Leader’s Speech to a Large Gathering of the People of Yazd

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on January 2, 2008 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with a large gathering of the people of Yazd.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Two Worlds 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.

I am very glad and I thank Allah the Exalted who provided me with this opportunity to participate in a meeting with friendly and religious people of Yazd. Allah the Exalted helped me fulfill the duty - which I had considered necessary for a long time - to be present among you dear people.

Your city and your province, dear brothers and sisters from Yazd, is the center of knowledge, art, hard work, innovation, faith and religious beliefs. Since before and after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, we have always known the people of Yazd as people who are full of faith, energy and innovative ideas and prepared in all the arenas in which we have expected to see the presence of the Iranian people in the current century. In different arenas during the Sacred Defense Era, in the arena of preserving the identity of the Islamic Revolution and in the arena of defending values which have come under cultural and political attacks by the enemy since after the Sacred Defense Era up to the present, we have seen the people of Yazd as people who are always prepared and determined.

I have not forgotten the days I visited Yazd at a time when the people of Iran had not tasted the victory of the Islamic Revolution and at a time when the people of different cities - each city within its capacity - were doing something to help this movement produce the desired results. What I saw in Yazd was amazing. They showed an enthusiastic revolutionary spirit as well as a disposition towards discipline, calm and dignity. I got to know Shahid Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Sadouqi who was recognized not only as a prominent cleric in a city, but also as a religious, political and cultural leader at that time. He was a zealous revolutionary leader in Yazd and other cities in the province of Yazd. I stayed in Yazd for several days and observed the situation. I had recently returned from exile. I had seen other cities, but the situation in Yazd was undoubtedly exceptional.

I have always stressed the point whenever I have met people of different cities that our people who have deeply historical, scientific, cultural and political roots, should search for their common identity and try to appreciate their own worth. That is why we are talking about the positive characteristics of the people of the city of Yazd and Yazd province.

My dear brothers and sisters, the enemies of this nation have been trying for decades to destroy our historical identity. They have mistaken us for a rootless country. They have mistaken us for a nation who has no history, no civilization and no long list of scholars and artists throughout history. They have treated us in an unfair way. Unfortunately, some people among us were deceived by their plots. They accepted the judgment of the enemy about the Iranian nation.

As I have pointed out, the city of Yazd is the city of knowledge. It takes hours to merely name or briefly talk about the scholars of Yazd in different branches of knowledge, especially in religious studies. This is not only limited to the past. In the present era there are eminent people in Yazd. Moreover since my seminary days or when I was involved in social activities, there have been prominent figures in this province. Today, when we study the results of the entrance exams to universities, we see that Yazd province has had the highest number of people who get accepted over the last 14 years. This is no small achievement. This shows that there are plenty of talented people in this province who are competent enough to be significant scholars and elites and who have the capability to use their talent to push this nation towards the future that the Islamic Republic of Iran has envisaged for them. The youth of Yazd, men and women of Yazd, the clergy of Yazd, the elites of Yazd and the professors of Yazd should appreciate this talent. They should know that the way to thank God for granting them this talent is to know and to apply this talent for the good of the country.

The people of the city of Yazd and Yazd province had a valuable experience during the Sacred Defense Era. The people of Yazd did not sit in their houses to merely pray for the victory of the soldiers, but rather they entered the arena. I have not forgotten that in the front line and in the al-Ghadir garrison and al-Ghadir brigade, soldiers from Yazd were the best, the strongest, the bravest risk-takers and the most disciplined military groups that I had ever seen. Your martyrs, your disabled veterans, your honorable freed POWs and their families are all evidence for the strong presence of the people of Yazd in dangerous arenas when they are needed.

You are good at universities, in the front line, at industrial activities and you are also good at agricultural activities although this is a naturally dry region. If somebody from Yazd finds a spring somewhere which can give him only one bucket of water per hour, that person appreciates the value of that water and he tries to set up a farm or create a garden with that small amount of water so that he and other people can benefit from it. These things which are achieved by diligence, are very valuable.

Fifty years ago I saw some fruit patches which were located between Karbala and Najaf. All Iraqi people - those whom we saw there - knew that these were created by the people of Yazd. They said that some people had come from Yazd in Iran and they had created these fruit patches between Karbala and Najaf where hard work is not common. Wherever they go throughout the country, they leave a sign of their diligence combined with a simple lifestyle.

I have talked many times about extravagance with my fellow countrymen. I pointed it out in last prayer and I asked people to be careful. One of the places that can be a model for other places is your city and your province. I would add that having a simple lifestyle is in the nature of these people provided that an aristocratic lifestyle does not impose itself on their lives. An aristocratic lifestyle is like a disease. Wherever it penetrates, it overshadows many positive virtues. It weakens those virtues little by little and it may completely destroy them. We people of Iran should not be prisoners of an aristocratic lifestyle.

The people of Yazd are economical and diligent by nature. In addition to these qualities, the people of Yazd - considering the talent that I explained earlier - have a natural inclination towards knowledge and art. These architectural structures including the one we are in now, Amir Chakhmagh Complex, Jameh Mosque and other architectural centers which exist in this city and province are eternal and indigenous and they are indicative of the artistic taste in Yazd. They are indigenous heritage of this city and province.
Well, I want to raise a point drawing on what I mentioned earlier and I want to use that point as an introduction for a short discussion that I would like to have with you. That point is the self-confidence of the people of Yazd. The people of Yazd are self-confident by nature. The fact that somebody from Yazd starts building and producing things coupled with the positive virtues I mentioned earlier in remote places where he is a stranger, between Karbala and Najaf and in each and every place in this country, shows his high self-confidence.

Today I would like to tell you and the Iranian nation that one of the most efficient and the best spiritual medicines that our nation needs and that we should inject into the whole society is self-confidence. The Iranian nation should preserve the self-confidence that it gained thanks to the Islamic Revolution and the resistance that it showed in dangerous arenas. Later, during the Sacred Defense Era, this self-confidence was bolstered by the nation's resistance despite all the problems that it had. It should maintain this self-confidence. This self-confidence will give the Iranian nation the capability, the determination and the courage to follow the long path of realizing the ideals of our Islamic society. We cannot follow this path without self-confidence.

My dear brothers and sisters, we did not carry out a revolution so that one government would be replaced with another. This was not the case. Otherwise, why would have our people made so many sacrifices? Two parties would have merely competed against each other and one party would have gained control like what we see in other countries. The fact that one nation has entered the arena wholeheartedly, with all its power and money and the fact it has used everyone including young and old, means this movement has not been established only for the purpose of replacing one government with another. It means that this great movement has been based on Iran's national ideals.

Our Revolution has presented some ideals to the world. When our religious people compared these ideals with the ones in their religion they found out that those ideals were what they needed. As a result, they followed the path of realizing those ideals and they sacrificed their youth and their own lives on this way. They laid down their money for the sake of the revolution but they did not stop resisting tyranny. We want to achieve these ideals. What are these ideal? In brief, our most significant ideal is creating an Islamic society. We are moving forward to create an Islamic society.

An Islamic society is one in which justice is completely served and moral principles are firmly established among all people. In such a society, people have those virtues which the prophets were trying hard to emphasize. These virtues include, being strong, being brave and being God's obedient servant while being prosperous. True freedom for a nation or an individual can be achieved if they utilize their power and their determination to find happiness. They should, however, find that happiness in serving God. We are pursuing this goal.

Today the big void in western liberal democracy comes from the absence of social justice. They have increased the number of factories and machines and they have broadened the scope of science but they have failed to serve social justice. Morality has declined and I am not the only person saying that. Is it possible to use international media to say something that goes against what people feel? This is what they themselves are saying.

Today western liberal democracy is faced with a moral crisis. Today countries which have astonished history with their developments are faced with sexual, social, moral and family crises.

The happiness of human beings does not lie in their scientific development - science is merely a tool for happiness - but rather the happiness of human beings depends on peace of mind and soul, a life without strains and full of moral and economic security and finally the feeling that justice is served in the society. The west does not have these criteria. Not only are these criteria absent in western countries but also they are increasingly walking away from them. We chose those criteria so that we can portray them as our ideals to the world. Of course, God Almighty accomplished this goal. The Iranian nation followed this path due to its faith in this goal.

My dear brothers and sisters, dear people of Yazd, dear people of Iran, to achieve these goals, we have to have self-confidence. We should constantly tell ourselves that we can as we have managed until today to accomplish goals which the national will is determined to accomplish. It was no small achievement to overthrow a regime in a country which was under the pressure of colonial powers and dominated by the global arrogance. Our people overthrew that regime while the east and the west saw their interests in the survival of that sinister regime. It was no small achievement to completely destroy the shaky foundation of the hereditary royal regime and create a government - in place of that autocratic regime - based on the votes and the sentiments of the people. The Iranian nation accomplished such an enormous task. Today Iran is peerless in regard to having a democratic government and paying attention to the sentiments of the people.

It makes one sad to see that some people talk - due to their political interests or I should say their partisan interests - as if there is no democracy in this country. This is not fair. It has been twenty eight years since this nation has been holding free elections based on wisdom and the strong presence of people. These elections have a lot of fluctuation and various parties participate in them. Why should we propagate these absurd ideas which would only end in our enemies' satisfaction? These enemies constantly deny the existence of democracy based on Islamic principles in our country.

Adopting new methods, the Iranian nation managed to establish democracy - which is a secure foundation - with self-confidence. It was a religious democracy. Everywhere in the world democracies are established within a certain framework. There is not a single democratic government in the world which is not within a certain framework or not based on certain criteria. They are either based on different parties competing with one another to gain power, the judiciary system or systems other than the judiciary and the executive. But our democratic country is based on Islam because the people of Iran are Muslims and religious. This form of democracy is called religious democracy.

The reason why people of other countries hold the Iranian nation in high regard is firstly because the Iranian nation dared enter the arena and the government dared give people the opportunity. Secondly, the Iranian nation managed to introduce a kind of democracy to the world which was unknown and they carried the banner of democracy on their own.
Everywhere in the world, governments and nations are influenced by propaganda efforts of the enemies but the Iranian nation was not. Regarding religious democracy and on many other issues including the issue of women, its diplomacy in foreign affairs and its relations with world powers, the Iranian nation has never been influenced by propaganda efforts and it never changed its course. It will be the same in the future. I believe that the Iranian nation should preserve this self-confidence.

One of the signs of this self-confidence is that the Iranian nation has entered the arena of high-level scientific breakthroughs. The other sign is the issue of nuclear energy which everybody in our country has heard about. Our youth, our scientists and our prominent figures have participated in sensitive and new areas of knowledge and they have accomplished astonishing feats including on the issue of stem cells, discovering new medicines for chronic diseases - which was officially announced and by Allah's grace, they will discover more medicines - and in other areas. The Iranian people have utilized their talent in different arenas and they have shown so much self-confidence that they have made huge progress and they will continue to make progress.

We have nevertheless fallen behind the world with regard to scientific progress throughout the last decades which have been the years of scientific progress in the world. We will, however, try to catch up with them by God's grace and we will not confine our goals to scientific progress. We should consider it our duty to pay special attention to spirituality, morality and self-education.

I will now briefly talk about the elections and also about your city and province. Elections are the important issue of this year for our country. Of course, we have had some other important issues to deal with. Over these last months, however, parliamentary elections have been the most important issue. Of course, there is still some time left and we have enough time to address the issues about elections. I also have some comments about elections which by Allah's favor, I will make in due course. What I would like to tell you today is that our nation should appreciate elections. Elections are like an exhibition for displaying Iran's national will, national progress, commitment to religious democracy and its spirit of resistance and profound wisdom.

What I have stressed in all elections and today I will stress that too is the presence of people in elections. I have also emphasized that people should appreciate the value of elections. I would like to tell you - of course I cannot disclose everything - that some people tried to stop the holding of elections in this country so that the enemies would be able to say that the Islamic Republic of Iran is not a democratic government. They made an attempt to propagate this idea but Allah the Exalted foiled their plot. The divine will overcame the will of ill-disposed enemies. The hearts of people were attracted to elections in different administrations. Unlike what the enemies wished, people took part in elections. These elections will produce similar results.

The message I am trying to convey is that our people should have a strong presence in elections. The second issue which is just as significant is choosing a competent candidate. The fact that the Guardian Council announces the eligibility of some candidates signifies they have the minimum criteria to be representatives in the Majlis. However, among these eligible candidates there are some who are more or less competent than the others. The challenging task for the Iranian nation will be carefully searching for the best and the most competent candidate according to faith, purity and trustworthiness, religiosity and preparedness to participate in the country's different arenas. The people should also choose a candidate who is the most sympathetic to people's needs. These are tremendous opportunities and our dear people throughout the country - this is not limited to the people of Yazd - should try to find their candidate wisely and they should exercise complete discretion. People should form the Majlis which our country needs and they should make it official with their votes.

Of course, people should keep in mind that propaganda which is based on false information is not a criterion for choosing a candidate. Nor are rash promises of the candidates a criterion. When I met some honorable candidates in previous elections, I told them that the duty of a candidate is not to promise people to carry out certain projects like construction projects and so on in the local area they compete. These are executive tasks and are within the responsibilities of the executive branch. The duty of representatives is to draw up required rules and then pass them as law. When those rules become a law, the executive and judiciary branches are obliged to act according to that law which of course they are already doing that. People should pay attention to the fact that making big and hollow promises is not a criterion. These promises tell us that we should avoid those candidates. It is not appropriate for the Iranian nation to witness bad behavior or to see that some people slander religious people - who are protected from the viewpoint of Islam and Sharia - in newspapers and internet websites. It is not acceptable at all. I seriously ask those who are inclined towards certain candidates to avoid showing their inclination by slandering others or staining their names. You can praise your favorite candidate as much as you wish but do not stain the name of others. This has negative implications. It is common in some parts of the world to disclose some family secrets of other people or to take some secret photos in order to show them in public. Well, these are the people who - as you have seen on TV - brutally beat one another over some issue during a parliamentary session. This is not a virtue or an advantage for them. What our dear people should remember is being prepared for full participation in the elections, making an effort to choose competent candidates and displaying exemplary behavior in the elections as I explained earlier.

With regard to visiting both the city of Yazd and Yazd province, our friends from Yazd complained that I delayed visiting their city during recent years which I confirm. Well, I thank God that there are provincial trips of the government officials at present. They travel to different cities and consider the needs of the people. There are some provinces that I myself have not traveled to yet including the provinces of Fars, Kurdistan and Kermanshah. By Allah's favor, I will visit these provinces if I live long enough to have the opportunity. I thank God that I had the opportunity to visit your city. What is important is that the government with all its organizations, private organizations, all the people, economic and cultural organizations should cooperate for the construction and development of the province of Yazd.

The administration officials should carry out the approved bills regarding Yazd when they will travel to this city. Of course, the administration's decision to travel to provinces is a positive and auspicious move. I appreciate the administration's move to travel to distant cities and adopt the best course in serving people because it is extremely valuable to visit cities. There are some cities in which people have not managed to meet even with a local manager. Now they can have a meeting with the president and ministers in person and they can talk to them. These are valuable and we should appreciate these blessings. Even if not all but some of the approved bills regarding provinces are enforced, it will be extremely valuable and useful for those provinces. The administration should try to fulfill this task.

Some people pointed out the issue of water in Yazd to me. I know that the water problem is a very important issue for Yazd province. Of course recent polls have found that unemployment and high inflation are also among the issues that you are concerned about. All officials including those who should pass laws, those who should enforce them and those who should catch criminals - that is to say, all the three branches of the government - should work on these issues. I have also asked them to consider these issues and I have stressed the significance of that. I will continue to do that but you should consider that dealing with these challenging issues and overcoming the obstacles which the officials are confronted with are no easy task. They are trying hard and their efforts are valuable. What is important is that our people's trust in government officials is deep and we should maintain this trust.

Of course the enemy is trying to damage the close relations between people and government officials. They try to weaken or make an accusation against some sectors or branches of the Islamic Republic of Iran from time to time. Sometimes they make an accusation against the executive branch and sometimes they do that against the legislative and judiciary branches or other organizations of the country. This is the plot of the enemy in order to create confusion and anxiety among people. Our people are, however, wise and they think things over very carefully. As a result, the relations between people and government officials are friendly and harmonious. By Allah's favor, these relations will be strengthened on a daily basis and our people will see and feel that the officials are sympathetic towards them. They will see that the officials are prepared to serve people and they are competent enough to move things along.

I think it is necessary for me to thank you for your kindness and friendliness and I appreciate the fact that you have gathered in this square and on the streets around here on such a cold day. I pray to Allah the Exalted for your success and by Allah's grace, I will address some other points in regard to issues I discussed with you during the next days that I will stay in your province.

Dear God, shower your grace and blessings on these dear people. Oh God, enlighten the hearts of these people with your kindness as the heart and soul of these people are humble before you. Dear God, associate the dear martyrs of this city with the martyrs of the early Islam. Oh God, raise the position of the great scholars and prominent religious leaders in the hereafter including the great martyr Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Sadouqi , Ayatollah Khatami, Ayatollah Erafi from Meybod and other great religious scholars whom we met in person and whose work we have come to appreciate over these years. Oh God, grant your blessings and your guidance on the good youth and the good and religious parents in this province. Dear God, promote the economic and spiritual development of these people on a daily basis. Associate the pure soul of our magnanimous Imam, who led this great movement and to whom we owe so much, with the prophets and Your saints.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings