Imam Khamenei

People who limit the Qur'an to worshiping and personal matters haven’t understood it

The following is the full text of a speech delivered on April 14, 2021, by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, at the annual Ramadhan Quranic meeting. The speech was delivered via videoconference with the participation of a number of prominent Quranic reciters.

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 Muhammad, and upon his pure household, and may God curse all their enemies

I wish to congratulate the whole Iranian nation and the entire great Islamic Ummah on the arrival of the auspicious month of Ramadan. I hope that by Allah’s favor, this auspicious month will be a joyous and blessed occasion for our nation and for the great Islamic Ummah in the real sense of the word. I thank the dear brothers who organized this very good and innovative meeting with diverse programs. I also thank the honorable presenter – Mr. Yaraqbafan for his very good performance. I thank all the dear brothers who recited the Quran and who really brought us joy.

I am also pleased about the evoked memories of the past and I hope that as Allah the Exalted has helped us live our life in the company of the Quran over the course of all these years, He will help us serve the Quran and be in its company until the last breath, that He will let us live and die with the Quran and that He will associate us with the Quran, God willing.

An explanation about Iran’s economic rank in the world

Today, I will speak briefly about Quranic guidance. Of course, Quranic guidance is not a discussion that could be covered in one single session. I will only provide a brief explanation. If there is time, I will also discuss other issues with the honorable audiences and viewers and with the dear Iranian nation. Before I begin, I wish to say that I have been trying to raise a point with our dear people for about one or two weeks, but there was no opportunity to do so. There was no occasion and meeting to raise the matter. Therefore, I want to do it now. The point is that in my New Year speech, I presented a figure about the economic rank of the country. After that, some individuals pointed out to me that the figure was not correct. I asked my office to follow it up. They did research and it became clear that their statement was correct and that they were right. The figure that I presented was not correct and what I said – Iran being 18th in the world in terms of the economy – was related to four, five, six years ago. Therefore, I sincerely thank all those who pointed this out to me as they helped eliminate this error.

The lofty position of Quranic guidance

As for Quranic guidance, notice that Allah the Exalted mentions the sending down of the Quran as one of the many advantages of the month of Ramadan: “Ramadhan is the month in which was sent down the Quran.” It is evident that this is the most important advantage of the month of Ramadan. As for the Quran itself, there are thousands of outstanding points in it: much more than our minds can understand fully. Among all Quranic subject matters, the Quran highlights Quranic guidance: “Ramadhan is the month in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment” [The Holy Quran, 2: 185].

Evidently, Quranic guidance has a lofty position among all other Quranic subject matters. As it happens, the Quran begins with the issue of guidance. This can be seen in Sura al-Hamd: “Show us the straight path.” As the late Allamah Tabatabai (may God bestow paradise on him) mentioned, Sura al-Hamd teaches us how to address God from start to finish. In other words, Allah the Exalted himself teaches us how to speak to him. So, from the beginning – “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful” – to the end, it guides: “Show us the straight path, the path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace” [The Holy Quran, 1: 6-7]. The straight path is the path of those people on whom God has bestowed His grace. They are people who did not deviate from the straight path and who did not provoke the wrath of God.

Also, in the beginning of Sura al-Baqara, God speaks of Quranic guidance: “Alif, Laam, Mim, This is the Book, in it is sure guidance, without doubt, to the mutaqeen” [2: 1-2]. Therefore, the Quran begins with Quranic guidance and there are many other parts as well – tens of other ayahs – where God speaks of Quranic guidance and assistance.

The entire humanity is addressed by the Quran

And Quranic guidance is not particular to a special group. The Quran is addressed to all of  humanity. It claims that it wants to guide all humans towards the straight path and the correct lifestyle, which will lead to the correct destination: “This is no less than a Message to (all) the Worlds” [The Holy Quran, 38: 87].

The Quranic guidance encompasses the whole human life

Well, there is a fundamental point here: Quranic guidance is not confined to a particular area of human life, rather, it covers the whole sphere of human life. In other words, it is not the case that the Quran guides us in one part of life, but leaves us alone and adopts an indifferent approach in another essential area of life. No, the Quran encompasses all the corners and angles of human life. This ranges from the spiritual transcendence and perfection of humanity – the highest need for humanity and the highest request that humanity has is benefitting from spiritual transcendence, closeness to God, divine understanding and divine kindness: “Bestow upon me the perfection to separate from everything and to join You and enlighten the eyes of our heart with the light of seeing You” [Bihar al-Anwar, Vol.91 page 99] – to the management of human societies, the administration of justice and managerial approaches for running human societies.

We could also refer to the elimination of different enmities as another area that Quran touches on – internal and external enemies, and enemies from among humans and from among jinns – as well as jihad and striving: “Respond to evil with what is best, then the one you are in a feud with will be like a close friend” [41: 34]. All these areas are covered by Quranic guidance. Another area we can mention is morality and family: “And those who pray, ‘Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes’” [25: 74]. Another ayah in this regard is: “Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace” [24: 32].

The education of children and the issue of tranquility and psychological calm are other areas addressed by the Quran. Psychological calm is one of the most important needs of humanity: “Allah sent down His tranquility to his Messenger and to the believers” [48: 26]. This is also related to the settling of internal storms that we face in life. Another area is the recommendation to acquire knowledge and to understand nature: “It is He Who has produced you from the earth and settled you therein” [11:61]. We should move towards knowledge, wisdom and the discovery of natural laws and natural truths. The next area that we can cite as an example is our individual behavior: “And swell not your cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth” [31: 18]. “And be moderate in your pace, and lower your voice” [31: 19]. All areas of life are attended to by the Quran.

The necessity to think carefully for understanding Quranic concepts

Quranic language is not like the language used in human books where we have chapters with specific issues. In the Quran, Allah the Exalted sometimes conveys a sea of meaning to people with one single word and with a brief statement. If we think carefully about it, if we examine the different aspects of the issue and if we utilize our human intellects for understanding it, we might find astonishing discoveries in that single word.

Another method used by the Quran is that it teaches a point to us while it is narrating a story – short or long and about prophets or about other people: in the Quran, there are many stories about past generations – and thus, we can learn. For example, this might happen in the conversation between two individuals.

Another method is that the Quran mentions something in relation to a specific story or event but the statement used by the Quran is not confined to that event. It could be extended to other matters. I wish to cite the holy ayah from Sura al-Imran as an example: “Men said to them: ‘A great army is gathering against you’: And frightened them: But it (only) increased their faith. They said: ‘For us Allah suffices, and He is the best disposer of affairs’” [3: 173]. Well, this ayah is about the time after the Battle of Uhud, after the Muslims returned from the Battle while they had failed to defeat the enemy, while they were exhausted and injured and while they had offered many martyrs, some hypocrites began to spread a rumor among the people, saying, “You are sitting here while the enemies have gathered somewhere close to Madinah. Soon they will attack and they will destroy you.” The Holy Prophet, however, asked those who were injured in the Battle to fight again. So, they gathered together at night and they went and defeated those people and then returned. The hypocrites spread a rumor, saying, “A great army is gathering against you.” They claimed that Muslims would be destroyed soon as the enemies were doing such and such things against them. However, they went and put an end to the matter and then returned: “And they returned with Grace and bounty from Allah. No harm ever touched them” [4: 173]. Well, this ayah is about a specific event, but it is not confined to it. Today, such situations exist too, as they existed in all eras.

The Quran always offers its guidance

Whenever we refer to the Quran for a similar incident and whenever we ask for its guidance, the Holy Quran will offer us this particular guidance. Today is the same. In the present time too, some people might spread a rumor among us saying, “Such and such a government, group and superpower is hatching plots against you, you are ruined” and other such rumors. Here too, the same guidance will be offered: “But it (only) increased their faith. They said: ‘For us Allah suffices, and He is the best disposer of affairs.’” Of course, “For us Allah suffices, and He is the best disposer of affairs” cannot come true by sitting idle in a corner of one’s house. We should come to the middle of the arena, as was the case with Muslims in that era. This is the lesson: Go to the heart of the arena and do what is necessary and then say, “for us Allah suffices, and He is the best disposer of affairs.”

Fuzayl ibn Yasar, an outstanding and trustworthy follower of Hazrat Baqir and Hazrat Sadiq (greetings be upon them) says that he once asked Imam Baqir what a specific narration meant. There was one specific narration which says, “All ayahs in the Quran have an explicit and implicit meaning.” Of course, the narration is longer than this. He asked what the explicit and implicit meanings are. Hazrat Baqir said: “Its implicit meaning is its tawil”. Tawil means what an ayah refers or returns to: “Some of the events have already happened and some have not taken place yet and they will happen later. Like the sun and the moon, they will always be there” [Bihar al-Anwar, Vol.89 page 94]. These holy ayahs are like the sun and the moon which always stand above us. It is not the case that they are present in certain days and absent in certain others. They are always present. Quranic guidance is like this.

The Quran’s presence in all social and political scenes

Those who confine the Quran and Islam to personal matters, acts of worship and other such issues, who invite people to sit in a corner and who tell them to put aside the Quran once they enter into society, do not have a correct understanding of the Quran. They are really not familiar with the Quran. One should say that they have not read the Quran. That is why they make such mistakes and such wrong judgments. They are really not familiar with the Quran. The Quran does not stand aside when it comes to political and social challenges and it does not refrain from confronting falsehoods, the arrogant, the wasteful and the oppressor. On the contrary, it has always stood up against them. If you are men of the Quran, thus the Quran should be present in the heart of your life. Therefore, the Quran has undertaken human guidance and assistance in all areas. There is no doubt about this.

Piety is a requirement for benefitting from Quranic guidance

But there is one point here: despite the fact that the Quran is available to us, whether we can benefit from it is an important issue in itself. The Quran has provided us with the lesson and the guidance, but when can we benefit from it? “In it is sure guidance, without doubt, for the mutaqeen” [2: 2]. When we have piety, then Quranic guidance will be available to us in the real and true sense of the word. Of course, there are different terms in the Quran, but they all refer to one single concept. In this ayah, which is in the beginning of the Holy Quran, God says, “mutaqeen.” In another ayah, God says, “And guidance and glad tidings for those who believe” [2:97]. In another ayah, He says, “A guide and a mercy to all who believe” [7: 52] and elsewhere, He says, “As a guide and glad tidings to Muslims” [16: 102]. And in another Sura, He says, “A guidance for people.” These are different layers of guidance. “A guidance for people” means that it is available to everyone and that they can make the most of it. “To those who fear God” and “A guide and glad tidings for those who believe” clarify the different levels of guidance for people. These statements were about piety and the levels of guidance.

The concept of “Khashiah”

In other ayahs, it is “khashiah” which is used as the criterion for benefiting from Quranic guidance. Again, this term is also related to piety: “You can but admonish such a one as follows the Message and fears the (Lord) Most Gracious, unseen: give such a one, therefore, good tidings, of forgiveness and a reward most generous” [36:11]. Only those who fear God can benefit from Quranic guidance and such guidance can only influence and assist these people. Another ayah in Holy Sura Ta-Ha says, “Ta, Ha, We have not sent down the Quran to you to be for your distress, but only as an admonition to those who fear Allah” [20: 1-3]. There are several other ayahs in the Quran which discuss the issue of fear of God.

Fear of God is a characteristic of pious people. When we are pious, we fear God. Let me read this holy ayah: “In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the criterion, and a light and a message for the pious” [21: 48]. What was given to Harun and Musa (greetings be upon them) was guidance and a message for the pious. Who are the pious? The Quran defines the pious: “Those who fear their Lord in their most secret thoughts.” Therefore, piety and fear of God come together and they are not studied separately. They are one single concept.

The difference between khashia and khowf

Of course, khashiah is different from khowf. Khashiah is the feeling that one gets as a result of realizing the magnificence of one person. This is called khashiah. Khashiah in the face of the God of the world results from understanding the greatness of God the Omnipotent: “Those truly fear Allah, among His servants, who have knowledge” [35: 28]. Those who have a greater understanding and more knowledge are equipped with khashiah. Of course, the words “khowf” and “khashiah” should not be misinterpreted as meaning that the Holy Nature of God is frightening. This is not the case: “You can but admonish such a one as follows the Message and fears the Most Gracious, unseen.” There is fear of God, but His mercy is there as well. There is fear towards a Merciful Being Who is the manifestation of Kindness to humanity and this fear is because of His Greatness.

In sum, the month of Ramadan is the month of the Quran and one can really benefit from Quranic guidance. We should read the Quran a lot and read it carefully and with deliberation. We should read it with attention to Allah the Exalted. Also, we should ask Allah the Exalted himself when reciting the Holy Quran and we should know that our hearts will shine with the Quran. The Commander of the Faithful says, “Allah the Glorified, has not counselled anyone with anything like this Quran.” This is from the very beautiful Sermon 176 of Nahjul Balaghah where the Commander of the Faithful speaks about the Quran. I have sometimes read parts of this sermon in my speeches.

Here, he says, “Allah the Glorified, has not counselled anyone with anything like this Qur'an.” Not in any other divine book has Allah the Exalted guided people in the same way that He has guided and taught humanity with the Quran: “for it is the strong rope of Allah and His trustworthy means. It contains the blossoming of the heart and springs of knowledge. It makes hearts spring-like. It makes them fresh and green. It turns the heart into the ground for cultivating divine and true teachings. “It contains the blossoming of the heart and springs of knowledge. For the heart there is no other gloss than the Quran. The word “gloss” was used by the Commander of the Faithful (greetings be upon him).

The reciters of the Quran should read the Book in an attentive manner

Well, you dear reciters of the Quran, who are the primary addressees of my statements, should consider yourselves to be the promoters of the Quran: the promoters, not just the reciters of the Quran. Among the old reciters of the Quran, whose names were mentioned here and whose tapes were played, there are some who make you feel like the Quran is being sent down to you when they recite the Quran. In other words, they understand what they are saying and what they read. They recite it in an attentive manner. And of course, there are some reciters who are not like this. Therefore, such a recitation exerts much more influence in the hearts of the audience. So, the qaris should consider themselves to be the promoters of the Quran.

You should know that you are the promoters of the Quran and reciters are really influential. These Quranic-recitation sessions are very influential. Training reciters is a very great and important task that is thankfully being carried out in our country. Your recitation should be carried out in an attentive and humble manner and with careful attention to the meaning. If you want to recite part of the Quran in a particular meeting, you should prepare it beforehand in your minds. If it requires tafsir and translation, you should go and check. Fortunately, many of our reciters understand the Quran. They understand Quranic words and they do not need a translation. However, if there is need for translation and for tafsir, you should go and check in a completely attentive manner.

Using a good intonation and a good voice is pleasant if it is not done to an excess

You should not pay much attention to specific intonation and sound effects used by some reciters – both foreign reciters and some of our youths do it. You should rather pay attention to the meaning. Of course, I completely agree that reciters should use a good voice and good intonation. That you should choose and express good intonation is a good thing, but you should pay attention that you should not do it to an excess. These were some of the matters that I wanted to say about the Holy Quran.

The necessity to make firm decisions and to listen to the recommendations put forward by health authorities on the issue of the coronavirus

Another issue that I deem necessary to discuss is one that all of us are involved in: the issue of this pandemic and this contagious and really sinister virus in our country and all over the world, which has affected life in the country. The most beautiful days of the year are really the first days of spring. However, this year this disease has made these most beautiful and sweet days bitter for us. The death rates increased, so did the infection rates. These are issues that we cannot pass by easily. These bitter and moving figures should make all of us – both officials and the people – vigilant and awake. We should not take the disease lightly.

Officials should definitely do what they are supposed to do. In other words, the restrictions that are necessary and that are imposed by experts – physicians and health officials – should be observed. Any difficulty that you might endure is less severe than the difficulty associated with the spread of the virus. This is because the spread of the disease will involve illness, unemployment, livelihood problems and the loss of one’s dear ones. All the plans of the country are essentially affected by this disease. This is happening in the present time. We should do something to stop and to overcome the disease. And this is not possible except by formulating and implementing certain plans and policies and by observing the health protocols on the part of us people.

The necessity to praise and to thank the medical personnel of the country

Another point necessary to be raised here is to praise and to express admiration for the medical and health personnel of the country. It is really necessary to praise these people and to thank them. When you put on a mask, you might find it really difficult. If young nurses, physicians and auxiliaries have to work long hours inside or outside the hospital wearing a mask in such hot weather and in those heavy clothes, notice how difficult it is. This is really jihad in the way of God and in my opinion, it will be handsomely rewarded by God.

Jihadi forces should rush to the help of the health personnel

The people should cooperate as well. In the beginning of the previous year, some people voluntarily went to hospitals to help nurses and other medical personnel and they also helped outside hospitals. This year too, if some people have the capability to do it, they should do it voluntarily.

The movement of pious help and almsgiving should continue and reach its peak in the present time

The next point in this regard is the issue of the popular assistance movement. Well, the month of Ramadan is the month of good deeds. It has always been the case. Even in normal times, in the month of Ramadan, generous people and believers offer their banquet and their generosity to the needy. However, when a pandemic is there, this issue becomes increasingly important. It is really necessary for the movement of offering pious help to reach its peak among the people in the month of Ramadan. Of course, I know that some people have already begun this without waiting for my advice. They are now busing helping in different corners of the country. They are either preparing themselves to do this or they have already started it. I know this, but I want to mention that you should continue this movement until it spreads among everyone. Everyone should help so that the movement of pious help will reach its peak. This was what I wanted to say about the coronavirus and the disease and these were my recommendations.

The country’s policy on the Bar-Jaam [JCPOA]

I wish to say something about the current issue of the country: the Bar-Jaam [JCPOA], the sanctions and other such matters. Well, there are many discussions in this regard. We have announced the country’s policy and we have pointed it out to officials, doing so up close and in writing. We have discussed it with them in public and private meetings. It is clear what the country’s policy is and what they should do. Now, the officials have decided to negotiate in order to implement the same policy. I have no problem with this, but they should take care not to let negotiations become too lengthy and tiresome, not to allow the other sides to prolong the negotiations too much because this is detrimental to the country.

The Americans want to negotiate in order to impose their own illegitimate demands

You should notice that when the Americans continuously speak of their willingness to directly negotiate with Iran, it is not the case that their intention is to accept a legitimate claim, rather their purpose for negotiating is to impose an illegitimate claim. Actually that is what they always do. They do not want to listen to and to accept a truthful claim.

In their private meetings with our officials – whose reports are delivered to us by our officials – the Europeans acknowledge that Iran is right about its policy that the sanctions should be lifted first. We announced that the sanctions have to be lifted first. This is because we are not sure about their promises as they have broken their promises tens of times already and as it happens, they sometimes even acted in the exact opposite way. In the present time too, they will do the same. Therefore, they should first do what we ask so that we feel assured of it and then we will carry out our obligations. Sometimes, European negotiators confirm in private meetings that what Iran says is correct and that the Iranians are right, but when it comes to decision-making, they follow in their [America’s] footsteps. They are not really independent in any way.

As for the Americans, they have a bullying attitude and they have the tendency to impose their demands. This is their issue. Therefore, the proposals that they put forward are so arrogant and humiliating that one cannot even look at. I hope that by Allah’s favor, the officials of the country will move forward with completely open eyes, with a firm heart, with reliance on God and by whispering the dhikr: “For us Allah suffices, and He is the best disposer of affairs.” I hope that God will bestow His blessings on them so that they will make the nation happy.

I hope that Allah the Exalted will make this holy month a blessed occasion for our nation and for all Muslim nations, that He will bestow His blessings and will shower His rain of mercy on our dry and thirsty lands, and that He will confer His worldly and otherworldly blessings on the masses of the people and the mujahids of the path of the truth.

I hope that He will associate the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam with His saints, that He will associate the pure souls of martyrs with the martyrs of the early Islamic era, that He will send our sincere greetings and sympathies to the mauwla  of the world – the Imam of the Age (may our hearts be sacrificed for his sake) – and that He will help us gain the satisfaction of that esteemed personality and benefit from his prayers.

Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings



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