Leader's Speech to Professors

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on August 6, 2013 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with professors.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I thank Allah the Exalted who gave me another opportunity to witness this good and warm meeting on the last days of the month of Ramadan. This meeting is the meeting of knowledge and it is the meeting of universities. The significance of knowledge and universities is clear for the Islamic Republic and all the people of Iran, particularly those who live in the present era.

Of course, this meeting has not been organized so that I express my viewpoints about universities and the issue of knowledge and the scientific community of the country. I have certain points to make, but the meeting is not organized for this. There are two main reasons why I organized this meeting. One is to respect the position of university professors. This meeting is, in fact, a symbolic meeting. This meeting has been organized so that it becomes clear that the Islamic Republic pays attention to the issue of knowledge, scholars, professors and universities. By Allah's favor, this purpose will be fulfilled throughout this meeting. The second reason is to listen to a number of issues - whether issues related to the country or issues related to knowledge and universities - which have occupied the minds of the honorable professors and friends. By Allah's favor, this purpose will be also fulfilled in this meeting.

Of course, I receive many reports. I read many reports and I have some meetings - special meetings with people who are involved with universities. But I am sure that what we know about the universities of the country are not all the issues that should be addressed in this regard. It will be better if the things that we do not know are expressed by academic personalities in such a meeting. By Allah's favor, this purpose will be fulfilled as it has already been fulfilled. Every year, this purpose is fulfilled. Of course, there is not enough time to benefit from the speeches of more professors, but even this number of speeches is good and valuable.

Today, the points that the brothers and sisters raised were good points. The things that you said increased my knowledge about the issues of universities and they helped me become more familiar with the different outlooks of academic personalities about different issues. Well, as you heard, one of the friends in this meeting believes that we should monitor the translation system in the country. That is to say, he believes in supervision over the translation system in our country. Another honorable gentleman stated that translators, the translation system and publishers should be given freedom. In fact, his statements were the opposite of the statements of the first gentleman. With different interpretations, both statements are true. It is possible to adopt a procedure through which both the first and the second opinion are put into practice. But I am not sure if those honorable brothers who expressed these opinions believe in the middle course. Each of them had a distinct opinion and they expressed it. This is instructive for us. Personally speaking, the existence of different outlooks is an interesting issue. This was an example that I gave you. There are many other examples in this regard.

I have written down certain points to raise. I will discuss these points with you until adhan. The first point is that since almost 10, 12 years ago, a new and developing scientific movement has begun in the country and this movement has continued flourishing. I can see that not only has the movement of scientific production and the jihad-like outlook on scientific approach and scientific effort - which started almost 10, 12 years ago and continues until today - not been restricted, but it has also begun to deepen and develop. It can be said that this movement developed in almost all scientific areas - it influenced a number of scientific areas more than others. This is exactly the thing which we were looking for. This is the scientific jihad which is necessary for the Islamic Republic and our country.

In these 12 years, the rate of the scientific growth of the country has increased by 16 times. This is an approximate figure and it has been released by reliable organizations. This is very important. This developing scientific movement has made reliable research centers throughout the world announce that the rate of the scientific growth of Iran is 13 times more than the global average. We should pay attention to these facts. These are very important points. These things have become normal for us because we hear many such things and speak about them repeatedly. These facts and figures have not been released by domestic organizations. Therefore, one cannot say that they are not accurate. It is the official research centers in the world which make such a judgment about our scientific growth. And they do not have good relations with us. I do not believe that global arrogant policies do not interfere in the affairs of these scientific centers and other such research centers. If they can, they deny our achievements, as they have denied many of our achievements so far. Nonetheless, they release such statistics.

The same research centers, which are available to everybody in the world, say that if the same rate of progress continues in Iran, by 2018, our country will rank fourth in the world in terms of scientific progress. This is a very important thing. That is to say, Iran will achieve the highest rank after the three countries of America, China and England - these are the countries which these research centers have mentioned. This is a very important thing. Of course, I do not want to claim that these are statistics that one can rely on one-hundred percent. However, this is the way that the universities of the country are moving forward. It is a public movement towards progress.

Well, if we compare the conditions of the universities of the country in the present time with our universities during the early years of the Revolution - which were a legacy of the time of taghut and the time before the Revolution - then we will see that there are more surprising statistics. The day when the Revolution became victorious, we had 170,000 students. Today, there are 4,400,000 students in the country. In other words, the number of our students has increased by 25 times. On that day, almost 5,000 professors, assistant professors, associate professors, teachers and other such people were responsible for teaching. Today, we benefit from almost 60,000 university professors, both in universities and research centers. These are important issues. These are valuable achievements. Of course, I have written down certain points which are not necessary for me to mention. You know and you have heard some of these things and it is not necessary to mention the rest. The number of articles which are cited frequently - the articles which are published by Iranian researchers and which are cited throughout the world - is increasing on a daily basis. The facts and figures about this issue have been reported to me in detail which I do not want to expand on in the present time. But this is a very important phenomenon. So, scientific jihad has begun in the country.

There is a question in this regard: Now that we can witness these scientific achievements in different areas, should we relax and sit idle? Well, it is clear that the answer is no. We are still behind the leading camps of global science. We still suffer from serious backwardness in areas which are necessary for our lives despite the achievements that we have made in a number of these areas. Therefore, because we suffer from backwardness, we should work.

Moreover, the caravan of science does not stop even for a moment. It is moving forward at high speed. Not only should we preserve our current position, but we should also move forward. All of these things require effort and diligence. Therefore, the first thing that I want to say to the universities of the country and the scientists and outstanding personalities of the country is that they should not let this movement lose strength. They should not let this scientific movement stop developing and they should not let any obstacle prevent the universities of the country from achieving growth and scientific progress.

The reason we stress the issue of knowledge is not merely because of our respect for knowledge. Of course, this issue itself is important. Islam attaches value to the essence of knowledge. But, besides this essential value, knowledge is power. A nation needs power in order to lead a comfortable life and live in a dignified way. The main factor which gives power to a nation is knowledge. Knowledge can give people economic and political power and it can also make a nation achieve national and international dignity. Naturally, a knowledgeable nation which can produce knowledge is dignified in the eyes of the international community. So, besides its essential value, knowledge has these important values because of its authoritative role. Therefore, the movement which exists and the acceleration which it benefits from should not be stopped or slowed down.

Besides these things, there is another issue. We should believe in this issue. Our friends in this meeting raised good points about political deployments in the world. These points are noteworthy and they are true. I also believe in these things. But the issue which should receive our attention is that there is a camp of hostile enemies - comprised of global powers - against the Islamic Republic. Does this hostile camp, which has an obstinate enmity with the Islamic Republic, include many countries in the world? The answer is a definite no. Does it include many of western countries? Again, the answer is a definite no. This camp is merely comprised of a few powerful countries which are opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its power and which create obstacles for it because of certain reasons. One of these obstacles is the problems that they create for us in scientific areas. A number of friends in this meeting spoke about scientific diplomacy or academic diplomacy. I myself believe in this and I have provided certain encouragements in this regard. But you should notice that the opposing side pays special attention to this issue. They are planning for this issue. They will plan on the issue of scientific diplomacy and pursue their own goals. If scientific diplomacy is exercised in a wise and vigilant way, we support it. They are not happy about our scientific progress. On the issue of sanctions and other such things, some of the things which they do are because of the fact that they do not want the Iranian society to achieve a kind of inborn power. Scientific power results from a nation's inborn power. Therefore, such progress should continue.

In this regard, the issue which you should definitely keep in mind is that the discourse of knowledge and progress and the discourse of the communal progress of the country - that is to say, the motivation of universities to be involved in the process of helping the country make progress - should be preserved in academic environments. Of course, such discourse exist, but they should be preserved and strengthened. Nothing should interfere with the establishment of these discourses in universities. The issue of scientific progress should be highlighted in universities. Also, it is necessary to promote the idea, in academic environments, that scientific achievements should be at the service of the needs of the country. This is one of the basic standards. After all, our resources - our human, financial and material resources - are limited. Therefore, our scientific activities should be based on the needs of the country. This issue should definitely receive attention. We have different needs which universities can fulfill. They can fill the gaps. This is our experience.

During the Sacred Defense Era, we had many problems and there were many gaps. These gaps could not be filled. Gradually, universities entered the arena and many of these gaps - which we did not think we have the capability to fill - were filled with the determination of academic environments, our professors, our youth and our scientists. We can fill the gaps which exist in economic, cultural, political and management areas. Universities can put research materials on the agenda and fill these gaps. Therefore, one of the standards and criteria should be to put scientific activities at the service of the needs of the country.

We should stress the issue of building a bridge between academic research and industrial and business areas. This is the issue which we have repeatedly stressed over the past 10, 12 years. We have said this to administrations and universities. Of course, it has been put into practice to a great - but not to the fullest possible - extent. This issue is beneficial for our universities, our industries, our finance and our agriculture.

We should also stress the issue of constructive competition in the area of innovation. There should be a strong, constructive and serious competition in the country for stimulating the kind of scientific innovations which will lead to technological innovations. There should be competition among the universities of the country, among professors and among outstanding personalities. The organizations in charge of higher education should plan for creating such a competition among top universities. There are a number of top universities in technological sciences and engineering. The same is true of humanities and other branches and areas. They should create competition among different universities and universities should be granted certain privileges.

Of course, we do not deny what was said in this meeting about the idea that top and well-established universities and low-ranking universities do not have equal opportunities. In my opinion, this is fair. Of course, there should be certain considerations. But, naturally, we should give more attention to institutes which have more capacities. Therefore, everybody - including professors, managers and the most influential personalities in academic environments - should take care not to let academic environments move towards trivial issues. The environment should be one in which major and fundamental issues are pursued. The discourse of knowledge and progress and the discourse of the communal progress of the country should dominate academic environments. Of course, there are certain enemies who like to extend partisan issues in universities to political issues and conflicts. This should be avoided. It is not an honor for a university to see that its main issues are overshadowed by minor and trivial issues or to see that these issues have been adversely affected by political orientations. The academic environment should be one in which knowledge can prevail and in which knowledgeable people can live the way they want.

Of course, it is clear - and all the friends know - that this scientific progress and the achievements which have been made in scientific areas in the country are because of the Islamic Revolution. These things have happened in the shade of Islam and the Revolution. If the Revolution and our religious beliefs, which are leading and active factors in our lives, had failed to influence the general conditions of the country, particularly on the issue of knowledge, the influence of oppressive powers would have definitely not allowed a country like Iran - which they greedily wanted to dominate - to make these achievements in scientific areas and to gain such self-confidence. They would not have allowed us to achieve these things, as they did not allow it in other countries where they are dominant and influential. It was the Revolution which changed that environment and which made the scientific environment dominate our country. Therefore, everybody should feel that they owe the Revolution and everybody should feel obliged to preserve the ideals and values of the Revolution.

Another point which I have written down and which was mentioned by the friends in this meeting is the issue of improving quality in universities. Of course, I do not believe that increasing the quantity of work is of little value. Increasing the quantity of work as such is very valuable. If there is an increase in the number of students and universities, if there are more scientific centers in the country and if doctors can perform surgery in hospitals of remote cities, then these are not minor achievements. These things are a source of pride. In the recent past - during the early years after the Revolution and during the time before the victory of the Revolution - it was not easy to perform surgery even in Tehran. Therefore, we should not deny that quantity is valuable. But I stress that increasing the quantity should be accompanied by improving quality. This is acceptable. First of all, the rankings of universities in terms of quality should be determined. That is to say, the organization in charge of managing universities should determine which university or universities are below standard in terms of quality. Then, it should plan to improve the quality of these universities. This is one of the things which is very essential and which should be definitely done. The issue of quality should receive attention as a separate issue.

Another point which I have written down and which is good to be raised is that the scientific progress of the country should be used to develop Farsi. Dear brothers and sisters, language is very important. Many people do not know about the significance of the national language. Farsi should be extended to other countries. The cultural influence of Farsi should be extended throughout the world on a daily basis. You should write in Farsi and coin words and phrases in Farsi. We should do something to make those who benefit from the scientific achievements of our country learn Farsi in the future. It is not an honor to say that the language of science in our country is such and such a foreign language. Even the most exact sciences can be expressed through Farsi. It has such capacities. We have a language which is full of capacities.

Even a number of European countries - such as France and Germany - did not let English become their language of science. These countries preserved their own language and used it as the language of science in their universities. The issue of language is a very important issue. It really requires your efforts. One of the efforts that wise and intelligent governments throughout the world make is that they lay great emphasis on extending the boundaries of their national language. Unfortunately, this has not been done because of the ignorance of many countries. Even native languages and the main languages of many nations have become completely obsolete or they have been overshadowed by other languages.

Before the Revolution, it was really painful for me to see that foreign words were used by our people without any scruples and they were proud of it. If somebody expressed something with a western word or phrase, he considered it a source of pride. Unfortunately, this attitude has prevailed until today. With the victory of the Revolution, many wrong traditions were eradicated, but unfortunately, this tradition was not. Some people feel proud of expressing a certain fact or a certain issue with a western word. This is while there is a Farsi equivalent for that word. They like to use western phrases. This wrong tradition has gradually influenced the masses of the people and this is really painful. I have certain examples in my mind, but it is not necessary to expand on this issue in the present time.

Another point - which is perhaps the last one - is: if we are after progress and if we consider scientific progress as the necessary precondition for the communal progress of the country, we should know that we do not mean we should make progress on the basis of western paradigms. The chief purpose of the Islamic Republic is to follow an Iranian-Islamic paradigm of progress. We do not want the kind of progress that the West pursued. Western progress has no attraction for today's well-informed human being. The progress of western developed countries could not eradicate poverty. It could not eliminate discrimination. It could not administer justice in society. It could not preserve morality. Primarily, this kind of progress was founded on the basis of oppression, colonialism and looting of other countries. In this meeting, one of the gentlemen raised certain points about the attack of the Portuguese on Iran. Well, it was not only Iran. In East Asia, the Portuguese and the Dutch went to many countries. But how large is the Netherlands or Portugal, Spain and England? How significant is their history and scientific value? They grabbed the entire great continent of Asia and the continent of Africa in their fists and clenched them. These continents were centers of wealth.

You should take a look at the writings of Nehru in "Glances at World History". He speaks at length about the scientific and technological achievements of India before the English entered this country. Before I read such a thing which was written by a well-informed person like Nehru - he wrote it during the time when India was occupied by England - I was not aware of such an event. Take a look at a country like India which is moving in a wise, appropriate and scientific direction, but they come and occupied it with the help of science and weapons. Then, they immediately kill people, destroy its sources of wealth and impose themselves on this country. They take sources of wealth out of India and invest them in their own countries and they make huge investments in this way. The English occupied America with the money that they made in India.

Before the independence of America, when the English had domination over this country, the main source of income for English merchants came from the trade which they conducted from the Indian Subcontinent to coasts of America. This came to an end as a result of the confrontation of American civilians against the English. Of course, it was not Native Americans who did this. This was done by the English and Spanish immigrants and other people. The English domination came to an end because of the war which was waged and because of the independence of America. Anyway, the English founded their civilization by sucking the blood of other nations.

With their different achievements, they could neither end oppression and prohibit discrimination in their own countries, nor promote welfare in poor countries. Today, you can see in what conditions these countries are in economic, social and moral arenas. You can see the decline of morality and this morass of decadence in the West. The progress of western civilization is such progress and it has such characteristics. We do not at all like it. We are after our own appropriate and ideal paradigm which is an Islamic-Iranian paradigm and which originates from Islamic guidance and benefits from Iranian traditions and requirements. It is an independent paradigm. Of course, today, researchers and experts are making many efforts to design such a paradigm.

I think there is no more time. This is while I am not finished with the things which I have written down. Like many of the honorable brothers and sisters who raised certain points in this meeting and who had to finish their speeches soon, I also have to leave certain issues unfinished. By Allah's favor, if I live long enough to see you in other meetings, which will be held in universities and other places, I will address a number of these issues.

Dear God, bestow Your blessings on our academic community. Dear God, do not make enthusiastic hearts to be deprived of Your endless mercy in this month. Dear God, if you have not already forgiven us in these last days of the auspicious month of Ramadan, forgive us in the remaining days. Dear God, help the Iranian nation make achievements in all the arenas of life. Make this great nation achieve a victory over its enemies. Dear God, make the pure intentions and the enthusiastic hearts of the people of Iran - who love the truth - capable of achieving their great and ideal desires. Dear God, make the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam and the holy souls of our dear martyrs satisfied with us. Make us benefit from the prayers of the Imam of the Age (peace and greetings be upon him and may God hasten his re-appearance) and make his holy heart satisfied and pleased with us.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings