We Ourselves, Not Foreigners, Have to Find the Islamic-Iranian Paradigm of Progress

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on June 21, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with university professors, outstanding personalities and academic researchers. The meeting was held on the 26th day of the month of Ramadan.

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 pure household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth.

You are very welcome. It was a very sweet and beneficial meeting for me. Different points were raised about the various aspects of the issue of science and technology. I benefitted from the statements of the brothers and sisters a great deal. Of course, many of these discussions can be examined further. They should be examined in certain congresses. The suggestions and criticisms that are made should be examined further. However, the essence of this intellectual and scientific dynamism and this spirit of making criticisms – in one sense, it is a spirit of attacking – in university professors of the country is very desirable and sweet for me. I myself wanted to demand this of university professors in the statements that I have prepared today. I wanted to demand this spirit of them.

Also, our friends in the Leader's Office should definitely pursue the issue that the lady in the meeting addressed – the act of oppression that has been committed [the problems that have arisen for students on a scholarship]. This is an act of oppression and therefore, we should attend to it. They should pursue the matter and see what the problem is. Of course, I have heard about matters similar to this before and I have issued warnings to the honorable Minister of Science. They should definitely pursue the matter.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are in the last days of the month of Ramadan. You should make the most of this one-month asceticism and enduring which naturally happens as a result of fasting, praying and worshipping. Strengthening one's relationship with God is helpful and effective. The points that were raised constitute only a small part of our problems and the problems of our country, our Revolution and our system. There are many problems in various areas which should be eliminated with our determination and effort. Our relationship with God gives us power, hope and mental comfort.

All these worldly discussions are an introduction. They are an introduction for spiritual transcendence. Therefore, you should appreciate the value of the month of Ramadan. The Dua - "If You have not been satisfied with me in the days that have passed from the month of Ramadan, I hope you will be satisfied with me from now on" [Iqbal al-A'mal, Vol.1, page 199] – is an important dua. If we have not managed to gain divine satisfaction and approval until today, we should ask God to help us benefit from divine satisfaction and divine forgiveness from this moment onwards.  

After all, you are educators of youth. You can influence the group of people who are under your scientific and intellectual wilayat [custodianship, leadership]. If you are interested in paying attention to God, supplicating and establishing a heartfelt relationship with God, youth too will naturally move towards the same direction under your tutelage and scientific wilayat. This is one of our problems in universities. If our university professors move towards the areas which the country needs, this will exert visible impacts on their subgroup – students.

I would like to raise another point in the beginning of my speech. We are very close to Quds Day. Quds Day is very important. Quds Day is not merely about defending an oppressed people who have been driven out of their country and houses. By doing this, we are actually fighting against an oppressive and arrogant political system. Today, defending Palestine is defending the truth, one which is much more comprehensive than the issue of Palestine. Today, fighting against the Zionist regime is fighting against arrogance and the system of domination. As you see, when you speak against the Zionist regime, American officials and politicians feel enmity and hostility against you. They feel that you have delivered a blow to them and this is the truth of the matter. Therefore, great significance should be attached to Quds Day. Quds Day rallies are very important.

The main thing that I want to say today is about attention to one's responsibility as a teacher and university professor. Of course, there is not much time and I will address this issue as far as I can and as far as my energy and patience allows. This is my main discussion. After all, university professors play an exceptional role in academic environments. It should not be presumed that our youth have contrasting ideas and thoughts each. This is not the case. You can influence students' soul, hearts and thinking. You make them think and move. Therefore, you can exert great influence.

The role of university professors and teachers of young students is an exceptional and peerless role. If professors have a sense of responsibility, if they are committed, optimistic and hopeful and if they have firm determination to take action in the country, this will influence students. If university professors believe in their country's principles and if they believe in their religious and revolutionary principles, this will influence students. The opposite can happen as well. A university professor who pins his hope on outside the country and who does not at all believe in his country, in the popular concepts of his country and in the well-establish principles of his domestic identity will naturally train similar students.

We witnessed this in a certain era. I do not want to expand on this matter. In a very bitter era – in early Pahlavi era – we witnessed what students were educated by some university professors and what generation emerged in the country. If the Revolution had not been carried out, only God knows what that generation which was completely devoid of any originality – religious, national and all kinds of originality – and what the individuals who were emerging from that generation would do to the country. The Revolution really saved the country. This is because only God knows what those pupils and that generation – which had been trained in the universities and environments of those days – would do to the country if they had gained power. So, this is our main discussion. I want to speak about university professors.

Dear brothers and sisters, notice that universities in their current form were introduced by the west. This idea was exported to all countries in the world including to our country. Of course, we do not have much information about our past. We do not know about the universities or schools which built the likes of Khaje Nasir, Ibn Sina, Khwarazmi, Khayyam, Mir Damad and Sheikh Bahai. Unfortunately, we do not have correct information about those educational – or in one sense, academic – systems. This is one of the areas on which we have not worked properly.

There are three important aspects about universities in their current form: one is that they are the centers of knowledge. Another is that they are the centers of innovation and new outlooks towards different matters. Because universities are comprised of young individuals, they adopt new outlooks towards different matters and they seek creativeness. Universities are the centers of this. Another aspect of universities is the influence that they exert on the environment of the country and of society. Universities are among the most influential centers in all countries. This is the case in all societies. It is not only our country which is influenced by universities. This influence is exerted through cultural tasks – writing and cultural production – political tasks and tasks related to fighting and revolutionary activity. This influence is of various kinds. These are the three aspects of universities.

As for the first aspect, since the day universities were established in our country, the elements that wanted to dominate other countries engaged in preventing us from launching a natural movement in line with our Iranian talent. These elements had dominated the country's policies. They were completely in control of all aspects of the country. They had information and influence and they did whatever they wanted. There is evidence for this. These are statements for which there is evidence. Later on, I will mention some of these pieces of evidence briefly.

As for the second aspect which is about innovation, they completely controlled it as well. They completely dominated this aspect. As for the third aspect, they tried to manage universities' influence over the outside environment. And they managed this in various ways – through cultural organizations which were dependent on them and through their security apparatuses. In fact, there has been a continuous and permanent control over our universities in the case of these three aspects. This control has been visible and – in some cases – invisible.

In the case of the first aspect – the scientific aspect which they tried to undermine – the scientific products which were given to our universities were second-hand products. They gave old-fashioned and obsolete knowledge to us. Westerners never transferred the important scientific achievements in the world. We know this about our country at least. However, countries like us – the countries which were under their influence and domination – should naturally fall into this category as well. They never transferred the new sciences and the new fields of study – which they achieved with scientific discoveries – to the universities of countries like ours. They only transferred things which were no longer fresh and new.

Of course, there were certain reasons for this. There were certain reasons why they transferred those obsolete sciences or old technologies to our country and to countries like us. When certain rivals emerged for the western colonialism, the impact of this rivalry became evident in the countries which in were in contact with those rivals. For example, in order to expand its influence zone, the Communist regime - which rivalled the established system of domination in those days: England, the US and other such countries – equipped India and Indian universities with sciences which westerners were not prepared in any way to transfer to other countries.

A clearer example is China. The Communist regime equipped China with sciences and technologies which could never be achieved with the help of westerners. This was due to a political rivalry and a desire for expanding its influence. The Chinese acquired the issue of nuclear energy from the Russians. The Indians acquired nuclear energy from the Russians – from the former Soviet Union- as well. It was completely impossible for the academic system of westerners to give such sciences to countries like China, India and Iran.

So, it was not the case that they would allow the universities of countries like ours – which were under their influence and domination in one sense – to make progress. It was not the case that they would facilitate this process. Not only did they not do so, but they also harmed our universities. If they found an outstanding talent in our universities, they would attract them and they would obtain their services. And this condition continued. It continued for many years during the time of Pahlavi rule.

They completely seized control of the second aspect – the innovation aspect – as well. Consequently, universities became places for transferring western values to society. They became the embodiment of western values and they believed in these values in different areas. They worked on this and they seized control of this aspect in the real sense of the word.

In the case of the third aspect too, as I said, they managed it. They tried to manage it, sometimes by talking and persuading, sometimes by giving money and bribes, sometimes by offering positions and sometimes by bullying. Iran's SAVAK was equipped by the American and Israeli forces in order to discourage the protesting students from mounting their protests. This task was also carried out by them. So, universities were in these conditions. Universities moved forward in this way in our country.

However, despite all these things, universities were among the most important centers which pledged their allegiance to the Islamic movement and to Imam's movement. No established academic system would deem this course of action necessary, but as you witnessed, universities entered the arena. Most of you did not see that era. The significance of universities' allegiance to Imam's movement is not clear to most of you young brothers and sisters who are present here, but its significance is clear to us who saw it up close.

This allegiance took place during a time when leftist, Marxist ideas were being promoted in universities. I will tell you that Marxist ideas were being promoted in universities. It was not the case that they would promote those ideas in a simple and ordinary way. This was not the case. What they did was to provoke universities into confronting Islamic ideas. During the time when they would chase individuals if they saw a pamphlet comprised of a few pages of Islamic content in their hands, Marxist writings were easily produced and sold in universities. Such writings were available to students and this was not important at all. Leftist professors would easily speak their mind. Islamic philosophy was faced with a main rival – leftist and Marxist philosophy – in universities. This rival was pressuring universities.

On the one hand, there was the leftist philosophy and on the other hand, there were propaganda efforts to promote decadence and immorality. These were orientations which were trying to corrupt youth. Such orientations were primarily promoted in universities with the purpose of making students drift away from the path of fighting, steadfastness, resistance, Islam and Imam's guidelines.

However, despite these two main interfering and opposing factors, universities pledged their allegiance to the Islamic movement. They joined this movement and they worked and endeavored for it, both during and after the time of revolutionary activities. After the time of revolutionary activities, if it had not been for our young students, Construction Jihad and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps would not have been shaped. The main individuals in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps were comprised of students. The main individuals in Construction Jihad were comprised of students. They entered the arena.

This is suggestive of the good potential that our universities enjoy. Of course, there is room for sociological studies and the like to see what the reasons are behind this potential of our universities. Well, the experts should discuss these issues. I too have a certain analysis which I do not want to enter into. But the reality is that the orientation towards Islam and the Revolution in universities and in young students was very strong.  

Well, this is a very important opportunity. Of course, the Revolution too helped universities very much. The Revolution really saved universities. It saved them from those deviating orientations of various kinds. It set universities in motion. It familiarized universities with the significance of knowledge and scientific innovation. Notice how different the condition of our students, our university professors and our research centers in the present time is from their condition in the past – in pre-revolutionary era. Today, universities are centers of scientific innovation. They are places for scientific innovation.

Of course, the brothers in the meeting presented certain discussions which should be studied, examined and argued further, but the truth is this: today, universities are oriented towards scientific innovation and their achievements are tangible. When you say that we are 15th, 17th in the world in such and such an area – for example on the basis of the judgement of a certain database – and that we have moved forward to a great extent, this is what it means. The scientific movement in our universities generated confidence. In those days, students played their role. Of course, some university professors played their part as well. There is no doubt about this. I cannot say that all university professors did so, but some professors in those days really played their part in guiding students.

Today, those revolutionary and active students – you and people like you who are in universities – have turned into university professors. They can play their part and work for the future of the country. What I want to say is that our university professors should find and define their roles in the progress of universities on the one hand and in protecting the values of the Revolution and Islam on the other hand. They should play their role. You honorable professors should play your part in universities. There are some opposing motives. Therefore, you should play your role. 

There are two ways of playing one's role: one is cultivating students and scholars – in other words, influencing students – and another is exerting influence outside the academic environment. We expect university professors to play their roles in these two ways.

As for cultivating students, the significance of this task is enormous. You want to prepare manpower for a future which is filled with issues. Our future eras and our future decades will be decades filled with issues. There will be various issues to deal with. You see the developments in the world. The developments are very fast and definite. Either of these two possibilities will happen: one is that the future developments will cause this bubble and wall of dependence - which have surrounded the people of Iran in the course of history - to be broken. We will manage to get rid of this bubble and this wall, find our place and our true status, and highlight our ideas and thoughts in the world. We have certain ideas and thoughts. Islamic government has many new ideas and thoughts. In future decades, our human resources – the forces which you are cultivating today – will be able to break this wall of dependence, stagnation and the like with their determination, with their willpower, with the knowledge that they have acquired and with the qualities that they have been given. They will launch a real movement and help Iran and the Iranians to be in their right place. This is one of the two possibilities.

Another possibility is that our country will – God forbid – enter into another era of long humiliation. If our human resources are deprived of these qualities, if they think and move in a dependent manner, if they begin to enjoy dependence, if they fail to appreciate the value of independence, of Islam and of Islamic values, and if they do not trust themselves, then we will enter into another long and dark corridor, like the era during which we were under western domination – from a short time before the Constitutional Movement until the victory of the Revolution. It was only with the Revolution that we managed to somehow save ourselves with great difficulty and endeavor. If those qualities do not exist, we will enter into the same bitter and difficult process. This depends on how you cultivate today's students. Therefore, in my opinion, cultivating students is very important.

You should train youth for the first possibility. You should train the youth who are under your tutelage in a way that they can become resistant, determined, religious, self-confident, competent, efficient, well-informed, deep, revolutionary and pious in the face of future developments and the important developments that are ahead of them in the world – not only the developments in our country or the developments in West Asia. Of course, global developments influence our country as well. One of the important centers which is influenced by global developments is our country. However, by "developments" I mean the developments which take place in the world: scientific, pragmatic and political events, the division of power and the like. You should train them like this so that in those days, they can help the country reach the point which befits their status.

One of the qualities that the youth whom you cultivate and influence should enjoy is that they should believe in and be proud of their national identity. On that day, I spoke about national identity in a meeting with government officials [Supreme Leader's speech delivered on June 12, 2017]. I said that national interests are defined according to their relation to national identity. Those things which are advantageous on the face of it, but which are incompatible with or opposed to national identity are not national interests. They are national losses. You should familiarize youth with national identity so that they become proud of it.

They should be proud of independence as well. Of course, most of our youth do not appreciate the value of independence in the present time. Well, since they were born, our young students have been living in a country which is not politically dependent on foreign powers in any way. From the beginning, they have always seen that the Islamic Republic has stood up against foreign powers. And these are powers which others do not dare question and resist in any way. This is political independence. They have seen this from the beginning. That is why they do not appreciate its value. They have not seen the era during which everything that the US – and before that, England – wanted should have happened. That is why they do not appreciate the value of independence. This should be explained to them. This is one of the roles that university professors can play in the case of students.

The second role is related to the issues of the country. This was pointed out by some of the brothers in the meeting and I completely agree. One of the brothers said that we have not conveyed concepts such as power, threats, security and the like into society. Of course, the significance of such concepts does not lie in being conveyed into society. Their significance lies in being pumped into decision-making centers! These are decision-building concepts. I agree with this as well. These tasks have not been carried out, but they should be carried out. Another brother spoke about the ratified bills and the like. Another brother spoke about the wrong industrial system which has existed in the country for 50 years. These are fundamental statements.

As I said, these viewpoints should be discussed more. They should be discussed and analyzed in detail. However, these are statements, ideas and viewpoints which should be conveyed to decision-making centers. It is decision-making centers which should be informed of these issues. It is they which should benefit from them. One of the reasons why I insist that this meeting should be held in every Ramadan – of course, I would like to hold 12 meetings like this every year, but we cannot do so - and that university professors should come and speak is that these statements should be made so that officials and decision-making centers hear them. You should exert influence.

For example, in the case of the economic issues of the country, I have spoken at length about economic issues and everyone has agreed with me. I brought up the economy of resistance and everyone – from top to bottom – agreed with it and they have held meetings, congresses and commissions for it, but it does not move forward the way it should. What is the problem? Well, there is a scientific problem. Who should resolve this scientific problem? It is you in universities who should do so.

Another role that universities can play is related to the issue of employment. This year, we brought up the issue of employment: "National Production and Employment". "Employment" and "national production" are two ideas. Everyone wants to carry out this task and they are making certain efforts for it. I addressed this issue in my new year speech. I reported to public opinion in the country what the administration had done: they allocated 17,000 billion tomans to small and medium-sized workshops in order to help them operate. However, it did not produce the desired result. Where does the problem lie?

A similar project was carried out in the former and eighth administrations, but it failed. Why did it fail? There is a scientific problem. There is a problem and a knot. This is a scientific knot. Where should this knot be untied? In universities. If the large amounts of cash that are reportedly in the people's hands are used at the service of employment, notice what will happen in the country. Why is it not used at the service of employment? The gentlemen in the meeting discussed the issue of banks' problems in this regard. Well, the problems of our banking system should be addressed by decision-making centers.

Another role is related to the Article 44 of the Constitution which is about strengthening the private sector and involving it in the economy of the country. We brought up this issue a few years ago. Everyone expressed their enthusiasm and certain tasks were carried out, but we do not see any tangible results. I do not feel progress in this area. This does not mean that they do not want this to happen. They do want this to happen and they are working hard, but it does not move forward. There is a scientific problem. This is what I want to say. The role that universities can play is that they should search for, identify and untie the scientific knots in these areas and they should provide the organizations of the country with their results.

Another role that universities can play is related to social detriments and social justice. We speak so much about social justice. This is among the indisputable facts. Well, where are the results? Has social justice been administered? The Gini coefficient goes higher and higher on a daily basis and it has become worse. Why? What is the reason? Why is this correct idea, demand and goal not achieved in the country?

One of the gentlemen in the meeting spoke about the macro-management of the country. I had written it down as well. One of the tasks that you can carry out is helping the macro-management of the country. Notice that one of the problems with our macro-management is that our managerial software is sometimes infected with a virus. The enemy might be able to send a virus into our managerial system so that all our innovations, achievements and decisions become infected and so that he can guide it towards a specific direction. We can prevent him. He should be prevented. This is among fundamental tasks. Another role of universities is benefitting from the untapped capacities of the country.

Another role is related to the issue of clarification. One of the tasks that university professors should carry out is clarification. I thank Mr. Parsania [Professor at University of Tehran] who spoke about "The 2030 Education Agenda". Well, this should be clarified. Well, I said certain things about "The 2030 Education Agenda" and other individuals made various statements about it as well. This issue is a very important issue. As he pointed out, this is part of UN's high-level document – the sustainable development document. One part of this document is "The 2030 Education Agenda" which is related to the educational system. In fact, what they are doing in this sustainable development document – "The 2030 Education Agenda" is part of it – is to forge an intellectual, cultural and practical system for the whole world. Who is doing this? There are certain hands working behind the scenes in the UN. UNESCO is a tool, a showcase. Certain hands are busy producing a system for every aspect and every area of countries and people's lives. This system includes culture and it includes the way one should think and act. They are presenting this system to the whole world and all nations should act according to it. One part of this document is related to education: "The 2030 Education Agenda".

Well, this is wrong. This is wrong! This is flawed in essence. This movement is a flawed movement. Why? Who are the people that are preparing the sustainable development document? What right do they have to talk about countries, about nations and about their traditions and beliefs? What right do they have to say how they should and should not behave?

And everything they say is mandatory. When they say that this is not compulsory, this is a simple-minded outlook. This is not the case. In fact, all their statements are mandatory. If each of the things that they say is not done, they consider it as a negative point, saying, "You will be placed at the bottom of the table and you will lose points." All these statements are like this. All of them are "shoulds" although it does not seem to be so on the face of it.

Why should we comply with this? Well, a few years ago, we spoke about the Iranian-Islamic paradigm of progress. I did not use the word "development" on purpose. The gentlemen who are in charge of these affairs and whom I have contact with since then know this. I did not use the word "development" on purpose because "development" is a western word and a western concept. I would rather use the word "progress": "the Iranian-Islamic paradigm of progress". We should search for and find this paradigm. Why should western hands define paradigms for our progress in the form of the sustainable development plan, "The 2030 Education Agenda" and the like? Who should do these tasks? These tasks should be done by you, by universities and by university professors.

Well, there are many things to say, but our time is limited. I think that it is time for adhan. I hope that God will help us carry out our duties. I confirm what you are saying. I too would like to say that we have stood firm and that by Allah's favor and grace, we have moved this path, this task and this Islamic and revolutionary movement forward and that, God willing, we will continue to move it forward. We will certainly and definitely be the ones who achieve victory by Allah's favor.