Ayatollah Khamenei

Clergy Should Actively Use Cyber Technologies: Ayatollah Khamenei

Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, began this year’s cycle of Dars-e Kharij in the new academic year of the Islamic seminaries. The following is the full text of the speech delivered on September 6, 2016 at Dars-e Kharij.


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

After three-plus months during which the classroom and seminary discussions were close, I have thankfully returned to you gentlemen now and I want to hold fiqhi discussions. We passed through the month of Ramadan and a hot summer during this period of time. Some individuals benefited from the month of Ramadan in the real sense of the word by performing religious obligations in the month of Ramadan, by fasting in the hot and long days of the month of Ramadan, by saying the prayers of that month, by engaging in humility, supplication and other such acts, and also by doing several activities including carrying out promotional tasks and explaining religious rules.

Some individuals travelled to other cities and some were busy in Tehran. Some of you and the rest of the brothers who are in Tehran really benefitted from the month of Ramadan. And some did not benefit from it a lot and we should feel regretful because of this and we should try to compensate for it.

What is important is that religious clergy, religious ulama and seminarians should- in the common sense of the word- understand what their responsibilities are in every period of time. If we do not understand what our responsibilities are, then knowledge, piety and the like will not be of any use. In other words, they will not be utilized in the right place.

For example, imagine that you have a lot of money but you do not know that your child is sick. Well, if you knew that your child is sick and that he needs treatment and surgery for example, you would go and treat him because you have money in your pocket. However, when you are not aware of his disease, you will lose him or his disease will increase. This is while you could have treated him because you had the resources and the money to do so.

If we have knowledge, piety and even courage but do not know what our responsibilities are, what our position should be and what Allah the Exalted and religion want us to do in the arena of society, then that knowledge, piety, courage and other positive characteristics will not produce the desired results and they will not perform well. When we constantly repeat the word “insight”, some people become extremely displeased and say, “Why does he constantly speak about insight?” Well, insight means this! One of the important aspects of insight is that we know what needs exist in today’s society. We have millions of youth. Youth are subject to learning, but the important thing is what they learn. A poet says, “I am a clean board and I am ready for all kinds of writings” [from a poem by Hajj Mirza Habib].

All sorts of writings can be written on this clean board. Who should take the initiative? Who should step forward? Who should figure out, when some inauspicious and wrong writings have been written on this clean board so that they go and correct it? All these things require insight. We should know society’s need in the present time. Today, our enemies spend a ridiculous amount of money so that they can corrupt and divert the minds of pious and Muslim Iranian youth. From what? From the essence of religion. They want to divert their minds not only from the Islamic Republic, Wilayat-e Faqih and other such concepts, but also from the essence of religion, from following religion, from the issue of Shia, from the Islamic Republic and from other concepts and issues that exist today.

They are constantly creating fallacies. There are some people inside the country who become their instruments, but many of them are not inside the country. They are outside the country and they issue policies. They choose certain topics and subjects and they spread them. And they say to others that they should go and promote them.

Today, cyberspace is like an endless desert from all whose sides we can move forward. Things are not like the past anymore. In the past, if you wanted to explain something, you had to write it on a piece of paper and then make 10, 100, 200 copies of it. Things are not like this anymore. Every person who can work with a computer is a medium. They sit and spread fallacies and wrong notions and this way, they lead pious and healthy youth astray. These fallacies should be identified. Who should step forward to present himself as a shield and to prevent youth from being led astray? Who should prevent the enemy from diverting the minds of youth? On whose shoulders does this task fall? The first responsibility of the scholarly and religious society – the clergy – is this. In fact, this is its most important responsibility.

Islamic seminaries should create these capabilities in themselves. They should create in themselves the capability to confront and face this infinite and large enemy army which is advancing towards the faith, beliefs and moral health of the people and towards the morality of youth. There are numerous websites whose goal is to destroy the morality and modesty of Muslim youth – whether boys or girls. Their goal is to tear the veil of their modesty. This is their main effort and they are planning for this.

Well, some activities are criminal activities. Different government organizations are responsible for confronting such activities and they are doing this indeed. However, those activities which are related to one’s mind and heart cannot be resolved through security and military confrontations and through intelligence work. Such activities require instruments which are as efficient as the maladies that those activities contain. The cure for such maladies is something that is available to the clergy, religious ulama and wise personalities in the area of religion.

We should equip ourselves. Many of us are not equipped. Many of us do not have enough knowledge, either about software or hardware. Some of the clergy are not at all familiar with the new methods. They are not at all familiar with the Internet and the like. They do not understand what it means and they do not understand the significance of this work. We are witness to this.

Among officials too, there are some individuals who do not appreciate the significance of this great task the way they should and that is why they do not adopt the necessary measures. We established the Supreme Council of Cyberspace for this purpose. We established it so that officials sit together, think and focus their willpower, decisions and actions on confronting this great occurrence. This is an arena which contains countless advantages and countless disadvantages. The arena of cyberspace is like this. 

We can reap the most benefits out of it. This is what the enemy is doing. You too can work in the opposite direction. That is to say, you can promote Islamic concepts and teachings without any barrier and obstacle. Some of our pious people and pious youth including turban wearers and non-turban wearers, and clerics and non-clerics – some ordinary people are more active in this regard – are carrying out many good tasks. All of a sudden, they promote one subject, one concept and one correct idea in the world and the other side becomes too confused to respond. So, some people are flawed because they are not familiar with this skill.

And some people have software problems. In other words, they do not know the answer to fallacies. And sometimes, they are not aware of the existence of a fallacy at all! They do not know what fallacies exist today! There were some fallacies a hundred, five hundred years ago. Such fallacies might not be highlighted today. So, should we go, look them up in books and find the answer to them or should we see what fallacies exist in the present time? Of course, some of the fallacies that exist today are the same old fallacies, but they appear in new forms. Such fallacies exist, but sometimes, new fallacies appear as well. We should identify and understand these fallacies. These are the tasks that Islamic seminaries should carry out. It is Islamic seminaries that should get involved in such tasks.

This does not mean that we should put fiqahat aside. This is exactly like fiqh. Fiqh is not confined only to practical rules. “Allah the Great’s fiqh” is the same as these Islamic teachings. There are certain ambiguities in Islamic teachings. Notice that for example in the area of salat [daily prayers] for travelers, tens of peripheral issues are brought up in one of the areas. The precision of our fuqaha is like this. They introduce tens of peripheral issues for example on the issue of when to make salat short on a trip. Well, this is one issue, but there are many peripheral issues that arise out of it.

For example, Sayyid mentions 12 or more clauses in the “Ten-Clause Urwah”. Others have mentioned more clauses elsewhere as well. Well, this is also the case in ideological issues. There is diversity and expansion in ideological areas. The other side focuses on one small area and corrupts the minds of some people with it. Therefore, this is one of our main responsibilities. Islamic seminaries should pay attention to this.

Fortunately, Tehran Seminary has been given a makeover and certain tasks have been carried out there. I have heard that today, the inauguration ceremony for Tehran Seminary will be held. Great achievements can be made in this regard. I hope that God will make all of you successful, God willing.