Leader's Address to High School Students

The following is an excerpt from a speech made by the Grand Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei in a meeting with thousands of high school students from throughout the country on March 14, 2005. The participants at the meeting were members of student Islamic associations.
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

I am very happy and pleased to meet you, our dear youngsters. The atmosphere that our youngsters create with their sincerity and devotion wherever they are present is indeed a very pleasant and attractive atmosphere to me. Surely, the most intellectual among our young people are those studying at high schools, universities and theological schools.

The stronger is the sense of commitment and responsibility of young people toward their duties, the higher their status will be in society. Undoubtedly, student Islamic associations are among dynamic associations in the country that are composed of faithful and dedicated members. This is why I attach great significance to this meeting and regard you as very honorable individuals and precious assets to the nation. I hope you will play an effective role in the future in the fulfillment of the noble aspirations of our nation.

One of the great hopes and aspirations of young people of your age, whether boys or girls, is to live in a society that is advanced scientifically and technologically, a society in which justice, human and moral values prevail, and a society which promises bright prospects for all people, especially youngsters.

If the Islamic Revolution, which our nation staged some 26 years ago, had occurred in this country some fifty or even thirty years earlier, today we would witness that ideal society in our homeland. When the Constitutional Movement was launched in this country, if the Iranian people had done what they did in the course of the Islamic Revolution, the process of development of our nation would have started off then, and today we would live in a scientifically and industrially developed society characterized by justice and spiritual values.

In those days, when the Iranian people were trying to bring such changes to their society, others prevented the occurrence of such changes, despite the fact that the Iranian nation was ready to make every sacrifice for the sake of its noble objectives. At the time of the Constitutional Movement, what happened was that the enemies of our nation took advantage of the inexperience of the Iranian people and their leaders and diverted and undermined this great movement. The Constitutional Movement was staged to put an end to the dictatorial rule of despotic monarchs in this country, since dictatorship was the root cause of all the afflictions and miseries of the Iranian nation.

What happened during the Constitutional Movement was one of the bitterest incidents of our recent history. The clergymen who spearheaded the movement and other senior Ulema in Iran and Najaf mobilized the Iranian people, and the people, for their part, also made great sacrifices. However, because of the inexperience of the people and their leaders, the enemies and their agents who had infiltrated the movement managed to undermine the movement and bring about its failure.

It is worthy of mention that in those days, the arch-enemy was Britain, as it fulfilled the same role that is currently played by the United States in the world. As an expansionist and domineering power, it pursued the goal of dominating other nations, plundering their natural resources and annexing their territories. Britain interfered in the domestic affairs of different nations in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world in order to plunder their national wealth and keep them backward.

During the early phases of the Constitutional Movement, the enemies by using complicated methods diverted the movement from the path that the Iranian nation was treading, namely the path to independence and freedom under the banner of Islam. They leveled charges and accusations against some leaders of the movement, executed or assassinated others, put some of them under house arrest and through the uproar and tumult that was raised by their agents brought the situation under their control.

Some 10 or 15 years later, the British brought Reza Khan Pahlavi to power in this country. The Iranian nation had no experience. Even the leaders were inexperienced. Thus, the enemies managed to carry out their schemes. As a result, the great movement of the Iranian people was delayed for some 80 or 90 years. In the meanwhile, the enemies did our nation and our country whatever wrong they could.

They brought Pahlavi rulers to power in this country in order to impose foreign domination on our nation. This foreign domination worsened the dark fate of the Iranian people who were already suffering from despotic rule and dictatorship in their country.

As they knew that the Iranian people were familiar with the achievements and progress of other nations, they started to preoccupy the Iranians with glitter, gaudiness and other superficial aspects of civilization in order to satiate their desire for genuine progress. They withheld the main aspects of civilization, namely science and technology, from the Iranian nation.

This situation could be compared to the condition of a child who is hungry but is given cheap snacks instead of food that is rich in protein and vitamins, so that he may lose his appetite for food.

For years this nation suffered under foreign domination until the ground was prepared for the Islamic Revolution. A wise, strong, determined and charismatic leader from among the people emerged on the scene, and the Islamic Revolution was launched. Since this time the Iranian people had experience, the plots and intrigues of the enemies proved futile and of no effect due to this experience.

During the Constitutional Movement, the leaders of the movement and the people were not aware of the hostile plots of the enemies. Consequently, they were taken off guard by the enemies, who did whatever they wished in this country. But in the course of the Islamic Revolution, by drawing on the experience obtained from the Constitutional Movement, the Iranian people, the dedicated intellectuals as well as the clergymen spearheading the revolution knew that they had to defend their spiritual fortifications, namely their faith and revolutionary values, vigilantly in the face of the enemies' plots.

You can see that some 26 years after the revolution, the Iranian people still chant the slogan of 'death to America'. This is because they know that if they become neglectful of the plots being hatched against them by the global arrogance, they will surely suffer from those plots.

In fact, the 'death to America' that is chanted by our people is similar to the phrase "I seek the protection of Allah against the cursed Satan", which is recited at the beginning of each Qur'anic chapter before "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful". What is the reason for seeking the protection of Allah from the cursed Satan? It is for the believers not to forget the presence of the Satan, not to forget even for a single moment that the Satan is ready to attack them and destroy the spiritual fortifications that protect their belief.

In the same manner, 'death to America' is also meant for the Iranian nation not to forget that the world's hegemonic powers who formerly had great interests in this country and who lost those interests because of the Islamic Revolution are always trying to once again secure those interests and increase their wealth at the cost of hindering our country's progress and destroying the bright prospects of our talented youngsters.

Although it happened rather late, the Islamic Revolution was a major step taken by the Iranian people to rectify their condition. To wholly improve the condition and attain an ideal state, which I described earlier, one year or two years or even 10 years is not enough. Such great social changes usually take place over several generations.

We have already made considerable progress. Those who were your age or perhaps a bit older played an effective role in the victory of the Islamic Revolution. They carried out their responsibilities in those circumstances very well. Their next generation has also made very valuable efforts over the past 26 years.

The fact that we have made considerable progress in the area of nuclear technology, in the field of stem cells and also in other scientific areas, the progress that has even been acknowledged by our enemies, indicates that a self-confident nation that believes in its own potential and works freely in the absence of foreign influence is able to make all kinds of progress.

We aim to attain the summits of science combined with morality, not science without ethics, as currently is the case in the West. We aim to administer justice in society, help our people attain real human progress and dignity and bring bright horizons before the eyes of our youth.

Western societies are unable to accomplish such goals. Today, young people even in those Western countries that have reached the peaks of scientific and industrial progress mostly feel hopeless and hold a pessimistic attitude toward life and their future. As a result, the suicide rate is high in those societies.

We can create an environment characterized by justice, material progress combined with moral and spiritual values, hopefulness, enthusiasm and dynamism in our country, provided that you, youngsters, act the way that is expected of your generation under the present circumstances.
Fortunately, our young people, as I can see, are aware and vigilant. The existence of student Islamic associations is a sign of this awareness and vigilance. The presence of youngsters, whether high school or university students or the young people studying at theological schools, on various social scenes, their optimistic mental attitude and their planning for their future, the signs of which are quite evident to me, all indicate that our youngsters are performing very well. Nevertheless, they should keep vigilant and heedful.

Under the present circumstances, our nation is still some distance away from the peak of progress and development, and the distance needs to be covered. But it will not be covered through hedonism, pleasure-seeking and preoccupation with lures and enticements that the enemy holds out to our youngsters.

The present generation should follow up the work of their predecessors and complete their unfinished tasks. You should study well and observe social order and discipline in a strict manner. A chaotic environment or an environment in which there is no hope is opposed to progress.

Today, our enemies who have no chances of success in a direct confrontation with our nation are applying devious means to weaken our nation, especially our youngsters. They are trying to dishearten our young people by insinuating that there are no bright prospects for the Iranian youth, make them preoccupied with different distractions and pastimes so that they may be deterred from seriously pursuing their studies, and also incite them to break law and order.

Consequently, it is necessary to be vigilant and watchful. Our youngsters should tread the path to the summit of progress and development with utter commitment to their duties and responsibilities, solidarity, sincere and enthusiastic efforts based on prudent planning as well as trust in and seeking assistance from Almighty Allah.

Today, our youngsters are capable of understanding and analyzing political and other major issues of the country. Under the former regime, the young people who were your age had no idea of political issues. In those days, governments took office and were later replaced by new governments through rigged elections, as the list of the former National Consultative Assembly members was always prepared by the royal court. Indeed, young people did not know the officials who were at the head of the three government branches, since they had no interest in political matters. As a result, political insight among the youth was at the lowest level.

Today, the situation is quite different. Our young people are aware of the plots and stratagems of the United States as well as the objectives of U.S. military presence in this region. They are knowledgeable about the role of the United States in the occupied Palestine and recognize the worth and significance of Palestinian jihad.

When we were your age, we had not even heard of Palestine, although in those days also the Palestinian people were struggling against the occupiers of their homeland. But the young people today know everything about Palestine.

I believe young people should be completely informed of various political issues in the country; they should be capable of political analysis. Nevertheless, I do not approve of our young people being manipulated by different political parties. Toeing the party line brings no honor to our youngsters. But the realization on the part of our young people that they can play a role and be effective bears value and significance.

In the course of the Sacred Defense, our youngsters realized that they could play a role in defending their country, and they did so. Youngsters of 16 or 17 years of age rushed to the forefront of the battlefield and remained there for several years. When they returned from the battlefield, they were experienced, competent and efficient individuals. The public mobilization that was carried out in those days on the order of the late Imam Khomeini infused our youngsters with such a great awareness and insight that they played an effective role both in the Sacred Defense and in other areas. Today, the situation is still the same.

Youngsters have played an effective and decisive role in the elections that have so far been held in our country. They should play the same role in future elections as well. Some two or three months from now, presidential elections will be held in this country. The youth, including the first-time voters, should consider voting a significant task and a pious deed, and they should play their influential role in electing the next chief executive of our country.

Among the main duties of our youngsters are studying seriously, observing moral principles and avoiding idle entertainments that only waste their time. I am quite in favor of healthy recreations and merriment by youngsters; however, some deviant recreations and entertainments are smuggled by the enemies into our country and many other countries with the intention of perverting youngsters and leading them astray.

Over the past couple of years, in some Asian countries like Malaysia and China and even in some European countries, a large number of CDs that had been smuggled into those countries and were deemed perversive and harmful to the youth have been collected and destroyed. In fact, the officials in those countries treated the perversive CDs as narcotics, which youngsters are by no means permitted to use.

Those who smuggle these CDs into other countries are mostly wicked Zionists, who are responsible for the corruption and depravity of youngsters in many countries, especially in Islamic countries and particularly in Iran. Why? The reason is that they are afraid of the bright future of our country. They do not want the Iranian nation to achieve progress in various areas and set an example and serve as a model for other Islamic countries.

Indeed, Islamic movements in other countries indicate that the Islamic Republic has already set an example for those countries. But the day when you conquer the peaks of science, faith, human and moral coexistence, establish an advanced society based on justice and spirituality and institutionalize revolutionary values, the enemies would no longer be able to inflict any harm on you. This is why they are trying to block your progress.

Islamic associations should try to consolidate their organization. The cordial and spiritual bond that joins the hearts together in Islamic associations is of great value and should be further strengthened. The gatherings that are held by Islamic associations should promote religious and moral values and enhance the political awareness of students.

The students who are members of Islamic associations should pursue their studies seriously and set an example for other students. Also, by taking part in various social and political activities, they should motivate other students and act as a source of inspiration to them.

Members of student Islamic associations should try to influence other students through self-amelioration and self-discipline, so that others may follow their example, their judgment and their views willingly and eagerly. This is what Islamic associations are expected to do. Try to increase your influence and effectiveness.

Today, our youngsters who are studying at high schools are very diligent and perseverant. You should try to increase your capabilities while you are still at high school, so that when you continue your studies at universities or theological schools you will be able to act with great efficiency and achieve distinction.

You should try to build up your character morally and scientifically and through perseverance and dynamic participation in various social and political activities. If you do so, you will shine and enlighten any environment in which you happen to be.

I pray to Almighty Allah to bestow His grace and favor as well as His guidance and assistance on you all, my dear children. I also invoke the prayer of His Holiness Baqiyatollah-ul-A'zam (Imam of the Age) for all of you.