Leader’s Speech to Academics of Semnan

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on November 9, 2006 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with the academics of Semnan province.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

What I see in this gathering of talented and enthusiastic people is a big sign for me. The same is true of most of the student gatherings which I attend. You are part of the massive student population of our country. A number of the students of this province have attended this meeting and I ask them to convey my greetings to the dear students and professors who are not present in this meeting. What I see in this gathering is indeed a kind of dynamism, vibrancy, enthusiasm, hope and preparedness to traverse difficult paths and reach the peak.

Some people are extremely energetic and active. Such people can reach the peak. In order to reach the peak one must go through a stage of aspiration. When you look at a mountain out of your window, you see that some people are claiming up the mountain. You see some people who are close to the peak. Then you wish you were able to reach where those people are. This is just the first stage. The next stage is to get out of bed, put on appropriate clothes and shoes and leave for the mountain. When some people reach the foothills and see the hardships, they despair and grow impatient. They think that they should be able to reach the peak without much trouble, just like a bird. They are not prepared to tolerate the hardships to reach the peak. Such people despair quickly. Some other people start climbing and clear a few foothills, but they become tired after a while. Some people do not give up because of exhaustion: they just grow impatient. After a couple of hours, they feel that they should have reached the peak. These are the problems that prevent people from reaching the peak. A person who climbs in a patient, energetic and hopeful way will not fear long hours of mountaineering and clearing numerous cliffs. He does not give up simply because some of his friends stop climbing. Such a person must be sure that he will reach the peak.

Some people who are into spiritual aspects of life come to me and ask me to teach them a dhikr that would make them good and spiritual. They think there is a spiritual equivalent of a pill they can take and change their conditions immediately. No, this is not the case. If one wants to become spiritual, if one wants to familiarize one's heart with the hidden worlds, if one wants to hear the voice of God's angels, if one wants to be imbued with divine beauty and monotheism, one should work hard and move forward. The peak is in front of us and there will be some people who will fall by the wayside. There will be some people who will despair. There will be some people whose patience will be exhausted. There will be some people who will decide to go back. There will be some people who will tell others that their efforts are futile. There will even be some people who will deny the existence of the peak. These issues exist on the path of spirituality as well as on the path of achieving material gains.

In one of my meetings with our students, I said that you should make plans for the next fifty years. This is what I expect from you in scientific areas. This should be our goal: we should try to make our country one of the top scientific authorities in the world over the next fifty years so that if somebody decides to become familiar with the latest scientific findings, they are forced to learn our language, just as we currently have to learn the international language, a fact which was rightly pointed out by the esteemed lady as well. The English were astute enough to make their language the language of science, the international language. Therefore, whenever you want to learn or study something, you are forced to learn their language. Over the next fifty years, you should try to make others feel the need to learn the Persian language. This is a wish, a peak we aspire to reach. It is like the peak of Damavand, the peak of Tochal, and looking at it fills one with excitement and makes one eager to conquer it. But what kind of people will reach that peak? You should prepare appropriate shoes and clothes. More importantly, you should prepare yourself and start climbing.

I see this potential in our young generation. I do not want to exaggerate. What I am saying is not an empty slogan. Nobody expects us to say such things. What I am saying is the truth. Iranian youth are highly talented in different areas. If we government officials fail to identify the potentialities of our youth, we are the ones who are at fault, but if our youth fail to identify their capacities, it is their fault. And this mistake will have its own consequences. It will prevent us from moving forward and achieving our goals. But if we open our eyes and find our path, if we make efforts and do not lose sight of our goals, we will definitely reach the peak.

Those who are at the peak of human knowledge did not start out at the peak. For example, a hundred years ago, America - which is currently ahead of other countries in terms of science - used to be dependent on England, France and Italy for producing the weapons it needed. Just refer to history books to find out. During the American Civil War, which was a war between southern and northern states of America, the South wanted secession, but the North decided to fight and not allow the South to secede. This led to a war that lasted four years. The war broke out in 1861, around 150 years ago. The two sides of the war believed that it was a success to buy a particular type of cannon from the English and bring it to America across the Atlantic Ocean. They did not have many facilities at that time, but today they are at the peak of science. This is because they made efforts. The success of one's efforts is not related to one's religion and piety. Kufr or Islam does not play a role in this regard. This is what the Holy Quran tells us. I have repeatedly cited this ayah: "Of the bounties of your Lord We bestow freely on all - these as well as those." [The Holy Quran, 17: 20] God says that He helps everybody. This is a divine law. Whoever makes efforts to achieve a particular goal, Allah the Exalted helps them achieve their goal. The problem of a person who is devoid of spirituality lies somewhere else. The problem of such a person lies in the fact that his efforts are one-dimensional. His problem is that his efforts are focused on one single area. And such a person will have to suffer the consequences. Today the American society is struggling around in the cesspit caused by this problem and its conditions will get worse. They will sink deeper. Historical events are not abrupt and they do not happen in 1, 5 or 10 years: it takes more than a hundred years for such events to take place. They are approaching their end and they are suffering from serious problems, but the purpose of this meeting is not to discuss their conditions. The conclusion is that we need to make efforts and work hard and I see this potential in you.

The points which were made by the dear friends - the esteemed chancellor and the professors and students who spoke in this meeting - are scholarly and professional demands and they are all valid. The demands they made are the same things that I have in mind. In my meetings with our government officials, I make the same demands. The fact that you made the same demands further highlighted the issue in a meeting that has been attended by our esteemed ministers. The importance of basic sciences and the issues relating to science and research are among the things that I have stressed on many occasions. Any country that has achieved something has done so through basic sciences.

The issue of research management is among the essential things that I wanted to discuss in the month of Ramadan in the meeting with our students or in the meeting with our professors - I do not remember exactly which meeting it was. But there was not enough time. I would like to discuss those things in this meeting. It is necessary to manage research. We always say that our research budget should increase from 0.47 percent to 3 percent, for example. We constantly discuss the quantitative aspect, which of course is necessary, but there is also the qualitative aspect. It is necessary to avoid parallel and needless effort in research. What is important is to give a particular weight to pure, applied and experimental research. One of our problems is that we fail to pay attention to the weights of these types of research. It is necessary to establish a center for research management and by Allah's favor, we will establish that center thanks to the efforts of our esteemed professors and students and the current hardworking and active administration.

As for the problems that our students and professors and the movement for equality are faced with, I confirm all the points which were raised in this meeting and I will take all the necessary actions which lie within the scope of my responsibilities. I will give all the necessary recommendations and by Allah's favor, the dear friends will act on my recommendations.

The point that I would like to raise is about a Quranic ayah. The ayah is a famous ayah: "Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition." [The Holy Quran, 13: 11] You are the ones who can give rise to change. The key to great social upheavals lies in your hands. This is the meaning of the ayah. Elsewhere in the Holy Quran, Allah the Exalted says, "This is because Allah has never changed a favor which He has conferred upon a people until they change their own condition." [The Holy Quran, 8: 53] This ayah, which is more specific than the previous ayah, is about regression. Allah the Exalted does not impose regression on any country unless the people of that country bring it on themselves. It is nations themselves that cause the kind of change which leads to regression. There are many other ayahs with similar meanings which refer to the same point. What is the gist of these ayahs? The gist of these ayahs is that human beings are directly responsible for the changes that take place in their societies. You are the ones who cause change. It is human willpower that plays a determining role in this regard.

It might be asked, "What is meant by human willpower? And whose willpower plays a role?" Of course, this is among the issues that require detailed discussion, but what I would like to say is that the willpower of each and every human being plays a role, not just in the case of personal matters but in the case of social matters as well. If we let our ambitions and passions take control of our actions, if our actions are not based on rationality and accurate calculations, this will cause a chain of negative developments in society. I would like to give you an example in this regard. You go to the marketplace to buy something: for example, an item of clothing, a household appliance or a pot. You find out that both foreign and domestic products are available to you. In the end you decide to buy the foreign product partially because of foreign advertisements, partially because you want to show off the foreign brand, partially because there is still a negative cultural attitude to domestic products and partially because the foreign product might be superior in terms of quality - after all, quality might be a factor too, but it does not play a significant role in your decision. What is the consequence of your decision? Basically, you take away an opportunity from an Iranian laborer and give it to a foreign laborer. Is unemployment not the main problem of our society today? What happens if all of us make this decision? What is the consequence? The consequence is that our factories go bankrupt, our laborers are laid off and finally our investors become disappointed. And unemployment results in addiction, corruption and conflicts in the family environment, which in turn lead to many political and social events. Everything starts from a small thing, from the voluntary decision of a person like you and I. Therefore, voluntary decisions of individuals can play a role in great social upheavals. Many such examples can be provided. A person might casually decide to take a puff on a friend's cigarette and this casual decision leads to dire consequences. The same is true of developing a tendency towards smoking, using addictive drugs and indulging in fleeting pleasures: these things result in a chain of calamitous and unending social developments, which finally lead to regression. The opposite is also correct.

Some mornings I go hiking in Tehran. I leave for the mountain when it is still dark. After the dawn prayer, the streets are not crowded. We always stop when the traffic light is red. And normally there are no cars in the streets, but we stop until the traffic light is green and then we drive on. Sometimes our motorcade stops at a crossroads and we see that a car is approaching on the other side and the driver seems to have decided to drive through the red light. He slowly drives onto the crosswalk, but when he sees that a few cars have stopped at a red light a couple of blocks ahead, he slowly stops the car and sometimes he even moves back a light. That is to say, social discipline of an individual plays a role in promoting the need for social discipline among other people. Our actions play a role in society. They play a role in promoting certain cultural norms and in many other areas. What is important is that individual decisions play a key role.

What is the meaning of change and why is it necessary? Is change inevitable? Yes, it is. Change in human communities is an inviolable divine law. Nobody can stop change in human communities because it is impossible to do so. Changes happen: it is just a matter of time. This is the secret behind the permanence and transcendence of humanity. Basically Allah the Exalted has created human beings in a way that they cannot remain stagnant. Probably this is one of the factors that distinguishes human beings from objects. Of course, even objects undergo change, but I do not want to discuss this point. I do not have the knowledge and I cannot make good judgments in this regard. Moreover, it is not related to the subject we are discussing. The point is that change is inevitable as far as human beings are concerned. It is wrong to confront change. It is wrong to deny change. It is necessary to welcome change in an appropriate way, the kind of change that I defined earlier.

What is the opposite of change? Stagnation. Stagnation is the opposite of change. Some people misunderstand and misinterpret change and stability. They confuse stagnation with social stability. Stagnation is bad. Social stability is good. Some people think that stagnation is the same as social stability. And some people confuse change with anarchism and chaos. These mistakes have caused some proponents of social stability to oppose all kinds of change, thinking that change will disrupt stability. On the other hand, there are some people who think that every change entails deconstruction and the questioning of all the accepted principles. In order to cause change, they undermine social stability and cause certain dangers. Both groups make such mistakes. Change is one thing and anarchism is something else. Change is one thing and chaos is something else, just as social stability is one thing and social stagnancy is something else. These things must not be confused with one another. The ideal situation is to have a stable society that does not suffer from stagnation, a society that quickly introduces the changes it needs.

How can we achieve this? By safeguarding our roots and principles, by avoiding deconstruction, by paying careful attention to our national identity, by holding our national identity in high regard. The collective identity of a nation is among the things that must remain intact. Apart from our national identity, we should also pay attention to our vibrancy, dynamism and freedom as well as to our spirit of competition, and we should hold these things in high regard. The requirement for this dynamism and vibrancy is that we should both offer and receive criticism because both are important. Some people are good at criticizing others and offering valid criticism. If you are curious and careful enough, you can always find flaws in everything. Nothing is wrong with this as long as the purpose of your criticisms is to help eliminate the flaws. But some of the people who are good at criticizing others are not open to criticism, and they are offended when somebody tells them, "Why are you always criticizing? Why do you just see the flaws? Try to see the positive points as well." Of course, the standard is the proportion of negative points to positive points. We have certain weaknesses, certain shortcomings and certain flaws. We also have certain strengths and certain positive points. What is important is the total sum of our strengths and our weaknesses. This is the standard. If our flaws are more than our strengths, it is bad. And if our strengths are more than our flaws, it is good. Therefore, both offering criticism and being open to criticism are good. These are the requirements for positive change and for making the conditions favorable in society. And these requirements should be accompanied by hope, hard work and planning and there should be an appropriate framework for change.

What are we going to do now? What are the consequences of the changes that we want to introduce? What are the replacements for the things that we want to change? These are important questions. And on this path, hard work is the first requirement. Therefore, it is possible to introduce change and preserve social stability at the same time. We only need to preserve the roots, the main structures and our national identity. When I say "national identity", I do not mean to contrast it with religion. On the contrary, every nation's identity consists of a set of cultural norms, beliefs, wishes and behaviors. Piety and religious faith are among the things that define the culture and identity of a pious nation that follows the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) household. Therefore, national identity includes religious characteristics as well and we should preserve these characteristics. It is necessary to make efforts in order to reform the parts, actions and methods that are problematic.

The opposite of this situation is when deconstruction, nihilism, behavioral and political chaos and the tendency to abandon national identity prevail in our society. This would be the opposite of what is favorable. It would be a movement that would work against what we have achieved and what we consider useful and necessary. Such a movement is wrong. When I was young, there were some people who wanted to demolish old buildings and replace them with modern buildings. This was at a time when western architectural movements were starting to dominate our country. The buildings with big windows that you see today started to appear at that time. I was surprised to see them demolish old but solid buildings. This was the case with my hometown, Mashhad. They used to destroy the buildings that were old but solid and they used to build houses using iron girders, cement, iron doors and big window frames. As it happens, our modern architects and engineers are saying that those old methods are more appropriate for our country and that these big windows that make the most of sunlight are good for Europe. This is because Europeans do not get a lot of sunlight, but this is not the case with our country, especially in certain parts of it. So why is it necessary to have big windows? Those small windows and wooden doors were good for us. Such actions are wrong and unwise.

In the case of essential and fundamental developments in society, we might act in the wrong way sometimes. We might forget our independent national identity instead of preserving the foundations, instead of insisting on providing what we lack and need. Unfortunately this long and tragic story goes back a long way in our country as well as in many other Islamic countries. I might briefly discuss this issue later on.

What is more dangerous than this is that the control of these international developments might fall into the hands of the wrong people. These people might decide to achieve their own personal goals - either wealth or power - by riding the wave of these international developments and changes. Such people do not have any respect for national identity. Unfortunately this has been the case in the world over the past 100, 150 years. That is to say, the developments in Asian, African and Latin American countries have fallen into the trap of the machinations designed by international gangs of power, by the Zionists and international capitalists. Therefore, what is important for these people is achieving political power so that they can infiltrate European and non-European governments and countries, accumulate wealth and establish big companies, cartels and trusts. This has been the goal of such people. Whenever it was necessary to spread moral corruption among the people, they would easily do that. Whenever it was necessary to promote consumerism among the people, they would easily do that. Whenever it was necessary to promote a tendency among the people to ignore national identity and cultural foundations, they would easily do that. These have been their major goals. They have always had a host of cultural and media facilities as well as numerous newspapers and different tools of propaganda. These things are being disclosed in the world little by little. Yesterday I read a newspaper article about the establishment of a "cultural NATO". Of course, I had seen the article three, four months earlier. The Americans established NATO - which is a powerful military organization - in Europe and they announced that they needed it to counter the former Soviet Union, but they have been using it to suppress all dissenting voices in the Middle East, Asia and other places. Now they have established a cultural NATO as well. This is a very dangerous thing. Of course, it is not a new development: they did this several years ago. A group of interconnected media outlets - including websites, satellite channels and TV and radio stations - are moving in a particular direction in order to take control of the developments that happen in different societies. And their work has become very easy and straightforward.

When a political transformation took place in Georgia, which led to a transfer of power, a Jewish American capitalist - who is famous, but I do not want to mention his name - announced that he had spent ten million dollars in Georgia in order to give rise to a political upheaval. As simple as that: they spend ten million dollars to remove a government from power and replace it with another government. They influence the people by establishing certain communities. They did the same in Ukraine as well as in other places. Sometimes they even play a more determining role in other ways. I might have said this before in a meeting with students: Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia who was a very hardworking, meticulous, serious and committed person, made a trip to Tehran years ago. He met with me on the trip. At that time, different developments had taken place in East Asia. Great economic transformations had taken place in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. The Zionist capitalist I mentioned earlier and other capitalists managed to make several countries go bankrupt with banking and financial games and schemes. In the meeting, Mahathir Mohamad told me, "Long story short, we lost everything overnight!" Of course, this is what happens when a country becomes economically dependent and tries to implement the prescriptions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are in fact two pieces of this big puzzle. If the control of global developments falls into the hands of international gangs of power, the situation becomes very dangerous. And this is what has happened today. The people who are in control of these developments are Zionists and capitalists most of whom live in America and Europe. These were a few points that I wanted to discuss regarding change. Therefore, it is wrong to run away from change. It is wrong to be afraid of change. Change must not be confused with chaos and anarchism. Change is both good and necessary.

The main point that I would like to raise today is that reactionary attitudes and suppressing innovation will not get us anywhere, and neither will unprincipled deconstruction and economic, ideological and cultural anarchy. Both of these are wrong. As for freedom of thought, I raised the issue two, three years ago and our students welcomed my comments about arranging free debates, but my suggestions were not really put into practice, neither in our Islamic seminaries, nor in our universities. I said that our students should arrange free debates. Of course, I just remembered that in reports related to the universities of Semnan, I read that active student communities in Semnan arrange free debates with each other. These activities are very constructive and good, assuming that the report I received is accurate.

It is necessary to open up the path of freedom of thought, innovation and change, but it is also necessary to manage them so that they do not result in deconstruction and do not undermine the foundations of our national identity. This requires appropriate management. Who should do this? Eyes might immediately turn to the government, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology or other organizations, but it is our outstanding personalities and elites who should manage these things. This management work is up to you. It is up to our active professors, students and student communities. Be careful. Go after novel ideas, but consider in a careful way the orientation of the ideas that are put forth. You should decide whether the ideas that are put forth are constructive or destructive. These two sets of ideas are completely different from one another. And this is a responsibility that lies on your own shoulders. Of course there is no doubt that people like me have certain responsibilities as well, but the main responsibility lies on your shoulders. Do not think that government officials like me might take over the responsibility for starting a movement for freedom of thought, a movement for change, a movement for taking courageous actions in different areas. This is a responsibility that should be shouldered by our students, professors and researchers. My role and responsibility is to tell you what is good. For example, I put forth the idea of starting a "software movement", a movement for production of knowledge. Ten years have passed since the time I put forth the idea and today a movement has started in the country. Who started the movement? I only spoke about it. It was you who did the rest. It was our researchers, youth and professors who did the rest. This is how change takes place.

Managing change is the duty that lies on the shoulders of outstanding intellectual and cultural figures in our society, our universities and our Islamic seminaries. We should neither suppress change, nor should we surrender to every change that comes our way. What is the purpose of introducing change? Achieving progress. And what is progress? We need to define progress.

The first question that we should ask ourselves is this: what is change? If this question does not occur to us, it would become clear that we are not really thinking about progress. Therefore, we first need to ask this question of ourselves and we need to search for the answer.

Different definitions have been put forth in the world for "progress". There are different kinds of definitions. There are fake prescriptions and contradictory and strange recommendations - which are even treacherous in some cases. This was the tragedy that happened to us when we started modernizing our country. When signs of European progress became clear to the Iranians, they started to think about what was happening in Europe. Before that, they had no idea what was happening in the world. Qajar kings were so busy with their harems and kitchens, with their personal problems and with so many insignificant issues that they had no idea what was happening in the world. Up until the time of Fathali Shah and even after that, they had no idea what renaissance was, how and why it had happened and what the consequences were. Later on a war broke out between Iran and Russia and because of the advanced weapons that the Russians had acquired, the Qajar Dynasty received a strong blow from them. It was only then that they decided to send a few people to Europe. And ambassadors of European countries found more freedom in Iran. Certain messengers and special agents were sent to Iran in order to prepare the ground for political infiltration. They brought their own methods with them. Who were the first people who were faced with the first wave of this so-called "modernity"? Princes and princesses, Qajar court officials and influential political personalities of the time. The majority of the people did not know anything, our religious scholars were not in the know, and other people were also in the dark. And except for a very limited number of individuals, these people were confused and awestruck when they were faced with European culture and the advances that had been made by Europe. They lost their self-confidence. They failed to think of making progress after they saw the advances that Europe had made. They failed to think wisely. What was the result? The result was that our highly respected intellectuals came to the conclusion that the Iranians had to be westernized from top to toe if they wanted to achieve progress. This is blind imitation. This was how they acted, and this trend continued until the time of the Pahlavi regime.

After the Pahlavi regime came to power, it introduced initiatives for westernization of Iran in order to speed up the process. Westerners were not satisfied with the level of westernization that had been achieved during the time of the Qajar Dynasty. In fact this was why they brought the Pahlavi regime to power, and they decided to let a number of Iranian intellectuals they trusted to help Pahlavi officials do what they were doing. The issue of banning hijab, the issue of changing our local costumes, the issue of de-Iranization of names by eliminating titles such as Mirza, Seyyed, Khan and Agha, the issue of making a large number of concessions to foreigners in areas relating to oil and the issue of inviting foreign advisors were part of the same plan. Later on after the English had removed Reza Khan from power, the Americans were literary in charge of everything in the country from the year 1332. This was what happened to us during the time of taghut and with the dangerous management that I explained earlier, they were moving towards the destruction of our roots. I wish they had received something in return. They did not gain anything in return for the concessions they made. For example, the Iranians did not even manage to establish a research center in the country and invent a couple of things during the long period of time that the English and westerners were in power - more than 60, 70 years. They did not manage to train enough number of scientists to come up with 2, 3 scientific inventions. They did not even benefit this much from the presence of foreigners. What did westerners want? They wanted consumers. Consumption of foreign products inevitably leads to consumption of cultural products and to political surrender. This was what they wanted and our officials and intellectuals did not even resist. This resulted in all the tensions, conflicts and challenges that happened during the time of the Qajar Dynasty from the Tobacco Protest to the time of Reza Khan and later. These conflicts took place between the camp of believers led by our religious scholars and the camp of oppressive rulers. In the case of the "Tobacco Regie" concession, Mirza-e Shirazi protested against giving foreigners a great source of national income. The same was the case with the Reuter concession and the Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919, an agreement that would have handed the country over to the English. It was Hassan Modarres, the great religious scholar, who protested against this agreement.

The same was true of the issue of nationalizing the oil industry, when Abol-Ghasem Kashani (peace be upon him) had to step in. The tensions that existed between religious scholars and rulers were along the lines that separated national interests from change that resulted from the decisions of foreigners. Therefore, foreign and western prescriptions are treacherous in some cases.

In order find the right prescription for progress, what do we need? Theoretical debates: this is one of the things that you should do. You should discuss what it means to achieve national progress. Of course, we should avoid falling into the trap of open-ended theoretical discussions and wasting our time on discussing theoretical matters without taking the realities of the outside world into consideration. I am not stressing such open-ended theoretical discussions. Such discussions are wrong in this case. Once I said that we were the target of cultural invasion. It was 12, 13 years ago. If I had been asked to show the instances and signs of cultural invasion, I could have easily showed the signs because it was as if I could literally see cultural invasion with my own eyes. And I pointed out the signs in a few speeches, but some people started to deny cultural invasion. They said, "No, there is no such thing as cultural invasion."

This reminds of Bani Sadr. At the beginning of the war with Iraq, the local people who cared about the country would go to him and tell him that the Iraqis had invaded our borders. We would go to him and say, "Mr. President, they say the Iraqis have invaded our country. Do you have any information in this regard?" He would say, "They are lying. Members of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps are saying these things in order to create opportunities for themselves." He would accuse those who were saying the Iraqis had attacked the country. Later on he traveled to Dehloran. When he arrived there, Dehloran had not been occupied yet. He stood in front of the camera and gave a live interview. He said, "I am in Dehloran. They say the Iraqis have occupied this place. Where are they?" Two hours after he had left, the Iraqis occupied Dehloran. We cannot just close our eyes and ignore the existing realities.

The contemporary king of Hafiz, Shah Sheikh Abu Ishaq - who was of course just a king, not a sheikh, and "Sheikh" was just part of his name - was a handsome and epicurean young man. We understand from the poems of Hafiz that he liked Sheikh Abu Ishaq very much. Amir Mubariz Eddin had deployed his troops in the desert around Shiraz in order to attack Sheikh Abu Ishaq. This was while the wretched king who was lost in revelry did not know what his enemy was planning to do and his vizier did not dare tell him anything in this regard. Even if the vizier had said something, the king would have criticized him for making baseless claims. The vizier thought of a trick. He told the king, "Does Your Majesty not want to climb to the roof and enjoy watching the desert around the city?" The king was the kind of person who would easily accept and say, "Why not? Let us go." They climbed to the roof of the palace. He took a look around and saw that the enemy troops had been deployed in the desert. He asked, "Who are they?" The vizier replied, "They are the troops of Mubariz Eddin Kermani, who is here to severely punish you and your court officials." With this trick, he showed the king that the enemy troops had camped outside the city. Some people are like this: they close their eyes to the truth.

As I said, at first they denied the existence of cultural invasion. Later on when they accepted the existence of cultural invasion, they went after theoretical discussions. "What is invasion?" "What is culture?" "What are the elements that make up culture?" These were the types of questions that they asked. How are these questions related to our problem? There is a story that a cinema opens up in a city. Some people decide to go to the religious scholar of the city, a recluse, and try to convince him to protest against the cinema. They tell him, "A cinema has been built in this city, Your Eminence. You should do something." The religious scholar thinks for a moment and says, "What is the exact pronunciation of the word 'cinema'?" Thus, they embark on a discussion to specify the exact pronunciation of the word "cinema". Personally I do not sanction getting lost in such theoretical discussions.

However, it is necessary to have some theoretical discussions in order to clarify what progress depends on. It is necessary to specify a paradigm for progress. We need to specify a paradigm for progress. This will affect our plans, priorities, timetables and investments. Such a paradigm will specify the norms. It will reveal itself in the statements of our outstanding personalities and will seep into public opinion. It will even affect our imports and exports. It will affect decisions regarding where to export what and what to import from where.

Imagine that we want to specify what progress is. There are certain definitions for "progress" and "advanced country" which are commonly accepted in the world. We accept the majority of these definitions. We do not reject them. For example, it has been pointed out that industrialization is a defining characteristic of an advanced country. Another defining characteristic is self-sufficiency. An advanced country should be self-sufficient in essential and vital areas. This is not to say that an advanced country does not at all need other countries. No, this is not the case. However, even if an advanced country depends on another country for a particular product, it should regulate its relations in a way that it does not face any problems. For example, it should produce something that is needed by the country it depends on for that particular product. This is self-sufficiency. Other defining characteristics include producing many different products, exporting a wide range of products, increasing productivity, promoting education, raising public awareness, improving social services and increasing the rate of what is currently known as "life expectancy". These are among the defining characteristics and signs of progress. Decreasing the rate of infant mortality, eradicating different diseases, improving communications and other such things are among the characteristics that are said to define an advanced country.

We do not reject these standards. We accept them. However, you should pay attention to the fact that when they present these standards to us, they try to pass off certain things that are irrelevant to progress and development. They put forth certain things that have been designed to export their cultural norms, norms that run against the culture and national identity of the countries of destination and create a tendency for dependence. The majority of those who have prepared these standards and are presenting them to developing countries are scholars, but many of them are not independent people. That is to say, many scholars, intellectuals, artists and men of letters are affiliated with "cultural NATO" I explained earlier. Change must be based on the main elements of national identity, and essential national ideals are the most important elements among them. Achieving industrialization and going beyond, achieving scientific progress and making progress in the area of social services and health: these things are necessary. But national identity should be the basis in all this. A country that enjoys all these characteristics, but fails to preserve its national identity, is culturally dependent on other countries, fails to preserve its cultural legacies, loses sight of its past and loses respect for its past - such a country will never make progress because national identity is the basis of all progress.

As far as change - change that leads to progress - is concerned, what I have in mind is fighting poverty, fighting discrimination, fighting maladies, fighting ignorance, fighting insecurity, fighting lawlessness, having scientifically tested management, promoting social discipline among citizens, improving security, increasing national wealth, promoting knowledge, increasing national glory, promoting ethics and increasing national dignity. All of these things are related to change and progress in the appropriate sense of the word and we consider them as the main pillars. Besides these factors, love for spirituality and a close relationship with God is the most important factor that ensures genuine progress for a nation. If we fail in these areas, all the things that are commonly considered as achievements in the area of progress may be diverted towards the wrong purposes. That is to say, a country might have social discipline and observe the norms of politeness, it might accumulate wealth and acquire knowledge, but at the same time it might use its social discipline and its wealth and knowledge to destroy another nation. As far as we are concerned, this is wrong. This goes against our principles. It is wrong for such a nation to use its knowledge to build such weapons as nuclear bombs, which do not discriminate between those who are innocent and those who are not and between those who are armed and those who are not. A nuclear bomb does not discriminate between infants and others. It kills everybody indiscriminately. We do not sanction knowledge that is put to this purpose and change that leads to these consequences. We do not approve of such change.

It is necessary to strengthen monotheism, love for spirituality and human emotions whenever a change is made. We should move ahead in this direction. The kind of social or economic change that makes people indifferent to each other is not praiseworthy. Such changes are forbidden. We hear that in certain western countries, a father and his child may be living in the same city, but they do not ask after each other, not even once a year. Members of a family do not come together. Children are deprived of fatherly and motherly love. Husbands and wives live together only because of a temporary contract, a contract that legally binds them together. The wife works in a certain place and the husband works in the different place. One comes home at 8 p.m. and the other at 10 p.m. And after work, one has to meet a friend and the other has an appointment with a colleague. If the things we hear are correct, they are signs of regression, not progress. We do not sanction the kind of change that leads to such things. We want the kind of change that creates more affection between fathers, mothers, families, children, friends and neighbors.

You should consider as your neighbor a person who lives forty houses away from you. This is good. The social environment should be full of mercy and love. All the people who live in the same society should feel responsible towards each other. "Surely all of you have subjects and you are responsible towards your subjects." This means that the people who live in a society are responsible towards each other. The kind of change that leads to such things in society is progress. This is the kind of progress that Islam and the Islamic Republic have in mind. The kind of progress that is individualistic and pleasure-based is not progress. The industrialized western world is based on this foundation of indulging in pleasures of the flesh. And the only condition is that the rights of other people should not be violated. Anything that you like is permissible. You are allowed to indulge in pleasures of the flesh. It is for this reason that this shameful reasoning has permeated churches as well. Homosexuality - the despicable things that homosexuals do and the unprincipled sexual relationships that are common among them - used to be a secret one day, but this is no longer the case today. Two, three years ago, the priest of a church in America announced that he was prepared to marry homosexuals to each other. This is hedonism and the logic is this: "I like it, so I should do it." This is forbidden and rejected. We do not consider this a sign of progress.

It is not our goal to achieve the kind of power that is based on oppressing other nations, the kind of power that is gained at the cost of keeping other nations backward, the kind of progress and change that is at the service of a certain social class - which is currently the case with western countries. How is wealth distributed among the people of the countries with high per capita income, the countries with high gross domestic product? How much does each citizen get in return for how much work? They usually leave these questions unanswered. In order to earn a living, both the husband and the wife have to work day and night without being able to make ends meet, but great capitalists - Rockefellers, Fords and those who have recently joined them - have mountains of wealth, incalculable wealth. These things are not our goal. The kind of progress that is at the service of capitalists is regression. The kind of progress that is accompanied by loss of national and individual identity is not progress.

Imitation and promotion of imitation are not progress. Making the economy dependent, acquiring knowledge that is based on imitation, developing an excessive tendency towards translation in universities: these things are not progress. It is wrong to translate what is written in western and European countries and to accuse the opponents of speaking against science. These things are not progress. We do not consider these things as progress. This is not to say that we reject translation. I have repeatedly said in academic environments that translation is very good. Learning from others is good. But we should translate so that we can create: this should be the goal of translation. We should understand what other people say so that we can put forth novel ideas. We should not just listen to what other people have been saying. It is not a sign of progress if our professors proudly quote a statement which was made by a writer, a philosopher or a fake social philosopher regarding a particular social issue. It is a sign of regression. Undermining national language, destroying national identity and playing with models - rather than presenting models - are not progress. We do not consider becoming dependent and being westernized as progress.

We should learn whatever we need from whoever that is available to us, and we should apply what we have learnt. We should carry out different research projects in order to contribute to collective human knowledge. We should engage in basic research. We should engage in applied and empirical research in order to introduce new technologies or improve the existing technologies. In the area of managerial training, we should learn from the advances that have been made in the world, and we should re-analyze and re-interpret what we learn on the basis of local considerations. We should research the social problems that exist in the country and we should try to find the causes of these problems. We should try to find ways of fighting extravagance. Extravagance is a social malady. We should find ways of fighting consumerism. We should find ways of fighting the tendency towards foreign products. These things require research. Carry out research projects in universities. Our professors and students should work on these projects and report the results to our government officials. You should make the results available to the media so that you can reform our cultural norms. This would be true progress.

What are the ways in which we can fight the spread of unprincipled western behavior? What are the ways in which we can confront lack of social discipline? Driving through red lights is a small example in this regard. What should we do to prevent our motorcycles and taxis and our CEOs and government officials from driving through red lights at our crossroads? What should we do to prevent our pedestrians from crossing the street when the traffic light tells them not to? It is very good to observe these things. They reduce accidents and make life easier. They create a general sense of peace.

Now that we have come up against a problem, how should we solve it? How should we deal with it? This is a responsibility that lies on your shoulders. What are the ways in which we can fight divorce? What are the ways in which we can fight drugs? What are the ways in which we can prevent young people from disrespecting their elders? Fortunately this problem is not very prevalent in our society, but it might happen in certain places. What are the ways in which we can prevent children from ignoring their mothers and fathers? What are the ways in which we can fight lying and lack of tolerance? Why do we fail to tolerate each other? Why do we constantly find fault with each other? In an environment where people enjoy the same orientation, a small problem and disagreement turns different groups of people against each other.

Based on my personal experience since the beginning of the Revolution, I would tell you that the majority of the problems that led to the branching of our political movements in the country were of this type. And unfortunately each new movement branched off further later on. Some people supported leftists and some other people supported rightists. I do not remember exactly, but I think it was in the year 1362 or 1363 that I presented a detailed analysis and proved that the disagreements between our rightists and leftists were similar to the disagreements that existed between ancient Arab tribes. A tribe was opposed to another tribe and the basis was neither economic nor ideological. For example, a horse that belonged to one of the tribes had grazed on the lands that belonged to the other tribe, causing two people from the two tribes to argue or fight, possibly one of them giving the other a nosebleed. Such small problems used to turn Arab tribes against each other and make them enemies forever. I proved that the disagreements which existed between our rightists and leftists were of this type.

Disagreements relating to emotions and behaviors had led to the branching off of our political movements. Of course, this is no longer the case today. There are some people who are bitterly opposed to the Islamic Republic. They might speak in different ways, shout different slogans or carry different flags, but they are all opposed to the existence of the Islamic Republic and this is not because they can put forth better systems that can replace the Islamic Republic. They are opposing the Islamic Republic by promoting the same things that the Islamic Republic emerged to fight. The Islamic Republic came to power in order to reject the hegemony of the west and America. But these people support western hegemony. The Islamic Republic came to power in order to promote religion, spirituality and Islamic concepts. This is while these people are basically opposed to the spread of such things. The Islamic Republic shouted the slogan of reconciling religion with politics. This is while these people are basically opposed to reconciling religion with politics. Among the like-minded people who have the same orientation, one can see that there are certain disagreements which are similar to the tribal disagreements I discussed earlier. I do not want to discuss whether they are few or many in number and I do not want to discuss who they are, but such disagreements exist. What are the ways in which we can fight this lack of tolerance? This requires pure research. You need to do theoretical work and apply the results. This is progress. Progress partially depends on these things.

Now I would like to summarize the points I made. First, it is wrong to fight change. Second, we should welcome change. Third, not only should we refrain from fighting change, but we should also welcome change. Fourth, it is necessary to manage change. When introducing change, we should aim for progress and transcendence. The kind of change that leads to regression is bad. Fifth, we should not confuse change with anarchism, deconstruction and chaos. Finally, the pillars of the kind of change that we want to introduce should not be the same as the standards of progress that are commonly accepted in the world. It is necessary to include the standards that are particular to the Islamic Republic and Islam in the area of ethics, spirituality, divine understanding, philanthropy and human emotions and bonds. We should promote these things as the standards of progress. And this is a responsibility that lies on the shoulders of our outstanding personalities in universities and Islamic seminaries. This responsibility lies on the shoulders of you dear youth and those who are prepared to step into this arena. However, you should not wait for people like me, people who are at least 50 years older than you. You are young. You are extremely energetic and dynamic. The responsibility lies on your shoulders and the future belongs to you. Therefore, you should not wait for us. You should take action. Your professors should take action. And our government officials should be aware and vigilant. Notice that if you are determined to follow up these things, you should be a good manager. Pay attention to the standards I discussed earlier. This is like a minefield. Our path is safe, but it goes through a minefield and there are mines on both sides. Therefore, you should move forward on the right path, the path that is safe.

Dear God, bestow Your mercy and grace on these young hearts and vibrant souls. Dear God, accept what we said and heard from us and make it serve Your cause. Dear God, help us put into action what we believe in and what we say. Ally our actions with understanding and our understanding with actions. Dear God, enlighten the hearts of these pious youth on a daily basis with the light of Your love, understanding, mercy and grace. Dear God, help these youth achieve their great wish and goal of meeting the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake).

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings