It's the duty of Islamic governments and elites to take the Islamic ummah to the peak of human civilization

The following is the full text of a speech delivered on May 12, 2018, by Ayatollah Khamenei the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with the participants of the Shia Congress in the Emergence and Expansion of Islamic Sciences.


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, upon his pure household, upon his chosen companions, and upon those who follow them until the Day of Judgment.


Welcome dear guests of this Congress and gathering. I thank you for your presence within this scientific and social movement, and I also thank those who launched this beneficial and – by Allah's favor – promising movement. Moreover, I would like to express my gratitude towards Ayatollah Makarem: he made great accomplishments and initiated such a great effort. By Allah's favor, this task will continue, and it produces excellent results.


Dear brothers, dear sisters, today every movement which leads to the unity of the Islamic Ummah is auspicious and blessed. The intention of Islam's enemies has been to create discord; but our intention -- those who believe in Islam -- is to create unity within the world of Islam and to introduce Islamic groups and denominations to one another. The movement that you have launched and this gathering is a manifestation that evolves from efforts in the direction of the Islamic Ummah's unity.


One thing that we have always viewed as a problem is that the different denominations of the Islamic Ummah do not know each other well. They do not have an accurate and honest understanding of one another. On many occasions enemies and foreigners described one denomination to another and vice versa; they did so with a hostile outlook: with malicious goals and with the intention of creating enmity. Throughout the past -- 100 to 150 years -- we have seen many such cases with clarity. In recent events, we clearly see the judgments that are placed within the sight of a denomination about another denomination and conversely. Our enemies portray a bad picture of one denomination to another. --This is the enemies' doing. 


Every movement that helps us gain a better understanding of one another, to identify our strong points and to share these points, will lead to the unity, solidarity, and transcendence of the Islamic Ummah: this Congress is one of such movements.


Throughout history, Shia Islam has played a great and noticeable role in developing Islamic and natural sciences. All the works that have been produced by Shia ulima [scholars] in Islamic sciences – such as fiqh [jurisprudence], hadith, philosophy, in particular, aqli [rational] sciences, kalaam [the study of Islamic doctrine] and other books – are a source of pride and honor for all Muslims: we should come to know this. The Islamic Ummah should feel this blessing; it should learn about it because this will help us come closer to one another. Learning about each other will help us acquire a better understanding of one another.


Among Shia ulima, there are many individuals who were outstanding in different Islamic sciences – in fiqh, in philosophy, in kalaam, in rijal [the study of Islamic narration and narrators] and in hadith. For example, there are scholars such as Allamah Hilli, Sheikh Tussi, and many others. The books that have been written about the Quran, Quranic sciences and interpretations are important and instructive books. If these books are introduced, if Muslims become familiar with each other's works, and if the efforts they have made become available for everyone to see, the Islamic Ummah will become more prideful. --This will lead to solidarity among the Islamic Ummah.


Within all movements – including the scientific movement that you are involved with – we should be extremely careful not to cause any controversy or create any doubt that will lead to discord, conflict, separation, and dismay of Islamic denominations towards one another: this is something that the enemies want. So, one issue is the issue of the unity among the Islamic Ummah. In my opinion, a noticeable part of unity will be achieved within this movement, God willing.


Another issue, to raise, is that of scientific progress. The world of Islam fell behind, and it was dominated because of its lack of scientific progress. However, after many centuries of backwardness [in the West] and after acquiring sciences from Muslims, while making Islamic books their reference, guide, and ladder towards scientific transcendence, Westerners managed to overcome Islamic countries in scientific arenas. --This helped them increase their wealth, especially their military, political, and propaganda power: which led to colonialism. The phenomenon of colonialism came into being under the heedless and bloody boots of colonialists. Muslims witnessed this backwardness and deprivation that stemmed from their progress in all scientific arenas: this continued until it reached present-day conditions. Global powers – particularly Western powers and the demons of the world – are causing havoc in Islamic countries among Muslim nations. They [Westerners] are imposing their demands on Muslims; and many Muslim rulers are, unfortunately, following them because of scientific backwardness.


We should change the aforementioned situation. We, those in the world of Islam, should begin a serious movement towards progress in all fields of study and all civilizations towards building sciences -- ranging from Aqli sciences to humanities, social sciences to natural sciences: we can do this. At one time, the world of Islam was at the peak of human civilization. Why should this not be repeated? Why should we not be able to do something, today, which would bring the Islamic Ummah to the peak of human civilization within a particular period of time – for example, in 40, 50 years? What is wrong with this idea? We should move forward: this is the responsibility of government bodies and prominent people. Both Islamic governmental bodies and outstanding figures within the Islamic world are responsible. Ulima, intellectuals, writers, poets, and artists of the Islamic world should create a great intellectual movement and public demand for scientific progress for reaching the peak of science: this task is possible today.


We in the Islamic Republic tried to reach this peak -- which was a successful attempt. Today, we have moved forward, to a great extent, compared to the pre-revolutionary era and the time of Taghut [Pahlavi tyranny]. Our rate of progress was good in this regard. In recent years, according to the official scientific databases of the world, the Islamic Republic's rate of progress was thirteen times greater than the global average. --This is not our claim: this has been mentioned in official documents of science centers around the world. Of course, because of our inabilities, a "greater rate of progress by 13x" has not managed to help us reach our desired goals; but we have managed to move forward to a great extent: we will continue to do so.


We said that we should explore the borders of science and we should move beyond that. We should move forward; and, by Allah's favor, we will: the Islamic Republic will do so. Of course, we will not behave like the Westerners. Westerners' tradition is based on greed. --This means that they do not offer what they have – their best scientific findings – to others. Of course, they transfer sciences which are outdated, but they do not give out knowledge of their best scientific achievements. Contrary to their tradition, we have announced that we are ready to share what we have achieved -- in every area -- with our Muslim brothers in Islamic countries.


This movement [towards scientific progress] should continue. We should achieve progress in Islamic sciences as well. In the realm of fiqh, we need to adopt a new outlook on fiqh related issues. What the gentlemen [at the meeting] mentioned about specialized fiqh is in line with this new approach. Fiqh [Jurisprudence] knowledge can present new ideas in managerial areas of the country and human societies. Islamic fiqh can present new ideas: we should work towards these ideas: this is the importance of Islamic Fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence].


We must accelerate the movements of philosophy and Aqli sciences. Fortunately, the Aqli sciences have gained an excellent rate of growth in Shia societies, particularly in Iran--this has been the case since the past. Great aqli scholars and thinkers have emerged in our country, among Islamic scholars, and their works are available. Thus, we should move forward in aqli sciences.


Westerners have resolved political, governmental and social matters by extending their philosophy into other fields. Yesterday, I noticed some books in the Book Fair [Tehran International Book Fair] which have been written by Westerners. Those books were about the influence of philosophy on football. They have even extended philosophy to football! This is an example of what I mean by extending one's achievements to all the areas of life: We should learn from this. We are strong in terms of philosophy. Islamic philosophy is stronger and more deeply-rooted than Western philosophy, but its extension to all the areas of life should be tangible. The opinions and judgments of our philosophy on government, social matters, the economy, and all civilization-building matters should be clear and transparent. These are tasks that should be accomplished. This section was about particular Islamic fields, but the same is true of natural sciences.


Fortunately, there is an awakening in the world of Islam, today, although Westerners have tried to deny it. What happened in West Asia, North Africa, and Arab countries was due to Islamic Awakening. We are experiencing a great awakening, and it exists throughout the entire world of Islam. The youth have questions, and they would like to pull answers out of Islam. They have some expectations from Islam, and they are inclined towards it. Despite all the propaganda efforts that Westerns have waged against Islam and against Islamic life and lifestyle, a strong orientation towards Islam exists.


This orientation is a sign that the future of the Islamic world will be in a much better position than the present-day, God willing. By Allah's favor, the world of Islam will witness days when the Ummah will be at the peak of its civilization in its Islamic life: when bullies like the US and the likes of the US will no longer be able to control Muslims of Islamic countries around. This condition [Western control of Muslim nations] used to exist in the past; today, it, unfortunately, exists in some places. However, by Allah's favor, this will be eliminated, and the world of Islam will reach its peak, by Allah's favor and grace.


Once more, I would like to thank you all, and I hope that this scientific movement will continue. Again, I would like to thank the group of people in charge who made great endeavors – particularly, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi. I hope that God will preserve him, that He will make him succeed and that He will increase and eternalize the enthusiasm and motivation that has always existed in him on a daily basis, God willing.


Greetings upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings


  • Islam
  • Islamic philosophy
  • Shia