Leader's Friday Prayers Address

The following is the abridged text of the speech delivered on September 19, 2008 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution at Tehran's Friday prayers.

First Sermon

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Fridays - especially the Fridays in the holy month of Ramadan when our religious brothers and sisters are fasting - provide us with a golden opportunity to familiarize our hearts with the source of divine grace. By Allah's favor, we will manage to use this opportunity to prepare our hearts for increased piety.

Laylat al-Qadr is the night for prayers, supplication, and attention to God Almighty. The month of Ramadan, especially Laylat al-Qadr, is the best time for attention to God, dhikr, and supplication. Laylat al-Qadr also provides us with the opportunity to familiarize our hearts with the Commander of the Faithful and learn lessons from him. He was the embodiment of all good features that are attributed to the month of Ramadan and all the duties that God's servants are supposed to fulfill in this month. So I preface my speech in the first part with the remembrance of the Commander of the Faithful so that we can gain a better understanding of his personality. That is because all we have heard about him is not enough to give us an idea of who he really was, and we cannot describe his struggle to get closer to Allah the Exalted. Nor can we describe the hardships he endured or the prominence of what he did in his time.

Today, I would like to refer to moral education as one aspect of the comprehensive activities of the Commander of the Faithful. When he came to power, the Islamic Ummah was in a very different situation compared to the day the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) passed away. 25 years had passed since the end of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) life. The events that had taken place in the previous 25 years had transformed the thoughts, morality, and behavior of the Islamic Ummah. This is what the situation was like when the Commander of the Faithful accepted the leadership of the Islamic Ummah.

The Commander of the Faithful ruled that great Islamic country for almost five years. Each and every day of his rule contains a lesson. Moral education of the people of that country was one of the things that he paid constant attention to. All the aberrations that plague societies are rooted in moral issues. It is our moral principles that guide our behavior. Any case of misbehavior in any part of the world could be traced back to low moral standards. This fact led the Commander of the Faithful to refer to a more important reality - that all wrong and harmful acts are rooted in materialistic tendencies. So he said: "The world [materialistic tendencies] is the cause of all mistakes." These materialistic tendencies adversely affect our personal and social lives. What does 'materialistic tendencies' mean? What is meant by 'the world'?

The world is the vast nature that Allah the Exalted has created for man. That is what the world is. The world is made up of all the blessings that God Almighty has created. Our lives can be a prime example of these blessings. Material possessions and achievements are other components of the world. These are all manifestations of the world. Children, wealth, knowledge, and natural resources are the manifestations of the world. These mineral resources and bodies of water are the manifestations of the world. All the things that are around us come together to form the world. That is to say, all the things that make up our material lives are the components of the world. So why is 'the world' something bad? There are a number of Islamic traditions and teachings that encourage us to make the world a better place to live. "I created for you whatever is on earth." We are ordered to prepare the ground for the people and ourselves to exploit the material blessings. There are other traditions that say, "The world is a farm for the hereafter" and "[The world is] a place for the servants of God to do business". There are a number of other such traditions that unanimously point to the positive Islamic attitude towards the world.

There are other Islamic teachings that consider the world as the prime cause of all sins and mistakes. If we put all these teachings together, we will reach a clear conclusion. Of course, this point requires the reconciliation of many different interpretations. Positive efforts have already been made. In brief, Allah the Exalted has created all these material blessings for man. Man has been advised to make the best of these blessings and prepare the ground for the others to do so. However, there are some limits. There are some red lines that man is not allowed to cross. The world in its positive sense requires that man make use of it within the limits set by God. In this sense, man is not allowed to cross the red lines. The world in its negative sense makes people appropriate the material blessings that have been created for man. It makes people covet what other people have. It makes people dependant on material possessions, which makes them "blind and deaf". As a result, they observe no limits when they decide to get what they desire. In this sense, wealth, power, popularity, material blessings, and natural pleasures of life are all manifestations of materialistic tendencies. Islam and other religions have generally allowed man to exploit the world. But they have all prohibited man from encroaching on other people's possessions, violating the rules of this world, oppressing others, indulging in the worldly blessings, and forgetting the ultimate purpose of life. This world is a means to achieve transcendence and perfection, not our goal. If these limits are not observed, the worldly tendencies become evil.

This was one of the problems that prevailed at the time when Imam Ali (a.s.) came to power. It had raised questions regarding the indisputable rights of a person like Imam Ali (a.s.). It had caused some people to disregard his spiritual status, his record, and his unparalleled qualifications. It had caused some people to challenge him. That was all due to their materialistic tendencies. The Commander of the Faithful considered materialistic tendencies to be the reason behind all corruption - and Nahj al-Balagha is full of statements concerning this corruption. If you take a brief look at the world as it is today, you will notice the same thing.

This is a natural consequence of materialistic, opportunist, and aggressive individuals ruling the world. First, they encroach on other people's rights. Second, they disregard the right of other people to exploit the natural resources and material blessings. Third, these materialistic people foment discord in the world in order to achieve their goals. They cause wars and resort to false propaganda and unfair policies to achieve their goals. These are all rooted in materialistic tendencies. When discord - I mean, needless obfuscation - is created in a community one cannot see clearly what is happening in society. In such a situation, many people make mistakes and lose their insight. It is such a situation that gives rise to ignorant prejudice. If this happens, materialists take center stage and even those who do not have materialistic tendencies move along the lines set by those who have created discord. That is what would happen to the world in such a situation, hence the maxim "the world is the cause of all mistakes." Love for the world and being dependant on the world are the prime causes of all mistakes and sins. The Commander of the Faithful has drawn our attention to this point. That was part of Imam Ali's plan for moral education.

If you take look at Nahj al-Balagha, you will see that what the Commander of the Faithful has said about lack of interest in the world and piety is far more than all his statements concerning other things. The reason is what I just discussed. Otherwise the Commander of the Faithful was not the type of person to seclude himself from the world. On the contrary, he was one of the most active people when it came to improving the conditions of material life. Both before and after he came to power, he never showed any tendency to slack off. Why was that? It is well-known that when Imam Ali (a.s.) lived in Medina - before he was assigned caliph - he had created a garden with his own hands. He had channeled water to his garden. He had planted palm trees there. Paying attention to material life, the nature that God has created for man, managing the lives of the people, managing the people's financial affairs, and preparing the means for the economy to thrive are all positive measures which are among the duties of individual Muslims and Muslim officials. That is the way the Commander of the Faithful worked. But he was not at all dependant on material possessions. That was all part of Imam Ali's (a.s.) plan for moral education.

Imam Ali (a.s.) has also suggested the cure for materialism: "The Creator gained prominence in their hearts and, therefore, all but the Creator lost their prominence." Piety is the cure for materialism and being enchanted with the world. One of the characteristics of piety is that it gives prominence to the Creator in one's heart, raising the position of God in one's heart to the extent that everything else becomes insignificant. Then social position, material possessions, attractions of material life, and various pleasures lose their significance against the significance of God's remembrance. That is one of the benefits of piety. The Commander of the Faithful was the embodiment of this piety. In his well-known sermon it is stated that he stood on a rock, wearing cheep ragged woolen clothes and a pair of shoes made of palm leaves. This poverty and this austere lifestyle was the dominant atmosphere in that great Muslim country. Imam Ali (a.s.) led such a simple life, and he provided people with these genuine pearls of wisdom.

When a man asked him some questions about the issue of Saghifa and similar things, the Commander of the Faithful answered him coarsely, "Brother of Bani Assad, can you not understand the situation? You do not pay attention to what you say". That was his attitude towards the political issues of his own time. He blamed the man for his untimely questions regarding the issue of Saghifa in the middle of a great military and political event. That was while Imam Ali (a.s.) told him that he had the right to ask questions and get answers. He said: "That was a privilege. Some people decided to disregard it, while others grabbed it." That is to say seeking power and worldly status was something that he always considered to be untenable. That was the way the Commander of the Faithful behaved and he wanted to teach us to act the same way. We must learn lessons from him. Remembrance of God and involving in dhikr are the most important cures that Imam Ali (a.s.) had to offer.

We must appreciate the value of these days and these prayers. It is very important to pay attention to the meaning of these prayers, which provide the cure for the spiritual pains that have afflicted man throughout history. We must do something to decrease these pains as much as possible. We must do something to stop ourselves from being enchanted with the world. Paying attention to Allah the Exalted and remembering the greatness of God is one of the ways to do so. Just take a look at Imam Ali's (a.s.) prayers, which are a collection of the most enthusiastic prayers. Of course, in terms of mystic enthusiasm, the prayers left from our infallible Imams (a.s.) are all full of meaning. But the prayers of Imam Ali (a.s.) are one of the best (and maybe the best) collection of prayers, exemplified by such prayers as Komeil, Sabah, and Monajat-e Sha'baniyya. Once I asked Imam Khomeini (r.a.) which prayers he liked most. He said, "Sha'baniyya and Komeil." These two prayers are both left from Imam Ali (a.s.).

I hereby ask our youth to pay close attention to the meaning of these prayers and all the words used in them. These payers, while being full of meaning, are mellifluous and beautiful. We must talk to God on these nights. We must pray to Him to give us what we need. If you know the meaning of these prayers, you will find them the best - and the most eloquently worded - demands that you can make of God on Laylat al-Qadr and on the nights of Ramadan. If you do not know the meaning of these prayers, you had better talk to God in your own language. Nothing can set us apart from Allah. He is close to us. He can hear us talk. We must talk to God. We must ask Him to grant us what we need. This close relationship with Allah the Exalted, these prayers and atonement have miraculous effects on our hearts. They can revitalize the hearts that are dead.

As today is Imam Ali's (a.s.) martyrdom anniversary, I would like to say that the parts [of Nahj al-Balagha] where he discusses his sadness are as moving as his prayers. When Imam Ali (a.s.) talks about the loss of his companions, when he remembers his companions and those of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) fighting bravely on the battlefields, when he remembers those who fought Jamal and Saffein during his own rule, and when he remembers their martyrdom, he asks where they are. He mourns the martyrdom of those who laid down their lives for the sake of Allah and the fact their heads were sent as gifts to oppressive rulers of their time. The Commander of the Faithful used to cry at the memory of his companions and the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) was always on his mind. These are some instances when Imam Ali (a.s.) discusses his sadness in Nahj al-Balagha. These prayers and expressions of sadness were ended on the night he was wounded - that is, the 19th of Ramadan. He was wounded at night when he was saying his prayers.

Dear God, place us among the companions and followers of the Commander of the Faithful. O God, make us persistent on the path of piety - which was Imam Ali's greatest lesson. Dear God, bestow virtuous behavior on our nation. Do not let reprehensible behavior befall us. Make us steadfast on the path of righteousness and whatever You have demanded of Your righteous servants. O God, make the Iranian nation successful in achieving all its goals. O God, make the immaculate souls of our martyrs and the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam pleased with all the events that take place in this country. Bestow Your grace on them and all our forefathers. Dear God, convey our greetings to the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). Place us among the people who benefit from his prayers.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Say: He, Allah, is one. Allah is He on Whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him. [The Holy Quran 112].

Second sermon

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Firstly, I have to congratulate the dear teenagers who have started fasting and carrying out their religious duties this year. I especially congratulate the little girls who experience fulfilling their divine duties at an early age and fast during these hot and long days. This is one of the best tests for our nation. Our youth experience asceticism during their youth. The opportunity provided for us during this month to tolerate hunger, live without pleasures, and avoid deeds that have been forbidden by Islam is very valuable, especially for the youth. This is an opportunity to practice piety from an early age - the age of puberty. I congratulate all the youth, especially those who started fasting this year.

Thankfully, there is a spiritual atmosphere in our community, and this spiritual atmosphere is even more tangible in the holy month of Ramadan. Good habits become more common among the people during the month of Ramadan. Helping the poor and feeding those who fast are the good acts that are common during this month. Such acts will bring about sincerity, kindness, and friendliness among the people. These acts are in fact a way of appreciating this holy month. Kindness towards others as well as helping friends and other Muslim brothers are some of the ways to appreciate this holy month. These habits were common in the past as well. However, they are even more common these days. Giving sermons and attending sessions in which Quran and prayers are recited are good habits which are common in this month. These habits should be developed among the people. You should try to find ways to benefit more from these sessions. Merely taking part in these sessions is not enough. You should try to learn and benefit from these sermons and sessions.

Let me mention a couple of points. Since we are approaching Quds day, I am going to briefly discuss the issue of Palestine and the Quds day.

The Iranian nation has thankfully moved on a straight path since the victory of the Revolution - the path of adherence to the Islamic principles. The Iranian nation is not a backward nation. The Iranian nation is aware of the requirements of the time, and is also involved in research and scientific activities. Our nation has always acted in accordance with the requirements of the time.

The Sacred Defense Era was a very tough period for our nation. The people put up a unified front and unanimously entered the battlefields. The youth went to the battlefields and their parents also helped in one way or another. Teenagers as well as the different social classes also contributed to our success in one way or another. Our people helped whenever necessary during the time when we were involved in research and scientific activities as well as in the reconstruction of the country. Our people always entered the scene when the enemies increased their political attacks against us and when they tried to further the cause of those who opposed us.

Let us take a look at the events which took place during the recent years. The people remained united and proved their unanimity in different ways when those who further the cause of the enemies inside the country tried to foment discord among the people. The people entered the scene when the enemies' spy rings tried, through their propaganda, to take rioters onto the streets in Tehran and other cities. The people themselves entered the scene before any anti-riot forces did. The people reacted in the most suitable manner when the enemies increased their propaganda against us - especially in the nuclear issue. The enemies had then filled the world with their propaganda against Iran. If we are to have a fair judgment about this movement - which can be called a national movement - we have to say that the vigilant Iranian nation have always acted eagerly in accordance with the needs of the country after the victory of the Islamic Revolution. To be fair, this has always been the case after the victory of the Islamic Revolution. I hope this will continue in the future as well.

This has frustrated our enemies. They failed to achieve their goals through mounting pressure on the Iranian nation and officials. They keep threatening us, but they have been unable to obtain any results out of their attacks and propaganda against our nation. Thankfully, the Iranian nation has managed to continue on its path despite these efforts. The path that the Iranian nation is treading is the path of progress. We do not claim to have fully achieved the lofty goals of the Revolution - which are based on true Islamic teachings. However, we are moving on this path. As I mentioned, the fourth decade of the Revolution will by Allah's favor be the decade of justice and progress. This means making noticeable progress and promoting justice inside the country in a noticeable manner. Our plans should be based on these goals. Achieving these two goals will secure our country and nation against the enemies.

Of course, enemies will always be enemies. We should not expect those who have been frustrated by Islam to take a passive stance towards the Islamic Republic. The enemies will definitely oppose us. We should expect the enemies to oppose us. However, we should consciously choose the best way to stand against the enemies and defend our national interests.

Unity among the people and the conformity of elites and officials to the basic principles of the Revolution is a vital need for the country today. Avoiding political turmoil and psychological warfare is vital for the country today. We must avoid turmoil in the country. They always try to cause turmoil in our country. This is one of the basic policies of the enemies of the Islamic Republic. Of course, there are some people inside the country who inadvertently further the enemies' cause. Let me make a point in this regard. Thankfully our dear people are never involved in such actions. The people are opposed to the pointless arguments which are raised by some political elites. They are opposed to such arguments.

Let me refer to some of the minor issues which have recently been used by some people to cause turmoil in the country. This is to end any further discussions in this regard.

One of the officials said something in regard to the Israeli people. This was of course a false remark. The claim that there are friendly relations between our people and the Israeli people is false. This is a false and illogical remark. Who are the Israeli people? They are the ones who are being used as a tool by Israeli officials to encroach on the lands and properties of the Palestinian people. The Israeli people are a tool in the hands of the Israeli officials to achieve their goals. A Muslim nation - the Iranian nation - cannot adopt a passive stance towards these people who are acting as a tool in the hands of the enemies of the Muslim world. We have no problems with Jews, Christians, and followers of other religions. But we have problems with those who have invaded Palestinian lands. It is not only the Zionist regime which has occupied the Palestinian lands. This is the stance of the Islamic Republic, the Islamic Revolution, and the Iranian people. Someone made a false remark and there were some reactions against it. It should not be discussed any longer.

Making different remarks here and there and provoking different reactions is not correct. This will cause turmoil in the country. A false remark was made, but it should not be discussed any longer. The remark did not reflect the stance of the Islamic Republic towards Israel and the Israeli people. Israel is different from other countries in that its people, unlike the people of other counties, are living on occupied lands. The Jewish areas in Palestine are currently resided by the Israeli people. The Israeli people have been armed by the Zionist regime to fight against the Palestinian people. They have been armed by the Zionist regime so that the Palestinians will not dare to approach those areas. The remark that was made about the Israeli people was a false remark, but it should not be used to cause turmoil in the country. I would like to ask everyone not to make an issue out of these trivial matters. These are all trivial matters. The stance of the Islamic Republic has been clarified in regard to such issues. The matter should not be discussed any longer.

Another point I have noticed recently is that of judging the performance of the administration. I would like to ask the elites to pay attention to this point. Of course, these judgments are a natural consequence of the upcoming presidential election in the country. There are almost 9 months left before the election, but this is one of the natural consequences of all elections - political activists express their views. There is nothing wrong with expressing one's views. There are many points to be discussed in this regard which I will mention in due time. It is still too soon to talk about that issue. However, I feel some of the comments made about the performance of the administration are unfair. If there are any suggestions about the future of the country or about the country's problems, they should be mentioned. If there are any solutions to be offered in this regard - for instance about inflation - they can be proposed. However, defaming the officials and the administration is not correct and is forbidden according to Islamic principles. Of course in other countries, officials are defamed and slandered in the name of freedom and democracy. But these acts are forbidden in the Islamic culture. These are what they do in other countries.

The proposals that are made in regard to economic or non-economic issues should be discussed by expert circles in the first pace. Such matters should not be discussed by non-expert circles or in public places. Some of the comments are unfair. Unfairness, which is an unacceptable habit, must not be institutionalized in the country.

I am not worried by the fact that someone is criticized. That is not the case. Someone may criticize a person and receive a response from him or her. I am worried about the fact that unfairness may turn into a habit in our society. Various services are being rendered by the officials. It is not right to ignore all these services and pick on a single weak point. Of course, I want to address this advice to the entire nation. This advice is not aimed at a particular person, group, or party. All the people must pay attention to this point. Everyone living in this country must take care not to denigrate others. Denigration will not produce a positive atmosphere. The people do not like such behavior. I hereby tell the unfair critics that they are wrong to think that the people enjoy it when they denigrate a particular government official or a particular political current. Our people detest denigration.

The old Palestinian issue is still of paramount importance in this region. The Palestinian issue is a crucial issue. The occupying Zionist regime has mounted pressure on the Palestinians, and this is their response to their internal problems and constant failures. The Zionists failed to preserve their false grandeur. The fear that they had struck into the hearts of Arab nations was dispelled through the efforts of the selfless Lebanese and Palestinian fighters. As a result, they have decided to exert all the pressure on the Palestinian nation. The government that is currently ruling the Gaza Strip is a legitimate government. Hamas is a legitimate government. All governments must recognize the legitimacy of Hamas which has been formed on the basis of public votes. Those who claim to have civilization - while they have in fact not even heard of civilization and human values - are all witness to the suffering of the people of Gaza. They are witness to the severe blockade on Gaza, which is only an example. The West Coast is not in a better situation. Although no blockade has been imposed on the West Bank, the Israelis are no less brutal towards the people of that area. There is a great deal of pressure on the oppressed Palestinian people everywhere. The superpowers do not make any objections to such behavior. They even support the Zionist regime. The world of Islam must stand up and make its voice heard. The world of Islam must clarify its stance towards this bitter event. Quds Day provides us with a good opportunity to do so.

May Allah bestow His grace on our magnanimous Imam Khomeini (r.a.) who suggested the idea in order to support the Palestinian nation. I hope that our people and a great portion of the Islamic nations will make use of this opportunity and fulfill their responsibilities towards the Palestinian nation. By Allah's favor, the Muslim governments will fulfill their great duty - namely, offering support to Hamas and the Palestinian nation. ‏

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

By the time! Surely man is in loss, except those who believe and do good, and exhort one another to Truth, and exhort one another to patience. [The Holy Quran, 103]

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings