Leader's Speech to Residents of Qom on the Anniversary of the Jan. 9th Uprising

What follows is the full text of the speech made on January 9, 2008 by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei to a group of the people of Qom.

Leader's Speech to Residents of Qom on the Anniversary of the Jan. 9th Uprising

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Dear brothers and sisters, welcome! Having traveled vast distances on this cold and snowy day, you once again commemorated the historic day of January 9, 1978 with your presence, which is an appropriate action.

These momentous historical events are indeed the causes of progress in any nation's history. Ashura lasted only half a day. However, it shocked and revolutionized history. Sometimes an event that takes place during the life of a nation is so deep-rooted and is planned so wisely and so aptly that it leaves its effects for many consecutive years and at times for many successive centuries. January 9th was definitely among such events for the Iranian nation. As a result of years of oppression by the evil Pahlavi regime and the gross foreign interference, people overflowed with holy and revolutionary wrath, and all was needed was a wise and appropriate move. And you, the people of Qom, made this move on January 9th and this move set the ball rolling. What the evil Pahlavi regime inflicted on this country and this nation during its dark and humiliating reign in fact forms one of the bitter eras in our history.

One of the catastrophic activities was the issue of January 8th in 1936 which took place during Reza Shah's reign. According to a plan, the enemies of Islam and Iran enjoying the assistance of the intellectuals affiliated to Pahlavi dynasty decided to separate the Iranian women from their decency and hijab and eradicate the tremendous power of faith which existed in Muslim societies owing to the decency of women.

One of the gravest crimes of the evil Pahlavi regime was the issue of January 8th in 1936. Banning hijab was removing the screen and the distance set by Islam between the two sexes. Hijab is a wholesome practice that benefits men and women as well as society. It renders the society healthy and safe. They had plans to inflict all the malicious abuse suffered by women in Western societies on Muslim Iranian women. Using strong-arm tactics, Reza Khan carried out this plan inside the country.

What the Western women achieved by plummeting into the quagmire of corruption and perversion was the destruction of the family. That women could only advance in science and politics or in social activities by merely removing hijab was an absolute falsity. Women could do so by holding onto their hijab and decency and we have experienced the fact in our Islamic country. Banning hijab was a prelude to striping women of their dignity and decency. It was meant to keep people busy with powerful sexual desires. They wanted to prevent people from doing other things and they were successful for some time.

But the strong faith of the Iranian nation did not let this happen. In spite of all the strictures on hijab in the past, our Muslim women resisted suppression in various ways during and after Reza Khan's reign, and during the rest of the rule of the evil Pahlavi regime. Consequently, on January 7, 1978 in Mashhad, a great procession of Muslim women sparked off a demonstration calling for "keeping hijab". I was in exile when we heard the news of the brave faithful Muslim women who had provoked the demonstration.
What I said was only a tiny fraction of all the disasters that the Pahlavi regime had caused. They destroyed religious ideals, moral values, economic growth, our international honor, and in short, all the assets of a nation were among the acts that the dictatorial and tyrannical regime committed.

The Iranian nation rose and responded on time to the call of their magnanimous leader and entered the battlefield. January 9th is such a sensitive historical stage. These must be kept alive. Efforts have been made and will be made to erase these sentiments and sensitive stages from people's collective memory.

The people of Qom proved their loyalty and commitment. There have also been some people who - as the Holy Quran puts it "then anyone who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul" - abandoned their oath of allegiance to the Revolution, to Islam and to Imam Khomeini. But abandoning their allegiance was to their own disadvantage. However, the majority of our nation remained loyal displayed their commitment and loyalty: according to Quran, "and any one who fulfils what he has covenanted with Allah, Allah will soon grant him a great reward." They fulfilled their promise and God granted them a great reward. God granted them victory against the enemy in the war. God granted them victory over the superpowers in all battlefields. God also granted the nation national growth and development in various arenas.

To conclude my statements regarding January 9th, the Iranian nation moved toward its goals, and made some major strides. It is still moving and making great leaps forward.

I would like to make some statements regarding Muharram and Ashura. Muharram is one of the historical stages that I talked about. The Shia have made every effort to keep Ashura alive. As you see, for many years and centuries in succession never have the people following the Prophet's (SWA) household and believing in the Prophet's (SWA) household forgotten Imam Hussein's memory, Imam Hussein's name, Imam Hussein's burial place and Imam Hussein's mourning. Many efforts have been made to encourage people to forget the events of Ashura, but people never did so. You have heard the story of Motavakel and his blocking the way [to Karbala]. They have committed foolish acts and raised foolish objections. Throughout history, they have raised numerous seemingly scientific, emotional and experiential objections. Nevertheless, Shiites have kept them alive and must do so.

"Why are you disseminating sadness, crying and tears among people?" They complain. This is not sadness and tears for the sake of sadness and tears. This is for the sake of the values. The things that lie behind the lamentation, beating the chest and the head, and shedding tears are the dearest things that one might find in the treasure trove of humanity, and they are the divine spiritual values. The Shia are trying to uphold the fact that Hussein ibn Ali (AS) is the epitome of all these values. The Shia are trying to keep their memories alive.

And if the Muslim Ummah keeps Imam Hussein's (AS) name and memory alive and follows him, it will overcome all the obstacles and the hardships. And that is why all of us in the Islamic Revolution, in the Islamic Republic, from the highest to the lowest echelons including the people, the authorities, the senior officials and our honorable Imam have relied on the issue of Imam Hussein and the issue of Ashura and people's mourning. The morning has a symbolic as well as a realistic aspect. It binds hearts together and it broadens knowledge.

Of course, the speakers, preachers, panegyrists and poets must take into consideration the fact that this is the esteemed truth. It must not be trifled with. The facts of the events of Ashura must not be abused. No one must add anything to them. No one must mix them with superstitions or do irrational actions in the name of mourning. These things must not be allowed. These acts do not mean favoring Imam Hussein. Once I made a statement regarding the machete demonstration, some people voiced their objection saying "this is Imam Hussein's mourning and Imam Hussein's mourning must not be ruined."

Husseini dais and Husseini gatherings are where religious facts - that is, facts about Imam Hussein must be stated. Poetry, elegy and laudation must be in this direction. As you saw in Muharram 1978, our mourning processions began in some cities including Yazd and Shiraz and some other places and they spread throughout the country. They beat their chests and they stated the facts of the day in their elegies relating them to Ashura, which is the appropriate thing to do.

Martyr Motahhari would shout years before the Revolution in Husseinia Irshad, and as far as I can remember he would say: "I swear to God that today's Shimr is the Israeli (Zionist) prime minister." In effect, this is the truth. We condemn Shimr since we want to root out the causes of being like Shimr and acting like Shimr in this world. We condemn Yazid and Obeidollah because we are opposed to tyrannical rules, to rulers such as Yazid, to the rule of indulgence and hedonism, and to the rule of oppression over the believers in the world. Hussein ibn Ali rose in order to defeat and eradicate the governments opposing the Islamic, human and divine values, and he did so by his uprising.

Our gatherings must be Husseini gatherings, gatherings against oppression, gatherings against monarchy, gatherings against Shimrs, Yazids and Ibn Ziads of the present time, the current age. And this is the continuation of Imam Hussein's story.

Today the world is filled with oppression and tyranny. See what they are doing. See what they are doing in Palestine, what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing in various countries, what they are doing with the nations of the world, what they are doing to the poor, what they are doing with the national wealth of the countries. Hussein ibn Ali's (AS) movement covers all these extensive areas. Imam Hussein taught a lesson not only to the Shia and the Muslims but also to all the freemen of the world.

The leader of the Indian Nationalist Movement mentioned Hussein ibn Ali sixty or seventy years ago and said: "I have learned from him." That was while he was a Hindu, he was not a Muslim at all. It is the same among the Muslims. This is the story of Imam Hussein. And you are the treasurer of such invaluable treasure from which all humans can benefit.

Mourning for Imam Hussein must be directed toward such aims: disseminating, elucidating, expressing, informing, strengthening people' faith, promoting the spirit of religiousness among people, increasing religious valor and zeal among people, stripping people of indifference and sloth. These are what Hussein's uprising and commemoration of his mourning mean in our era. Therefore, they are alive and will remain alive forever.

Its emotional aspect affects the feelings and sentiments of all people. Its logical and spiritual aspect informs and enlightens insightful thinkers. In all these years, I have repeatedly alluded to Amir al-Muminin's statement (peace and greetings be upon him) which reads: "Never are people able to carry this flag unless they are people of understanding and patience." Only those who are imbued with these two characteristics namely understanding and perseverance can hold and raise this flag, the flag of humanity, Islam and monotheism. And Imam Hussein (greetings be upon him) was the embodiment of understanding and perseverance.

The followers of Imam Hussein have shown the same. And after the passage of centuries, when a competent leader rose among them, they started this great movement. The great Islamic Revolution is a momentous event. It is an extraordinary story. We are in the middle of this event. The remarkable aspects of this event are not very evident for us. Future generations and all the ones observing our revolution from the outside see the remarkable aspects and the magnitude of this movement better than us.

In a world in which money, wealth, power and politics and all things are completely against the human and religious values, all of a sudden a regime comes to power in a sensitive region, in a geographically sensitive region of the world, a nation rises to raise the flag of values, and promotes human values, and calls for monotheism. This is a miracle. This is the miracle of our age. And then it comes under attack from all sides. The big evil regimes and the small ones invade it and surprisingly it is not defeated. On the contrary, it defeats many of them and forces them back. And today you witness the signs of the domineering powers' retreat. Iranian nation won this war.

The election lies ahead. The issue of the election is also of paramount importance. One of the reasons for the eminence of this government is the elections. And that is the reason why they repudiate Iranian nation's elections which is an undeniable phenomenon. The belligerent and willful enemies deny democracy in Iran. Democracy is something that is clearly on general elections which have been held once a year on average in the last twenty eight years. Why? Since they know that this is one of the factors contributing to the Iranian nation's victory.

In different revolutions, at various stages in history, the ones who were seemingly the leaders of the nations ultimately gave up and said: "We want absolute power and authority." Dr. Mossadegh, who ruled the country for over two years, dissolved two parliaments and took on the jurisdiction of the parliament. He said "I cannot". Even though Mossadegh's government was a democratic government, he could not survive. Now a democratic revolution is founded, a revolution including the whole country's population which is today three times the population of that day.

Considering all the conspiracies being organized against this nation and all the propaganda, our Revolution courageously relies on people's votes. And under any circumstances, it surely wants to keep these elections which mean people's involvement, people's presence and people's decision-making, and it insists on this. In the previous elections, four years ago, they created an issue. In fact, they staged a show and a charade, and they were aiming to call off the election. The Almighty God and the perseverance of the believers did not let them call off the election.

We have the election ahead of us. This election is of great significance. Not only this election but all elections are important. This coming election is important as well. People have duties to perform. The officials and the elites have duties to meet too. Firstly, you must preserve and manifest the importance, the value and the magnitude of the election. People should go to the polls with hope and trust. Unfortunately I hear some people repeatedly emphasize in their statements "do not let anyone cheat, do not let anyone defraud." But I hope they are not making these statements purposefully. What cheating? For almost thirty years, the executive organizations of this country have been holding the elections with no problems.

Even some were impudent enough to ask for international observers to supervise the election. Asking foreigners and our enemies - who basically oppose the election and the Iranian nation and stand against whatever might benefit Iran to judge our elections - is the biggest insult to the Iranian nation. They must not magnify the issue on no grounds. Of course, I have urged all the ones in charge, and I will repeatedly urge all including the Interior Ministry, the Council of Guardians, and the observers and the executives to be vigilant and perform their duties properly and well. They are entrusted with people's votes and they must not permit anyone to interfere and influence the results. I have always urged them to do so. They have abided by my orders, and by God's favor, they will continue to do so. So firstly, they must not cast aspersions on this great election and this great deed of our people by casting doubt and spreading rumors about cheating.

And secondly, I would like to repeat what I stated repeatedly in Yazd. A few days ago, everyone must act respectfully in the election; both the ones standing as candidates and the ones supporting them as well as the ones opposing certain candidates. Political parties in the country must by no means tolerate disrespect, slandering, insult, allegations and acts of that ilk. The enemies will get glad if these acts take place.

And thirdly, they must beware of the enemy's activities. Bush, the American president, promised to support some party in Iran two days ago. America's promise of support is a disgrace to anyone living in our country. First the ones whom the brutal enemy seeks to support and second the people must ponder why America wants to support them. What fault do they have in them which has caused the enemy to support them? Two brothers or a brother and a sister in a family might have some disagreements. If an enemy, a thief or a traitor from the outside wants to develop a relationship with one of them and favors him or her, he or she must think twice and try to discover the mistake he or she has made which has caused the enemy to support him or her. People must be careful. They must not allow the foreigners to toy with the elections.

The elections belong to the Iranian nation, to the Islamic Republic and to Islam. They must clearly mark their border with the enemy. I have warned some of the political figures, who have some political activities and who occasionally voice some objections. I have advised them; I have told them not to allow the line to fade out or to be erased. When the line is not well-drawn, some are highly likely to cross the border. Either the enemy might slip across the border or a friend might slip across it by mistake and fall into the enemy's clutches. The borders must be well-formed and well-marked.

This nation has been faced with America's conspiracy, America's enmity and all the America's acts of sabotage for twenty eight years. They did whatever they could to oppose this nation. Make sure your borders with the enemy are well-marked. There are ones who are the enemies' mercenaries, who are their servants. There are ones who are at their service. Form and mark your borders with these people too. It is time for understanding and perseverance. At the time of the election, the Iranian nation requires understanding. The nation must find out the stance that the enemy has adopted against this great democratic movement. The nation must take care and make the right decision. And this is our duty as people and we must take care of it.

Of course, I assure you and I am sure myself that the Almighty God will bestow his favors upon you due to your self-sacrifice and faith. And the Almighty God has bestowed his mercy, his assistance, and his guidance and support upon the people and will continue to do so. And the final victory belongs to the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic.

I hope God confers success on you, and satisfies the purified souls of the martyrs. May God join the purified soul of our Imam with the prophets in the hereafter. I pray to God to bestow goodness and reward upon you. I also hope that the sacred heart of His Holiness the Imam of the Age - may our souls be sacrificed for his sake - be happy and pleased with us.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.