Leader's Speech in Meeting with Panegyrists

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on April 20, 2014 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with a group of panegyrists on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.).

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I congratulate all of you dear brothers - who are lyrical nightingales in the garden of love for the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) household (a.s.) - on the occasion of the auspicious birthday anniversary of Sayyidah Taherah Masoumeh (God's greetings be upon her) and the birthday anniversary of the great and glorious leader of the Revolution.

We thank God because this is one of His great blessings for us and it is a source of inspiration for our Islamic and Shia society. He repeatedly and constantly inspires our society with birthday anniversaries, biographies, and martyrdom eras. This should really be appreciated.

During the birthday anniversaries of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.), Imam Hassan (a.s.), Imam Hussein (a.s.) and Fatima Zahra (s.a.), the memory of these shining stars and these guiding flags are revived in hearts. This is very valuable. And thank God it is many years that we have been holding this meeting in the shade of Fatemi enlightenment (God's purest greetings be upon her). It is many years that this meeting has been bestowing its blessings on us, on our working and living environments and on the environment of the country.

Man's limited mind cannot definitely evaluate and measure the characteristics of heavenly personalities like Fatima Zahra (God's greetings be upon her). People's minds do not have the capability to evaluate and measure these spiritual dimensions. However, we can make their behavior a model for ourselves. This was also pointed out in the poems that the friends in this meeting recited.

The spiritual positions of these personalities are one thing and the patterns of behavior which are in front of our eyes are quite another. This does not mean that we can emulate these personalities by displaying a second version of their patterns of behavior. This is not what it means. However, we can follow them at least.

The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) said, "I know that to adopt such a hard way of life is beyond you, but at least try to be pious. Help me and be my companion in virtue, diligence and simple living" [Nahjul Balaghah, Letter 45]. After he describes his lifestyle - although he had a lofty position and had access to many resources, he lived a life of piety and abstinence - he says, "You cannot behave like me, but you can help me". With what? We can help him with piety, avoidance of sins, effort and diligence. These are our responsibilities.

They have illustrated the goals for us, both individual and personal goals, and social, political and general goals. In personal goals, our lofty ideal is reaching the peak of human dignity. Everyone has been promised that they can take this lofty and limitless flight. You youth are more capable than us. These are the personal goals.

And our great social goals are creating a pure Islamic life and Islamic society, one that allows individuals to move towards this goal. Such a society is well-developed, free, independent, highly moral, united, unanimous, pious and religious. These are the goals of Islamic society. The main social and political goal of Islam is creating a world which is an introduction to the afterlife and which helps individuals to achieve paradise easily. They have illustrated these goals for us.

What is the way to achieve these goals? How can we reach these goals? As Imam Ali (a.s.) said, we should help him to reach this goal - this is the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) command. This goal is what the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) did in his entire life and during his efforts and jihad, which is creating such a world for all the people throughout history. How can we help him? We can help him with virtue, diligence and effort. Laziness is forbidden. Idleness is forbidden. Feeling tired is forbidden. Becoming desperate is forbidden. When this great movement is launched, you have gladdened the blessed heart of Fatima Zahra (God's greetings be upon her) and the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) because they made all these efforts in order to reach this goal.

My dear ones, dear youth, this opportunity is available to the people of Iran today. In the past, it was not available and it was difficult. Today in the Islamic Republic, the opportunity to move forward in the right way and to lead a good, pious and pure life is available to all the people in society. This does not mean that the path of committing sins is closed. This is not the case because the path of sins is always open, but the path of living a good, pious and pure life in the shade of Islam is open as well.

Of course, living such a life has its own pleasures and difficulties. "And thus did We make for every prophet an enemy, the shaitans from among men and jinn, some of them suggesting to others varnished falsehood to deceive them" [The Holy Quran, 6: 112]. There have always been certain enemies against the camp of prophets. Who are these enemies? These enemies are the shaitans from among men and jinn. Against this seemingly long line of shaitans, there is the steel and strong line of believers. The people of Iran experienced this and it became clear that people can achieve victory over their enemies, as the people of Iran have thankfully moved forward until today.

We should make efforts. The lesson of the life of Siddiqat al-Taherah - Fatima Zahra (God's greetings be upon her) - is to make efforts, show diligence and lead a pure life, as that great personality was the manifestation of enlightenment and purity: she was "pure, clean, immaculate, virtuous, pious and moral" [Kamel al-Ziarat, page 310]. The purity, cleanliness, piety and enlightenment of that great person are what have influenced our Islamic teachings throughout the history of Shiaism.

What is appropriate to be discussed in this meeting is related to the heavy responsibility that falls on the shoulders of today's society of panegyrists. This issue has priority over other issues. Dear brothers, the tradition of praising and eulogizing the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) household (a.s.) - which is a great honor - has fortunately become common and deep-rooted in our society. This tradition existed in the past as well, but it was limited in scope. However today, this banquet has spread and this arena has opened to everyone.

Today, thousands of people throughout the country are active in this arena by utilizing their artistic taste and benefitting from different methods of eloquence. Well, this is an opportunity and any opportunity is accompanied by a responsibility. When you cannot communicate with someone, your responsibility remains at a limited level, but when you can, your responsibility will naturally increase to the extent that your capability for communication allows.

When you can speak to the people and when you have the capability to address them with the art of poetry, singing and melody, this makes you responsible. All these opportunities and capacities are accompanied by a responsibility. You should be able to carry out this responsibility in an efficient way. If the society of panegyrists in the country can carry out its responsibility as befits its position, then a significant development will take place throughout the country.

I have repeatedly said that if you recite a poem in an artistic way and if the poem itself is meaningful and instructive, then this will exert more influence than the speech that we deliver for two, three hours. Sometimes, this is the case. Well, this is a very good opportunity. Notice what will happen if the thousands of panegyrists, eulogists and religious singers who address the people and who sing to them on different occasions observe the principles and requirements of this great task.

Our enemies are after destroying our beliefs, actions and paths with hundreds of weapons and discourses and with various kinds of measures. Primarily, they are doing this in the Islamic Republic and secondly, they are doing it in the world of Islam. Many of the people understand, see and know about the enemy's measures. There are different TV and radio channels and different electronic means of communication.

However, there are certain propaganda measures about which we have more information than the people. The masses of the people do not know what complex measures are being adopted in our country to make the minds of the people deviate from the right path, to divert their movement, to bring the world of Islam to its knees and to prevent Shia community and Shia teachings from becoming a model in the world of Islam. Such measures are being adopted.

We have unique and exclusive resources against this effort of the enemy. We can respond through the internet and through the methods that they themselves employ - of course, their work is much broader in scope - but we have certain means which are exclusive to us.

One of these means is you society of panegyrists. Your face-to-face communication and your utilization of art for conveying concepts to the audience in a comprehensive and wide-ranging way - that is to say, the issue is not about two, three, ten panegyrists, rather thousands of panegyrists are doing this throughout the country - is an exclusive means that we enjoy. It is a means that they do not have.

Minbars are one of these unique means. The same is true of mourning ceremonies. The same is true of religious heyats. If the content of our minbars, eulogies, heyats and nohas are appropriate, then no means can confront and oppose them. That is to say, this means is completely unique and exclusive. Notice that this is an opportunity. Therefore, it should not be wasted and missed.

What is worse than missing this opportunity is using it in a bad way. If our religious ceremonies and eulogies make the people lose their belief in the future, we have wasted this opportunity and we have not appreciated the value of this blessing. If the people leave our minbars and our eulogies while they have not gained any understanding about their conditions and their responsibilities, we have wasted this opportunity. If, God forbid, our meetings shatter unity, we have missed this opportunity. If the way we speak or the content of our speech helps the enemies succeed in their goals, we have turned this divine blessing into blasphemy and ungratefulness: "They have changed Allah's favor for ungratefulness" [The Holy Quran, 14: 28].

We should be careful about this. We have said many times that today's denominational discord among Muslims is a weapon and a trump card in the hands of our enemies. This is completely clear to those people who are well-informed about global developments. Such denominational discord is a sword in the hands of our enemies. Publicizing differences, expressing them in an outspoken way and speaking about issues which fuel fitna is one of the means which our enemy makes maximum use of.

Now if we act in a way that the enemy's goal is achieved, this is changing Allah's favor for ungratefulness. In religious ceremonies, denominational discourse should not be highlighted. How many times should this be repeated? We have said this many times, but some people do not want to listen.

What do you do if you want to guide those people who do not believe in your denomination and your true beliefs? Do you begin to curse and speak ill of their sacred beliefs? This will make them completely drift away from you and it will destroy all hopes of guiding them. The way to guide them is not this. As you can see today, the world of Shia Islam is under attack. Those who had not heard the name of Shia and Sunni Islam - the leaders of arrogance - are constantly highlighting the name of Shia Islam in their propaganda. They constantly speak about Shia Iran, Shia groups in Iraq and other Shia countries. They constantly highlight the issue of Shia and Sunni.

Why do they do this? It is because they have found a good tool for provoking grudge among Muslims. Well, we are proud that we are Alavi Shias. We are proud that we have gained understanding about the position of Wilayat. Our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) carried the flag of the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) Wilayat and this became a means for the world of Islam - whether Shia or non-Shia Islam - to feel proud of Islam.

Now, should we do something to turn this feeling of pride and the interest of the world of Islam in Shia community and Shia honor into enmity, hostility and grudge? This is exactly what the enemy wants. We should not allow him to achieve his goal. This is a very important point. You should be careful about this. You should be careful more than other people. We should not do something to help the enemy succeed in his goal and sharpen his sword. Our great personalities, our ulama, our marja taqlids and the great personalities of the world of Islam have always advised us to be careful about this issue. So, this is a very fundamental point.

The second point is that you should take care not to do anything in religious environments and ceremonies which is beyond the principles of sharia. You should be careful about this. The environment of panegyric and religious singing is a pure and clean environment. We should not allow the impurities which have unfortunately been promoted in the world of art among decadent and immoral people to penetrate into the environment of Islamic and religious art. You should be careful about this. Such environments should be clean, pure, untainted and moral. The environment in which we want to convey Islamic teachings with the language of poetry should be such an environment.

Every word that we use in our poems as content and meaning should be instructive. We should try to do this and it does not matter what occasion it is. Sometimes, it is a mourning ceremony and sometimes, it is a eulogy. All of the words that we select can be instructive. In the last Muharram during the time of taghut - it was during the time of revolutionary enthusiasm and excitement and the Revolution became victorious immediately after this Muharram - religious heyats in different cities used to perform certain nohas, each of which enlightened and informed the people as strongly as a long and eloquent speech. Nohas should always be like this.

The task that noha performers carry out is a very remarkable and interesting task. The tradition of performing nohas and the kind of behavior which is witnessed in nohas are very important. These are exclusive to Shia community. That is to say, they are particular to us. Such religious ceremonies do not exist in other countries. This is one of our privileges and therefore, such ceremonies should have strong content.

If, by Allah's favor, these things receive attention, the society of panegyrists will be one of the most influential pioneers of change in the intellectual and practical system of Iranian society. This can be achieved as in the present time, one can see that whenever a responsible and committed panegyrist recites a good poem in a proper way, this will exert influence over the audience and it will awaken and inform them.

It is not clear whether any charitable act can be as valuable as this task in improving society. There are few tasks on which one can place such a high value before Allah the Exalted. This is a very important task. Thankfully, you benefit from this blessing. You have a good voice and you have the capability to perform in a good and melodious way. If you accompany this with the characteristics that were referred to, it seems that a great task for furthering the goals of the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic will be carried out.

Fortunately today, we do not have a shortage of good poems. We have very good religious and ayini poets. These poets compose poems about different issues and their poems are good. Thankfully today, we benefited from some of these good poems. It was very good.

In the past, panegyrists had to memorize poems. Today, you broke this tradition. You made it easier by using a piece of paper. Well, good poems can be written and recited. Thankfully, this opportunity exists today. This is one of God's greatest blessings which is available to us today.

In my opinion, the society of panegyrists with its enormous capabilities is a divine blessing for our country and our people and the poets who compose poems and who prepare panegyrists for carrying out this responsibility are really accomplishing a great feat. I ask Allah the Exalted to bestow His blessings on all you dear ones - particularly you youth who have a wide arena of work ahead of you. I hope that all of you will be rewarded by the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) and that you will receive his attention.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings