Leader's Speech to Outstanding Women on Fatima Zahra's (s.a.) Birthday Anniversary

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on July 4, 2007 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with outstanding women on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of Fatima Zahra (s.a.).

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

First, I would like to congratulate you dear sisters on the auspicious birthday anniversary of Fatima Zahra (s.a.), the great and outstanding lady in human history. I also congratulate you dear people and my dear daughters and sisters on the coincidence of this great day with the birthday anniversary of our dear and magnanimous Imam (r.a.). That honorable and great man also played a pivotal role in broadening our outlook on Islamic principles in all areas such as areas related to women.
Today's meeting has been a good meeting. In my opinion, this meeting was a very good, valuable and warm meeting both for me and for those who will know about this meeting later on and who will hear the news about it. I listened to the statements of the honorable ladies in this meeting for nearly two hours, which was the main purpose of this meeting. That is to say, this meeting was held for two purposes. One was to encourage outstanding women of the country to speak explicitly about a number of issues which, in their opinion, are important - particularly issues related to women. And this purpose was achieved. All the speeches which were made today contained good, strong, reasonable, organized and professional viewpoints on issues which were discussed. This was very valuable and interesting to me. I have written down a summary of the points that the ladies raised. By Allah's favor, I will benefit from these points later on. The issues which were discussed, particularly a number of them, were very meaningful and remarkable. This was the first purpose of this meeting.

The second purpose is a symbolic outlook on this meeting. As I have said many times, the world owes us an explanations as far as the issue of women is concerned. Currently, organizations which are affiliated with the United Nations, other organizations or such and such a group of journalists can question the issue of hijab and other such issues in the name of human rights and they can claim to be right. But this does not change the truth regarding this issue. The world owes us an explanation. By "the world", I mean the western world. It is us who address the world and say, "You have betrayed humanity, in general, and women, in particular. You have done this by dragging men and women into sexual corruption, provoking them into indulging their sexual desires in an unprincipled way in society and bringing women into the arena by making them display their nude bodies. It is clear that women are the beautiful part of humanity. This beautiful part of humanity has been naturally blessed with modesty. This is the nature of this delicate and beautiful part. Taking away this modesty and arousing this desire - the sexual desire of both men and women which should be satisfied in a principled way - in a chaotic way are the biggest treacherous moves made primarily against women and secondarily against the entire humanity. This has been done by western policies.

Of course, it is them who suffered the first and the greatest harm. Now, the issue of homosexuality is a terrible disaster in the western world. Of course, they try to cover it up. But the truth is that, today, it has turned into a great and incurable disaster for their intellectuals. They know no way out of it. These are the consequences of moving forward in such a way, promoting such immodest discourse about sexual issues and the relationship between men and women, using women - that is to say, the beautiful, delicate and modest part of creation - for advertising and improving one's professional position and using her smile, beauty, body and face for advertizing such and such a product and for earning money. It is natural.
These things have been done by the western world. These things have happened because of western policies. These things have nothing to do with divine religions. These things have nothing to do with Christianity and Judaism. These things have happened because of western policies which have been implemented throughout the world since about 150 years ago - I cannot give an exact date in this regard.

Take a look at the literature of European countries and their outlook on woman during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their outlook on women during this time is radically different from the one during the 20th century represented in their literature. At that time, they adopted a more modest outlook on the woman and it was more compatible with the nature of men and women. It becomes clear that today, this policy has been adopted by the Zionists and colonialist regimes. This requires research. This policy has been gathering strength on a daily basis and it has taken its current form. Therefore, the western world should answer why this has happened because they have harmed women, violated their rights, undermined their value and betrayed them in the name of supporting them. This is our point.

Regarding Islamic laws, a number of ladies raised certain points which are true. In these areas, there is room for research and work. I agree with what the ladies said about the fact that we have not carried out good, detailed and high-quality research the way we should in the face of opposing views, particularly feminist views. Here, I recommend that research institutes, universities, Islamic seminaries and experts work on this area. I call on all of them to do this. It is a very important issue. If, in our country, we work on the issue of women in an efficient way, this will be a genuine service to all women throughout the world. A group of people may appreciate the value of this service today and others may appreciate it after the passage of many years. But if we work well, this will be a great service to women.

What I want to mention is two, three brief points which I have written down. I will discuss these points.

One is that the existence of this group of outstanding women in different areas signifies the success of the Islamic outlook on women. Not all outstanding women have gathered here. You are representatives of outstanding women throughout our country. We did not have so many outstanding women during the time of taghut. This is my claim and I stick to it. Today, the absolute and relative number of female researchers, professors, scientists, intellectuals - who work in different areas and who are experts in those areas - poets and artists such as fiction writers, poets and painters is far larger than the number of such women during the time of taghut. The time of taghut was a period of time when they had destroyed hijab and the belief in the necessity of a distance between men and women and they used to promote decadence on a daily basis. Even in certain cases, their actions were more excessive and worse than European countries.

Today, in the Islamic Republic, we have such a large number of scientific and political personalities and cultural and artistic experts who wear hijab, chador and headscarves. At that time, we did not even have a small number of such women. There were very few women who were like this. This proves a theory which is exactly the opposite of the one which they were trying to establish. This theory is that not only promoting such decadence does not help women strengthen their spirituality and develop their capacities, but it also makes them busy with such things as cosmetics and the trouble that they bring about. This prevents women from moving towards perfection and transcendence.

In the Islamic system, the limitation regarding the relationship between men and women is based on the nature of women. It is both a limitation for men - in certain ways - and for women in certain other ways. It helps them not to waste their energy. It helps them to channel their energy into the right way. This will lead to growth in intellectual and scholarly areas as well as in areas relating to daily life issues. This is the first point. It used to be said, "Is it possible for women to achieve growth by observing hijab and Islamic rules. How is the issue of women going to be resolved in the Islamic system?" One clear response to this claim is the existence of this large number of outstanding women in our society. Such good conditions had never existed in our country. Neither during the time of taghut nor before that - when education in our country had certain other shortcomings - did such good conditions exist in our country. Thankfully, today, such conditions prevail in the Islamic Republic. The fact that a larger number of outstanding women are active in universities and other such places is of secondary importance. The most important issue is that, in the Islamic Republic, this group of outstanding women have managed to show their capabilities in different areas.

Another point is that in our country we see a number of female and male activists try to mess around with and alter Islamic rules related to the issue of women in order to coordinate their activities with global conventions. This is wrong. I do not want to say that all the issues that have been addressed in Islamic jurisprudence regarding the rules related to women are definitive. It is possible that a specific fiqhi rule related to women, which may be well-established today, will undergo certain changes thanks to research carried out by a skilled Islamic jurisprudent. It is alright. This is possible and it has already happened. On the issue of women's inheritance from land or immovable property - which the lady referred to - the fiqhi opinion of outstanding personalities in the past and our fiqhi opinion in the present time is that although land cannot be inherited by women, they should be given an amount of money equivalent to the price of that piece of land. And there is nothing wrong with this. Therefore, on fiqhi issues, such a thing is possible and they can be changed.

But on such issues, what should be done is to carry out research. It should be carried out by a skilled Islamic jurisprudent who has a good command of fiqhi principles. And he should do it by drawing on fiqhi methods. It cannot be done by a person who makes alterations to Islamic rules at will in order to coordinate with such and such a global treaty or convention. The people who define these conventions are different from the people who live in this country according to Islamic principles and who believe in Islamic principles. They have completely different viewpoints. Therefore, it is wrong to do this. Such a course of action is not defensible. Undoubtedly, these are the rules that have been established on the basis of Islamic obligations and Islamic fiqh, and they are true. This can be confirmed through careful investigation.

Those of you dear sisters who are active in promoting the issues of women and who see certain shortcomings should not think that the way to eliminate these shortcomings is to make alterations to Islamic obligations. Those Islamic obligations which have been established on the basis of research and which are compatible with Islamic principles are impeccable. They are compatible with what is expedient. Just because a certain decision has been made in such and such a global convention or meeting and just because a so-called global convention has been defined, we should not make alterations to our Islamic jurisprudence and we should not change our own ideas because of a narrow-minded outlook that is mixed with fear. In my opinion, this is not the right course of action.

Another point, which was discussed in the speeches of the sisters in this meeting, is that the most important issue related to women is the issue of the family and the role of women as a member of the family. In my opinion, among all the roles that a woman can occupy, this is the most important role. Of course, some people immediately disagree with such statements and they say, "You want to enslave and imprison women at home and prevent them from being present in different arenas of life." This is not at all our intention. Islam does not want this either. Islam says, "The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil." [The Holy Quran, 9: 71] That is to say, all male and female believers play their part in counseling people to do good and advising them against evil in order to preserve social structures. Islam has not excluded women. We cannot exclude them either. The responsibility of managing the Islamic society and helping it to make progress lies on the shoulders of everybody including men and women. Based on their capabilities, each is responsible in a certain way. The argument is not whether women can have a responsibility outside home or not. Of course, they can do this. There is no doubt about this. The Islamic outlook does not at all reject this. The argument is whether women have the right to ignore their role in the family for the sake of all the interesting and enjoyable things that they can have outside the family environment. Can women ignore their role as mothers and wives? Do they have the right to do that? It is this role that we focus on. I would tell you that the most important role that a woman - at any level of knowledge, literacy and spirituality - can adopt is her role as a mother and a wife.
This role is more important than all her other roles. This is the role that no one except for a woman can adopt. Even if she has another important responsibility - and she can have another responsibility - she should regard this responsibility as her main and primary responsibility. The survival of mankind, its growth and the development of its talents depend on this responsibility. The psychological health of society depends on this. One's peace and tranquility in the face of tension, anxiety and nervousness depends on this. We should not forget this responsibility.

Making women do masculine work is not an achievement. The woman has a feminine duty and the value of such a duty is higher than all masculine duties. Today, highly suspicious movements have created a wave of anti-values in the world. It exists everywhere. Unfortunately, it can be seen in different corners of our country. They want to turn women into men. They think that it is beneath the dignity of a woman to refuse to do the things that a man does. Is this beneath her dignity? The outlook that exists on this issue is a wrong outlook. They think it is wrong for us to say that a woman is a woman and a man is a man. Well, is it not so? Do you want us to say that a woman is a man? In such conditions, a woman will turn into an artificial man and a copy of men. What kind of achievement is this for a woman? A woman can achieve pride by being a woman, a complete woman and a complete female. If we want to determine which values are noble, not only is this value - the value of being a complete woman - not lower than the value of being a complete man, but it is definitely greater and more important in certain cases. Why should we stop holding on to this?

Of course, there are certain responsibilities which are common to men and women. As I said, the responsibility of being present in society, knowing the problems that exist in society and making an effort to solve them is not particular to men or women. Women cannot evade this responsibility either. Although women should do something in this regard - they should definitely carry out their responsibilities in this arena and there are no limitations to stop them - their special responsibility is also important. This is the duty which has been assigned to women by Allah the Exalted because of their nature.

Anyway, you are the outstanding women of our country, both those of you who are at the beginning of this path - such as the ones who are students or the ones who have just started to work - and those who have been working and making efforts for several years. You should know that our women have a heavy responsibility. The heavy responsibility that you have today is to change the wrong outlook on the issue of men and women. Today, the kind of outlook that the western world tries to promote is a wrong outlook. It is an improper outlook. This will lead to the destruction of many values in human societies. Examples of this destruction can be seen today. And in societies like ours, this is more obvious. You should change this outlook. Of course, I should add that western slogans and intellectual fabrications regarding women have not at all managed to prevent cruelties that have been inflicted - and are still being inflicted - on women throughout history, whether inside or outside home. Given that it is possible to put an end to oppression against women - this oppression exists because of certain natural causes and human behavior - one can only do it in the shade of morality and law and by improving male patterns of behavior. But today, such a thing does not at all exist in the west. Harassing women, exerting different sexual pressures and inflicting psychological harm on women are done far more frequently in the west than in our own country and in countries about which we have enough information to make a judgment. Therefore, they could not solve that problem. On the other hand, they created so many disasters.

We should adopt a comprehensive outlook on the issue of women and such an outlook exists in Islam. Attaching importance to feminine nature and behavior are noble values for a woman. A woman does not at all consider being like a man as a value. Similarly, being like a woman is not considered a value for men. Each has a certain role. Each occupies a certain position and each has a special nature. God Almighty had a certain goal in creating them the way they are and this goal should be achieved. This issue is important.

Today, you ladies can play your part in this area. You should carry out research and write about this issue. You should promote this idea and prove it in practice. Of course, as I have said many times that unfortunately in our societies - that is to say, Islamic societies and our own Iranian society - there is injustice, just like western societies, in the family between men and women. This injustice mainly happens in the family. This should be prevented. Part of this injustice can be prevented through advice. And part of it cannot be prevented in such a way. It should be prevented with legal actions. Women are oppressed. Since men have more capabilities in terms of physical strengths and a number of other qualities, they misuse their capabilities and bully women. This should be prevented. This is possible by enforcing the law. Of course, as I said before, it is also possible by modifying the behavior of men.

In my opinion, more work should be carried out on the relationship between men and women from the viewpoint of Islamic laws and Islamic ethics. Some people are pious, but their piety does not make them change their wrong behavior and stop bullying because they are not completely familiar with Islamic concepts and they do not know the moral rules about the relationship between men and women in Islam. They are both pious and overbearing. This should be changed. Islamic ethics regarding the relationship between men and women, particularly inside the family, should receive more attention. Of course, the issue of hijab is very important. I consider the issue of hijab as really important. The issue of hijab reveals its significance in an indirect way. For example, it reveals itself on the issue of family.

In any case, I am very happy to have met you today. I thank God for all these good sisters who are active in these arenas. You are interested in thinking and working. I hope that God will increase your achievements on a daily basis.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings