Imam Khamenei

Women and men are different in some cases, similar in others

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on March 19, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the panegyrists of Ahlul Bayt on the occasion of Hazrat Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) birthday anniversary.

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 and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate, infallible and chosen household - those who guide the guided and who are infallible - especially the one remaining with Allah on earth.

Allah, send as many greetings to Fatima, her father, her husband and her children as Your knowledge encompasses.

I enjoyed and benefitted from this blessed, meaningful, content-rich and delightful meeting very much. This meeting contains the expression of truth accompanied by art and the expression of virtues which are loftier than the wisdom of wise and intelligent individuals and this is done with the language of implication, metaphor and aesthetic descriptions which point to that lofty content [the characteristics of Hazrat Fatima Zahra]. This is the characteristic of poetry.

It is many years now that we have been holding this meeting here – in this Hussainiyah – and on this day. And the blessings of this meeting are many both in terms of the spirituality and virtues that affect the hearts of believers and pious individuals and in terms of the social and political impact which are important and noteworthy. We should appreciate the value of this meeting. I thank Allah the Exalted for giving me the opportunity once more and for one more year to be present in this meeting. Also, I would like to thank you and the brothers who performed a program here.

As for the mistress of all women in creation – the mistress of all women at all times – the things that this humble person can say are incomplete and flawed. Our language and descriptions in general are flawed even in describing part of those truths. Apart from her spiritual, mystic and divine positions – no one except for the infallible Imams (a.s.) can understand those positions, let alone describe them – the mistress of all women in the world enjoys unimaginable dimensions and qualities in terms of material and rational attributes as well.

Well, we say that that great personality defended Wilayat, laid down her life, spoke in an eloquent and articulate manner and the like, but these things are only described in words. We cannot imagine that position in any way whatsoever.

If the conditions of Madina after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and the things that happened are explained to us correctly and if we can gain a correct understanding of the matter, then we will understand what great movement Fatima Zahra (s.a.) launched. The circumstances were very difficult and inexplicable even for the minds of the outstanding personalities of the time. Of all the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), only ten, twelve individuals were willing to stand up in the mosque and to defend the right of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.).

There were so many companions of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) in the meeting. There were so many great personalities, so many reciters of the Holy Quran and so many mujahids during the Battle of Badr and the Battle of Hunayn. Of course, not all of them wanted to show enmity towards the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). This was not the case, rather an issue of such clarity was not clear to individuals- even to the outstanding personalities.

People like Ammar, Abu Dhar and Zubayr – in the beginning – wanted to defend the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). These were the individuals who stood up and who defended the right of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). They were, ten, twelve individuals whose names have been recorded in history. Of course, Zubayr was among them as well. You should remember this. Conditions were like this.

Under those circumstances, the Holy Prophet’s (s.w.a.) daughter (s.a.) delivered that eloquent sermon and that astonishing address through which she expressed certain truths. Another sermon that she delivered was the one which she addressed to the women of Madina while she was ill in bed. These sermons have been recorded in history and all of them are available today. 

These things are not related to the spiritual attributes of that great personality, rather they are related to those attributes of hers that are understandable to us. We can understand these attributes with an ordinary reasonable outlook, but they are so significant that they cannot be measured. In other words, they are not comparable to any other self-sacrificing act. Imagine that they ask you, “What is the length and width of galaxies in meters?” This is measurable. One can determine the length and width of galaxies in meters and even in centimeters, but who can do so? Who can understand this? Who is able to carry out such a task? So, these things are not related to the divine, spiritual, mystic and heavenly attributes of that personality, rather they are related to her worldly attributes, but they are so significant that ordinary individuals cannot understand them.

Of course, we speak about her, we perform rowzas for her and we feel pity and shed tears, but we cannot truly imagine what happened and how significant that movement of Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her) was.

Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her) served the role of a real leader. As our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) pointed out, if Fatima Zahra were born a man, she would have become a prophet. This is a very astonishing and great statement. One would hear such a statement only from someone like our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) who was a scholar, a faqih and a mystic. He has said such a thing. Fatima Zahra is this. She was a leader in the true sense of the word. She was like a prophet, like a guide to humanity. Pure Zahra, a young woman, appeared at such levels. This is an example of an Islamic woman.

Well, we constantly praise and admire Fatima Zahra (s.a.). The advantage of this is that mentioning the characteristics of those great personalities enlightens the hearts of us humans. This increases one’s belief in and love for them. These things are good, but there are various other truths beyond these ones. For example, one truth is about the outlook of Islam towards women. There are some ignorant and foolish individuals who criticize the viewpoint of Islam towards women and who brandish westerners’ incomplete, wrong and flawed statements about women. What deviation this is! How wrong this approach is!

Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her) was an Islamic woman, a woman at the highest level of Islamic standards and at the level of a leader, but the same woman who could have been a prophet in terms of spirituality and virtue used to carry out her motherly and wifely duties and she used to do housework. These things should be understood. What should one say to these ignorant and deceived individuals?

They copy the statements that westerners make. They should not belittle housework so much. Women’s housework means cultivating individuals and producing the best and loftiest product of the universe – humanity. Housework means this.

It is necessary for us to gain a correct understanding about Muslim women’s limits and boundaries on the birthday anniversary of Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her). They have named today “Women’s Day” and “Mother’s Day”. This is very very good. It could be named “Leaders’ Day” and it would be fine. It could be named “The Day of the Loftiest Human” but today, our society needs to know what being a mother and a homemaker means. It needs to know what being an excellent homemaker means.

With that position and with that status and greatness, Fatima Zahra was a homemaker. This is not a source of humiliation for her. With that greatness, she cannot be humiliated. Can this greatness be belittled? So, her greatness is preserved, but one of the aspects and duties of that greatness was being a spouse, a mother and a homemaker. We should look at these concepts with such an outlook.

In the name of defending the rights of women, some people make statements which are not a source of respect for women. On the contrary, such statements undermine women. I am speaking about those who make such statements inside the country. Otherwise, in western European culture, these statements are most probably and almost certainly planned by the Zionists who want to create chaos in the human community and annihilate it completely.

They want to turn women into objects for gratifying men’s desires. This is their plot and we have nothing to do with that. This issue is completely different, but in our Islamic environment – whether in our country or in some other Islamic environments – some people speak of certain things, certain duties and certain expectations which are a source of humiliation and contempt for women and they do so in order to support women!

For example, they say, “Why do you not allow women to work outside the house?” First of all, who does not allow them to do so? What is wrong with this? Second, is working outside the house – for example, typing for such and such an office – a proper position and status for women so much so that we fight for it? Is this the meaning of justice? Justice means knowing the qualities that Allah the Exalted has inserted in the nature of all creatures. Then, we should appreciate the value of those qualities and cultivate them. Justice is this.

Allah the Exalted has made men and women similar to one another in some aspects. In terms of achieving spiritual positions, they are not different. An example of this is Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her). In terms of the power to lead, they are not different either. An example of this is Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her). In terms of the capability to guide humanity, they are not different either. An example of this is Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her). But they are different in terms of the responsibilities and duties for managing life. Again, an example of this is Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her). Those who want to defend women’s right are – as they say – blowing into the trumpet from the wrong side! They do not understand what they are saying and what they are defending.

They say, “Why should women not be allowed to manage?” Is management a source of pride for humans so that they look for the reasons behind men’s management? They refer to this as gender justice. Is this justice? Those who introduced gender equality in the world and who pursued it are subject to many calamities and depravities from this area in the present time in a way that they have become regretful.

Of course, many of them do not explicitly acknowledge this and many of them grew up with that culture and therefore, they do not understand what is happening. However, their intellectuals understand this. They acknowledge these calamities, understand this truth and express their concern. I wish that those who speak about gender justice do not mean something similar to gender equality which has been brought up by westerners. I hope that by Allah’s favor, all of us will benefit from the blessings of this day and from the name of Fatima Zahra (God’s greetings be upon her).

Now, I would like to say a few things about the subject of panegyrics. Today, the panegyrists of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are thankfully many, both in Tehran and in other cities. As you witnessed today, individuals from different cities came and performed a program which was very beautiful and exquisite. This is a phenomenon, an unprecedented one. Of course, we used to have this in the past. Panegyrics existed during our youth as well, but first, it was very limited in scope and second, it was not at all comparable to today’s panegyrics in terms of the diversity of behavior, performance, content and form.

Today, this phenomenon has grown and it has developed throughout the country in an astonishing manner. Well, this phenomenon is a human phenomenon. It is also a faith-based and artistic phenomenon. How should this phenomenon be treated? How should it be used to the advantage of Islam and Muslims which is what pleases God? I strongly request that you think of this.

All our moves and tasks should be carried out for the sake of God. We usually mention the names of those individuals who never ignore remembering God and their sense of responsibility and who never ignore working for the sake of God. We should work for the sake of God because that is the thing that will be useful to us. Worldly possessions, the things that people say in praise of us, the pleasures that we have in this world and other such things are of no value. We should please Allah the Exalted. It is divine satisfaction that is valuable for people.

Now, what should we do so that our panegyrics pleases God? There are two things involved in panegyrics: one is form and another is content. Form is very good. Panegyrics is a special artistic method. You should try to avoid mixing this method with other methods of artistic singing. It should not be the case that you sing a rowza or a eulogy whose form is derived from the song that such and such an irreligious and impious person who is drowned in materialism and decadence has sung. You should take care of this because it is an important matter. What Allah the Exalted has given you – a good and mellifluous voice, good thinking and motivation – is a blessing. Therefore, this blessing should be thanked for.

The same is true of content. In the area of content, the most important issue is the issue of eulogizing Ahlul Bayt (greetings be upon them) and helping the hearts of people to get closer to understanding and loving them. We are truly backward in the area of understanding Ahlul Bayt. We should gain this understanding as much as we can. This is a virtue for every individual. Therefore, you should focus your efforts on this and help the people gain this understanding.


One of the duties of content is this. One of the duties of content is to familiarize the people with their religious responsibilities. Today, the poems that some of the brothers recited reflected this. Reflecting on today's world and today's responsibilities and reflecting on the deployments that exist in the present time are tasks that can be carried out by you. You can create discourses. My expectation of the society of panegyrists – who are thankfully large in number and who are competent and valuable – is that they should be capable of creating discourses and thinking. "Discourse" means a thought and a practical philosophy that becomes common among the people like the currency of a country. In every era, it is necessary for all the people to have something in common. This is a task that can be carried out by you.

One day, we were engaged in the Sacred Defense Era. It was necessary for the people to be prepared for defense and for logistics. Our poets and panegyrists played good roles in those days. Of course, some of them refused to get involved and they stood aside. We had such individuals as well, but some individuals entered the arena and exerted influence.

Today, you speak about Fakkeh and Shalamcheh. Well, the events that took place in Fakkeh and Shalamcheh date back to 30 years ago, but Fakkeh and Shalamcheh will not be forgotten and will exist in the history of our country forever. Why is that? This is because those places played an important role. Today, if you have independence, freedom, dignity and identity, if the enemy has not managed to dominate you and if your namoos (one's mother, sisters and wife) is protected, this is because of Fakkeh and Shalamcheh. Poets and panegyrists played their part in this regard.

The discourse of those days was the discourse of presence in defense. We need a special philosophy for every era. This is different from political games and political work. This is adopting an outlook towards the needs of the country. You should take a look and see what the needs of your country and your people are in this era of history and then you should focus on them.

Fortunately today, our religious poets who compose marsiahs and eulogies – recently, they have brought me books in the area of monotheism and Ashura which show that good things have been carried out in this regard – are eloquent, gifted, content-seeking, content-generating and articulate poets who use good content. Thankfully, panegyrists have a good and warm throat and voice. This is a very good opportunity which is available to our country and our people. This should be benefitted from. You should not allow this to deviate from its course.

In previous years, I have touched on the issue of panegyrics and some of the detriments that exist. So, I do not want to speak more about this issue. You panegyrists of the country and every individual who takes the minbar of eulogizing Ahlul Bayt (greetings be upon them) and who is proud of it should think of identifying these detriments, thus turning panegyrics into a complete entity. Panegyrics will improve and grow on a daily basis and you will please God and Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

Serving Imam Hussein and Ahlul Bayt (greetings be upon them) in the real sense of the word means that we develop their thoughts, their guidelines and their orientations in society on a daily basis. This is a task that will make our country, our society, our system and our people dignified and successful. This is a task that will solve the problems. If we have a nation which has a clear identity, which is stable, which benefits from good management and which enjoys independence and freedom, then Islam will show its true manifestation in our nation. This will be a good promotion for Islam and it will be much better than the promotions that we do. One of the bases for this is the work that you do.

I ask Allah the Exalted to bestow success upon you. I thank all you, I thank the organizers of the meeting and I thank the individuals who played a role today – whether those who recited their poems or those who performed them – and I ask God to bestow His mercy and blessings on all you.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy