Leader's Speech on Birthday Anniversary of Imam Ali (a.s.)

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on July 28, 2007 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with a group of people from different social backgrounds. The meeting was held on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of the Commander of the Faithful Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I would like to welcome all the dear brothers and sisters - particularly the honorable families of our great martyrs and our dear disabled war veterans - who took the trouble to travel from nearby and from distant cities to participate in this meeting. I hope that Allah the Exalted will make this great Eid and this great day auspicious for all the people in the Islamic Ummah and the devout followers of the Commander of the Faithful (peace and greetings be upon him) - particularly the people of Iran. I hope that He will make all the people in the Islamic Ummah benefit from the blessings of this holy day.

The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) belongs to all of humanity. He does not only belong to Shia Muslims and Muslims in general. All of humanity is humble and respectful before the greatness and beautiful aspects of Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), except for those people who do not know him. Therefore, you can see that the panegyrists of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) are not only Muslims. A Christian also praises the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). It is not only Shia Muslims who praise him. As well as Shia Muslims, the community of Sunni Muslims in all parts of the world of Islam speaks more enthusiastically about the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) than about other great personalities of the early Islamic era. Why? What is the reason? The reason is the greatness of this Imam, the kind of greatness which some people tried to deny throughout the life of that great personality and during several centuries after his demise. But they failed. The brightness of the sun cannot be denied because it is the sun and it naturally shines and gives warmth and light. Can this be denied?

What are the characteristics that the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) is known for? What is this greatness that Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) showed? Where is this greatness? What are the dimensions of this greatness? This is one of the issues which no human being except for an infallible person can claim to understand because it has deep and unknown dimensions and it is like an ocean. In an ocean, we can see storms, waves, water and astonishing creatures, but only the person who has managed to reach the depth of the ocean can understand it. No one has managed to understand the depth of the ocean-like character of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.), except for those who had access to sources of divine knowledge and who benefited from divine blessings. What we see is only the surface of things.

We can only see some signs. Besides, not all of us can see these signs. Not all of us can see the deep points in Nahjul Balaghah and in the sayings of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). Only great scholars and wise people with deep knowledge can understand these points. What we see in the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) are these things: his courage, his praying, his liberated outlook, his commitment to counseling the people to do good and advising them against evil, his jihad, his sacrifices and self-less efforts, his awareness of the developments of the time, his capability to know human beings, his mercy and kindness towards the weak, his fearlessness in the face of arrogant, oppressive and autocratic people, his persistence in administering justice among the people and his enmity towards oppression. These things are only the surface of this deep ocean. Nevertheless, you can see how complicated, astonishing and beautiful this surface is. Whom can we find to enjoy all these outstanding characteristics? The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) is like this. And it is not only Shia Muslims who say this.

These are things which are among the facts of history and even the enemy of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) has acknowledged them. In a meeting with Muawiyah, somebody said something against the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) in order to flatter him. Muawiyah became angry at this person and he began a sentence in praise of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). Muawiyah used to ask the companions of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - those who confronted Muawiyah after the demise of that great Imam (a.s.) - to speak to him about Ali (a.s.) and they used to do it. There is a narration which says, Muawiyah sometimes shed tears. These are the astonishing facts about Ali (a.s.). This is while the enmity of Muawiyah towards Ali (a.s.) is not a secret. Everybody knows it.

One of the children or grandchildren of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr - the Zubayr family were against the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - asked his father, "What is the reason for the increasing greatness of the household of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.)? He answered, "Yes, it is like this. Whatever his enemies did to hide his virtues, he showed himself - like pure gold - amid all these hedges of thorns. Whatever his enemies did to gather virtues for themselves, they found out that their efforts make noses feel sick like a corpse whose appalling smell fills the space moment by moment." This is the way the enemies of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) have spoken about him. Today too, the books of Muslims - whether Shia or Sunni - are full of the virtues of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.).

At all stages of life, he is our role model. Teenagers who are ten, twelve, thirteen years old can follow Ali (a.s.). They can make him their role model. Why? Because when he was ten,eleven years old, he was the first person to know and accept Islam and follow the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). The fact that a ten, eleven-year-old child discovered the truth, stood up for it and followed it as hard as he could, amid all those hostilities and denials, is very important. Young individuals who are twenty, twenty-two, twenty-five years old can also make the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) their role model. Why? Because when he was twenty-three years old - during the time when the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) migrated from Mecca to Medina - he undertook the heaviest responsibility during the great migration. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) entrusted the dearest members of his household to Ali (a.s.) so that he would bring them from Mecca to Medina. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) entrusted him with the duty of giving the people things which were held in trust, pay his debts, get the money which the people owed the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and join him in Medina. And it was he who agreed to sleep on the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) bed and face danger during the night when the enemies were supposed to break into the house and mutilate the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) with their swords. See how great that Imam (a.s.) was. This can become a model for us.

When the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) formed a government in Medina, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) became his top soldier and he continued to play such a role during the ten-year rule of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) - that is to say, from when was twenty-three until he was thirty-three years old. Whenever the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) had a problem, Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) was the first person to stand beside him and defend him. During different wars, he played a leading role. During different wars, his sword used to solve the difficult and insolvable problems of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). Whenever everybody retreated, he forgot about his life and he advanced. And he did not want anything for himself. Whatever he did was in the way of God, for the sake of God and for rendering services to the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.).

When the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) passed away, the Commander of the Faithful thought that it was his right to be the caliph. And in order to do this, he took action, delivered speeches and invited the people to accept his caliphate. But, he withdrew when he saw that it was not possible and when he saw that if he entered the arena and continue to invite the people, the Muslim community would disintegrate. "Therefore, I exercised patience while there was a thorn in my eye and while sorrow had blocked the path of my throat" [Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 3]. For twenty-five years, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) did not say anything about his right - he regarded it as his absolute right - for the sake of the unity of the Islamic Ummah, the solidarity of the Islamic community and the maintenance of the Islamic government. Are these jokes? Are these things easy to do? These are the things which help an individual conquer the peaks of glory in human history. These are the things which turn an individual into the brightest sun - which never sets - in human history.

After twenty years, when the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) was fifty-seven, fifty-eight years old- when he was in old age - the people came to him and firmly insisted that he should accept the caliphate. They said, "You should come and you should accept it. We will not stop asking you". The Commander of the Faithful did not accept their offer at first, but when he saw that many people from the entire world of Islam - people from Egypt, Iraq and Medina itself, including outstanding personalities, al-Muhajirun and al-Ansar - came and firmly said, "Oh Ali, no one except for you can manage this community and solve these problems" then he said, "Alright, I accept the caliphate" and he accepted it. Since the moment that he accepted this responsibility until the time when his holy head was slit while he was praying, he did not stop - not even for a single day or hour - safeguarding the right and the truth for which Islam emerged. No considerations, no fear and no weakness prevented him from carrying out his responsibility.

"That men may stand forth in justice" [The Holy Quran, 57: 25]. The prophets entered the arena for administering justice. They entered the arena for helping the people get close to God and enforcing divine rules among the people. This is the mission of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) as the executor of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) will and as the Islamic caliph. He did not retreat even for a second in treading this path. He was not negligent in moving forward. His old friends broke off their relationship with him. Those who had extravagant claims became unhappy and they separated from him. They waged wars against him in order to overthrow him. Those who used to praise him in the past turned into his mortal enemies.

But the criticism of these people did not at all influence the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). "I am one of the people who are not intimidated by the criticism of faultfinders" [Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 192]. He continued the path in a steadfast way until he was martyred. "He died by assassination in the mosque at Kufa, death occasioned by his own generous fairness". This is the character of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) and these are the outward qualities that we can see. See how amazing they are. How delicate, beautiful and astonishing his virtues are.

Now we call ourselves Alavis and Shias of Ali (a.s.). If we say the name of Ali (a.s.), but we do not follow his path, this is of no value. There were some people during the time of that great Imam (a.s.) who expressed their love for him, but who refused to do what he wanted. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) treated them without any mercy. They were involved in corruption and he administered divine punishment on them. They said blasphemous words and he put them to the sword.

When a number of people saw the greatness of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - we are inferior before this greatness - they said that he was a god. When we see a great individual, we say that he is a god. We cannot believe that our great and omniscient God can create such a great individual. But we make a mistake by saying these things. During the time of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.), some people made this mistake. They used to say that he was a god. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) ordered that all of them be killed. He did not show mercy towards them. He did not stand in ceremony with them. He did not say that they are his supporters and they are exaggerating. He did not do that. They abandoned the path of monotheism and fighting against polytheism. They became apostates and they did not repent. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) ordered that divine punishment be inflicted on them and he killed all of them.

The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) is like this. If we imagine that just because we praise the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) in words or just because we love him in our hearts, Allah the Exalted and the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) himself will forget about our wrongdoings and our deviation, we should know that this is not the philosophy of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). The philosophy of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) is treading the path of God. A Shia Muslim is a person who follows the path of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). Now an individual may make a certain mistake or commit a certain sin. This is a different issue. This individual should repent of his sin. But the philosophy of the Commander of the Faithful does not at all allow us to pin our hopes on our relationship with the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) and minimize the seriousness of our deviation from the path of God. The significance of what the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) did lies in the fact that he did not forget about people's rights, justice and preserving the path of God just because of certain considerations.


Today, if we want to find a movement which is similar to the movement of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - of course it is not as perfect as the movement of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) - we should refer to the formation of the Islamic society, the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic. The formation of this government means that we can hold up our head and stand up against oppression, deviation, blasphemy and corrupt and oppressive movement of global taghut. This path should be taken. The essence and the identity of the Islamic Republic is opposition to oppression and discrimination. See which people are ruling over the world. See what disasters are caused in the world by global powers. See what these powers, which have money and power, are doing to humanity. See what they are doing to humanity with their showy and flashy propaganda which is reinforced by money, power and deception. They do it in the name of human rights, democracy and freedom.

Today, America - I mean the government of America - is the manifestation of oppression against humanity. Today, even the people of America are being oppressed. Today, the taghuti regime and the corrupt Zionist network in the world are the manifestation of moral corruption, ignorance and destruction of human races. The powers which dominate the world today are cruel and oppressive powers. For this reason, they do not get along with the Islamic Republic and they have adopted a belligerent attitude towards the Islamic Republic. The resistance of the Islamic Republic is the manifestation of the justice-based outlook of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). What we the people of Iran - particularly officials - are responsible for is that we should make this version of justice bear a close resemblance to its original version. Inside the country, the slogan of justice should be taken seriously. The slogan of preserving religion should be taken seriously. The path of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) should be taken seriously. This is what can help us reach our ideals and the lofty goals of the Iranian nation. The characteristics of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) - those characteristics which are required for the progress of society and protecting the life of Islamic community - were similar to the characteristics of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). Of course, there is a certain distance between that great peak [Imam Ali (a.s.)] and ordinary individuals. Our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) did not stand on ceremony with anyone. He was not the kind of person to show fear and weakness and to retreat. As the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) had recommended, he did not "wonder at the small number of those who follow the right path" [Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 200]. He did not fear loneliness. He did not fear to be alone. He was right. Therefore, God was with him. He moved forward with diligence and Allah the Exalted made the Iranian nation and Muslim nations follow him with their hearts and souls and with their bodies. And we saw what a great movement was created as a result of this. Imam (r.a.) was like this.

Today, if the officials of the country and if all our people want to conquer the high peak of greatness, honor and dignity which they desire, they should follow the same path. They should continue this path by showing complete courage and wisdom and taking risks in the face of global powers and oppressors. Success lies in resistance.

The Zionist network and regime and the American regime, particularly the group of people who govern America today, are the main enemies of the Iranian nation and the path which it treads. These enemies are increasingly becoming infamous. They have become alienated from the sentiments of Muslim nations on a daily basis. Even among non-Muslim nations, they are more isolated than other countries. Today, America is one of the most hated countries in the entire world. Whenever, an opinion poll is carried out, the result is this.

On the contrary, the Islamic Republic is dear to Muslim nations, thanks to the resistance of the Iranian nation and the slogan of justice and populism. Thankfully, today, this slogan is widely chanted by government officials in our country. Muslim nations like this path and they have followed it as much as they could. Of course, nations have different conditions. When you take a look at Muslim nations and countries in the region, you will see that all these nations have somehow moved forward on this path. This is the thing which enrages global arrogance. The way to succeed is to put up a resistance on this path. All the people of Iran should know that the way to achieve salvation and success and the way to reach the great ideals of our nation - which are achieving dignity and welfare and conquering the peaks of national and cultural honor and honor in all areas - only depend on showing fearlessness in the face of the enemies, acquiring knowledge about the path that they want to tread, putting up a great resistance and remaining steadfast on this path.

I hope that Allah the Exalted will bestow His kindness and blessings on the Iranian nation and all Muslim nations. I hope that the immaculate soul of the Commander of the Faithful and the Imam of the Pious (a.s.) is satisfied with the activities of the Iranian nation and the religious youth who are making efforts in this country. By Allah's favor, all of you will benefit from the prayers of that great Imam (a.s.) and the prayers of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). By Allah's favor, the immaculate souls of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) and our martyrs will be satisfied with you.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings