Ayatollah Khamenei

We Are in an Asymmetric War with Global Arrogance: Ayatollah Khamenei

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on May 23, 2016 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, at Imam Hussein (a.s.) University on the occasion of the graduation ceremony of a number of cadets, Imam Mahdi’s (a.s.) birthday anniversary and the liberation of Khorramshahr on the third of Khordad of 1361.

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, Ab-al-Qassem al-Mustafa Muhammad and upon his immaculate, pure and chosen household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth

It is a sweet and beautiful day for me. I am among you dear and revolutionary youth with pure hearts and motivated lives. You really engender many hopes for the future of this country and this Revolution. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the auspicious birthday anniversary of the pole of the universe, Hazrat Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance and may our souls be sacrificed for his sake). I hope that by Allah’s favor, all of you will be among those who really wait for his reappearance and among the true companions of that great personality in the present time and in the future.

The third of Khordad is also among unforgettable days. It is one of those days that shine brightly in the history of our country and in the history of Iran’s dear Islamic Revolution. This day is a symbol: a symbol of the victory of the truth over evil and a symbol of divine power. It is a powerful hand. As our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) said, “It is a powerful hand that is supporting us.” The third of Khordad – the day of the liberation of Khorramshahr – is such a day.

Also, I would like to congratulate you dear graduates and you dear cadets. You have begun a good path. You have entered a good path. I hope that Allah bestows His blessings on you, God willing. I hope that by Allah’s favor, you will take this path in a serious manner and with firm determination and strong motivations.

As for the liberation of Khorramshahr, most of you youth had not been born yet on that day or even if you were born, you were small children, very small. The day of liberating Khorramshahr was a great event. I was going from the presidential building to Imam’s (Allah the Exalted’s paradise be upon him) house to meet him only a few hours after the announcement. The people were celebrating the event in a very enthusiastic manner on the streets on my way to Imam’s (r.a.) house. It was like a demonstration and a rally. When they saw our car, they approached us and expressed their congratulations. Such a public and voluntary celebration was held throughout the country. The issue was such an important issue.

Of course, on that day, most of the people did not know what had happened that had resulted in the liberation of Khorramshahr. The people were not aware of those sacrifices, those astonishing and unbelievable efforts and the details of the victory. Today too, many people are not aware of them. I advise everyone to read the books about the details of Operation Towards Bayt-ul Moqadas – that led to the recapture of Khorramshahr – and also the rest of the operation, Operation Fath-ul Mubin. Everyone should read these books to see what happened.

Once, I likened the Sacred Defense Era to a very big and magnificent picture that has been set up very high on the wall. We watch and admire the picture from below, but if we get closer and see the subtleties, the art and the details that have been used in this picture, and the various colors, patterns and paintbrushes that exist in it, our admiration will increase tenfold. The books that have been written actually portray these details for us who have seen this picture only from afar. Well, it was a great event.

However, an event that was even greater than that one was that when Khorramshahr was liberated, when all those efforts produced results, after all those youth sweated hard and after we offered so many martyrs and endured many hardships, Imam (may God bestow paradise on him) – that man of God and that divine sage in the true sense of the word – said, “God liberated Khorramshahr.” God liberated Khorramshahr. This is very important. What does this mean? It means that if you make efforts, God’s power will stand behind you. An army without back-up cannot do anything. An army that has back-up and numerous precautionary and reserve forces can do many things. Now, if the reserve and back-up force of an army is comprised of divine power, will this army be defeated at all?

Imam (r.a.) helped us to understand this. He helped us to understand that when we engage in jihad, when we do not show laziness, when we enter the arena and bring our forces to the scene, God’s power stands behind us and as a result, Khorramshahr is liberated. With this logic, God can also liberate the entire captivated world of arrogance. With this logic, Palestine can be liberated as well. With this logic, every nation can be liberated from oppression provided that this logic is implemented. When we have this logic, we become invincible. When we enter the arena with this logic, there will be no more fear and intimidation. Under such circumstances, the military, promotional, monetary, financial and economic power of superpowers in the world will not be scary and intimidating to us because we have relied on God’s power.

Of course, God’s power does not stand behind lazy individuals and those nations that are not prepared to sacrifice. God’s power stands behind those individuals who are prepared to enter the arena, move forward, make efforts and prepare themselves for everything. Such individuals are reliant on divine power: “That is because Allah is the Moula of those who believe, but those who reject Allah have no moula” [The Holy Quran, 47: 11]. This is a Quranic ayah. God is your Moula. You have a Moula that has the entire universe in His power. He is your Moula, but the kufar have no moula.    

In the Battle of Badr, when the kufar began to chant slogans and mention the names of their idols, the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) said to his companions to deliver this message to Muslims, “Allah is our Moula and they have no moula.” God is our Moula and Protector. Our power is reliant on His power and you kufar do not have this power. And this was what happened.

It is 37, 38 years now that they have been using all their resources to defeat this auspicious sapling, this Islamic Republic and this Revolution, but they have failed. “Allah is our Moula.” The people of Iran are present on the scene. You should not look at some nagging individuals or some individuals who only pursue lusts. The people are on the scene. The people are in the arena. There are a large number of individuals among our people who are prepared to lay down their lives. This is what brings God’s power behind us. This is an asymmetric war.

An asymmetric war means that the two sides involved have different resources with different identities. This is an asymmetric war. It means that either of the two sides has some resources and sources of power that the other does not. We are engaged in an asymmetric war with global arrogance. Why is that? It is because he might have some resources that we do not, but we too have some resources that he does not. What are these resources? Reliance on and trust in God, and trust in the final victory, in human power, and in the power of human determination. This is what we have. So, this is an asymmetric war.

In asymmetric wars, it is willpowers that fight against one another. Any willpower that becomes dominant will gain the victory. When you are in the arena, you should not weaken your willpower. You should not weaken your willpower in an arena of battle. If one side’s willpower is undermined in an arena of battle, it will definitely be defeated. You should not allow your willpower to falter. You should not allow the enemy’s propaganda and temptations to weaken your willpower and determination. You should preserve your strong willpower because this guarantees victory.

Today, there is not talk of a military war. Today, the probability of a traditional and classic military war against our country is a very very low probability. However, jihad continues to exist. Jihad is a different thing. Jihad does not only mean fighting and being engaged in a military war. Jihad has a much wider meaning. Among the various forms of jihad, there is one that Allah the Exalted has referred to as “great jihad”: “And strive against them with a great jihad” [The Holy Quran, 25: 52]. This is an ayah from the holy Sura al-Furqan. And this great jihad is the Holy Quran. “Jahid-hum” means fight against them with the Holy Quran which is a great jihad.

This ayah was sent down in Makkah. You dear youth should pay attention to this: In Makkah, a military war was not the plan. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and Muslims had not been told to engage in a military war. They used to carry out a different task. As for this different task, Allah the Exalted says in this holy ayah, “And strive against them with a great jihad”. What is this different task? It is resistance, steadfastness and refusal to follow others. “So do not follow the unbelievers and strive against them with a great jihad.” It says that we should not follow polytheists. Refusal to follow kufar is something that Allah the Exalted has referred to as “great jihad”.

This classification is different from the classification of jihad into greater and lesser. Greater jihad – which is the most difficult form – is jihad against one’s self. It is something that preserves our identity and our essence. Lesser jihad is fighting against the enemy. However among the various forms of lesser jihad, there is one that Allah the Exalted has referred to as “great jihad” which is what I just said. So, what does this great jihad mean? It means refusal to obey the enemy and kufar. It means refusal to obey the force that is confronting you in an arena of war. What does obeying mean? It means following. We should not follow others. In which arenas should we not follow others? In different arenas including in the arena of politics, economy, culture and art. We should not follow the enemy in different arenas. This is “great jihad”.

This refusal to follow others is so important that Allah the Exalted frequently advises His Messenger to observe it. The first ayah of the holy Sura al-Ahzab – which is a deeply moving ayah – is: “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful- Oh Prophet, fear Allah, and hearken not to the unbelievers.”

It says that the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) should “Fear Allah, and hearken not to the unbelievers. Verily Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom.” It says that God is aware of the Holy Prophet’s (s.w.a.) problems, of the pressures that they exert on him to force him into following them – with threats and temptations – but that he should be afraid of divine censure: “Fear Allah and hearken not to the unbelievers.” This refusal to obey the unbelievers is that great and important issue that makes Allah the Exalted speak to His Messenger in that tone.

He should not obey the unbelievers. So, what should he do? “But follow that which comes to you by revelation from your Lord, for Allah is well acquainted with all that you do.” “Oh Prophet, fear Allah, and hearken not to the unbelievers and the hypocrites. Verily Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom. But follow that which comes to you by revelation from your Lord, for Allah is well acquainted with all that you do” [The Holy Quran, 33: 1-2].  You should not follow them. You have a plan. You have a plan for the things that you should do and for your life. Divine revelation has not left you alone. The Holy Quran is available to you, Islam is available to you, and Islam’s plan is available to you. Therefore, you should take this path. Notice that these are the first ayahs of Sura al-Ahzab, in a row. First, “Oh Prophet, fear Allah, and hearken not to the unbelievers and the hypocrites.” And then, “But follow that which comes to you by revelation from your Lord.”

After that comes the answer to the question about the pressures that kufar exert: “And put your trust in Allah, and enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs” [The Holy Quran, 33: 3]. It means that you should rely on God in the face of all these pressures. You should rely on God. Reliance does not mean that you should abandon the task and sit idle so that God does it for you. This is not what it means. Reliance means that you should move forward, sweat and try hard and then be certain that Allah the Exalted will help you. Today, the issue of the Islamic Republic is this.

The issue of the Islamic Republic is that the arrogant enemy is trying to bring the Revolution to its knees. With what? With the promotion of his culture, with his economic pressures, with all sorts of political efforts, with the vast scope of his propaganda and with treasonous elements that are at his disposal, he is trying to stir the environment of the Islamic Republic to make it follow him. What makes arrogance be extremely angry at the Islamic Republic is not that the people of Iran are Muslims, rather the reason is that because of being Muslims, the people are not willing to give in to arrogance. They are not willing to follow him. This is why the enemy is angry. They are trying to cover up the real reason, but this is the truth of the matter. The nuclear issue was an excuse. Even the issue of missiles – they are constantly speaking about the issue of missiles which is of course of no avail and they cannot do a damn thing about it – is an excuse. The issue of human rights and different other issues are all mere excuses. The real issue is our refusal to follow them.

If the Islamic Republic was willing to follow arrogance, they would get along with its missiles, with its nuclear energy and with all kinds of things that exist in this regard and they would never say anything about human rights. On the basis of divine teachings, the Islamic Republic is not willing to follow the arrogant and kafer enemy- the camp of kufr and arrogance. This is the main reason. All their efforts are focused on this.

Of course, they try not to mention this, but their statements give them away. A few days ago, an American official listed the accusations that exist against the Islamic Republic: Missiles and so-and-so and “ideology”! This slipped from their tongue and thus they gave themselves away. This ideology means thinking: Islamic thinking that encourages you not to give in to the kafer enemy and to the camp of kufr and arrogance.

This is what triggers enmity and this is what brings you power. This is what brings you power. It is this motivation that has helped the people of Iran to survive. It is this motivation that has helped the people of Iran to preserve their firm determination. This means resisting and preserving the revolutionary and Islamic identity for the sake of the Islamic Republic and for the sake of the people of Iran. This is what the enemy is extremely angry about. And he has no other options. They tried very hard so that they could dominate our decision-making and decision-building centers, but they failed and by Allah’s favor and grace, they will continue to fail.

You are guardians of the Revolution. Guardians of the Revolution! Of course, all of the people of Iran are or should be the guardians of the Revolution, but you are the organization that is honored by this name: “Islamic Revolution Guards Corps”. You should place this “great jihad” at the top of your agenda. Today too, they are angry at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps more than others. The names that they mention, the curses that they use, and the insulting things that they say, target – more than everyone else - the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. The reason is that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has shown that it has stood firm. So, you should not lose this spirit, this orientation and this state of mind.

Dear youth, my dear children, the future belongs to you. The future belongs to you. It is you who preserve this history with its dignity. It is you who carry this responsibility on your shoulders. Khorramshahrs are ahead of you, not in the arena of military war, rather in an arena that is more difficult than a military war. Of course, this arena does not involve the ruin and destruction that follows a military war. On the contrary, what follows it is construction. However, it involves more hardships.


When we spoke about the economy of resistance, this means that the economic part of this great and fundamental policy is economic resistance. When we said that religious, hezbollahi and revolutionary youth should pursue, not abandon, their voluntary cultural efforts and when we invited – and continue to invite - all cultural organizations in the country to move in this direction, this is the cultural part of refusal to follow others. This is a “great jihad”. When we invite all the existing talents in the country to employ their talents and to bring them to the scene and to the arena on the path of the progress of this country and when we invite executive and other officials to welcome these talents, this is the active and social part of “great jihad”. This great jihad has various dimensions: “And strive against them with a great jihad.”

This does not mean breaking off our relationship with the world. In order to criticize this divine policy, some people say falsely, “Revolutionaries say that we should break off our relationship with the world.” This is not the case. We do not want to break off our relationship with the world and we do not want to build a wall around the country. They can come and go, they can interact with the world and they can do business with others, but they should not forget about their main identity and character. This is what we say: “And you shall have the upper hand if you are believers” [The Holy Quran, 3: 139].

They should move like representatives of the Islamic government. They should speak like representatives of the Islamic government. You can sign contracts with everyone – with all those that the interests of the country dictate – but you should sit at the negotiating table like representatives of Islamic Iran and representatives of Islam. Everyone should move forward in an intelligent manner. This jihad requires intelligence. It requires purity of intention. This jihad is not like military jihad during which some people shine brightly and their martyrs, their survivors and their disabled war veterans are portrayed in a heroic manner – of course, we are proud of these martyrs, disabled war veterans and self-sacrificing individuals – rather, this jihad is one in which someone might make great efforts, but no one might know them. This jihad requires sincerity.

Today, the enemy has no hope of delivering a lethal blow to the Islamic Republic because he knows that there is enough motivation, faith, sincerity and preparedness inside the country. This is why they have no hope of delivering a lethal blow, but they are not weary of trying to infiltrate the country. Today, the tools for infiltration are many.

They are trying to cultivate Iranian youth in a way that they like. If Iranian youth grow in a way that America and arrogance like, then America will not have to pay any price to implement his plans in Iran because such youth will work for them like servants who receive no wages for their work. They want to build Iranian youth like this. A bunch of characterless individuals spoke and acted in a way that an American was encouraged to say after he came to and left Iran a few years ago, “There are some people in Iran who carry guns in their hands and who are ready for our order to attack.” He had seen a bunch of individuals who had no identity and this was why he was deceived.

The great problem of the Americans is that they do not know our country. They do not and cannot know our people. The problem of arrogance is that he looks at the surface and at appearances, but he does not see one’s essence. And his power is superficial, one that dominates bodies only. He cannot dominate hearts the way he wants. They made a mistake. However, they are not weary of infiltrating. They want to infiltrate, conquer hearts and change minds.

This places a great responsibility on the shoulders of all those who care for the people of Iran and for the country – including you dear guardian youth and the great organization of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. Your job is not only to fight. The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is the guardian of the Revolution. Of course, the military aspect should not be weakened in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in any way. The task should continue in the best way and with the newest and most innovative forms, as befits the status of a military organization. But this is not the only responsibility. The responsibility to clarify falls on the shoulders of everyone including you. The reason why I place so much emphasis on clarification is that today this “great jihad” depends to a great extent on clarification. It depends on clarifying, explaining and enlightening. Today, enlightenment is necessary. You should try to help minds reach the depth of realities and matters by trying to understand them. Your university can accomplish great tasks in this regard. It can make clarification one of its major plans both inside itself and in larger dominions, within the remit of its resources.

The slogans of the Revolution should be preserved. This is one of the goals. One of the great tasks and great parts of this enormous jihad – this great jihad – is preserving the slogans of the Revolution. Slogans show the goals. They show us the path. Slogans are like the signs that are set up on the road so that one does not lose one’s path: “On the right and left there are misleading paths. Only the middle way is the right path” [Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 16]. These signs help one not to deviate to the right and to the left so that one can take the straight path. Slogans accomplish this great task. This is their role.

We should not be satisfied with feelings when it comes to these slogans and truths. Of course, I attach great significance to feelings and emotions, but they are not enough. They are necessary, but not enough. Depth, deliberation and deep outlook should exist in all these slogans. You should try to think deeply about different matters. When you think deeply, this well-established faith will not separate from you with any force whatsoever.

The problem of those who are more zealous and bigoted than everyone else one day and who then turn 180 degrees to the other side is that their faith does not have any depth. We used to have such individuals. In the beginning of the Revolution, there were some extremist and radical individuals who did not even believe in original, old and veteran revolutionaries and who found faults with them. However, they were superficial individuals and this superficiality became their ruin. They turned 180 degrees to the other side and they changed their principles.

You should have depth and profundity. You should delve into the depths of thinking and deliberation and you should benefit from the guidance of righteous teachers on this path.

Training staff is another task. The future belongs to you. In the future, you can play a great role building and offering competent and righteous staff to the public and managerial system of the country. You should collect the abundant experiences of the Revolution – these copious experiences of the past 37 years. This is scholarly work. This is a scholarly-historical piece of research. Today, we need to take a look at the past, at the roads that we have taken, at the tasks that we and others have carried out, at the experiences that we have gained, and at the peaks and troughs that have existed on our way. The Revolution has managed to find its way through these various twists and turns and to move towards goals and it has never stopped.

 This task requires organized and scholarly work. Your university is a different university. Of course, I am not only addressing your university, rather I am addressing all universities, scientific centers and Islamic seminaries. However, Imam Hussein (a.s.) University is Imam Hussein (a.s.) University! It is a different university. More responsibilities fall on your shoulders.

Another point is that you should consider clarification and explanation as the basis of  work. I sometimes witness that when a group of people – probably a number of moral and pious youth – are opposed to someone or some meeting, they begin creating a fuss and chanting slogans. I do not agree with such courses of action because they are of no avail. Since long ago, I have frequently advised this to those who engage in such courses of action. If you go to such and such a meeting where someone whom you do not agree with – whether rightly or wrongly –  is delivering a speech with the purpose of breaking up the meeting and creating a fuss, this is of no avail. What works is clarification and adopting the right and intelligent course of action. These are the things that work. Sometimes, some people adopt such courses of action with malicious intentions and they ascribe them to pious and hezbollahi youth. You should be careful about this.

This is the last point that I would like to discuss. All the things that we said, all the things that we should do, and all the things that our capabilities are prepared for- depend on supplication and attention to Allah the Exalted. We should increase our reliance on God. The relationship of hearts with Allah the Exalted is a relationship that will support our revolutionary identity and our willpower and determination provided that this relationship is established. This relationship will be able to prepare the ground for what we referred to.

Dear youth, preserve your close relationship with the Holy Quran. Thankfully, there are many memorizers of the Holy Quran among our youth. You should attach great significance to memorizing, reciting and deliberating on the Holy Quran and to paying attention to divine signs. You should pay attention to daily prayers. You should perform daily prayers well, you should pay attention to it and you should feel that you are present before God. Presence of heart means that one’s heart should be there when saying daily prayers. Sometimes, we are saying daily prayers, but our hearts are somewhere else. Presence of heart means that our hearts should be present there in our sajjadah, not somewhere else.

You youth should practice this. It might be difficult in the beginning, but if you practice, it will become easy and you will get used to it. If you practice today, it will always be useful to you. If you do not practice this during your youth, it will become difficult when you reach my age. You should get close to daily prayers, to the Holy Quran, to different prayers, to the duas of the month of Sha’ban and to Dua Sha’baniyyah. The month of Ramadan is ahead of us. You should cleanse, aromatize and enlighten yourselves with the auspicious days and nights of the month of Ramadan. If you do so, you will – by Allah’s favor – be able to accomplish all these great tasks.

May the memory of our dear Imam (r.a.) be blessed. God’s mercy be upon that great man who opened this path to us. God’s mercy be upon on our dear martyrs and God’s greetings be upon the families of martyrs and war veterans.

Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings