Imam Khamenei

Universities should encourage students to be optimistic about the country's future

The following is the full text of a speech delivered on June 10, 2018, 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 25th 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; peace and greetings upon our Master Muhammad and upon his pure household.

 

You are very welcome, dear brothers and dear sisters. Thankfully, today's meeting was excellent, considering the statements that friends in the meeting, 13 individuals who delivered speeches, made. One of the points that I have written down is that the universities of Iran should be involved in the issues and challenges of the country, and this idea manifested in this meeting. It is my definite word of advice, and by Allah's favor, I might discuss this matter, briefly, later on.

 

I noticed that the professors who spoke during this meeting addressed and paid attention to most of the fundamental issues and challenges of the country. For example, the issue surrounding cinema which is an important issue, the issue of the JCPOA, water issues, and issues regarding social detriments were addressed. Points that one gentleman in the meeting raised contained these issues: this is what I advised as well. Scientific diplomacy and the water crises were important issues that were brought to our attention by another gentleman. Other issues included innovation, which I might refer to, as well as the economy and other such issues.

 

Well, these discussions are, thankfully, useful. When I compare this year's meeting to the meetings which were held ten years ago, I realize that there is a radical difference. This difference indicates that the academic society has recently launched a progressive intellectual and motivational movement. I see that today, the movement, the expressions, the feeling of motivation, the efforts and the concerns of the academic society have improved compared to a decade ago: this is a very important point.

 

Now, I do not want to claim that the people at our meeting represent the whole of the academic society; but, after all, they are samples of that society. They are proof that a logical method and sentiment exists within the academic society. Of course, there is little time to discuss all of this: I had prepared myself for more time; but, I have to make my statements in brief.

 

Dear brothers, dear sisters, universities are very important educational centers. I am saying this based on deep and heartfelt beliefs, and I have reasons for saying so. Why is that? It is because universities are among the important centers for cultivating the intellectual faculty in the country.  And no country is able to manage itself or to make progress without an intellectual faculty. Notice that these two introductions lead to one conclusion and that is the fact that good universities are vital establishments for every country.

 

Furthermore, university professors have an extraordinary role to play at universities. In the process of building and cultivating the intellectual faculty for the management of the country, university professors have an exceptionally special role. Therefore, the position of university professors is very important, valuable, and sensitive. In a sensitive position—if universities wish to play this role, the role of creating and cultivating the intellectual faculty of the country correctly—there are certain requirements which they should pay attention to. I have written down three requirements, which I will explain briefly: one requirement entails more involvement in the issues of the country. Universities should not adopt the idea that they are separate from the issues of the country. The issues and challenges of the country should be accurately understood and promoted as fundamental issues of universities.

 

The second requirement is the cultural, moral, and identity-based cultivation of students. Obtaining a moral education is more important than a scientific-based education; and this should be taught with a moral and spiritual orientation, with a spiritual delicacy and sensitivity by reviving a sense of identity in all young students.

 

The third requirement is a continuous change in the academic environment. There should be perpetual and permanent changes in the academic environment. The first reason for this is that all associations of the world need to change. --This is because humans are constantly changing, progressing, and moving forward. So, all human associations should enable themselves to change in a constant manner: this should be a serious concern for them. Secondly, to put it frankly, the foundations of our universities are faulty: the foundations have been faulty from the start.

 

This flaw does not mean that the academic environment is distasteful. Fortunately, our universities have yielded great output, but the foundations of our universities have been built upon by unreliable people with untrustworthy policies during the time of the Pahlavi regime, and this structure has prevailed till this day. They established universities by purging religion from the society. They established universities on the basis of faulty science, not scientific innovation or production. Universities have been established in this manner, and some of the consequences have continued today; therefore, there is a need for internal reform, transformation or change within universities: this should be continuous and permanent. I have written down examples of such change, which I will discuss later on. --These were the three requirements; of course, there are other requirements.

 

The next subject is about the universities' involvement in the issues of the country, examples of which we, fortunately, witnessed today. I really became happy to see that our brothers and sisters discussed these matters. I am really thankful to God because our expectations, fortunately, exist in the minds of at least some of our dear academic personalities. Why do we say that universities should be involved in the issues of the country? Well, every country has important issues. Today, we have some crucial problems and issues that need attention. In the future, too, certain problems will exist: all countries and societies in the world face obstacles. They have certain problems that need to be resolved.

 

Problems should be resolved in a scientific manner. If we tackle these problems in a non-scientific, non-managerial, ill-advised, and unintelligent manner they will not be resolved, rather they will become more complicated, and they will continue and increase in number. So, problems should be resolved in a scientific manner. Well, if they are to be resolved in a scientific manner, who should resolve them? Scientists and scholars, in other words, academic personalities, who are among the scientists of the country and who form the main sector of the scientists of the country. Therefore, universities should consider issues of the country as their own issues, and they should seek solutions for them.

 

For example, one of the pressing issues of our country is the economy. It has been said many times, it was also said in this meeting, that some of our managerial methods regarding the economy, what is being practiced in the country, are not well planned; well, these methods should be remedied. Who should provide a remedy for them? Who should attend to this issue? Universities. I have advised high-ranking officials, several times, to collect the economic opinions published in newspapers by economists of our universities—I often read such opinions—so that they know there are viewpoints other than the ones which exist inside governmental organizations. --These viewpoints are helpful. Hearing these opinions is, naturally, helpful. So, the issue of the economy is one of the most important issues. Today, one of the gentlemen raised certain points in this regard.

 

As for industry, well, our industry suffers from certain problems. Universities can play their part. I feel that it is necessary to mention that, according to a report, some universities have performed well in the area of relations with industries; furthermore, some universities have not established such relations, and they have not maintained good performance.

 

Recently, I have heard that there is a plan allowing the professors to take a sabbatical in some industries: this has been ratified in centers in charge of such affairs: this is a very good measure. They should allow sabbaticals for professors involved in industrial issues so that they may become familiar with the problems of the country's industry up close. We have certain problems within the country's industrial sector: universities should solve these problems.

 

Of course, some owners of industries have complained that the relationship between universities and industries has not been helpful, but universities can help the progress and improvement of industries in principle. This will prevent us from pinning our hopes on foreigners when it comes to our oil and electrical industries, for example. We do not have to sign contracts with foreigners so that they can give us their technology. --This is desired by some today. We think that we need to sign contracts with certain foreign oil companies to increase the capacity of extracting oil from our wells: for example, from 25 to 50 percent. Under such circumstances, the company might impose certain conditions upon us. If our universities enter this realm, in my opinion, they will definitely be able to solve many problems, as we managed to solve problems in other particular areas. The entire world, the parts which were relevant to this matter thought it was impossible for us to achieve 20-percent enriched uranium: they could not believe that such a thing could happen in our country, but it did happen.

 

They [other world powers] used to lay down terms and conditions for selling 20-percent enriched uranium to us. Unfortunately, some of our officials were, gradually, becoming ready to give in to those concessions. However, after some persistence and resistance, and after some endeavors made by our youth, the world witnessed, all of a sudden, that we no longer needed the 20-percent enriched uranium produced by the US, Russia, and I think France, in those days -- there was the talk of buying it from such countries. We, ourselves, produced the 20-percent uranium.

 

Well, why should the talent which managed to accomplish such a great feat -- experts say, that the main problem in enrichment is to shift from 3 or 4 percent to 20 percent; otherwise, moving from 20 to 99 percent is an easier path -- not be able to increase the output of our oil wells? Why should we not be able to do anything to improve our industries? So, universities can help in this area of industrial advancements.

 

As for the issue of social detriments: the issue of divorce, addiction, low-income areas, crimes, cyberspace and other such issues, the gentlemen in the meeting addressed this issue. Naturally, we have involved all the organizations of the country in this matter for some time now. The gentleman in the meeting said four years, but apparently, it is not four years, it is between two or three years. We have involved the organizations in charge, from three branches of power, in the issue of social detriments.

 

Good meetings are being conducted, and many tasks are being carried out, and they are carrying out follow-ups as well. Of course, these are long-term measures; their results will not become visible any time soon: universities can be helpful in this regard. Those individuals who delivered speeches put forward some suggestions which are great. I will ask my office to collect these suggestions from all areas so that the officials in charge think about them during different meetings and try to find ways to implement them in practice.

 

Another example is the issue of the cycle of production and consumption, and the issue of innovation which was pointed out by the participants in the meeting. First of all, we should be innovative; that is to say, we should put forward ideas; then we should produce; after that, we should find markets and the like. The issue of supply and demand is a chain reaction: this chain should move along correctly. There is a chain in the process of production and consumption. The links in the chain should transfer all the possibilities so that the task is accomplished in a precise manner. If there is a flaw in this cycle, who should enter the arena? Universities. Universities should identify the flaws and eliminate the problems so that we can accomplish the task.

 

Another example is the issue of supporting Iranian products. Fortunately, one of the gentlemen, in the meeting, addressed this issue. He had thought and worked on the matter, and he raised the same points which I had written down. We should see what the obstacles in the way of producing quality products are. The first issue is that we should produce quality products inside the country, in a manner that can attract customers: this way, products can be sold. First, we should see what the obstacles in the way of producing quality products are; and then, we should see how we can find markets for them. What can we do to find markets for our products both inside and outside the country?

 

Of course, finding markets outside the country requires a separate discussion, but the problem inside the country is a psychological and cultural problem: this was pointed out in the meeting, and the statements in this regard are completely correct. In sociological and psychological discussions at universities, we should study why some of the people are more willing to buy foreign products over domestic products, and we should find solutions to this problem. Of course, one gentleman mentioned some solutions, but they are not enough. These issues require scientific studies.

 

You might see that over the course of two-four years, the issue will completely change. In the present time, too, with the promotions that have been carried out, some dealers sell their foreign products to customers as domestic products: I am aware of this. I have information in this regard due to the received reports. When customers ask for a certain product, sellers falsely say that their products are domestic despite the fact that they are not. This is because they know that customers need domestic products. This is a good thing (the demand for domestic products). Of course, telling lies is not, but it is very good that sellers have to present their foreign products as domestic ones [audience laughs]. This culture of demand should be expanded. How can it be expanded? Well, this requires scientific measures. It is you, of the university communities, who should do this. Another issue is transferring new scientific achievements to production divisions. --All these tasks fall into different groups in universities.

 

Well, universities should identify the problems of the country. I, fortunately, witnessed this in the statements made by the gentlemen in the meeting. I have written it down, and it was very interesting to me. I witnessed that they have really tried to identify the problems. For example, they mentioned, "How can women be both homemakers and pursue higher education?" "How can these two issues be justified? This is problematic." Well, this is another issue. Notice that identifying problems is a very important issue; after that, we should resolve them. So, universities can be helpful in both identifying and resolving problems. Of course, there are many ideas in this regard. I have written down certain points, but there is little time.

 

Of course, managers should be willing to do that. I wish to ask the government officials who are present here to adopt a serious approach towards such issues including the issue of the relationship between universities and the affairs of the country in the meetings held by the cabinet so that everyone becomes motivated to pursue them. I am saying this to each and every minister. Once, we had a minister of energy: a very good brother who had graduated from Amirkabir University. He was saying to me that we had such and such a problem. I said to him, "Brother, you should get out of your executive office and go to the university where you have graduated from and bring it up there. They will solve it for you." They would surely solve it, and I have no doubt about it. If universities' involvement in the affairs of the country is taken seriously by managers, this should be the case in principle, issues will be resolved, in my opinion. It is managers who should knock on scientists' doors. Scientists should not wait behind managers' office doors. It is managers who should knock on scientists' doors and ask for help.

 

The second requirement, that I previously mentioned is a morally, culturally, and identity-based educational program: the cultivation of an "aqli [rational] faculty."  What is an Aqli Faculty? What is aql [wisdom]? In Islamic literature, aql is not only a faculty which makes material calculations. "Aql is something with which we worship Allah the Beneficent and achieve paradise." [al-Kafi, Vol. 1, page 11] --This is aql. "Aql guides and saves." [Ghurur al-Hikam, page 124] Aql is this: Aql should be able to help humans achieve transcendence. At one level, aql is a factor which helps humans become closer to God and to believe in monotheism. At a lower level, aql is something that helps people adopt an Islamic lifestyle. At a different level, aql is something that coordinates people's worldly affairs. All these things are conducted by aql.   

 

Aql or an "Aqli Faculty" is a faculty which contains all these features. So, it needs spiritual education. You should educate students along spiritual terms. Students are young, and youth are naturally delicate and relatively pure: they are able to move in spiritual directions. This should be provided in universities: "There is no help in facing the world, except from wisdom." [Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 75, page 7] Life without aql is not possible.

Therefore, the moral aspect of this aqli faculty should be strong. Universities should teach youth to be religious and honorable, to be ready to act, to avoid laziness, to be diligent and confident, and to accept and seek the truth. These are the qualities of a lofty individual. Islam wants such individuals. It is these individuals who can guide society towards salvation and bliss should they become managers in society.

 

In the present time, it has become common practice in cyberspace to insult one another. One person insults another person, and he answers back. They magnify a weak point and stain the reputation of believers, and it is not clear who they are: well, this is a very bad phenomenon. There are such things among our youth which should be prevented. --This is possible with spiritual education.

 

In a gathering in the presence of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h), one person damaged the reputation of a believer. He damaged his reputation, but it is not mentioned how. Another person in the same gathering defended the reputation of the believer who had been attacked. The Holy Prophet said, "What you did defending the reputation of a believer is a veil against the fire of hell." --This is the meaning of an Islamic lifestyle. This means "Show mercy so that you are shown mercy by Allah the Exalted." [speaking in Arabic]. These lessons should be taught to our youth. Our youth should be "Strong against unbelievers, compassionate amongst each other." [The Holy Quran, 48: 29] --This is the ayah which was recited here, and these proofs should be cultivated in the same manner.

 

They should stand up against oppression and oppressors, but they should behave in a kind manner towards their religious brothers. We should teach forgiveness to our youth. If youth are not morally cultivated today, they will do tasks in a poor, wrong, and untrustworthy manner when they undertake responsibilities in the future. He who is ready today to slander someone for fun, for killing time and for satisfying their inner needs will be willing to completely ruin someone's reputation when they run for an election and they do so just to win the election. --They become like that. In the future, such individuals will behave like that.

 

Another issue is the issue of lack of identity. You should educate youth to have their own sense of identity. If society does not feel that it has an identity, then loud domineering voices will overwhelm them easily. He who resists is a person who has a sense of identity. Sometimes, this identity is a national identity, sometimes it is religious, sometimes it is a humanitarian honor, and other such things. Youth should be taught to have a sense of identity. Today, our Islamic-Iranian society, fortunately, enjoy a deep-rooted, historical, and resistant identity which has been shown in practice. We should transfer this to our youth. So, the issue of culture is an important issue. Cultural sectors should feel responsible, and they should work on this.

 

The third requirement was a perpetual change in universities. I have written down a number of points to discuss in this regard. This reform in the affairs of universities has clear manifestations today: one clear manifestation is that we should turn the outlook of scientific consumption into an outlook of scientific production. How long should we keep consuming other's science? I am not opposed to acquiring science from others, in any way. I have said this many time, and everyone knows this. I have said that we do not think it is beneath our dignity to acquire scientific knowledge from someone who possesses it and to be students. However, it is one thing to be students, but it is quite another to imitate. How long should we keep following others in sciences?

 

On the issue of humanities, why do some people become enraged when it is said that we should sit and develop Islamic humanities. Such individuals say, "Is this really science?" In the area of natural sciences, which can be experimented on in laboratories, it occurs that scientific findings are questioned and rejected on a daily basis. So, do you expect studies and research in the humanities to be completely accurate? How many contradictory ideas exist in the economy? There are so many contradictory ideas in management, in various branches of humanities and in philosophy. So, what is science? 

 

Science is something that can be achieved and understood, and that flows from your active minds. We should seek the production of science. How long should we keep consuming others’ sciences? Yes, it is all right to take from others the products that we do not have and to benefit from others' sciences, but this cannot be permanent: this cannot be eternal. Sometimes, some other people's science is not correctly transmitted to us. Sometimes, they do not give us the good, new, or up-to-date information. This has, unfortunately, happened frequently in our country during the time of the tyrannical Pahlavi regime. We should not repeat such experiences over and over again; therefore, we should produce science.

 

I have recently heard that some individuals keep rejecting the scientific achievements of the country, which are acknowledged by international associations, in their writings. I, one hundred percent, reject this claim! The scientific achievements of the country are real achievements, not bubble achievements as claimed by some people. We have progressed in nanotechnology, we have progressed in stem cell research, we have progressed in the nuclear technology, we have progressed in biotechnology, and we have progressed in different branches of medical sciences. We have progressed in a multitude of areas. These achievements are real, and they exist.

 

As was pointed out in the meeting, there was one day when, outside big cities, Iranian physicians were few in number. I, myself, used to live in Zahedan in Iranshahr [Sistan and Baluchistan Province]. The doctors there were mostly Indian, I went to them. Of course, they were not bad, but the country needed foreign doctors. At the beginning of the Revolution, they would schedule eight, nine, ten-year appointments for heart surgery! When a patient suffering from heart disease referred to a hospital, his surgery would be conducted ten years later, until then, most of them would die. --Conditions were like this. Today, specialists conduct open heart surgeries in distant cities. These achievements are real achievements. Why do some people want to disappoint our academic society, our specialists and our scientists? The achievements are real achievements, but they should be expanded.

 

Another course of action is making research purposeful. Today, we conduct research. Well, the article-centered approach in our universities is a problem. Some people are opposed to this, and some people say that there is no other choice. Of course, the increase in the number of articles, particularly the ones which are quoted and referred to, is a source of credibility for the country, and it is fine, but articles should be purposeful. --This is not today's discussion. I, myself, said this years ago, and this was also pointed out by some of the honorable professors who spoke here. They said that research should become purposeful.

 

You should see what the needs of the country are and where the shortcomings lie. Research should eliminate the shortcomings: this is very important. Purposeless research should be eliminated from our sphere of work. Of course, research has two goals in principle: one is becoming a scientific reference point and acquiring a presence among the leaders of science and technology; secondly, resolving the current and future issues of the country--these two goals do not contradict one another. I have heard some people say, "How are they not contradictory? Is this goal correct or the other one?" Both goals are correct. The goal of research should be to reach the peak of science, to become a scientific reference point in the future: we should definitely reach this point of becoming a scientific reference point in the world and resolve the current issues of the country.

 

Another issue which should definitely receive attention, and be pursued in universities, is the issue of the higher education planning. Fortunately, another gentleman addressed this issue and mentioned it. This planning project was ratified in the year 1395 [2016] by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, but it has not made much progress. This means a nation-wide division of work among the universities of the country for attending to the diverse discussions that exist in the area of science. --This is very efficient for planning. It will facilitate planning and also the evaluation of the scientific condition of the country. They will also overlap and complete one another. Of course, the Ministry of Health has apparently had a better performance in this regard. --This is according to the reports that I have received.

 

The next issue which should receive the attention of universities is the implementation of the Comprehensive Scientific Plan. Well, part of this plan has been implemented, but not all of it. One of the problems in this regard, I mentioned this problem in the same meeting in the past as well, is that a great section in the body of our universities has not read the Comprehensive Scientific Plan, and it is not aware of it at all. So much work has been carried out on this plan. So many scientists, experts, and scientific and academic pundits have worked on it, and the result is a good comprehensive plan. Well, this Comprehensive Scientific Plan should be implemented in universities. Who should do so? The academic body of the country and professors themselves. They should read and take a look at it to see what it is and what has been requested in that plan. There should be meetings between professors and post-graduate students for the sake of implementing this plan. The traces of this plan should be seen in educational environments and in the educational system and research of the country.

 

The next issue is that academic fields of study have become unbalanced: some fields of study have become isolated. Statistics presented to me show that the students participating in the mathematics university entrance exam have decreased by approximately 50 percent. --This is dangerous for the future of the country. We need these important fields of fundamental sciences, in particular, mathematics and physics for the future. If candidates participating in these fields decrease in number, and if there is a rush towards lucrative fields of study fields which lead to money and occupation, immediately after graduation, this will become problematic. Academic organizations should definitely make up for the consequences of this unbalance.

 

Another issue is the issue of the article-centered approach. I previously mentioned that articles should move in the direction of resolving the issues of the country. The easy path through which professors write articles and achieve promotion is a problem by itself. In the promotion regulations, writing articles for promoting professors plays a crucial role. Well, this is an easy path. The task should be carried out in a more careful manner. Promotion should not be purely based on writing articles. There are more fundamental factors that can be chosen as the main criteria [audience recite salawat as a sign of confirmation]. This shows that you both confirm what I have said, and you have become tired [audience laughs]. I will conclude my statements soon.

 

My dear ones, universities should educate students who are hopeful about the future and optimistic about the conditions and future of the country: this is the main issue. Today's students should be confident that what is given to them in the future -- when it will be their turn to be in charge of management, leadership, and reform -- will be a country which is better than today. --Students should be given this hope.

 

And this is the truth of the matter. We have moved forward, to a great extent, compared to 10, 20, 40 years ago. Some of you are aware of this, but most of you are young. Most of you do not remember 30 years ago and the condition of the country back then. I will tell you that the progress of the country and the academic environment in the past 20 years is real and praiseworthy progress. So, students should be cultivated like this: they should believe in the capabilities and achievements of the country --whether domestic or international achievements -- and they should also believe in the progress, capability, and power of the country to build the future. They should believe in these things, and they should be aware of the country's position in the world.

 

Now, we are a country which has the most enemies among arrogant governments and among some useless powers, and we have the most supporters among the masses of people in many countries. I am not saying in all countries but in many countries. No other country is as reputable as the Islamic Republic among so many countries whether neighboring or non-neighboring countries. They might be interested in and attracted to such and such a scientifically advanced country, but they do not appreciate them at all; however, the Islamic Republic enjoys this status. And that is why it has malicious and decisive enemies, but by Allah's favor, all these enemies will be defeated in the face of the Iranian nation, and the Islamic Republic, and they will not be able to do anything.

 

In the present time, that Shimr of the age [Shimr is the person who martyred Imam Hussein(a.s.)] the child-murdering Prime Minister of the usurper regime goes to Europe and portrays his people as oppressed victims, saying that Iran wants to destroy them and the like. First of all, they are Shimrs -- in the real sense of the word. They are the ones who are the embodiment of all oppressors throughout history. Their European audiences only listen and nod, but they do not point to the same regime’s crimes in Gaza--in any way! They commit crimes in Quds, but the Europeans do not mention them at all. He talks, and they nod. Well, this world is a corrupted one.

 

The Islamic Republic has acted in a reasonable way in all matters. On the issue of the usurping regime, 40-50 years ago when you were not born yet, Jamal Abdel Nasser used to chant a slogan based on throwing all the Jews into the sea. When he wanted to speak against Israel, he would say that they would "throw the Jews into the sea." However, the Islamic Republic has never said such a thing -- from day one! We presented a practical plan from the very beginning. We have said that today, democracy, and reference to public votes is a modern and advanced method which is approved by the entire world. Very well, in order to choose the government of the historic country of Palestine, you should refer to the public votes of the people of Palestine: you should hold a referendum.

 

This has been recorded by the UN, a few years ago, as the opinion and viewpoint of the Islamic Republic. This is our opinion: those who are really Palestinian, for example, those who have been Palestinian since at least 80, 100 years ago -- there are Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Palestine, and they are all Palestinians -- should be asked to give their opinions wherever they are, whether those in the occupied lands, entire Palestine, or those who live outside Palestine. Every government that they choose for Palestine is accepted. Whatever they want is accepted. Is this a bad opinion? Is this not a modern opinion? However, the Europeans are not willing to understand this! This is while that child-murdering, malicious, oppressive, and the Shimr-like person travels there and plays the victim, portraying them as oppressed, saying that Iran wants to destroy and annihilate them by killing several million people!

 

Dear God, make what we said, what exists in our minds, and what we heard serve You and Your cause. Dear God, help our country get closer, on a daily basis, to the peaks of transcendence and progress: such progress that is approved by Islam. Dear God, help our academic environment, our academic personalities, our honorable professors, and our dear students benefit from Your attention, kindness, blessings, and support. Help them succeed in what gains Your satisfaction. Associate the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam and the pure souls of the martyrs with your saints: help us to join them.

 

Greetings upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings,

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