Speech on Birth Anniversary of Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him)

The following is an abridgement of the statements made by Grand Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, at a gathering held on Sha'ban 15, 1423 (October 22, 2002). The gathering was held on the occasion of birth anniversary of the Savior of mankind, Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him and may Almighty Allah hasten his reappearance).
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

First, I would like to welcome all dear brothers and sisters who are attending this gathering, especially the dear ones that have come here from remote cities. I also congratulate the esteemed audience on this auspicious feast and felicitous birth anniversary, and I hope that the favor and grace of that magnanimous Imam will be conferred on all of you.

The birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi (may Almighty Allah hasten his reappearance) is an auspicious feast not only for the Shia, but also for all the justice-seekers and truth-seekers of the world. In fact, the belief in a savior and deliverer of mankind is not only held by the Shia, but by all Muslims as well, whether the Shia or the Sunni. Even non-Muslims hold some kind of belief in a savior.

However, the only difference is that the Shia knows what the name, qualities and characteristics of this savior of mankind are. The Shia also believes that this savior is always ready and prepared to receive the divine commandment and begin his mission. As soon as he receives this divine order, he will embark on his great task of eliminating the afflictions of mankind and administering justice and equity throughout the world. Indeed, one of the most important goals that the savior will accomplish after his reappearance is administering justice in the world.

Today, humanity is expecting a savior who will put an end to oppression and injustice that have always existed in the history of mankind, a savior who will crush the oppressors and dispense justice and equity. This is what those looking forward to the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him) will expect him to do when he reappears, since the main affliction of mankind is the lack of justice and equity.

In the course of the history of mankind, those wielding power have always oppressed and exerted pressure on the common people and deprived them of their legitimate rights. However, today, oppression and injustice are more prevalent than ever, and mankind is pinning his hopes on the savior more earnestly than ever to eliminate these afflictions.

The first inference drawn on the basis of the belief in the savior is that the elimination of oppression and injustice from the world is not only possible but certain as well. Today, when we talk to the politicians of some other countries about the global oppression and injustice, for which arrogant powers are mainly responsible, these politicians agree that oppression and injustice are prevalent in the world, but they also say that nothing can be done to change this situation!

In other words, these politicians, who are in charge of running the affairs of their countries, are themselves overwhelmed by despair, and they also infuse this despondency into their nations and weaken their hope that the evil and oppressive system currently dominating the world will change some day.

It is clear that despondent and dispirited nations will not be able to take effective action to change the present situation of the world. What inspires human beings to effective action and great efforts is hope and optimism. The belief in the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him) illuminates the hearts of human beings with the light of hope.

Since we believe that this reappearance is sure to happen, and because we know that changing the evil and oppressive political system that is currently dominating the world is not only possible but also certain to happen, we consider the despair and despondency of others as pointless.

When a nation believes that the present unjust and oppressive world system will not last long, it will be infused with hope, courage and optimism. Therefore, if different nations across the world that are currently under the yoke of oppressive and unjust powers realize that oppression and injustice are not going to last forever, they will become filled with great hope and confidence and will get prepared for the reappearance of the savior, who will raise the banner of justice and equity in the whole world.

Today, the propaganda machine of the arrogant powers and their mercenary intellectuals are propagating the idea at the international level that nothing can be done in the face of the oppressive and unjust system that is currently dominating the world. They are doing so in order to persuade the nations to relinquish all hopes of any change and resign themselves to the present situation. However, the belief in the savior neutralizes all this propaganda.

The nations that hold the belief in the reappearance of the savior know that the present unjust and oppressive world system is not indestructible, and that it will surely be replaced by a system characterized by justice and equity.

It should also be pointed out that justice and equity, which the nations have long yearned for, would not prevail if Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him) only admonishes the oppressors and arrogant powers against injustice, covetousness, domination and exploitation of nations. In other words, justice would not prevail through admonition of the arrogant powers and those oppressing and exploiting the nations, since arrogant powers only understand the language of force. Thus, they will be subdued only by using force.

Even in the case of the prophets, although they began their divine mission with admonition and advice, they later used force and fought against atheists and the enemies of humanity and justice in order to enforce the divine law in society.

In the Holy Qur'an, verse 25 of chapter 57 refers to the fact that all divine prophets were tasked by Almighty Allah with administering justice and equity in society.

The verse says, "Certainly We sent Our apostles with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the balance, so that men may conduct themselves with equity."

However, the verse immediately goes on to say, "And We have made the iron, wherein is great violence and advantages to men."

What is inferred from this verse is that the prophets, in addition to conveying the divine message to the people, were also expected to use force and fight against the oppressors, tyrants and corrupt and domineering powers in order to pave the way for the enforcement of the divine law and administering justice and equity in society.

The main point that should be taken into consideration is that expecting the reappearance of the savior also involves our own preparation for serving in his army as his soldiers. Serving as soldiers in the army of the savior, who is tasked by Almighty Allah to eliminate oppression, injustice, discrimination and corruption from the world, is not an easy task, and the prerequisites for undertaking this task are self-purification and adhering to moral and spiritual values.

In other words, those who are looking forward to the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him) should get prepared morally, spiritually and intellectually and be ready to follow the savior in his campaign against the oppressive powers after he reappears.

Those who during the years of the sacred defense defended this Islamic country against the Iraqi aggression were among those looking forward to the reappearance of the savior. In general, anyone who is ready to safeguard Islamic values and defend this Islamic country against foreign threats is considered a real follower of Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him). He is the one that will surely take part in the global campaign that will be launched by the savior against the arrogant and oppressive powers.

Another point worthy of mention is that the government that will be established by Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him) will be a popular government in its real sense. In other words, he will not eliminate oppression and injustice from the world all by himself, but he will do so with the help of his devout followers, and he will establish his popular government based on the divine justice and equity.

However, the popular government that will be established by Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him) will be completely different from the present governments in the world that call themselves popular or democratic. The present governments claiming to be democratic are in fact the same old dictatorships but in a new guise.

Today, the same old tyranny is being exercised by political groups and parties. Even if there is competition, it is between the political groups and parties themselves, and the public plays no effective role in the arena of politics.

In countries with so-called democratic governments, when a political party wrests political power from its rivals, it will use its power to amass more wealth and fortune, and then it will spend that money in such a way as to obtain power and take office once again.

Also in these countries, presidential or parliamentary candidates usually spend a great deal of money on wooing the voters before elections. They also use all kinds of fascinating propaganda to manipulate public opinion. Therefore, the reality on the ground is that democracy in modern world is enslaved by money!

This is not real democracy, as public opinion is easily manipulated by wealthy politicians, who employ costly propaganda and publicity means and who spend huge amounts of money wooing the voters. Therefore, in the present democratic systems, the people's votes are used as mere instruments for bringing certain politicians or political parties to power.

However, the democratic system or the religious democracy that will be introduced and established by Imam Mahdi (may Almighty Allah hasten his reappearance) will be completely different from the present democracies in the world.

In an Islamic system of government, the perfect example of which will be established by Imam Mahdi (greetings be upon him), wooing the voters by spending money and manipulating public opinion will be regarded as an offense. Above all, using political power to amass a fortune will be viewed as the most serious offense.

Besides, the companions of Imam Mahdi (may Almighty Allah hasten his reappearance), who will be the top officials of his government, will be obliged to lead a simple life and abstain from luxuries.