Imam Khamenei

What is meant by Islamic theatre and cinema?

Another method to attract students is using those artistic methods that have received little attention. One of these artistic methods is drama: student drama. Unfortunately, in our artistic environment, the drama was born ill from the beginning. In other words, our drama has either been absurd drama such as ru-howzi plays [the plays that are performed around a little pool, called "houz", inside a house] or plays that oppose a particular phenomenon without having a clear direction. Besides, our drama uses vague and ambiguous language. They think that drama should use ambiguous, symbolic and mysterious words, but this is not the case. Drama means acting on the stage before the audience. Contrary to the cinema and films where you watch something from the screen, you feel individuals in the theatre. You hear what they have to say from them. There can be many constructive things in drama and student drama. Artist groups should sit and express true Islamic concepts through the art of drama.

Many years ago - perhaps about 20 years ago - a play was performed for us in this same Hussainiyah. It was about Ayyub [Job] the Prophet and it took long. It took one, two hours. When it was finished, I went to the director and said, "I have read the story of Ayyub a hundred or hundreds of times in the Holy Quran, but I had not understand from the Holy Quran - during all this time - what I understood from your theatre performance." Is this a minor thing?

Another artistic method is caricature. Caricature is a very efficient artistic method. Satire is another method. Fortunately, youth have done and are doing good work in this area. These are very good tasks. Student activities do not mean announcing one's positions through a manifesto as this is a routine task and it may not be attractive at all. Student activities are not confined to, for example, writing a book or organizing a student meeting. These are not the only student activities. Of course, these tasks are good, but you can carry out new ones as well. For example, performing a chorus, preparing audio materials and composing poems are artistic tasks and students should engage in them. There are certain tasks that exert more influence with poetry and with poetic and artistic methods. Therefore, these methods should be benefitted from. Of course, if I try to mention artistic innovations, they may be confined to these seven, eight cases. You who are young should sit and think about it. You may think of 20, 30 artistic innovations. You should benefit from that so that you can attract people.

Jul 11, 2015

Assume that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance does not announce that it intends to establish ‘Islamic Cinema’! Why should we be ashamed? Once in this world there existed those who felt ashamed of naming Islam or saying “Bismillah [in the name of Allah]”; but we made Islam the common currency and the vogue. Now should we be ashamed to say that we want our cinema and theatre to be Islamic? Why don’t they announce it? They should explicitly say that they want to make the cinema Islamic. What does “Islamic Cinema” mean? It means that we want to make Islamic the content of this technique, this platform, and this art that we have learned from others among many other things. We want to remove from this format anything that contradicts with Islam. What is wrong with stating it? Why is it not said that we want Muslim experts in our performing arts, universities or TV programs? This notion should be made clear that we want to train Muslim movie makers, screenwriters and actors and make the society’s ambiance Islamic. Why is this not elaborated on?

December 14, 1999


  • Cinema
  • Drama
  • theater


  • 2019-03-27 18:43
    Thank you very much for publishing those old speeches, I didn't know Sayyed Khamenei talked about it in 1999 though I wasn't even born yet. I'm thinking the same thing. We need to explain Islam through artistic means too. Thank you very much.