Leader’s Speech to Academics and Students of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on January 19, 2006 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with academics and students of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Congratulations to all you dear people - the spiritual youth who are the hope of our country - on this Eid. Also, I extend my congratulations to Mr. Mahdavi Kani, both on the occasion of this Eid and for his success in carrying out the heavy responsibility he has been shouldering for years. I would also like to extend my congratulations to you dear youth, both boys and girls, who enjoy this level of scholarly knowledge and religious faith and who are following this path in a determined way, which is in itself a very significant achievement and this is what matters.

The blows and humiliation we have suffered so far are due to the fact that this determination, this motivation and this outlook as well as this determination to follow this path were missing from the minds and hearts of competent and unified groups of people. Even if there were exceptions, they were not in the form of a unified group. Therefore, there were outstanding achievements as well as failures, but there was no progress. Forming a unified and highly motivated group is a great achievement.

All the statements that you made - both what Mr. Mahdavi stated and what you dear brothers and sisters said - were enjoyable and pleasant for me. At the end, the sweet subject of marriage was raised by one of the friends! I pray to Allah the Exalted to bestow the blessing of happy marriages upon all you unmarried youth.

Let me now mention a point about Ghadir. The issue of Ghadir is not something that only we Shia Muslims believe in. This is not the case. From a historical perspective on Islam and on the historical developments of the early Islamic era, the issue of Ghadir - namely the need to choose a successor for the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) - was a necessity. And if this issue had been addressed the way it had been ordained by Allah the Exalted and explained by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), there is no doubt that the course of human history would have changed and we would be more advanced than we currently are.

An opportunity was created by the Seal of Prophets (s.w.a.) to implement a school of thought and a comprehensive system for fulfilling human needs. It was a great miracle that the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) managed to actualize this system in the most difficult conditions. The fact that this system was actualized in one of the worst places shows that it could have been actualized in all human communities of that time and afterwards. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) managed to put this idea into practice and he actualized it in the most difficult conditions. If the qualitative and quantitative growth and spread of this divine being - namely, the Islamic community - had been maintained for ten, twelve generations, then this movement would have certainly remained invincible throughout history. However, this does not mean that human beings would not have had to wait to achieve their ultimate goal. If, as had been commanded by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), the Commander of the Faithful had been succeeded by Imam Hassan followed by Imam Hussein and the other infallible Imams, definitely human beings would still have had to wait for a while before building the ideal society. But if the infallible Imams and their trustworthy and competent hands could have maintained that movement, the course of human history would have changed.

Today human beings have the same needs as they did five thousand years ago. The fundamental needs of humanity have not changed at all. At that time, human beings were suffering from oppressive powers. Today if you look at the oppressive and destructive powers and their influence in the world, you will notice that human beings are still suffering from the same thing. At that time, the greatest need of human beings was justice, and their most serious problem was injustice. And today you see that injustice is still the greatest problem of human beings in the world. It is a mistake to think that in the past human beings did not feel the need for the existing personal freedoms - which have been presented to mankind by Western liberal democracy. The same need existed in the past as well. The present forms of personal freedom existed in many parts of the world during different historical eras. The same restrictions that have shackled human volition today existed in the past, but in a more visible form. The net which has been wrapped around human willpower, actions and life, is more subtle today: it is made from thinner wires today and it has been spread with more skill. Such skill did not exist at that time, and things were less subtle and more physical.

Therefore, human needs have not changed. If the prophetic mission had continued and developed both qualitatively and quantitatively in an appropriate way, today humanity would have addressed these needs. It is possible that many other new needs would have emerged, needs that are currently unknown to us. Those needs might have emerged, but the existing primitive needs would have been addressed. Today human beings and human communities are still dealing with the most primitive needs. There is the problem of starvation. There is the problem of discrimination, which is not scarce, rather it is widespread and prevalent. And this problem is not particular to a specific place: it is everywhere. There is the problem of bullying. There is the problem of unjustifiable domination by one group of human beings over another group. These problems are exactly the same afflictions that existed in a different form two, four thousand years ago.

Today human beings are suffering from the same problems, only in a different form. Ghadir was the beginning of the process that could have helped humanity grow out of this stage of development and enter into a new stage. Then more delicate and superior needs and far nobler affections and demands would have emerged as the major challenges facing humanity. The path to progress is not blocked to human beings. Human beings might continue living on earth for thousands or millions of years. The longer human beings live on earth, the more progress they will make. However, today the main foundations have been damaged. These foundations were laid by the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.w.a.) and he chose successors in order to safeguard these foundations, but violations were committed. Had it not been for the violations, a different outcome would have been achieved. This is what Ghadir is. Over the two hundred and fifty years from the departure of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) up to the departure of Imam Hassan Askari - the era of the infallible Imams - whenever the Imams prepared themselves to follow the path that had been specified by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), they were stopped for different reasons. At the current stage, we have stepped in to make determined efforts in the same direction, which by Allah's grace and favor, will continue in the best possible way.

Now I would like to discuss the issues that are related to students. After all, this meeting is a meeting with university students. As far as I am concerned, meetings that are arranged with our students are among the most enjoyable meetings. In the remaining quarter of an hour, I will discuss three points with you as university students, as students of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University in particular and as the ones who will probably manage the affairs of this university in the future. The rest of the students of this university will probably undertake duties at other sensitive centers in society.

With regard to your status as university students, I will tell you the same things that I tell all our university students. My dear ones, today there are some people in the world who have resorted to bullying and coercion. They act against international regulations and adopt the most insolent positions in the world of international interaction among peoples and governments. Not only do they not feel ashamed of what they do, but they also hold up their heads. Why? Because they are powerful. They have economic as well as political power, which is the result of their economic power. More importantly, they have scientific power, which is the source of all other kinds of power. That is to say, their scientific power is the source of their economic and political power. In this part of the world, we have many things to say. We say what we have to say in a courageous way and we prove the truth of our reasoning in rational debates and in practice. This is because religious faith has been bestowed on our nation and it will make progress proportional to its level of faith. That is to say, the enemies have failed in their plans against our nation.

However, there is something else that we need - namely, international power - so that we can continue following this path appropriately and comprehensively without any concerns and achieve our own goals. How can we achieve this power? How can we achieve this economic, political and cultural power? The basis for achieving this power is scientific power. It is through scientific power that a nation can make its voice heard in the world. It is through scientific power that a nation can gain the upper hand in the world of politics. A successful economy can be built afterwards. Money is a byproduct of power. This is the way things are in the contemporary world: science can be turned into money, thereby helping a nation become economically powerful. This shows the position of science. We fell behind in science - not just during the fifty-year reign of the Pahlavi regime, but also afterwards. However, during the reign of the Pahlavi regime, the country was rendered helpless in terms of scientific knowledge. Due to its significance, this issue requires a separate discussion from a historical and social perspective. The Qajar and Pahlavi eras were manifestations of this scientific backwardness. We are now trying to bridge this widening gap. It is the responsibility of universities - not just Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University, but all our universities - to fill this scientific gap. You should acquire as much knowledge as you can.

In a meeting with the High Council of Cultural Revolution, I told the gentlemen who are important personalities in cultural areas that they play the role of cultural engineers in the country. I said in the meeting that there are two major areas: humanities and basic sciences, each having its own importance. When we emphasize humanities, it does not mean that we do not attach importance to mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. I strongly stress those areas as well. There are certain scholars who are working in those fields of study, and there should also be scholars and researchers who work on humanities. It is necessary to make intellectual, scientific, financial and publicity investments on these two major areas - namely, humanities and basic sciences. You should pursue science at the highest level.

There is no doubt that many areas of humanities have solid foundations in our country - in our culture and history. Some other areas of humanities have been introduced by the West. In other words, these areas did not exist as separate fields of study in the past, but Westerners worked on them and helped them develop into separate fields of study. Psychology is one example in this regard. Well, we too need a framework to give structure to our knowledge and experience and to compile and organize what we have developed. We also need to develop a scientific framework for the areas and principles that Westerners have developed and introduced.

However, borrowing principles from a field of study that lies outside our accepted frameworks does not mean that we have accepted the output of that field of study as well. This would be like importing a production line which was used to manufacture a bad product but which is now used to produce a good product. Nothing is wrong with this. Combining Western and Islamic approaches to humanities is acceptable to us, providing that this does not lead to being enchanted, fascinated, defeated and passively impressed by Western approaches. Pay attention to what your religious ideology and your great and profound heritage tell you as far as humanities are concerned.

Currently, Westerners have created a forbidden zone in different areas of humanities, ranging from economics and politics to sociology, psychology, history, literature, arts and philosophy, even philosophy of religion. A number of weak individuals have been fascinated by them and their eyes are fixed on their mouths, prepared to consider whatever they say as ultimate truth. This is bad and wrong. For example, just because a few influential thinkers have reached a conclusion in a particular part of the world, does not mean whatever they have agreed upon is correct. You should rely on your own principles: we have our own history, philosophy of religion, arts and literature. The same is true of other areas of humanities which have been developed by other people into separate fields of study: we have all the ingredients in our scientific, cultural and religious heritage. We should develop a similar framework, one that is independent. Of course, some of the recommendations I made are addressed to you as students of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University. The friends who spoke in this meeting made certain good comments on economic issues, which should be followed up.

Therefore, in my opinion the question of what to do when the results of our research go against the views of the Leader, is not a reasonable and logical question. Your responsibility is to carry out research. Your responsibility is to think and work in order to obtain scientific results, and these results and findings will be taken as scientific achievements by the Leader as well as others and they will make plans for the country on the basis of these findings. Freedom is the characteristic of scientific research. However, scientific research should be rational and systematic.

Basij is the embodiment of dynamic values of faithful youth. Another characteristic of Basij is discipline. You may have heard that during the war, it was said: ‘Basiji people have no brakes." But it had a different meaning at that time. Basiji people were enthusiastic about being martyred. During the war, I used to see our honorable martyr, Ahmad Kazemi, on the front line. He was so charismatic that basijis would obey every order he gave. Just because a basiji is enthusiastic about being martyred does not mean he is allowed to act against his commander's order and against the regulations in his organization or in his personal life. This is especially true of you university students. We truly hold you in high regard.

As for Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University, you gentlemen should pay attention to the fact that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University is an outstanding center. It is not a university like other universities where students are educated to become scholars. Of course, this is one of the things that this university does, but it also aspires to set an example for Islamic university in all aspects - in terms of religious motives, in terms of behavioral considerations and in terms of enthusiasm for acquiring knowledge.

Imam Khomeini (r.a.) said: "I wish whips were cracked over the heads of students in order to force them towards knowledge." What did he mean? Islam has sanctified knowledge. Knowledge is sacred in Islam. Going after knowledge is a sacred endeavor. It is not true that knowledge is merely a tool for earning money. Of course, it is possible to earn money through knowledge, but its sanctity should be preserved. "Knowledge is light." It is this characteristic of knowledge that should be taken into consideration. This is among the characteristics of an Islamic university. Everybody thinks that when we speak about "Islamic university" we are saying that hijab should be observed or that male students should not wear short-sleeved shirts and grow long hair. These things are not the characteristics of an Islamic university. An Islamic university is Islamic in terms of religious faith, motives, pious enthusiasm, Islamic behavior and pious efforts to acquire knowledge: these are the characteristics of an Islamic university. There is also the matter of orientation and channeling this acquisition of knowledge. Limiting the work of this university to humanities was one of the best things that was done. Humanities is a domain where there is a gap, one that has to be filled. If this university - which was established more than twenty years ago - manages to accomplish this mission of setting an example for Islamic university, then it has made a great achievement. This shows the importance of this university. There are very high expectations of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University.

I would say that today the most important need of the Islamic world is that the brilliant essence of pure Islam should achieve its goals in a way that it is not accused of promoting lack of knowledge, rigidity, sanctimonious attitudes and backwardness. This is what we need in the world of Islam. Only then will the movement of peoples towards these noble values become reasonable, and outstanding personalities in all societies will become soldiers on this path.

You know that huge amounts of money were spent in the world of Islam. In the recent years, the arrogant powers have made certain moves to bribe outstanding personalities of the world of Islam. They easily bribed the outstanding personalities who were eminent from a political or scholarly perspective but whose spiritual value was very low. They sold their pens and tongues. They even sold their minds and their entire being. This process started a long time ago - that is to say, from the early contemporary era, from the time Western intellectualism emerged in our country. I once said that intellectualism in our country was born with birth defects. From that day, they went after outstanding personalities and bribed them. Those outstanding personalities were wretched, weak and enslaved and so they agreed to sell themselves for money. Around forty years ago, the late Ale Ahmad wrote: "If you are going to sell, it is better to sell your hands, but never sell your pen." Ale Ahmad wrote this in one of his books in the 1340s. One may sell one's hands and body, but never one's pen - namely, one's mind and soul. But they sold their pen and there were people who paid them. They bribed outstanding personalities. For this reason, not only did outstanding personalities fail to support popular movements in many places, but they also stood in the way of such movements. What was their pretext for standing up against Islamic movements? They said that such movements were outdated and narrow-minded, that they were games started by clerics.

If you manage to exhibit the essence of pure Islam and its brilliance, in a way that it could prove itself in a knowledgeable society, you have made a great achievement and you have paved the way for outstanding personalities to enter such arenas. Combining science with spirituality, religious faith and ethics is what is missing in the contemporary world. An Islamic university combines science with religious faith, spirituality and ethics. It promotes science and determines its orientation on the basis of ethics and religious faith. Discussions about consistency or inconsistency between science and religion are due to the inability to recognize the areas that science and religion can cover. Science and religion cover different areas. Combining science with religion means that religious faith is used to determine the orientation of science. Science is like a weapon that can be used against the best or the worst people: it depends on the hands that this weapon falls into. This weapon is science and religious faith determines its orientation.

If religious faith had control over Western knowledge, it would not have developed into atomic bombs and they would not have faced the dilemma of how to deal with these bombs. They would not have faced the problem of limiting the use of atomic bombs in order to save the world from destruction. They would not have reached this point. If knowledge had been accompanied by religious faith, neither colonialism nor neocolonialism - which was the product of knowledge - would have emerged. Domination over countries, occupation of countries, violent hegemony over nations and the plundering of national sources of wealth - which has afflicted the world and nations for the past two centuries - would not have emerged at all. This is the characteristic of science that is not accompanied by religious faith, and an Islamic university is supposed to fill this gap and combine science with religious faith. That is to say, in an Islamic university, you should immerse the essence of knowledge and its uses and implications in religious faith.

As for your future responsibilities, I want to say is that the ideals of graduates of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University should not be confined to, for example, completing their studies in a particular field and then starting work as a lawyer, as the head of a notary public office or as an employee of an organization affiliated with a ministry. This is not to say that I am opposed to such things. No, I completely agree that good youth should be present in our country's administrative organizations - be it the judiciary or the executive branch. However, this is not ideal for graduates of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University. The ideal conditions should be extracted from the commented that I have made in the past half hour. You should start a movement in science. You should initiate a movement in the world of learning and scientific progress as well as in the scientific structure of the country. This is your main mission. Do your best so that in different areas of humanities our faithful scholars can become outstanding scholars whose views are held in high regard in the world. Do your best so that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University makes progress and the purpose should not just be helping this university rank higher in comparison to another university in Tehran or in other provinces of the country, rather the purpose should be to help Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University become a scholarly authority for scientific centers and universities throughout the world.

Today in the world and even in the deviated Western world, there are many people who are searching for truth. And there are many scholarly individuals among them who are after truth and logical arguments. When such individuals, in any part of the world including Europe, Asia, America and elsewhere, are searching for something, he should be able to access your scholarly work through online databases and find out about your new ideas and suggestions. This is what we expect from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University. A graduate of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) University should have developed such a mentality and attitude in this university. Therefore, you should improve the position of this university.

As far as your university and different areas of humanities are concerned, the issue of starting a "software movement" and producing knowledge - which I have discussed previously - means that you should learn and carry out research as much as you can. Of course, as I said earlier, there are professors who idolize Western theories in humanities. They advise against bowing before God, yet they easily bow before their idols. If they were given the chance, they would shape the minds of their young students in the image of their idols. This is worthless and wrong. Personally, I have no faith in such people. Such professors - no matter how knowledgeable they may be - are not beneficial, rather they are harmful. Fortunately, today we have young, faithful and educated scholars who can give rise to a genuine comprehensive scientific movement in humanities. It is necessary to make use of their knowledge.

Take care not to idolize western theories. Sometimes certain people consider an idea that has been proposed by a Western scholar in philosophy, economics, communications or politics as absolute truth, while the same idea might have been rejected in the West. There are many examples in this regard. An idea might have been put forth forty, fifty years ago by a social or political philosopher in the West about which many critiques might have been written, but after fifty years a gentleman comes across that idea and introduces it into the country while singing its praises and trying to feed it into the minds of his students and everybody else in his reach. Such things exist in our country. On the basis of Western economic theories, the World Bank and international monetary and financial organizations suggested numerous courses of action to peoples and governments and then Westerners themselves pointed out the flaws of those theories. Still there are some people who repeat the same recommendations and give the same prescriptions. This is wrong. Scientific research is not imitation, rather research is against imitation. This is the responsibility you should shoulder.

I hope Allah the Exalted makes all of you successful. I hope He makes what we said and what we heard serve His cause.

Dear God, help our dear youth be among Your righteous servants. Dear God, make these dear youth a spiritual asset for the Iranian nation. Dear God, help us utilize the spiritual capacities that have been bestowed on the hearts and minds of our dear youth in order to benefit our nation. Dear God, accept the services rendered by those who work in this university as well as in other universities throughout the country. Accept the services of those who are making sincere efforts for a divine cause.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings