "orientation" – is trying to discredit and disgrace the educational system. They want to destroy the value of and trust in the educational system in the hearts of the people. They have some ulterior motives. This orientation is being guided from the outside. Some people become infuriated as soon as I say this. As soon as I speak about foreign hands, they say, "You constantly attack foreigners!" This is not the case. We see our own weaknesses. If we are strong, those foreigners will not be able to do a damn thing, but it is these weaknesses that they are using. They are scheming, planning and infiltrating. They want to skew and slant straight paths.

One of the problems in our educational system is the malady of being university-oriented. There is a university-oriented approach among student environments. This means that if someone studies their lessons but fails to go to university, it seems as though they have not studied at all. This is a mistake. This is wrong. This is not necessary. We have so many urgent, immediate, necessary and important needs in the country which do not require academic education. They do not require a doctorate, a master’s and other such degrees.

This is the reason why I have been placing emphasis on vocational schools and centers for many years. I have stressed this issue several times. Vocational centers should be strengthened and increased. There are many individuals who have studied in vocational schools and centers. They have learned what to do, they have entered the market and they are busy working there. They have welfare, they are psychologically happy and they are serving their society. Is this better or the individuals who have gone through a lot of trouble to obtain a doctorate but who are sitting idle because they cannot find a job? And if they do find a job, it will be a job of low value at such and such an office where they will be told to work as a counsellor and other such jobs. What is the point of studying so much and going through all this trouble? Being only university-oriented is wrong.

Of course, we need knowledge and research. No matter how much we move forward in the area of knowledge, it is not enough. I have been saying this for many years and we have thankfully progressed in this area. However, this does not mean that everyone who enters primary and high schools should set themselves the goal of going to university. This should not be the case.

There are thousands of occupations which do not require academic education. Such occupations do not require those heavy expenses and they do not require academic enthusiasm, excitement and talent. We should not forget about such occupations. These are our sources of wealth. They are our sources of wealth. The youth who can work in vocational centers and reach somewhere – in every area: in the area of art, in the area of industry, in the area of technical affairs and other such areas – are national sources of wealth. They belong to the country and they should be benefitted from.

Another important issue is the issue of the transformation plan. Well, our experienced and veteran friends and officials have taken the trouble to prepare the transformation plan. Very well! It was announced as well. It was prepared so that it could be implemented, but five, six years have passed now, but it has not been implemented yet. Why? How long should we wait so that the regulations related to the transformation plan will be imposed? This should be done very soon.

It has become clear that the necessary enthusiasm, excitement and motivation do not exist. I seriously ask the honorable Minister and the esteemed officials to take the issue of transformation seriously. Our educational system needs to be transformed. The transformation plan shows that we need transformation. And transformation does not mean changing the appearance, rather it means doing deep work. According to the opinion of the experts – I do not have expertise on this matter – this transformation plan can apparently do such deep work. It can guarantee this. Therefore, they should pursue it.

I would like to discuss another issue: "The Education 2030" agenda – which has been ratified by the UN, UNESCO and other such organization - is not an issue which the Islamic Republic will submit to. Why should a so-called international organization – which is definitely under the influence of big powers in the world – have the right to dictate terms for different countries and nations with various civilizations and diverse historical and cultural backgrounds? The essence of the issue is wrong. If you cannot oppose the essence of the issue, the least that you can do is to stand up to them and say that the Islamic Republic has its own protocols and regulations. We have many higher-level documents. We know what we should do in the areas of education, ethics, morality and lifestyle and there is no need for this document.

If we go and sign this document and then engage in implementing it secretly, well this should not be the case! This is not permitted in any way and we have announced this to the organizations in charge. I have complaints about the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution in this regard. They should have taken care of this! They should not have allowed this to reach a point where we will have to prevent it and enter the arena. This is the Islamic Republic. Here, the basis is Islam, the basis is the Holy Quran. This is not a place where the flawed, destructive and corrupt lifestyle of westerners can exert such influence. Of course, they are unfortunately exerting some influence and they are entering in different ways, but if they give us a document officially and demand that we should act in such and such ways in the course of 15 years and if we say yes to them, this does not make any sense whatsoever.

Well, my speech became too long. I have many things to say to you dear ones in the educational system. The issues that remain are several times more than the issues that I have already discussed, but there is not enough time to discuss all of them. The speech became a little long, but I would like to say a few things about the upcoming elections as well.

Dear brothers and sisters and all you people of Iran who will hear these statements later on, you should know that elections are vital. This holds true not only for the upcoming elections but for all the elections of the country – in particular, for the presidential elections which are the most important elections. Elections in all eras are really vital for the country. Primarily, the essence of elections is important. This is an important issue.

Well, our system is the Islamic Republic. We are a republic. Our positions and responsibilities originate from the public, from the people. We should preserve this with utmost care because it is very valuable. If elections did not exist in the Islamic Republic, today there would be no trace of the system through which the Revolution came into being. This is very important. This concept originates from the heart of Islam. It is not the case that we have appended "republic" to Islam. This is not the case. It is Islam itself which has taught this lesson to us.

This is one issue, but besides this issue, what is fundamentally and vitally necessary for managing and protecting the country and for safeguarding the interests of the nation is the presence of the people. It is the presence of the people! It is the presence of the people which resolves the problems. It is the presence of the people which frightens the enemies of the Islamic Republic's awe and greatness. This is a reality which you should know.

The Islamic Republic is awesome in the eyes of its enemies. Where does this awe come from? Does it come from the likes of this humble person and other such individuals? This is never the case. This awe comes from the people, from the great presence of the people and from the feelings and emotions that show themselves in all arenas and grounds. This is what I am saying. So, they should not interpret this statement which I have clearly explained. They should not say, "No, what he means is that the presence of the people will create an administration which is the true source of that awe." This is not what I am saying. Administrations do not have any influence in this regard.

Have you forgotten that in the 1370s, a European government accused our president and summoned him to a court? They wanted to do this to the President of Iran! Despite the fact that our president had very close relations with that government and despite the fact that it expressed its friendship, support and kindness for our president, it summoned our president to the court as guilty party! They used to send messages, letters and delegates in a continuous and constant manner and they used to speak on the phone – of course, I do not remember exactly if they spoke on the phone, but they constantly sent letters to one another.

Well, we hit them in the mouth, forcing them to retreat. If we had not dealt a blow to their mouth, it would have moved forward. The enemy is the enemy and there is no difference between this and that administration. If he can show enmity, if he can spit venom, he will definitely do so and he will not show any considerations for anyone. He will forget about his demagoguery, sweet words, political positions and the like because he is the enemy.

What prevents the enemy from showing enmity is the presence of the people. He sees that if he shows enmity, it will produce the opposite result because then, an eighty-million strong country will stand up to him. Is this a minor issue? We have a population of 80 million people. We are a large country with well-informed and intelligent people, with strong manpower and with so many youth. This is what engenders awe and greatness – for the Islamic Republic – in the eyes of the enemy. You should pay attention to this point.

If you want this feeling, this greatness and this immunity to prevail for us, you should participate in elections. If you want the Islamic Republic to preserve its power in the eyes of people throughout the world – whether enemies or friends – you should participate in elections. Presence in elections means preserving the power, greatness and immunity of the country. If there is any negligence in elections, and if some individuals enter the arena to disappoint and dishearten the people, the country will be damaged and wounded. Anyone who participates in this damage will be responsible before Allah the Exalted.

Therefore, everyone should participate in elections. Of course, there are different opinions, viewpoints and political tastes. You might like Zayd [a hypothetical person] and another might like Amr [a hypothetical person]. So, you will vote for Zayd and that person will vote for Amr and there is nothing wrong with this. These are not important matters. What is important is that everyone should enter the arena and participate. Everyone should show that they are ready to support and defend Islam, the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic and to preserve the security of the country. And you should know that if – by Allah's favor and grace – this determination and willpower in our people continues with the same intensity and strength, the enemy will never be able to do a damn thing against the country!

Dear God, make what we said and heard serve You and Your cause. Dear God, bestow Your mercy and Your kindness on the pure souls of martyrs, on the soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) and on the immaculate souls of the great personalities of Islam.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy