Ayatollah Khamenei: Without Fighting Nothing Can Be Achieved

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on August 28, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the clergy of Tehran.

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 pure, immaculate and chosen household – who guide the guided and who are infallible - especially the one remaining with Allah on earth

I am very happy about this meeting. Having a gathering with the clergy and speaking and listening to them is sweet and delightful for me. Moreover, all the statements that were made in this meeting – the statements that the friends in the meeting made- I took notes so that I can pay more attention to them later on- and the statements which were made by some of the dear brothers in the form of complaints and demands – were good statements and they are a source of joy for me.

When I take a look, I see you – young clergy – who are the tall saplings of the garden of Imamate and Wilayat. Thankfully, these saplings have grown up. Some of them have borne fruits and some of them give one the assurance that they will bear fruits later on. I get this feeling from the statements that were made and from the meeting in general: "And their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong. It then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, filling the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the unbelievers with rage at them" [The Holy Quran, 48: 29].

The last point is very important. When you stand on your own feet, when you grow up, when you develop in spiritual terms and when you display various capabilities, this astonishes those who have planted the seeds. When they look and see these achievements, these new thoughts and these promising faces, they become astonished.

And more importantly, "it fills the unbelievers with rage at them." Your development makes your enemies angry and this should be the case. If we witness that our behavior does not enrage the enemies of religion, of Islam and of the authority of the Holy Quran, and if we see that they are not unhappy about our existence, then we should doubt our commitment. If there is one person like the Commander of the Faithful with his decisiveness, with his wonderful movement and the like, then individuals like Muawiyah and Amr ibn al-As should naturally be angry at him. You too are taking the same path: "It fills the unbelievers with rage at them."

We thankfully witness that there are outstanding developments in Islamic seminaries. I listened carefully to the statements that you made. Of course, by Allah's favor, I will review the statements that were made and I will deliberate on them, God willing. However, even this much was a source of joy and hope for me. The statements were very good.

I would like to raise two, three short points. I have made some notes to discuss with you and if there is time, I will discuss them with you. However, firstly, I would like to raise these two, three short points.

First of all, you should not underestimate the importance of studying. The statements that you made and the eloquent points that you raised do not mean that you have studied your lessons well, rather they mean that you are men of thinking and that you are eloquent, but does this show that you have studied your lessons well? One cannot understand from these statements that you have studied your lessons well. You should study well.

I used to teach “Rasael” and “Makassib” in Mashhad and they used to arrest us once in a while! They used to put us in prison and this way, our students would disperse. When I was released, I would resume my lessons and they would gather together again. Sometimes, their enthusiasm for revolutionary activities and their considerations for me – because of the special beatings that we used to receive from the regime! – would make them doubt their studies. When I used to teach them Sheikh's Makassib or Kifayah, I witnessed that they had certain doubts. I used to say to them, "My dear ones, if you do not study well, you will not be able to exert influence." I said to them that without the main ingredients, the food is tasteless and that they need to study their lessons.

If you want your thoughts, your suggestions and your outstanding qualities – which you thankfully enjoy – to exert influence in society, you should be knowledgeable. You should study your lessons and become “mullahs”. You should take studying seriously. You should not say to yourselves that while the world is being managed with technical and technological achievements, we are sitting and studying Mullah Abdullah's Annotation or Muzafar's Logic. This should not be the case. You should read Muzafar's Logic. You should read books on syntax and morphology. You should read books on fiqh and usul so that you can become influential as seminarians – later on, I will explain what "seminarian" means. You should study your lessons.

We used to know certain seminarians who were perfect in terms of revolutionary fighting, but who did not have the necessary qualifications in terms of scholarly studies. Those seminarians failed to exert noticeable influence on the progress of fighting or on the creation of this great movement. Only those who had complete qualifications – people like Imam – managed to do so. You should study your lessons. This is my first word of advice. You should take studying seriously.

The second point is that you have certain criticisms about Islamic seminaries – whether Tehran Seminary or Islamic seminaries in general. Very well, you should create the Islamic seminaries which you want and which do not exist on the basis of what you said. It is your willpower and your demands which create Islamic seminaries. Of course, you do not have managerial positions and financial support so that you can make and implement decisions at once, but achieving ideals is not merely done with managerial positions and financial resources. Sometimes, they are not achieved even if you have those things. Something else is necessary which is what you have: motivation, interest, clarity and aspiration. These things are necessary.

And you should fight. Nothing is achieved without fighting. Ideal Islamic seminaries should be achieved with fighting as well. Of course, fighting does not only mean saying ‘long live…’ and ‘death to…’. It does not mean political fighting either. Fighting means endeavor, jihad, speaking, thinking, harmony and group work. Therefore, it is you who should create Islamic seminaries.

Of course, we too are responsible for helping you. The managers in Islamic seminaries are responsible for facilitating the tasks for you. However, you should feel the heaviness of the responsibility that falls on your shoulders in regards to what happens in the future. It is you who should carry out the tasks. It might take five, ten, fifteen years for you to have the chance to play your role, but in any case, this will happen. So, it is you who should take action and work. This is another point.

One of the friends in the meeting said, "We had come to Islamic seminaries so that such and such tasks would be carried out." I do not agree with such phrasing. You should not say that "we had come", rather you should say that “we have come”. What does it mean to say that we had come to see certain things? You should say that we have come to witness certain tasks be carried out. This means that you should express your presence in your statements. In your statements, you should show your firm determination like a determined and decisive runner and racer who competes in a race. You should constantly show and express your determination. You should say, "We have come so that certain tasks are carried out." These tasks should definitely be carried out and they will be carried out. When you make a decision and stand by it and when you express your demands in an intelligent manner, they will certainly be carried out.

Of course, you should know that action is very different from thinking, studying, designing and the like. There is a completely significant and tangible difference between these two. Many of the things that we say are dreams that are expressed in the form of words and sentences, but when you want to put them into practice, you will see that it requires a lot of effort. Therefore, we should not make mistakes in this regard. There is a noticeable distance between the arena of action and reality, and the arena of thoughts, studying and mental images. Most tasks are not carried out smoothly in the arena of action.

This was one of our difficulties in the Sacred Defense Era. At that time, I was president. There used to be military meetings in my office. They used to come and spread out military maps and they would speak about their plans to move from a certain point to another. They would speak about the number of our forces and other necessary details. When some of our friends who had gradually become involved with war affairs looked at those plans, they saw that there was a very short line between the points. So, they would be convinced very easily and as a result, they would give some promises and make some decisions. That was while the reality from here to there – for example, during Operation Ramadan – was very different. The arena of action is different from the arena of thoughts, ideas and the like. This is another point that I wanted to raise.   

Another point is that these statements are about seminarians: a group of our scholarly-religious society who are referred to as "seminarians". Seminarians are a group of people who are primarily comprised of the clergy and who include marja taqlids as well. Sometimes, we express our expectations of seminarians. Sometimes, our outlook is like this and sometimes, we do not address seminarians, rather we address Islamic seminaries. Islamic seminaries are the cultivators of seminarians. They are places for cultivating the clergy in scholarly, intellectual and spiritual areas. This is another issue.

Some of the things for which we address Islamic seminaries are affairs which do not really address Islamic seminaries, rather they address seminarians in general. You should pay attention to this distinction. There are certain expectations which are related to seminarians in general including marja taqlids, teachers and the clergy who have responsibilities in the government and the like. And sometimes, this is not the case. We express our expectations of Islamic seminaries themselves. In such meetings, the latter is usually what we have in mind. Of course, the former is important too, and we have certain things to say about that as well.

Dear friends, in my opinion, the issues that you discussed were very good. Our friends in the meeting discussed fundamental issues. I really enjoyed your attention to these points and I thank God for the blessing that our seminarian youth and our clergy are in contact with the important affairs of the country and society. These youths think about and discuss such affairs.

However, I should add that the Revolution continues to exist. If some people promote the idea that the Revolution was an incident which came to an end and that we should go back to our ordinary lives, if they write such things, this is betraying the Revolution. The Revolution will not come to an end. On that day, in a meeting with government officials, I said that the Revolution disrupts the past norms and creates new ones in society. Preserving these new norms is the continuation of the Revolution. And these things are difficult. These are difficult tasks. The same hands and the same powers which used to oppose the essence of the Revolution and create obstacles for it with all their power will continue to oppose revolutionary norms as well. They will continue to show enmity, as they are doing so in the present time.

Therefore, if the Revolution needed to fight in order to achieve victory in the past, it needs to fight in the present time too. We need this in order to be able to establish the norms of the Revolution. We should make them produce results so that society turns into an Islamic society.

We do not have an Islamic society yet, nor do we have an Islamic government. We introduced several stages of development for the Revolution, but we have not managed to achieve an Islamic government yet. And after establishing an Islamic government, we should establish an Islamic society. We have these stages ahead of us. We managed to create an Islamic Revolution – in other words, a revolutionary movement. Later on, we managed to create an Islamic system on the basis of that. Very well, some progress has been made up to this point, which is very important. However, after this, we should create an Islamic government which is the creation of a managerial Islamic system for the country. On this issue, there is a long way towards reaching the destination.

Of course, this does not mean that some people should feel desperate. This should never be the case. We are moving forward. Despite all oppositions, all obstacles and all confrontations, we are undoubtedly moving forward. There are many reasons for this, but we have a lot of work to do. There is a lot of work to be done. We are far away from creating an Islamic government. And after the creation of an Islamic government, it will be time for the establishment of an Islamic society. Therefore, my dear ones, we should fight.

On that day too – during the pre-revolutionary era – there were some people who loved revolutionary fighters, but who did not touch any part of fighting themselves. They would not lift a finger to help and they would not get close to the arena of the battle in any way, but they loved it and they liked revolutionary fighters. Of course, there were some individuals who did not like the fighters, who showed enmity to them and who cooperated with the enemy. I am not speaking about those individuals. But among the good individuals, those who liked the fighters but who did not enter the arena of the battle were not few in number. Well, they did not use to do anything.

The day when the enemy front became weak and it became clear that the taghuti regime's fall was close, those large group of people naturally entered the arena to finish the task, but when the cause was going through a difficult time, the fighters were only comprised of those who were endeavoring and who were in the middle of the arena.

This is the case in the present time too. In those days, fighting was necessary and it was not enough to sit aside and express one's love of the fighters. Today too, fighting is necessary. It is not enough to sit and praise the fighters. We should enter the arena. Of course, today's fighting is different from fighting in the past in terms of identity. However, fighting is fighting. Fighting means endeavoring and engaging in jihad. You should find the way to engage in this fight.

The next point is about the suggestions which were put forward. A number of ladies and gentlemen put forward some suggestions which should receive attention by Allah's favor. These suggestions should be submitted to the honorable brothers and gentlemen in the area of management so that they can follow them up. By Allah's favor, we should look at them to see if we can implement them or not. You should put forward practical suggestions. You should look at every suggestion that you want to offer and see if they can be implemented. You should put forward those plans which are compatible with fieldwork.

Once more, I would like to repeat the statement that I made two days ago in a meeting with government officials. In those meetings, individuals constantly refer to such and such plans. I said to them that planning is different from defining goals. Defining goals is not the same as planning. Planning means drawing up a roadmap towards the destination. This is what planning is. They refer to this as planning. When you want to build a road, if you do not pay attention to the characteristics and features of the soil and if you do not prepare yourselves for facing those features, you might face obstacles very soon.

You will reach, for example, a height and you will say that it is not possible to move forward. Well, you should have thought of this before. You should have known that there are certain heights, rocks and rivers on this road and that you would need to build a bridge. When you do not anticipate these things, when you do not include them in your plan and when you do not coordinate the plan with the realities of the route, you will naturally get stuck. Plans should be formulated on the basis of realities – the things which are real and the things which can be done.   

Well, there is not much time left. Now, I want to raise two, three points. One is that the responsibility of the society of seminarians – you young seminarians are among the enthusiastic and influential part of the seminarian movement – is to continue the mission of the Prophets. You should adopt such an outlook towards seminarian duties. You should study your lessons and formulate your plans for the future with this outlook. You are the followers of the mission of the Prophets. Well, in the blessed Sura al-A'raf, it is mentioned that the mission of the Prophets is: "To the 'Ad people, We sent Hud, one of their own brothers. He said: Oh my people, worship Allah! you have no other god but Him" [The Holy Quran, 7: 65].

The issue is the issue of monotheism. The movement of prophets was for the sake of monotheism. The basis of the prophets' movement is an invitation to monotheism. Invitation to monotheism does not only mean that you believe there is only one God – not two – and that idols and gods – whatever they are – do not have divinity. It does not only mean this. The belief in monotheism is the basis, pillar and foundation of a world view which forms life. The belief in monotheism means creating a monotheist society: a society which is formed and managed on the basis of monotheism. The belief in monotheism is this.

If this did not exist, then there would be no enmity against prophets: "Likewise did We make for every messenger an enemy - evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception" [The Holy Quran, 6: 112]. Those enmities were because of the existence of prophets. They protested against the structure of society and they presented a new structure and geometry for humanity's lifestyle. That lifestyle is the same as "the pure life" that one of the brothers referred to in this holy ayah: "Oh you who believe, give your response to Allah and His Messenger when He calls you to that which will give you life" [The Holy Quran, 8: 24]. This life is the pure life: "Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily, to him will We give a new life, a life that is good and pure" [The Holy Quran, 16: 97].

Beyond this superficial life, there is a life which is referred to as "the pure life". What is that life? That is a life which is accompanied by faith. Life needs water, air, food, science, technology and everything. Life needs all these things. However, if it is devoid of faith, it is not called life. It is death. The Holy Quran does not refer to this as life. Life exists only when all movements and all elements are imbued with living factors. It exists only when there is light, like a dark environment on which some light is cast.

Such is the status of seminarians. You want to give life to the human community. Naturally, this involves the same problems that prophets were faced with, but it also involves the rewards and achievements that prophets enjoyed. Prophets made achievements and they succeeded. All prophets - even those who were martyred and even those who were rejected by their people – managed to promote their ideas. Notice that the ideas and beliefs of Hazrat Nuh, Hazrat Hud and the various prophets who had so many enemies in those days have many suitors, supporters and followers today. So, their ideas survived and succeeded. They were rejected in those days, but after the gradual emergence of various prophets, they won. So, you are doing what prophets used to do.

Your ideas will undoubtedly grow and move forward, and you will benefit from divine blessings. In other words, Allah the Exalted will help you: "We will, without doubt, help our messengers and those who believe, in this world's life" [The Holy Quran, 40: 51]. God will help you – this is another part of your job – and you will undoubtedly have certain enemies, adversaries and opponents just like prophets. So, the same condition exists. You should prepare yourselves.   

All of you are young. From now on, you might – by Allah's favor – live 60, 70 years and you can work hard. Therefore, you should prepare yourselves for 50, 60, 70 years of endeavoring, working and making efforts. And you should know that at the end of this path, the world will change dramatically as a result of your efforts and without a doubt, it will move towards ideal circumstances. This will definitely happen.

I have written down something here to discuss with you which is the fact that the present era has certain characteristics and qualities for Islamic seminaries and seminarians which are different from previous eras. These characteristics are to the advantage of seminarians and they move in the direction of seminarians' success. One of these characteristics is the formation of the Islamic government. When an Islamic government is formed, this means that the atmosphere is Islamic. This does not mean that there is not any opposition. Oppositions will exist. It has always existed and it will continue to exist, but the main orientation is an Islamic one.

The day when we were your age, the main orientation was an anti-Islamic one – not non-Islamic, rather anti-Islamic. At that time, I was a clergy who used to teach in Islamic seminaries and hold meetings for students. The mosque would be filled with students and I would teach them tafsir. Once, I wanted to go to Tehran with a friend (may God have mercy on him). We were walking in the train station waiting for the train to depart. There were some youth who were walking as well. They too were waiting for the train to depart and they were mocking me, one after another. The friend who was with me was an academic. He felt embarrassed. I did not have any enmity towards the individuals who were mocking me, nor did I know them in any way. I had not insulted them and they probably were not educated, but this was what they were used to. It was the norm to mock seminarians – the clergy who were busy studying and teaching – without any reason. The environment was like this.

That was while Mashhad was the center of Islam, but it was like this. And Tehran was worse. In Tehran too, such incidents happened to us and to many others. However, today, this is not the case. This does not mean that today, the clergy, seminarians and turban-wearers do not have any enemies, opponents and mockers. This is not the case. Today, there are such people as well and they will always exist – they used to mock prophets as well – but the main orientation is an Islamic orientation. This characteristic is to your advantage. You should make the most of this characteristic.

Another advantage of the present era is that there is a feeling of intellectual void and a need for new ideas on an international level. This is the case on an international level. Frustration at different "isms" – whether leftist or rightist “isms” – has increased in different countries and among intellectuals and youth. There is an intellectual void. Therefore, new ideas are easily bought. The Islamic Republic has many new things to say on the issue of humanity, society and politics. Islam has new ideas to present. If we can promote our ideas – which are new ones – in the world and if we can convey them to others, they will have many suitors and supporters. This is one of the characteristics of the present time.

There was one day when this was not the case. When I say, "one day" I do not mean a hundred years ago, rather I mean during the time of our youth. For example, Marxism was popular among youth in most countries. Only in a few countries like the US or some other European countries, it was not that popular. In most countries, Marxism was very attractive. Particularly in the area of economy, the attraction of socialism was an all-inclusive one. This was the case even in Islamic countries. Even in our own country and among the followers of the Islamic line, there were some outstanding personalities – if I mention their names, all of you know them – who defended and supported it with the same term "socialism". They were interested in coordinating Islamic economy with socialism or they tended to define it with socialist terminology.

We used to have various meetings, discussions and argumetns with those personalities. Today, this is not the case. Today, socialism has been defeated. It has been proven almost to everyone that what was referred to as "scientific socialism" is wrong. Marxist thoughts have been completely isolated. Liberalism – the one that westerners had defined on such issues as individuality, society and the like – has been condemned. There is a void. Everyone feels hopeless, desperate and frustrated. Today, the environment is ripe for Islamic ideas.

Islam's viewpoints about humanity, about the transcendence of human movement and its destination – one's voyage towards God – are important viewpoints. Islam's viewpoints about a country's political society – the issue of Islamic democracy – and its opinions on various issues are attractive ideas. If these ideas are conveyed to young generations throughout the world, they will be cherished. This is another characteristic of the present time which did not exist in the past.

Another outstanding characteristic of the present time is that the means to deliver the message are very advanced. One of the brothers in the meeting spoke at length about the virtual world. He raised a very good point about the virtual world. I too had thought of this point before. He said that they refer to it as the virtual world while it is a real world indeed. This world exists in many people's lives. Well, the virtual world is a means: a very efficient one for you to convey your messages to all over the world. This means did not exist yesterday, but it exists today. This is one of the advantages of the present time.

Another advantage is posing questions. Questions are very blessed things. In the past, there were not so many questions. It is wrong to think that questions and issues are always created by the enemy. Of course, sometimes the enemy creates a question or falsehood, but questions and doubts are generated by humans' creative mind. The young society which is interested in studying, arguing and discussing – academic groups and the like – are the farms of producing questions and there is nothing wrong with this. You yourselves are like this. You are young too and you have creative minds. One's mind can produce questions and it can, of course, produce and provide answers for them.

Of course, you should not linger over questions. This is my advice to you. You should not linger over questions. You should look for answers. All questions have an answer. It is necessary for the mind to work, to endeavor and to find the right answer. Of course, we should not provide answers in a perfunctory and superficial manner. Not any answer is suitable for a question. Asnwers should be logical, sound and accurate.

One of the advantages of the present time is that questions exist in abundance. There are many questions. When there are many questions, the issues that arise open the arena for mental activity and for crossing the boundaries of knowledge. When this happens, works of various kind are produced. Many years ago, a biased Egyptian writer wrote a book against Shia named "Fajrul Islam" which contained really unfair statements against Shia. Of course, he wrote "Zahyul Islam" "Zohrul Islam" and "Asrul Islam" after that. I read all those books in late 1340s or early 1350s.

The book "Fajrul Islam" made a number of our prominent scholars produce outstanding works. One of those outstanding works was "Az-Zaree'a", writeen by Asheikh Aqa Bozorg Tehrani. Another one was "The Establishment of Islamic Sciences by Shias" written by the late Sadr. All these books were written as a reaction against "Fajrul Islam". I think that one of the outstanding books which was written under the influence of "Fajrul Islam" – written by Ahmed Amin Misri – is the book written by the late Sayyid Mohsen Amin which is a biography of ulama: "Shia Personalities". This means that because of the emergence of an issue, several important tasks were carried out as a response to it. If that question had not been posed, those important tasks would not have been carried out. This is another point. So, the present era has many characteristics and advantages. You should thank God for living in this era and for benefiting from its advantages.

And my last word of advice is the issue of piety, abstinence and worship of God. My dear ones, you should know that this path requires piety. You should know that the best promotion is one that is done through your actions and the influence that they exert when it comes to attaining your goals and your ideals: "Whoever places himself as a leader of the people should commence with educating his own self before educating others" [Nahjul Balaghah, Saying 71]. Primarily, we should work on ourselves. In the past, some of the heads of schools used to keep an eye on the seminarians at dawn to see which one was saying night prayers and which one was not. They wanted to make sure that the clergy would not be deprived of night prayers. This is a very meaningful point.

Of course, in those days, this was easier. Today, this is more difficult because of TV series and the like. However, you should do this difficult task. Today, you youth should open - for yourselves - the path of God, of supplication, of praying and of benefiting from the pure prayers of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). You should open the path of ma'thur prayers – the prayers that have been narrated by the Imams – for yourselves and you should benefit from them. There are some prayers – with really authentic sources and references – which give great joy to us when we look at them. All the prayers in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyyah are an example in this regard. You should open this gate for yourselves.

Avoiding sins is one of the most fundamental tasks. One of the first words of advice that mystics and those whom we were very interested in offered to youth and to us – at that time, we were young – was to avoid sins: "Separate me from my sins: the ones that prevent me from continuing to obey You." This exists in Holy Dua Abu Hamza. If individuals commit sins, those sins prevent them from obeying God.

And if you do not obey divine orders, blessings will be taken away from you. You should pay attention to this. Saying prayers on time, with careful attention and with the presence of one's heart, reciting the holy Quran, and establishing a close relationship with duas and with ziarah, are things which are necessary for you dear brothers, dear sisters and my dear youth. You should take these things into consideration.

If this happens, then in the shade of your good studying, in the shade of the piety and abstinence that you will observe by Allah's favor, and in the shade of the creative and active minds that you have – examples of which we witnessed today – our scholarly-religious society, referred to as the seminarian society, will enjoy a much better future compared to its present-day conditions, God willing.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings