Leader’s Speech to Outstanding Personalities

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on October 5, 2011 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with a group of outstanding personalities of Iran.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I am thankful to God for you dear youth from the bottom of my heart. I thank God with all my soul. I believe anybody who cares about the country and its destiny should be thankful to Allah the Exalted who has blessed the country with people like you. I am very thankful to God for this great blessing. Thankfully we have good, faithful, talented, active and dynamic youth. What else would a nation need in order to make progress?

The friends who spoke in this meeting made very good points. They had thought about their comments carefully. They had really worked on them. Of course I would say that any movement has its own issues and problems. As they say, any dictated transcript has certain mistakes. Refusing to take dictation is not the right way to avoid mistakes. Today our nation is doing a difficult dictation. Our officials, our government and our nation are treading a difficult path. It is natural to stubble, slip and fall to the ground sometimes. The occasional setbacks and exhaustion should not make us fearful and confused. This is not to say that I get upset when I hear about our problems and shortcomings. Not at all. Be sure about this. One of the friends said, "I do not want to criticize. I just want to open my heart to you." You can raise criticisms: nothing is wrong with this. I am not at all concerned about raising criticisms and mentioning the flaws and shortcomings. I myself voice criticisms and I am prepared to listen to criticisms. That is to say, nothing is wrong with criticizing. It is wrong to think that mentioning the shortcomings is problematic. But what is important is that the existence of shortcomings must not make us doubt the path and its righteousness. It must not shake our confidence in the righteousness of our work. We must not forget where we are going as soon as one of our companions gets tired, sits down to rest, asks for some water to drink or faces a problem on the path. We should always keep the peak in front of our eyes. This is what I am trying to say.

Some of the points which were raised by the friends are related to the issues of our elites - which should be handled by the National Elites Foundation. Some other points are beyond the issues related to our elites. I wrote down the names of these friends. By Allah's favor, the comments of the brothers and sisters will be considered by the people working for my office and they will pass them on to the relevant government officials. Well, some of our honorable government officials are present in this meeting and they will pay attention to these points. Therefore, some of the points which were raised are beyond the issues related to our elites. They are related to the issue of science and scientific progress. Certain points were raised in these areas and I believe they are completely correct. There are certain other things which are related to executive matters and these things should be handled by Mrs. Soltankhah, as she is the President's deputy in scientific affairs. Of course she is right: this kind of work is similar to interdisciplinary fields taught at universities. It is in a way related to everybody. Different governmental organizations should help her in this regard. I have heard from unofficial sources that very good things have been done or are being done and we hope we will see the outcomes.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that the document she spoke about is very important. She said that a national document is being prepared regarding the affairs of our elites. This was good news to me. All the problems which were mentioned are due to the lack of such a document. We have problems with identifying elites in the country. Before identifying elites, we need to identify highly talented people who will become elites over time. After all, not every talented person is an elite. Talented people become elites in a gradual way. Therefore, the first step is to identify outstanding talent. This step should be followed by preparing the ground for talented people to become elites and come to fruition - which is actually the point where talented people become elites. Normally this happens during graduate levels where talented youth become elites.

Everybody should pay attention to the point that the work starts from the point a person is labeled as "elite". Perhaps all of you already know this. It is wrong to think that when a person has been labeled as elite, he should rest assured that he has gained certain advantages and a good name. No, becoming an elite is the beginning of the path. If we want to consider all these stages together and pursue them appropriately, there is a need for a document like the one Mrs. Soltankhah spoke about. Therefore, I would like to stress that the document is an important document. Now that it has been prepared, by Allah's favor, efforts will be made to complete, reform or approve it as soon as possible and this is what is supposed to be done. And by Allah's favor, efforts will be made to implement the document and make it operational.

Now I would like to discuss a few points which were raised by the friends. I have not really heard anything regarding the issue of cultural nobility and aristocracy which my dear daughter spoke about. I believe that I receive various reports on different issues, but what she said was really new to me. She said that she knows of certain examples. Please make sure to prepare a report for me. If there is such a thing, it is really bad. I have not heard anything worthy of notice in this regard. Of course the children of a particular government official might boast in school or university about the position of their father. But if this affects the process of employment, education and other things, it is a very bad thing. If there is such a thing, it is necessary to put an end to it. I ask the lady who made this point to write these things down and report them to me.

One of the friends said that the youth of our country are doing good things and that they think about different matters, but he also said that our youth do not find an opportunity to play a significant role. For example, our youth should be present in the High Council of Cultural Revolution or in the "Strategic Thoughts" forums - which were mentioned in this meeting and which will hopefully continue. Of course this is a logical and valid argument. The presence of the youth in certain sectors will definitely have positive effects. I have a piece of brotherly and fatherly advice for you dear youth: it is not the case that in all sectors the presence of the youth is a positive thing. One of the ladies criticized our judiciary system and said that bringing in young judges would make the judiciary system incompetent. Judges should be experienced. Well, this was an interesting comment and I wrote it down. This is true in certain cases. Of course in certain areas - which are not few in number - the presence of the youth has a very positive, constructive and helpful effect. It opens up a new horizon to everybody. But this is not true of all areas.

In any case, it is necessary to make use of our youth, but take this point into consideration: dear audience, being passed on to the executive branch of government, being translated into an operational form or being implemented is not the only way in which your ideas, your work, your innovations and your suggestions can produce an effect. No, this is not the only way in which you can play a role. One of the most important effects of your ideas is that they create an atmosphere and a discourse in society. In this way, in an atmosphere with a particular intellectual or scholarly principle, the President, cabinet members, CEOs and all employees would think like each other. This is a good thing. And this is what you do. Think, publish your ideas and discuss them in your meetings. Start the critical academic forums, which I have stressed many times, and repeat these things in those forums. This can create a discourse. Once a discourse is created, everybody will think within the confines of that discourse. Everybody will adopt orientations within that discourse. Everybody will work within that discourse. This is exactly what you want. Therefore, if a certain thing that you discuss or propose in a particular meeting is not translated into an operational form, if it is not turned into a law or executive guidelines, you should not become disappointed. You should not think that your efforts have been futile. No, I would tell you that the scientific movement started in this way over the past 15, 16 years and it turned science into a value, which was not the case a few years earlier. This was how we made progress on a daily basis.

There was a day when certain things used to sound unlikely. Once I discussed the issue of production of knowledge. Then I realized certain people at the meeting had problems with the phrase "production of knowledge" and believed that knowledge could not be produced. Today production of knowledge has turned into an indisputable discourse. You complain that production of knowledge is not going as well as it should. But we have made a lot of progress. Therefore, it is necessary to work. You should make efforts and think. Your efforts and ideas will definitely have an effect.

I was asked to give my opinion about fundamental sciences. As was mentioned, I have discussed the issue of fundamental sciences on several occasions. I believe fundamental sciences are very important. I once said that fundamental sciences to applied sciences, as they exist today, is like money you have in your account to money you have in your pocket. People have some money in their bank accounts which is their savings and their source of hope. Of course they also carry some money in their pockets and they spend it. I have no intention of being rude, but this is the fact of the situation. The applied sciences, as they exist today, are analogous to the money we carry around in our pockets. A nation needs engineers, civil engineers, industries, physicians and health care services: these things are like the money we spend every day. But the source and the main root of these sciences are fundamental sciences.

This year during the month of Ramadan, I spoke about the humanities in a meeting with our youth and university students. I had discussed the issue previously as well. By Allah's favor, I will arrange a special meeting with people in charge of intellectual and cultural matters as well as you dear youth to speak about the humanities. The humanities are the soul of knowledge. Indeed all types of knowledge and all outstanding endeavors in society are a like a body whose soul is the humanities. The humanities provide an orientation. They specify where we are going and where our knowledge is heading. When the humanities are derailed and are based on wrong foundations and world views, this would cause all endeavors in society to develop a deviant tendency. Today the knowledge that the west has acquired is not a joke. Their knowledge is not a small achievement. The knowledge of the west is a unique historical achievement. But this knowledge has been used to further colonialism for many years. It has been used to further slavery. It has been used to promote oppression. It has been used to appropriate the wealth of nations. And you see what they are currently doing. The fact that this knowledge is being used for these purposes in spite of its honorable and admirable nature, is because of the wrong thought, wrong perspective, wrong world view and wrong orientation on which it is based.

Of course one of the friends who spoke made good points about the humanities. I have written down a few points which I would like to tell you. One issue is that the country needs scientists who love the country, the people and their identity, and the destiny of their nation. Without this sense of commitment, it is not possible to move things along. A scientist, who considers knowledge as a means of making money or doing other such things, cannot greatly contribute to the destiny of his country. I would tell you that the world has been a place of confrontation. It has been a place of confrontation between human beings because of the nature of human beings. Of course this has always been the case, but it is more so today than ever before. Whoever feels powerful tries to overpower weak people. There is no mercy unless there are religious restrictions and beliefs.

During the early Islamic era, when Muslims commanders used to enter other countries, they used to treat the people in an ethical and pious way in spite of the fact that the defeated nations had treated them with utmost severity. This was the case even until the Crusades - several centuries after the introduction of Islam. The Christians of Europe used to enter Jerusalem and massacre Muslims, but when Muslims defeated them, they treated Christians in a completely different way: they used to treat Christians in a kind way. You know that the Crusades lasted for nearly two hundred years.

During the early Islamic era in Shaam, which belonged to the Eastern Roman Empire, there was a Jewish minority. When Muslims conquered Shaam, the Jewish minority swore on the Torah that Muslims were the best people who had ever ruled them: what they said has been quoted exactly in history books. And this was a fact. This was because of religious restrictions. In the absence of religion, victorious nations used to pressure defeated nations. Victorious nations used to destroy the religion, culture, ethics, honor and pride of defeated nations. I do not want to mention the names of certain domineering governments. Of course America and the west oppress other nations and commit crimes, but they are not the only ones who are doing these things: the same is true of certain other countries. In certain places, these countries gained victory and they gave rise to so much savagery that reading about their actions and brutality makes one's hair stand on end.

Imagine that a nation wants to preserve its power and prevent others from launching an invasion on it - be it a military and security invasion, or a soft, moral and cultural invasion, which has become common in the past few decades. What should such a nation do? Both its politicians and its scientists must show self-sacrifice. This is not to say that you young elites should lay down your life and expect no material gain in return. No, I think this is too much to expect. But without dedication, outstanding people - including political and scientific elites - cannot safeguard their country. They cannot make it powerful.

The same is true of politicians. If a politician only thinks about himself, if he is only concerned about his own comfort, if he is only concerned about his pockets, if he only thinks about his carnal desires and if he does not care enough to deal with the main and essential concerns that would naturally affect his peace of mind, then his country will be defeated. The proof is the fall of several dynasties in Iran one after the other. The Safavids were a powerful government: they came to power in a glorious and pious way, but later on because of these weaknesses and the prevalence of these characteristics, they reached the point that we all know about. The Qajar Dynasty was worse and the Pahlavi Dynasty was the worst of all.

The same is true of science. If a country enjoys scientists who are interested in the destiny of their country and are prepared to make sacrifices on this path, that country will make progress. Religious faith is the best thing that can give rise to this driving force and this progress. If a country enjoys this faith, it will make progress. The inherent value of the scientific advances that we have made in the country - and definitely we are not satisfied with these advances - is far more than the conventional scientific advances in the world. Why? Because we were deprived of scientific exchanges and the assistance of others. We were under pressure and the doors had been closed to us. However, we have had tens of outstanding personalities like Shahid Shahriari. Tens and hundreds of people were trained in different areas and they accomplished outstanding achievements. And they did not at all benefit from western universities, research centers and professors. Of course they definitely made use of western achievements and this is what we should do.

One of the friends said something that I believe is correct. He said that running away from foreigners and fighting them will not get us anywhere. Yes, this is correct, but we should be careful: sometimes we speak about fighting foreigners and running away from them, but this does not mean that we should deprive ourselves of their knowledge and achievements. Not at all. I have repeatedly said that we are prepared to be their students in order to learn from them. But we must not remain their students for ever: this is the point. Our people can reach a point where others would want to become their students. This is the peak that I have in mind and we must move towards this peak. Therefore, scientific communities need to make selfless and sincere efforts in order to be able to do their work. Thankfully, you have this capacity and this potential. Thank God. You can restore the dignity of this nation.

My dear ones, the dignity and pride of our nation were trampled underfoot for decades. The Revolution made us conscious. In spite of this historical background, in spite of this scientific record, in spite of the intellectual and scientific achievements we have made, in spite of the scientific figures that were trained in our country during the time when ignorance was prevalent in the world - people like Avicenna, Muhammad ibn Zakariya, Farabi, Khajeh Nasir who used to live during the Middle Ages when there was no trace of science in the world - in spite of all these capacities, our country had reached a point where it had to depend on foreigners to provide its most basic needs. Our politicians - a bunch of incompetent and backward individuals - used to say that Iranians could not even make a ewer. A ewer is a container made of clay. Shame on a politician who speaks like this about his own people. Similarly, there was another politician who used to say that we had to become European from top to bottom in order to be able to make progress. Well, these things show that they were incompetent. It is a sign of backwardness to attribute your own weaknesses to your nation: your nation would be humiliated. The Revolution eliminated these people and we became conscious. Fortunately good things have been done. Good capacities have been discovered. We have made progress and by Allah's favor, we will continue making progress in the future.

I would like to tell our government officials that investing in production of knowledge and scientific innovation will bring in increased profit for our country and our nation. Do not stop following this path. Investing in production of knowledge and scientific innovations with the purpose of making scientific progress, should be increased on a daily basis. Such investment should not decrease. Of course today we do not even make as much investment in this regard as countries like England, Italy and France used to when they first entered the world of industry and science. We invest even less than they used to. Our scientific investments should be increased.

Of course these investments should be accompanied by an improvement in management. I would like to highlight this point, particularly to our honorable government officials. Even if we increase our financial support and allocate a large budget to scientific activities, our financial resources will be wasted without an improvement in management. It is necessary to improve management in our universities, in our scientific communities and in the presidential department designated to scientific affairs. The governmental centers, which are in charge of science and academic affairs, should definitely improve their management and of course they should also make investments.

Another point is related to the relationship between industry and university, which is not a new issue. Of course 15, 16 years ago, this issue was proposed and followed up and finally it has turned into a prevalent thought and everybody likes the idea, but it is better not to speak about the history of this issue. Well, how should we do this? If our industries do not want to fall behind the competition, they need scientific progress and innovation. The groundwork has been laid for this innovation in our universities and research centers. These research centers which should cooperate with universities can designate a department to industries so that they can participate in the activities of these research centers and address their needs through them. This is something that can be coordinated by the government. They should sit down with government officials and make plans for this. This is good both for our industry and for our universities. When universities take into account the needs of our society and the needs of the job market, they will naturally find their path. They will also become more dynamic. Of course this is also profitable for universities. And when our industries depend on innovation, production of knowledge and technology - which is something that is done in universities - they will naturally make progress. We need this process. This is something that we must definitely do.

I would like to take this opportunity to make a point about the products manufactured in our country. One of the friends mentioned this point and I made a note to speak about it in my speech. Fortunately different sectors in our country manufacture high-quality products. A major portion of our domestic products are consumed by our governmental organizations. Our governmental organizations should be determined to exclusively consume domestic products unless what they need is not produced in the country. That is to say, they should absolutely prohibit importing the products which are produced in the country. Propose this idea to the administration. Mr. President should order governmental organizations to follow this policy. And this is possible. We have had the experience. In certain cases, certain governmental organizations were explicitly ordered to avoid using foreign products in a particular project and they did so in the best possible way. If our managers are determined to use domestic products only, this will improve the quality of our domestic products, which are already high-quality. They should definitely do this.

Of course I heard that our governmental organizations and banks do not support domestic products the way they should. In certain cases, our manufacturers go bankrupt because they are not supported. It is necessary for the administration to deal with this issue as well. That is to say, the administration should issue the necessary orders in this regard.

Another point was also made in this meeting and I wrote it down: sometimes the government does not act according to the terms of its contract with our domestic manufacturers. This is while if our manufacturers had signed a contract with foreign industrialists, they would have received the money immediately. But the government delays the process for one, two years when it comes to paying the money. It is necessary to put an end to these things.

Another issue is the issue of scholarly articles. Fortunately our articles have improved noticeably in terms of quantity and in certain case in terms of quality. However, there is an important point in this regard which I have discussed repeatedly and fortunately I noticed today that some of the friends repeated the same point in their statements: the point is that publishing articles is not the goal. First of all, it is the quality of articles that is important. What is more important is the orientation of our articles. We should ask ourselves why we are writing a particular article. This increase in the number of published scholarly articles should show its effect in our job market, in our products and in our daily life. Scholarly articles should be written on the basis of the needs of the country. This is every important. Therefore, what is important is that our articles should be high-quality and they should be written in order to address the needs of the country. In this case, it will be alright if somebody writes an article and sells the intellectual property to somebody else. If a particular article is to the advantage of the country and a particular orientation, it will be good irrespective of its form. But publishing articles is not the goal. The goal is not an increase in the number of our scholarly articles: this increase should show its effects in our industries and business activities.

The issue of agriculture which was mentioned in the meeting is also a very important issue. Agriculture is among the sectors which receives special support from the government in all parts of the world. This sector should definitely be taken into consideration.

Anyway, today's meeting was a very good meeting. God willing, the friends who spoke will give me their reports and I will study them and follow them up. I hope Allah the Exalted bestows success and assistance on you. By Allah's favor and thanks to the efforts of your dear youth, the country will get closer to the lofty goals of the Revolution as much as possible.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings