Leader’s Speech to Government Officials

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on October 30, 2005 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with government officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem al-Mustafa Muhammad and upon his immaculate, pure and chosen household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth. All-Wise Allah says: "And you that ask forgiveness of your Lord, then return to Him, He will provide you with a goodly provision to an appointed term and bestow His grace on everyone endowed with grace." [The Holy Quran, 11: 3]

This is an important gathering and these days are important days. With all its divine blessings, the month of Ramadan is in its last few days. We officials of this great country, who have always been hoping to benefit from divine assistance in performing our duties in the best possible way, are allowing this valuable month to pass us by. This is while we do not know how much we have been able to gain from divine mercy and grace during this month and during the Nights of Qadr. We cannot afford to let this great blessing and grace pass us by. Our responsibility is heavy. There is a long way to go and we have a heavy responsibility to fulfill. Such heavy responsibilities cannot be accomplished except through divine assistance. For this reason, it is necessary to make the best of these opportunities. This is the main topic of my statements today.

In the Holy Quran, including the verse I referred to, Allah the Exalted has repeatedly ordered human beings to ask for forgiveness and repent to Him. Repentance means returning. This returning can be manifested in word and in action. We have been negligent in certain cases. We need to reform ourselves and this is the priority. Sura Hud starts in this way: "In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Alif Lam Ra (This is) a Book, whose verses are made decisive, then are they made plain, from the All-Wise, All-Aware, that you shall not serve (any) but Allah. Surely I am a warner for you from Him and a giver of good news. And you that ask for forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him, He will provide you with a goodly provision to an appointed term..." [The Holy Quran, 11: 1-3]

In other words, the Quranic mission is primarily the issue of monotheism. Returning to God and asking for His forgiveness are discussed immediately afterwards. This applies to people from all levels, ranging from prophets to people at lower levels, but the sin for which we repent is different in our case from the case of pious people. "Do not compare the affairs of the righteous with your own." However, even those people need to ask God for forgiveness. They too might make mistakes. "Disgraceful acts never separate from creatures in both worlds, only God knows." They too need to ask for forgiveness and compensate for their failure and relative hesitation. In our case mistakes and sins are not few: we commit different kinds of mistakes. This is the essence of what I want to say.

Let me quote a narration here: "Close the door to calamity by asking for forgiveness." In the Sura I recited before, God says: "He will provide you with a goodly provision." In other words, making good use of one's life will be possible through asking for forgiveness and repenting to Allah the Exalted.

There is another narration, which says: "The best praying is asking for forgiveness." This is from Dua Sha'baniyya: "O God, I have no doubt that you will not disappoint me in what I have demanded you all through my life." What is this need? This need - on which a lifetime has been spent - is asking for divine forgiveness.

Divine forgiveness results in correcting our mistakes and compensating for the harm that we have done to ourselves and to others. If human beings seriously go after rectifying their mistakes and sins, the divine path will be paved and human beings will have a good destiny. The main problem with us human beings is that we neglect our mistakes, that we fail to recognize the need for correction, that we fail to reform ourselves and rectify our actions. If such cases of negligence are eliminated and this determination develops, all mistakes will be corrected. At the first stage - which is the preliminary stage and among our greatest responsibilities - we correct ourselves, which in fact is the basis. That is to say, everything we do is a prelude to reforming ourselves, a prelude to achieving divine satisfaction. "Take care of your souls. He who errs cannot hurt you when you are on the right way." [The Holy Quran, 5: 105] The purpose of all efforts and struggles is to make God satisfied with ourselves and to achieve the kind of perfection that has been ordained for us since the beginning of creation.

The other stage is communal forgiveness and social reform. We should reform the collective path and goal and collective performance to the best of our capabilities. This is the clearest example of the effect of asking God for forgiveness and the genuine meaning, content and essence of asking for forgiveness. This should not be considered as difficult. If we have determination, it is easy and we can do it. These nights you have read in Dua Abu Hamza Thumali: "And truly traveling to You is short in duration." The main thing is determination, taking action and making efforts. "O God, You will not disclose Your creature's secrets except when they have already disclosed them in public." We create a rift between ourselves and God with our own hands, with our mistakes. There is no distance between us and Allah the Exalted. We are very close. If we achieve any success, this is a sign of God's mercy. If you manage to ask for forgiveness from the bottom of your heart and then develop the determination to take action, be sure that divine grace and attention will be bestowed on you, that you are being attracted and pulled towards God. In several places in the Holy Quran, God has attributed repentance to Himself: "Then he turned to them (mercifully) that they might turn (to Him)." [The Holy Quran, 9: 118] God repented so that human beings would repent. What is the meaning of repentance? Repentance means attention and return. God turned His attention to you and this caused your hearts to become inclined towards Allah the Exalted.

Unless there is attraction from the beloved,
Efforts by the helpless lover are futile

In Dua Abu Hamza Thumali, we read: "O my Lord, You have brought me up in Your gifts, and bounties since I was youthful, and elevated my designation as I grew older, So, O the One who brought me up in this life with His benevolence, bountifulness and blessings, and indicated to me His forgiveness and generosity in the hereafter. My knowledge, O my Master, is that which guides me to You and my love is my intercessor to You, and I am trusting of my evidence with Your guidance and comfortable of my intercessor with Your intercession." The fact that You guided me towards Yourself, the fact that You presented a proof to me, is a sign that You are guiding me, that You are attracting me. If you see that in the month of Ramadan our youth go to the mosque, raise their hands towards the sky and cry for forgiveness to the extent that their voice fills the general atmosphere of our society, be sure that this is an indication of God's attention to our nation, an indication of divine attraction, the kind of attraction that Allah the Exalted has caused because He wants to bestow His mercy. "Dear God, I ask for requirements of Your mercy." This will prepare the ground for God's mercy. Allah the Exalted wants to bestow His mercy and blessings upon this nation.

There are three kinds of sins which one should repent of. Knowing these three kinds of sins is useful for people like us. We need them in our managerial work. Forgetting about these sins has caused immense damage. There are three types of sins. One kind is the sins that only involve injustice to one's self: oppressing one's self has been mentioned many times in the Holy Quran and in narrations. This kind of sins is committed by the individual and its direct impacts affect him only, like the common personal sins.

Another type is a sin that a person commits but its direct consequences affect other people as well. This is a heavier sin. It is injustice to one's self as well, but because it affects others too, it creates more problems and is more difficult to counteract - such as oppression, usurpation, violating others' rights, trampling upon the rights of other human beings. This kind of sins is mostly committed by governments. It is mostly committed by managers. It is mostly committed by politicians. It is mostly committed by international personalities. It is mostly committed by the people who can change the conditions of families and sometimes even an entire nation with a single word, with a single signature, with a single dismissal, with a single appointment.

Usually ordinary people do not commit such sins and even if when they commit such sins, their scope is far more limited - like a person who steps on the foot of another person deliberately. This is the scope of their sins. But if people like us commit such a sin, its scope will be vast. As I said, one single signature, one single decree, one single word, one single judgment and one single decision by people like us can affect a large number of people. Repentance of this kind of sins is different from other kinds of repentance. In the case of a sin of the first type, the individual should only ask Allah the Exalted for forgiveness in a sincere way, but in the case of a sin of the second type, the issue cannot be solved with simple repentance, rather one must compensate for the damage that has been done. This is the point where we come across the issue of rectifying errors and compensating for the damage that has been done.

The third type is the communal sin, which is committed by nations. It is no more the case of a single individual committing a sin whose consequences would affect only a limited number of people. Sometimes an entire nation or a significant portion of it is involved in a sin. It is necessary to repent of this kind of sins in a different way. A nation might keep silent in the face of a sinful act or in the face of tyranny and fail to show any reaction to it. This too is a sin, perhaps a sin that is even graver. This is an instance of the ayah: "Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition." [The Holy Quran, 13: 11] This is the kind of sin which obliterates great blessings. This is the kind of sin which causes great calamities for communities and nations.

The people who stood by and watched a great religious scholar like Sheikh Fazlollah Nouri being hanged, the people who knew he was among the founders and leaders of the Constitutional Movement yet he was accused of being against the Constitutional Movement simply because he refused to collaborate with the English- and West-oriented trend of the Constitutional Movement - baseless and irrational lies which are still being ruminated and repeated by a number of speakers and writers - received the punishment fifteen years later when in the city of Tehran a constituent assembly was formed, which ratified transfer of power to Reza Shah. They were a group of ordinary people and their sin was one that would affect the entire nation. "And fear an affliction which may not smite those of you in particular who are unjust." [The Holy Quran, 8: 25] Sometimes punishment is not limited to those who have committed a sin, rather everybody is punished. This is because the sinful act is committed by the people even though not all people may be directly involved in it. However, the same Iranian nation took to the streets and faced the military tanks of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi without fearing death. In other words, they compensated for fifty years of sinful silence and they were rewarded by Allah the Exalted. The oppressive government collapsed and a popular government replaced it. Disgraceful political dependence was destroyed and the movement towards independence started. And, God willing, this movement will continue and our nation will reach its goals while relying on God's mercy and its own efforts. This was because our nation took action. Therefore, there is a different way of asking for forgiveness in the case of a sin of the third type.

"Repentance" has been repeatedly mentioned in the Holy Quran alongside reform and good deeds. "Except those who repent and reform." [The Holy Quran, 2: 160] "Except him who repents and believes and does a good deed." [The Holy Quran, 25: 70] In one occasion, even an instance of this reform has been mentioned: "Surely those who conceal the clear proofs..." [The Holy Quran, 2: 159] These people have been contrasted with "those who repent and reform and make manifest (the truth)" or "those who repent and reform and hold fast to Allah and are sincere in their religion to Allah." [The Holy Quran, 4: 146] This verse is about those who acted hypocritically and wavered. It says that repentance and reform of these people depends on their decision to free themselves from doubt and impurities. Therefore, reform is a requirement for repentance.

We need to ask for divine forgiveness. The forgiveness we seek is far beyond ourselves. I should seek forgiveness for myself and you too should seek forgiveness for yourselves. In fact, it cannot be said that we are simply sinful, rather we are immersed in sins. There are so many failures, so many infringements and so many flaws in our actions that we must ask Allah the Exalted for forgiveness. Asking for divine forgiveness enlightens the heart, the mind and the soul. This is personal repentance: it is only between us and God. However, there is communal forgiveness as well. Because the people who have attended this meeting are government officials of the country, heads of the three branches of government and senior managers of the country, I have written down five topics to discuss in this meeting, but due to lack of time I will not go into detail and I will only mention them in passing.

One is the issue of disputes. We should repent and seek divine forgiveness for our disputes. Discord and dispute harm us. Sometimes dispute is caused by provoking ethnic, religious, local and political sentiments. Other times dispute is caused when differences of opinion develop into conflicts. Differences of opinion may exist and nothing is wrong with it, but it should not be developed into a conflict. This is why we criticize those who write provocative articles against people's beliefs, against the truths that exist in society and against historical facts that have not been distorted. Otherwise, we do not have any problem with freedom of expression. I believe in freedom of expression in its real and broad sense. But some comments should not be made while in public addresses. Rather, they should be discussed at expert meetings. Yes, a number of Islamic jurisprudents may sit down together with a number of jurists, philosophers or sociologists to discuss the most fundamental issues. They may even exchange views about the principle of monotheism: they may reject or support the principle of monotheism and present their reasons. Then the results can be presented to the people, but first the issue should be debated at specialized meetings. The same is true of the obvious facts about the Revolution and of basic issues relating to the Islamic Republic: such issues should be discussed at specialized meetings.

This is the purpose of the movement for freedom of thought, which has been discussed earlier. Of course, universities and Islamic seminaries made a good move in the beginning, but I see no noticeable changes in practice. They should organize scholarly meetings and arrange debates. However, if it is decided that people may make public announcements about matters which should be discussed and debated within a specialized domain, then this is not freedom of expression. Of course, these are ideological and political differences and a gap between different pillars of the government which may not lead to dispute. They tried for years to foment discord among the main pillars of the government. Obviously, when there is dispute and discord among senior officials of the country and they cannot come to an agreement and they constantly think of harming each other, it will not be possible to move things forward in the country. Fortunately, some of the officials have vigilantly closed the door to such things and they have refused to be dragged into such issues, otherwise the enemy had prepared comprehensive plans.

Today the convergence among the three branches of government has provided a good opportunity for the Iranian nation. Of course, certain people condemn this, which is wrong. As far as political strategy is concerned, the fact that government officials in different branches, who are elected by the people, are moving forward in the same direction is not a harmful thing, rather it is beneficial for the country. Of course, the atmosphere is open and the affairs are transparent. The people can see this clearly for themselves. Critics make just criticisms and in this way the value and capacity of individuals and their efforts and incentives are determined. Nothing is wrong with this. An opportunity has been created now. Do not let this atmosphere of harmony be harmed by raising certain issues or magnifying some minor problems. Be careful about malevolent and malicious eyes and ears that are trying to foment discord among convergent elements and thus prevent them from doing their work. Be very careful. Be careful in the executive branch, in the Majlis, in the judiciary and in different areas, such as arenas relating to politics and the printed press. Criticism, demanding reforms and following up the people's demands is a good thing, but unreasonable criticisms, magnifying issues, unfounded accusations, slander and spreading rumor are bad: this is necessary to distinguish between these two things. In my opinion, this is one of the issues which were neglected in the past and now we should ask for divine forgiveness and prevent this negligence from perpetuating.

The second issue is the issue of selfishness in the broad sense of the word. We should seek forgiveness from God for selfishness. Being self-centered is the opposite of being God-centered. The heart of a self-centered person is devoid of worship of God to the same extent that it is filled with selfishness and self-worship. This selfishness is broad in meaning. That is to say, it includes unreasonable, biased and fervent support for one's self, one's party, one's faction, one's relatives and associates and one's close friends. This is wrong. Many of the disputes which existed in the political atmosphere of our country, were the result of this attitude. A long time ago - perhaps twenty years ago - I said that differences that have emerged in the form of leftist or rightist ideas in our country are similar to tribal disputes of the past. We should not allow such a thing to continue. We should not let such self-centeredness seep into us and change us.

The third point is about neglecting the people and neglecting to serve them. If we have had negligence in this regard, we should seek forgiveness from God and we should repent. We should not let our hearts neglect the people, especially you officials - both in the Majlis and in the executive branch - who have been elected by the people on the basis of your slogans of "serving the people", "fighting corruption" and "establishing social justice". We should not neglect serving the people even for one single moment. This Majlis and this administration have been formed thanks to the efforts for establishing justice, rendering services and fighting corruption. It was the outcome of the people's interest in those concepts. Such concepts cannot be considered as abstract and immaterial: they are real concepts in the arena of life.

Justice should be defined through implementation of different plans. What is relevant to justice and improvement of economic and worldly affairs of the people has been specified in the policies of the fourth development plan, including strengthening our national currency, controlling inflation and high prices, bridging the gap between the upper and lower classes of our society. These policies should be translated into plans, otherwise the term "justice" will be an unattainable goal. Policies which could help us move towards justice and plans which could help us implement such policies should be given priority. Of course, there are certain problems in this regard in the fourth development plan and it is necessary to eliminate them. The plan should be implemented on the basis of the policies that have been specified so that we can be hopeful that those policies will be carried out through implementation of the plan.

The next topic is related to neglecting national power and the prerequisites which serve as the main pillars of this national power. It is necessary for a nation to be strong and powerful so that it can achieve spiritual happiness and freedom and conquer the peaks of knowledge, even though these things are among the prerequisites for national power. A nation that is weak, a nation that has suffered humiliation, a nation that is dependent and imitates other nations, a nation that relies on others cannot reach the peaks it aspires to. It is necessary to achieve national power. How can national power be achieved? Through knowledge and ethics. We have discussed the issue of knowledge on many occasions. In this meeting, we will speak about ethics. We should not receive a low score in ethics. Our Prophet (s.w.a.) was a promoter of ethics. The flag of spiritual purification and moral perfection was raised by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) as his prophetic mission. We must not suffer from backwardness in the area of ethics. Social behaviors, discipline, sense of responsibility, abiding the law and the spirit of piety are among the pillars of national power, although some unjust people have attacked the spirit of piety among our youth and they have undermined this spirit through their hollow and irrational comments in the name of freedom.

We should not neglect the existing capabilities and capacities. One of the pillars of national power is that our government officials and people should have faith in their capability to follow this path and accomplish these goals. They should not feel that they are incapable and helpless. They should not feel that they have reached a dead end. We should instill this spirit into the people. This is among our responsibilities. This is among the things that the government should do. The prerequisites for achieving national power are among the responsibilities of the government and governmental organizations. Of course, we should not develop illusions of being powerful. We should not resort to illusions and fantasies whenever we are not capable of doing something. We should not neglect our real and true power.

The last topic which I would like to discuss is related to failing to watch the enemy. We should ask for divine forgiveness and we should repent for what we have neglected about the enemy and his plots. This repentance means warning oneself, becoming vigilant and opening up one's eyes. For some time, they created uproar, saying that we are always speaking about the enemy, that we have developed illusions of conspiracy. They said that we are always concerned that a plot is being hatched against us. Turning one's attention away from a plot will not make that plot go away. Today everything has become clear. The day they were making such comments, certain things were not announced openly, but today they are openly announcing that there are plots against the Islamic Republic, against our Constitution, against our nation and against our interests. By ignoring the plots, one cannot make them go away. We should vigilantly assess the enemy and his plots and defend ourselves and our national interests and identity in a vigilant and wise way.

Today there are many issues in our region. It could be said that the Middle East region is currently the most sensitive region in the world. America has defined goals for itself in this region. Their main goal falls within the framework of domineering and imperialist objectives. This is not temporary goal. No, they are after establishing of an empire and expanding their hegemony over the entire world. Within the framework of these goals, the Middle East is a strategic region. They have plans for the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and North Africa. Of course, this planning does not necessarily mean that they will achieve their objectives. No, they have plans and they have prepared the ground, but they cannot achieve their objectives and they have so far failed in their plans. Although they have failed in Palestine and Iraq, they are still making plans for other regions and other countries. They had plans for Iraq.

The goal that America is pursuing in this region is to install the type of governments in the regional countries that would be completely subservient to America, obey it without question and cause no problems for it. The present governments in the Middle East region are not like this. Of course, many of them are obedient, but America has problems with them. According to the American prescription, if they want governments that pose no problems to them, the solution is that they should maintain the democratic appearance with governments that are seemingly elected by the people while America continues dominating them.

Even the monarchies in the Middle East region are no longer favored by America because America is fully aware that they are sources of trouble for it. Islamic and Arab governments should pay attention to this point. America has plans for Egypt as well. It has plans for Saudi Arabia as well. It has plans for Jordan as well. It also has plans for all the Persian Gulf countries. Its plans are not confined to Lebanon, Syria and Iraq only. Therefore, other Arab countries cannot afford to stand by and watch, thinking that America is settling accounts with Syria and Lebanon. Their turn will come later. Of course, there is a big difference between what America wants and what reality is. The group that is currently ruling America is making decisions the way drunken people would: they are not aware of what they are doing. They are distancing themselves from realities of the world. The experienced and outstanding political analysts in America are saying and writing the same thing. Their websites and their printed press are full of such statements. They say the ruling group is leading America towards the point of destruction and collapse, and that is the truth. Their existence is probably a divine retribution for America. However, they have such plans.

This is the characteristic of this region. We are a county whose national and political power in this region and in the world has been acknowledged by outstanding and experienced political analysts throughout the world. We are a great and developed country in a highly sensitive region, with a big population, with unified government officials and with a young and talented population. This is the status we enjoy. Under such circumstances, we should be careful and vigilant. We should identify the plots that are hatched by the enemies. We should move forward in a wise and courageous way.

Our power is the reason why there is so much uproar against the Islamic Republic. Imam Khomeini (may God bestow paradise on him) once asked: "If the Islamic Republic is not important, why are you deploying your forces against it? If it is not important, why are you making so many efforts to confront it?" This shows that the Islamic Republic is powerful. They created uproar over the position that our president adopted a few days go. Of course, this was not their first time. They have done these things many times. Around ten, eleven years ago, they created uproar over the murder of Yitzhak Rabin after our President made a comment. They created uproar over this, asking why the president of the Islamic Republic expressed happiness over the murder of Israel's prime minister. One feels ashamed before humanity in place of the leaders of Europe and the West, and this is the first thing that one feels. These people should feel ashamed for being so heavily influenced by the Zionists. They should feel ashamed in front of their own people as well. Are there no governments in the world which do not recognize certain governments and deny their political identity? Those heads of state who wish from the bottom of their hearts that the head of another state be annihilated - are they few in number? Some of them even announce this, and this happens on a regular basis. In which case has such sensitivity been expressed?

Unfortunately, the influence of the Zionists over Western and European governments causes such uproar. Afterwards, they took advantage of the opportunity and they linked everything to the issue of nuclear energy. The ignorant person who first made such a comment and linked the issue to nuclear energy was not aware that nuclear weapons cannot be used to destroy governments, systems and regimes. Systems and regimes will not be annihilated by nuclear weapons, rather nuclear weapons can only destroy human beings and territories. What destroys regimes is the resistance, determination and struggle of peoples. This determination and resistance exists in Palestine and by Allah's grace, it will definitely result in the collapse of the Zionist regime.

Dear God, by the blessedness of Mohammad and his household, we ask You to make us successful in seeking Your forgiveness and in repenting to You. Enlighten our hearts with the light of repentance. Relieve the Islamic Ummah and all Muslim nations from the malevolence of the enemies. Dear God, make the dear people of Iran more powerful on a daily basis.

One of the friends requested that I offer advice to our managers about performing prayers. I call on the officials in charge of our educational system and our universities to make determined efforts in this regard. By Allah's favor, those who are in charge of holding prayers should be able to implement their plans easily. So far the cooperation has been good in this regard and we hope that this cooperation will increase on a daily basis in the future.

Dear God, associate our dear martyrs with the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). Increase solidarity among our government officials on a daily basis. Dear God, by the blessedness of Mohammad and his household, we ask You to make the officials in the three branches of government successful in accomplishing their responsibilities.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy