Leader’s Speech to Students and Youth of Qom

The following is the full text of the speech delivered in Qom by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution on October 26, 2010 to a group of university students and youth of Qom.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all sentient beings, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate and infallible household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth. Greetings be upon you Fatima Masoumeh, the daughter of Musa ibn Ja'far, and your immaculate, select and infallible ancestors.

Meeting with you dear youth in the last few days of the long trip is like a refreshing start. Youthful emotions, youthful thoughts, youthful spirits and youthful motives affect all environments and atmospheres. One of the reasons why the general atmosphere of the country is full of determination, enthusiasm and rationality is that the youth make up a major portion of the population of our country. And this meeting is truly a meeting for the youth.

I have memories about the youth of Qom. I also have a lot of information about them. Although there are a number of youth among the students of Qom who come from other cities, the majority of the students who have attended this meeting are from Qom. Before the political activities of the years 1341 and 1342 were in full swing, I had observed signs of vigilance and cleverness among the youth of Qom. I will never forget that at the beginning of Haram Alley or on the other side of the street - Arg Alley - there was a newspaper stand. They used to put the newspapers there for the people to see. When we were returning from school, we used to stop there and look at the headlines of the newspapers. When the taghuti regime was forced to retreat in the case of the bill related to election regulations [the elimination of Islam from the list of preconditions required of the candidates and the vetting body] and decided to revoke it, the youth who lived around Haram Alley and Eram Street came to me and offered their congratulations on the success of the clergy against the taghuti regime. I had seen those youth many times, and I had no idea they were involved in political thoughts and issues. The youth of Qom who appeared to be detached from political issues came to seminarians like me and offered their congratulations although we did not know each other at all.

I wondered what kind of spirit made the youth of Qom so sensitive to the issue of political activities, the political movement and the fight between the clergy and the taghuti regime. There were no university students living in Qom at that time. There were only unemployed youth, high school students and other youth who were not students.

Afterwards, when the events of the year 1356 took place, Qom revealed its true capacities. Qom started leading the public movement in the streets, presence in different arenas and resistance against the cruel iron fists of the regime. All the youth of Qom took to the streets and their blood was shed in the streets. Of course they really annoyed the agents of the taghuti regime. The cleverness and playful actions of the youth of Qom truly confused the agents of the regime.

And then the Revolution took place. Qom was among the pioneers everywhere. The Ali ibn Abi Talib Army was one of the successful armies during the Sacred Defense Era, and it was a pioneer. The people of Qom were successful in all great trials, and their youth were in the vanguard. I want you dear youth - you who have emotions, thoughts, dynamism and understanding - to constantly remember the glorious record of the young generation of Qom during the past few decades.

The people of Qom played a role in the Revolution. They played a role in the Sacred Defense. After the war, especially after our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) passed away, the youth of Qom played even a more prominent role. This is an important point.

Pay attention to the fact that ever since the latter part of the first decade of the Revolution the enemies of the Revolution and the camp of the enemy formulated a policy with the help of Iranian experts. This was because nobody other than Iranian experts would have been able to formulate such a policy. The people they consulted were definitely Iranian. The policy was to turn Qom into an anti-Revolution force. The plan was to turn Qom into an anti-revolutionary. Qom was the place where the Revolution was initiated. Qom is the center of the clergy. Qom Seminary is geographically located in Qom, but its seminarians are essentially spread out in the entire country. The seminarian who lives in Qom is influential in the city or village he comes from. Seminarians have gathered here from different parts of the country. When the members of Qom Seminary go on vacation or return home to do something, Qom Seminary is in fact spread out in the entire country. Therefore, any thought, any idea, any determination, any movement and any orientation that exist here are in fact spread out in the entire country.

Foreigners do not understand this. The Americans could not have inferred this truth. Only an insider - an Iranian, somebody who was familiar with the nature of the clergy - could have understood this truth. They taught this to foreigners. Thus, they tried to prepare the ground for a fitna in Qom. Because I do not want to mention names, I will just continue without mentioning any names. In the years 1358 and 1359, both the people of Qom and the people of Tabriz gave rise to an epic. It was not just an epic of entering the arena with clenched fists, but it was also an epic of spirituality, understanding and appropriate analysis. After the Imam (r.a.) passed away, the same event happened in another form in Qom. The opponents and the enemies had designed a plot to create an anti-Revolution force in Qom. The majority of these enemies were outside the country: They are the main enemies. If the people of Qom had not been vigilant, if the youth of Qom had been incapable of appropriate analysis, if they had not been clever enough, we would have faced far more problems than we currently do. This is the truth. This is a realistic description of the youth of Qom.

I address many of the points to you dear youth, and this is especially true of the points I will raise today. This is because everything is up to you, and the country belongs to you. People like me will be among you for a short time. Our time and share of work is over. From now on it is your turn. It is you who should manage this country. You should help this national power and dignity - which has been obtained through different achievements - reach perfection. This is a duty in the history of our country that lies on your shoulders. Therefore, you are the ones I am addressing.

If we accept that the camp of the enemy has prepared long-term plans for our country and our Revolution, then we must prepare long-term plans as well. We cannot accept that the camp of the enemies of Islam and the Revolution - which has been seriously threatened by Islamic Awakening - lacks long-term plans. Nobody can believe this unless they are extremely naïve and unaware. The enemies definitely have long-term plans. There are events that take place in the country from time to time in which foreigners clearly have a hand. These events do not just happen without anybody being involved. They happen as a result of their medium-term and long-term plans. The events are the result of their planning. It is not the case that they suddenly decide to do something, and they take action the following day. No, I showed some proof and evidence to some of the friends regarding the fitna of the year 1388 - they had prepared plans since at least 10-15 years earlier. They had prepared plans since after the demise of the Imam (r.a.). The effect of those plans revealed itself in the year 1378, including the events that happened at the Tehran University dormitory and the other events that most of you remember. Some people may not remember those events clearly. The events that happened last year revived those plans. Of course they tried to do this after taking the timing and different aspects of the issue into consideration. Thankfully they were defeated, and they must have been defeated. Therefore, the camp of the enemy has long-term plans. They will not lose hope. They will not give up just because they were defeated on a certain occasion. No, they will design plans for the next 10 years, the next 20 years, the next 40 years. You should be prepared.

We should have long-tem plans. Of course such meetings are not appropriate for proposing long-term plans. It is intellectual, political and cultural centers that should go after and do these kinds of things, and they are doing so. What I can say in this meeting is that the ground is essentially prepared for long-term plans, and I have repeatedly emphasized this point. I deem it necessary to briefly speak about the issue of acquiring insight.

During the recent years I have spoken a lot about the issue of acquiring insight. Other people have also made many points. I noticed that some of our youth have taken good actions in this regard. I would like to re-emphasize the issue of insight. I emphasize insight in order to encourage you - as the ones who are in the arena and are responsible for taking action - to go after the measures and plans that are related to acquiring insight and fulfill this important need. Insight is a beacon of guidance. It is a compass. If you travel through a desert without a compass, you may get somewhere by accident, but it is unlikely. What is more likely to happen is that you will face a lot of trouble due to wandering and confusion. You need a compass, especially when you are faced with an enemy. If you do not have a compass, you might suddenly find yourself surrendered by the enemy while you are unprepared. Then you will not be able to do anything. Therefore, insight is a compass and a beacon of guidance. Insight can provide you with light in a dark place. It can show you the way.

Of course for ultimate success, insight is a necessary condition, but it is not sufficient. There are other requirements for success. Hopefully, I will briefly speak about this in the end if there is time and my memory does not fail me. However, insight is a necessary condition. Even if all the other conditions are met, it will be very difficult to achieve success and reach your goal in the absence of insight.

Insight can be defined on two levels. One level is the layer of principles, the underlying level. In selecting a world view and developing an essential understanding of monotheistic concepts, one acquires a kind of insight through a monotheistic view of nature. The difference between a monotheistic view and a materialistic view is that this world is considered systematic, orderly and purposeful from a monotheistic perspective. And we are part of this nature, and our existence and life are purposeful. We did not come to this world without a purpose. This is a necessary condition for the monotheistic world view. This is the meaning of faith in the existence of the All-Powerful and All-Knowing God. When we realize there is a purpose behind our existence, then we start to search for that purpose. This search itself is a hopeful effort. We try to find that purpose. And after we realize what the purpose is, we start making efforts in order to achieve that purpose. In this case, all our life becomes making efforts, purposeful and goal-oriented efforts.

On the other hand, we know that from a monotheistic perspective any kind of goal-oriented effort will definitely help one achieve results. There are degrees of achievement, but favorable results will undoubtedly be achieved. From this perspective, despair, disappointment and frustration will be meaningless in one's life. When you know that there is a purpose behind your existence, your creation, your life and your breathing, you go after that purpose and make efforts in order to achieve that purpose. From the viewpoint of Allah the Exalted who is the Creator of this world, even these efforts deserve rewards. You have achieved your goal as long as you make efforts, no matter where your efforts get you. This is why in a monotheistic world view loss is unimaginable for faithful people. "Can you expect for us (any fate) other than one of two glorious things - (martyrdom or victory)?" [The Holy Quran, 9: 52] Two of the best things are awaiting us. We will either be martyred on this path, which is the best, or we will remove the enemy from our path and achieve the goal, which is also the best. Therefore, there is no loss on this path.

The materialistic view is the exact opposite of this. According to the materialistic view, there is no purpose behind the existence of man. A materialist has no idea why he came into being. Of course he may define some goals for himself - gaining money, achieving love, obtaining a social position and attaining physical and scientific pleasures. A materialist can set himself such goals. However, none of these are natural goals of life that accompany his existence. When there is no faith in God, ethics and justice become meaningless. Nothing but pleasure and personal gains becomes meaningful. If a materialist faces a problem on the way to personal gains, he considers it a loss. If he fails to achieve personal gains and if he cannot continue his efforts, then he become disappointed and hopeless and starts to think of suicide and other irrational things. This is the difference between the monotheistic view and materialistic view, between divine knowledge and material knowledge. This is one of the most essential foundations of insight.

From a monotheistic point of view, when you engage in a fight, the fight is a holy struggle. The same is true of an armed fight. Basically, fighting is not based on suspicion or malevolence. Rather, the purpose of this fight is to help humanity achieve goodness, perfection, welfare and growth. From this perspective, life is beautiful, and moving on in this vast arena is enjoyable. Your tiredness is relieved through remembrance of Allah the Exalted and keeping the goal in mind. This is the essential foundation of knowledge - it is the essential basis of insight. This insight is extremely necessary, and we need to achieve it. Insight is in fact the basis of all human efforts and struggles in society. This is one level of insight.

One may suffer from lack of insight in different events. It is necessary to gain insight. What is the meaning of this insight? What does gaining insight mean? In what ways can one gain insight? The kind of insight which is necessary in different events and which has been emphasized in Islamic narrations and in the statements of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) means that one should reflect on the events that happen or will happen around one. It means that one should try not to pass over different events in a careless and superficial way. As the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) said, "One should think and act on the basis of one's thought." That is to say, one should evaluate issues in a reflective manner and gain insight out of this evaluation. One should consider events in an appropriate manner. Appropriate evaluation and reflecting on the evaluation help create insight in human beings. That is to say, evaluation and reflection open one's eyes to the truth.

Elsewhere in Nahjul Balaghah, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says, "An insightful person is one who listens and then thinks, one who looks and then perceives." An insightful person is one who does not shut his ears to different voices, and when he has listened, he should think. One cannot accept or reject something just because one has listened to it. It is necessary to think about it. "An insightful person is one who listens and then thinks, one who looks and then perceives." It means that one should not close one's eyes. The problem with many of the people who slipped and fell into the pitfalls of lack of insight was that they did not look and they closed their eyes to a clear truth. It is necessary to look first, and then one will be able to see. Sometimes we are not even prepared to look at certain things. We have seen some twisted people who are not even prepared to look. I am not speaking about spiteful enemies. I will speak about these enemies later on: "And they denied them unjustly and proudly while their soul had been convinced of them." [The Holy Quran, 27: 14] There are some people who have ulterior motives and step in with their grudges. After all, an enemy is an enemy, and it is a different matter. You and I who are in this arena are the ones I am speaking about. If we want to gain insight, we have to open up our eyes. We have to look. There are certain things that can be seen. If we pass over them in a superficial and careless way, if we fail to see them, we will naturally make mistakes.

I would like to provide an example from history. In the Battle of Siffin, Muawiyah's army came very close to being defeated. His army was very close to being crushed. The trick that they thought up to save themselves was that they put copies of the Holy Quran on spearheads and marched to the battlefield. They put pages of the Holy Quran on spears and walked to the middle of the battlefield, suggesting that both sides of the war should let the Holy Quran be the judge between them. They said, "Let us do as the Quran says." It was a good trick that had mass appeal. A number of people in Imam Ali's army - who later on formed a group called Khawarij and drew their swords to fight the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - started to think the enemy was making a good suggestion. They thought, "What these people are saying is not bad. They are just saying that we should let the Quran be the judge." You see, this was where they were deceived. They slipped because they did not watch where they were stepping. If they wanted to know the truth, it was right in front of their eyes. The person inviting other people to accept the Holy Quran as the judge was one who was fighting against an Imam - an Imam who had been selected by God and sanctioned as a leader whom other people had to obey. How can such a person have faith in the Holy Quran?

We believe the Commander of the Faithful, Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), had been appointed by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), but even those who did not accept this agreed that the people had pledged allegiance to him after the third caliph and accepted his caliphate. He became the leader. The Islamic community had a religious obligation to be obedient to him. It was the duty of all Muslims to confront anybody who drew his sword to fight him. If the person who put pages of the Holy Quran on spears really believed in the Book, the Holy Quran asks, "Why are you fighting Imam Ali (a.s.)?" If he really believed in the Holy Quran, he should have put his hands up and said, "I am not fighting this war." He should have dropped his sword. They should have seen this. They should have understood this. Was it too difficult to understand? Was it too complicated? They were just negligent. That was an instance of lack of insight. If they had thought a little carefully, they would have realized this truth. This was because they were among the companions of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) in Medina. They had seen that the agents and assistants of Muawiyah had played a role in the murder of Othman. They had contributed to the murder of Othman, yet they held up his bloody clothes and demanded revenge. It was them who had murdered Othman. It was their fault, but they were looking for another culprit. This lack of insight is the result of lack of care. It is the result of failing to watch out. It is the result of closing one's eyes to a clear truth.

During the events that resulted from the recent fitna, a number of people made a mistake, which was because of their lack of insight. Claims were made that a great and impressive election had been rigged. There is an obvious way to settle this issue. If somebody believes that an electoral fraud has taken place, he should first present reasons. First of all, he should present evidence in support of his claims of fraud. Second, the law has specified a legal channel, irrespective of whether or not he presents evidence. He can complain legally. It is necessary to investigate and review the issue. Impartial individuals should investigate and see if there has been a fraud or not. This is the right way. I helped them a lot. I personally extended the legal period for complaining. I even suggested that they themselves come and recount the votes in front of TV cameras. If somebody does not accept this legal channel, he is being obstinate. [Audience shouting slogans] Please listen. My purpose is not to express my opinion about past events. I just want to provide an example. Therefore, acquiring insight is not something difficult.

If you see that there is a logical legal channel. But when somebody defies that logical legal channel and does something that harms the country and works against national interests, it is clear that he should be condemned from a fair, conventional and impartial perspective. This is something obvious, an obvious judgment call. Therefore, insight is not an impossible and difficult demand. It is not difficult to acquire insight. Acquiring insight only requires that one avoid different pitfalls, including friendships, enmities, passions and prejudgments. If one just looks and reflects on things, one can discover the truth. The demand to have insight is just limited to this level of reflection. It just requires a look, nothing more. Thus, one can conclude that acquiring insight is something that anybody can do. Everybody can acquire insight. Of course some people are just careless sometimes, and their lack of insight is not rooted in spite or malevolence. In spite of the fact that people really love their lives, sometimes they may doze off or fail to pay attention for a moment when driving, and a tragic event may happen as a result. Such mistakes cannot be considered as sins. But if they keep happening, it is lack of insight and is no longer acceptable.

Today the main efforts of the enemy in its soft war are focused on creating confusion in the political atmosphere of the country. Pay attention to this point. This is the most important thing that the enemy is doing today. Those who know about political work and issues are aware that today the power of the superpowers is mainly based on the power of their propaganda rather than their atomic bombs and the wealth accumulated in their banks. And they know methods of propaganda really well. In all fairness, they have achieved good advances in propaganda work. Today westerners - both in America and in Europe - have learnt modern and highly advanced methods of propaganda. We are behind in this regard. One of the most essential things that they know is how to broadcast propaganda. Through these methods of propaganda, through creation of uproar and through promoting a multitude of false ideas, they try to influence the atmosphere of different societies and transform them. It is necessary to pay attention to this point. It is necessary to be vigilant. Today our youth have to shoulder a heavy duty in this regard. Not only should you indentify the truth, but you should also promote insight in the environment in which you live and clarify things to the people around you.

One essential point is that falsity does not always appear in a bare form in front of your eyes, and it is not easy to identify it as falsity. Falsities often enter the arena disguised as truths or half-truths. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) said that if the truth and falsity entered the arena in a bare form, there would be no disagreements. "The basis of the occurrence of evils is those desires which are acted upon and religious decrees that are innovated. They are against the Book of Allah. People cooperate with each other about them even though it is against the Religion of Allah. If falsity had been pure and unmixed, it would not be hidden from those who are in search of it. And if the truth had been pure without a mixture of falsity, those who bear hatred towards it would have been silenced." Everybody likes the truth and hates falsity. "However what is done is that something is taken from here and something from there and the two are mixed, making the truth doubtful to those who seek it." They mix up the truth with falsity and do not let falsity be bare and pure. Thus, they mislead their audience. It is necessary to be extremely vigilant in this regard. In global propaganda, today all efforts are focused on complete distortion of the realities of your society and your Islamic government. And they have many propaganda facilities to do this. They are busy working all the time. Of course there are some people who - knowingly or unknowingly - repeat and reflect their statements inside the country.

There is a point in this regard. Sometimes there is insight, yet mistakes are repeatedly made. As I said, insight is not a sufficient condition for success. It is only a necessary condition. There are other factors involved. One is the issue of lack of determination. Some people know the realities, but they fail to make a decision and take action. They do not make up their mind to express what they know. They do not make up their mind to adopt the righteous position and defend the truth. Of course there are certain reasons why they do not make up their mind. Sometimes it is because of their laziness. Other times they just do not want to get involved. Sometimes their indecision is because of their passions. Other times it is because of carnal desires. Sometimes their indecision is out of consideration for their personal interests. Yet other times it is due to obstinacy. Sometimes just because one has made a certain comment, one may want to repeat the same thing persistently and may feel ashamed of taking back one's comment. "May Allah curse obstinate people." There are some people who know the truth, yet they contribute to the enemies' positions. Many of the people who got cold feet and gave up used to be extremist revolutionaries one day. But you see now that they are standing for exactly the opposite of what they used to stand for and are serving the anti-revolutionaries. This is because of the factors I mentioned - because of passions, carnal desires and being submerged in material demands. And the main factor is failing to remember God, neglecting one's duties and ignoring death and the Day of Judgment. These things cause people to make a U-turn on their positions.

Of course some people may make a mistake. It is not right to consider everybody a culprit. I saw some people giving them money as a gift, as a sign of respect. And they accepted the money without realizing that they were being bribed. The things that happen in the real world are similar to one another, but it is important to realize whether or not something is a bribe. When you are in a position of power and can do something the way a person wants, that person may naturally come and kiss your hand or offer you money. Well, this is called bribing, which is haraam.

The same is true of the events of the fitna. Some people got involved in that fitna and uproar and did not realize that it was an effort to overthrow the government. They did not realize that they were involved in the kind of fitna about which the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) said, "Through them Satan's emblems got flying and his standard was raised in vices which trampled the people under their hoofs, and treaded upon them with their feet." Fitna crushes and annihilates those who are in its way. They did not realize that it was a fitna. Somebody said something, and they repeated it. Therefore, it is not right to hand out the same punishment to everybody. The punishment of a warring enemy is different from the punishment of an unaware person. Of course unaware people should be awakened.

What I want to tell you dear youth is that you should be vigilant, be present on the scene and base your actions on insight in order to be able to build Islamic Iran, fulfill your duties towards Islam and make your nation, your dear homeland and your history glorious. Today if somebody makes efforts for the glory of Islamic Iran, he has served his homeland, his nation, his history and dear Islam which is a source of salvation for humanity. Take care not to suffer from lack of insight.

Try to identify the enemy. Do not let the appearance of the enemy deceive you. Materialism, materialistic tendencies, materialistic thought and materialistic civilization are your enemies and the enemies of humanity. The western world achieved superior knowledge and technology two to three centuries ago, and it found a way to accumulate wealth. Different social schools were created. Different philosophical and social thoughts came into being - liberalism which was based on humanistic thought, democracy and similar other things. The purpose of these schools and those who went after them was to enable humanity to achieve welfare and well-being, but what happened was exactly the opposite of this. Not only did humanity not achieve human qualities and well-being under humanistic schools of thought and humanistic systems, but this era also witnessed the largest number of wars and killings, the worst instances of animosity and the most hideous behaviors towards man.

In this regard those who were more advanced were worse. Yesterday I read in a newspaper that according to American sources the US carried out 80 coups in the world from 1940s to 1990s - that is to say, within fifty years. You see the brutality of those who have achieved the peaks of wealth, technology, weapons, manufacture of military equipment and different other things. Murder is something ordinary for them. They kill "in cold blood" - this phrase is in western literature. This is a sign of complete cruelty. This is the case not only in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places they have occupied, but also in their own country. Go to their literature, which shows the realities of their life. Their art and literature shows what is happening in their lives. Murder is extremely easy for them. On the other hand, in their communities and among their youth, one can see depression, disappointment with life and revolt against social norms. The kind of clothes and make-up they wear are often rooted in the fact that their youth are frustrated with the dominant atmosphere. These are what have been experienced by western systems and schools of thought. And these are all caused by the fact that they have drifted away from religion, spirituality and God. Therefore, their behavior is the enemy of humanity.

Today you are moving in the opposite direction. You want to achieve knowledge through divine thought. You want to make use of natural and human facilities in order to bring about material and spiritual benefits for your nation, other nations and humanity. Your orientation is divine. This movement will achieve success. It will continue. This movement is the opposite of the wrong and misguided two- or three-century-long movement started by the west. This movement is an auspicious movement, and it will continue.

Faithful Iranian youth should remain prepared. They should equip themselves. They should rely on Allah the Exalted on the way towards progress. They should ask God for assistance. They should move forward with insight. Then they will gain the appropriate means to confront the wrong methods that are prevalent in the world, and by Allah's favor, they will achieve all the ideals and wishes delineated by Islam and the Revolution.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings