Leader's Speech on Arba’een

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on February 16, 2009 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution on the occasion of Arba'een.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all you dear brothers and sisters. And I am thankful to God who gave me the opportunity today to meet the sincere families of martyrs, the dear youth, and the sincere people of Tabriz and Azarbaijan. I am thankful to Allah for this meeting which purified my heart with the memory of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and illuminated my life through these blessings and the sincerity that has always been present in the hearts of you dear people of Tabriz.

Today is Arba'een and the event that took place in Tabriz on Bahman 29 [February 18, 1978] marked an Arba'een. This is a meaningful coincidence. Arba'een, which took place after the Battle of Karbala, was only a start. That event marked the beginning. After the great tragedy in Karbala and the sacrifice that Imam Hussein (a.s.), his companions, and his family members made, those who were taken captive had to propagate the message of Karbala. The sermons and disclosures of Zeinab (s.a.) and Imam Sajjad (a.s.) had to act like a powerful medium and propagate the thought, goals, and positions of the martyrs of Karbala. That was what happened later on. Suppression by its very nature takes away the courage and opportunities that people need to speak about the realities they have found out. When they are suppressed, people cannot show what they know in action. That is because oppressive governments refuse to let the people find out the truth and even if the people do find out the truth, they refuse to let them practice what they know. Many people - who had listened to Zeinab (s.a.) or Imam Sajjad in Kufa and Shaam - found out a lot of things. They found out a lot of things when they saw the conditions of the captives of Karbala. But they did not have enough courage or capabilities to stand up to the oppressive and arrogant government of the time and show what they had found out. Believers suppressed their feelings. Arba'een provided the first outlet for the suppressed truth and feelings. The first revolt took place on Arba'een.

The late Sayyid Ibn Tawus and other luminaries have maintained that when the captives - namely, Zeinab (s.a.) and the others - entered the desert of Karbala on Arba'een, Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari and Atiyyah Oofi were not the only people there. Some people from the Bani Hashem tribe and some of the companions of Imam Hussein (a.s.) had gathered at his shrine to welcome Zeinab (s.a.). Maybe that was why Zeinab insisted that they go to Karbala on their return from Shaam: She wanted this small but important gathering to be formed there. Some scholars have argued that they could not have made it to Karbala by Arba'een. The late Ayatollah Ghazi has explained in detail in one of his works how it was possible for them to arrive in Karbala by Arba'een.

In any case, according to some luminaries, when Zeinab (s.a.) and the members of the Prophet's household arrived in Karbala, Atiyyah Oofi, Jabir Ibn Abdullah, and some of the Bani Hashem were present. This is an example of the goals that had to be realized through martyrdom - that is, propagating thoughts and providing the people with courage. That was when the Tawabeen was formed. Although the uprising of Tawabeen was suppressed, shortly after this event, Mukhtar and other courageous men from Kufa rose up and brought down the oppressive and evil Umayyad Caliphate later on. Of course, the Marwani dynasty replaced the Umayyad Caliphate, but the battle did not stop. They paved the way for future developments. That is one characteristic of Arba'een. That is to say, Arba'een brings about disclosure, action, and realization of goals.

The same thing happened on Arba'een in Tabriz. I have previously told the dear people of Tabriz that if the Bahman 29 events had not taken place - that is, if the memory of the martyrs of Qom had not been kept alive so selflessly in Tabriz - the course of the uprisings might have changed. If it had not been for the people of Tabriz, the great events that took place might not have happened at all. That is to say, the uprising of the people of Tabriz on Bahman 29 was a determining event. What happened in Tabriz kept alive the events in Qom and the real motivation behind the movement. Naturally, the people had to pay a price. They laid down their lives and endangered their well-being and security. However, the whole country awakened as a result. Just as the people of Tabriz held an Arba'een for the martyrs of Qom, so many Arba'eens were held to commemorate the people who were martyred on Bahman 29 in Tabriz. That is a testimony to the fact the movement is spreading, and is characteristic of appropriate movements.

That was a bit of history: It all belongs to the past. Thirty one years have now passed since the event in Tabriz on Bahman 29, 1356 took place. Thirty one years is a long time. Many of the people who have attended this meeting were born after that event or were too young to remember much. What is the moral? There is a moral to every event that has its roots in appropriate thought and goodwill. Great events can teach us lessons. We must learn the lessons that these events hold for us. What happened on Bahman 29 in Tabriz taught us three lessons: The importance of vigilance, courage, and risk-taking and optimism. First and foremost, people have to understand the significance of events. There were many people who did not understand the enormity of the situation. The people of Tabriz understood the enormity of the situation and took the necessary measures. This understanding and vigilance is by itself of paramount importance. After this understanding is gained, there has to be enough determination and courage to take action. Action is the second essential element. The third point is that the measures that are taken have to be based on optimism and reliance on Allah. These are some of the lessons that Bahman 29 holds for us.

If the people of Tabriz did not have faith in God, if their hearts were not brimful of faith, the possible resultant awareness, if any, would have been useless. That type of awareness would not have led to action. Their faith, vigilance, and timely action all had a role to play. That is a lesson for us. It is the same today and the future will not be any different. Events have to be followed up vigilantly.
Many nations have failed to understand the enormity of certain situations. As a result, events accumulated and passed them by. They remained unaware and were downtrodden by the events. If the ulama who stood up to Reza Khan's tyranny had been supported by the people, if all our people had understood what was happening in the country and resisted, our nation would be 50 years ahead of its current situation now. If the people had supported the ulama at that time, they would not have had to suffer from 50 years of loss during the reign of the evil and dependant Pahlavi regime.

Today our nation has to confront a camp that is trying with all its strength to strip the Islamic Revolution of its anti-arrogance qualities. From the beginning of the Revolution, this camp has been trying to prevent the establishment of the Islamic Republic, which was an offshoot of the Revolution. They did whatever they could to nip the Islamic Republic in the bud and of course they failed to do so. They took some political measures, imposed economic sanctions, armed the enemies of our nation, imposed eight years of war on our country, and provoked internal disturbances, but they failed in the end.

They came to the conclusion that it was not possible to overthrow the Islamic Republic. That was because the Islamic Republic has been loyally supported by our faithful people. Millions of faithful people have been protecting the Islamic Republic. It is not a matter of government or government officials. Sometimes a government may be supported by a number of people who are financially dependant on it. Such a government does not pose any threats to the arrogant powers. Some other times a government may be based on public support and the faith of the people. Such a government cannot be shaken. The arrogant powers have understood this. All the demonstrations held by the people - Bahman 22 demonstrations this year, for instance - were glorious and impressive events.

Scientific advances, the presence of the youth on various arenas, and the revolutionary slogans that have been shouted more enthusiastically than before all show that the Islamic Republic is unshakable. Today none of the government officials are ashamed of the revolutionary slogans. They are proud of our independence, Islam, our freedom, and our well-formulated Constitution. They have come to the conclusion that they must strip the Islamic Republic of as many of its qualities as they can. That is the intention behind the cultural invasion which I first discussed several years ago. This cultural invasion, the signs of which were, and still are, to be seen in different areas, was planned with this goal in mind. They wanted to divest the Islamic Revolution from its original content, Islamic values, and revolutionary spirit. This is one of the vital points that requires public vigilance. This is similar to the event that took place on Bahman 29. There were many people who could not understand the enormity of the event, but the people of Tabriz did understand it and demonstrated their awareness in action. That is always the same. Our people must understand the enormity of different events. Fortunately, they are vigilant enough to understand it today. That is one of the blessings of the Revolution and the Islamic Republic. Our nation has awakened. Our people have gained the ability to analyze events critically.

All people must know that the enemies of the Islamic Republic feel that they are unable to destroy its foundations. They are trying to strip the Islamic Republic of its original content through various means. They are trying to do this with the help of those who were, and are, involved in this Revolution. They have tried to reduce the Islamic Revolution to a simple name, stripping it of all its revolutionary or Islamic content. A name is a name. It is the content that matters. It is your and my duty to preserve this revolutionary content and the valuable principles of the Revolution. We must not let these principles and lofty values be ignored. That is our duty.

We must know that Allah the Exalted supports the people who have faith in Him and who use their free will and power to reach a certain goal. Allah the Exalted will undoubtedly assist those who aspire to reach divine goals. Whenever we failed or whenever Allah did not help us, it was because we did not do the right thing. Our failure was due to the fact that we failed to do what we were supposed to do. If we do our duties, Allah the Exalted will helped us. "Be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I shall fulfill (My) covenant with you." [The Holy Quran, 2: 40]. Allah the Exalted, who owns our souls and has bestowed on us all the blessings, has signed a bilateral agreement with us. That is to say, Allah the Exalted has promised to adhere to the agreement as long as we do. If we fail to do our duties, we should not expect any assistance from the Almighty.

Thankfully, the Iranian nation has shown that it is prepared to take action. Throughout the past thirty years, the enemies expected our revolutionary slogans to be forgotten. But when you take a look at the public gatherings, statements, and slogans, you can see that the same enthusiasm and slogans are still there. This straight path has been preserved. That is of paramount importance. This phenomenon, which was a blessing of Islam and faith in Allah, has been unprecedented in the history of other revolutions. Revolutionary slogans must be preserved. All people, especially the youth, must appreciate these slogans. Fortunately, our young generation is more experienced than the youth of the early Revolution. Maybe those days emotions were more dominant, but today our youth are prominent in different areas for their rationality. It is not just emotions. Of course this is not to say that emotions are not important. However, rationality, correct understanding, and presence in different arenas are as important as emotions.
May God associate the souls of our martyrs with the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) in the hereafter. May God associate with His saints the soul of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), who was the founder of this impressive movement. May Allah make us the soldiers of this path and this sacred goal. May God increase His blessings for you dear brothers and sisters on a daily basis.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings