Leader’s Speech to International Conference on Women and Islamic Awakening

The following is the full text of a speech delivered on July 11, 2012, by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with participants of the International Conference of Women and Islamic Awakening in Tehran.


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,


First of all, I would like to welcome all you, dear brothers and sisters, my dear daughters, and outstanding ladies from various Islamic countries. Consider our country as your own home. I hope Allah the Exalted makes this conference an auspicious one for the Islamic Ummah.


I believe this gathering is of paramount importance. The gathering of outstanding ladies from across the world of Islam is more important than a usual conference on Islamic Awakening: because such gatherings invite in outstanding ladies, throughout the world of Islam, with an opportunity to become acquainted with each other: this is remarkable.


For a hundred years, now, the West has been trying to impose Western culture and lifestyles on women of Islamic communities: relying on its money, power, weapons, and diplomacy. Efforts have been made over the past one hundred years to detach Muslim women from their identity. All implements of power and propagation have been employed to achieve this goal: money, propaganda, weapons, different deceptive materials, sexual impulse; they have employed all these things to separate Muslim women from their Islamic identity. Today, carrying out efforts to restore the Muslim woman's identity is the greatest service that you can render for the Islamic Ummah, Islamic Awakening, and Islamic dignity; this gathering can be a long and effective stride in that direction. Do not limit yourselves to sitting down together and exchanging views for a few days. Make this meeting your prelude to a great and permanent movement, one that has the potential to impact the entire world of Islam. Islamic Awakening and Islamic dignity will be strongly affected by the women's awakening, the women's sense of identity, and women's awareness and insight: this is the first point that I wanted to discuss in this meeting.


Now, several ladies made some suggestions in their informative and carefully planned speeches. We support efforts to pursue these suggestions.


Regarding the Islamic view of women, there is an essential point that I would like to discuss; this Islamic view is opposite of the Western view of women. The western view of women is an insult to women: they call it "freedom," but it is not, in fact, representative freedom. Over the past two, three decades, Westerners have chosen charming names for their crimes against humanity. Whenever they've committed murder; whenever they've plundered a country; whenever they've enslaved people; whenever they've confiscated other nations' sources of wealth; whenever they've imposed wars on nations or whenever they've committed other crimes, they chose deceptive and beautiful names for their actions: liberation, human rights, democracy and other such things. Describing the western attitude towards women as "freedom" is a deception: it has nothing to do with freedom. The cornerstone of Western culture is that women should be socially presented as a product, an object that men can benefit from; for instance, promoting immodest clothing is a step in this direction.


Over the past 100 years, or more, violence against women in the West has been on the rise: there has been no decrease of violence in this regard. Sexual freedom and unprincipled sexual behaviors in the West have not curbed sexual desires, which are natural and instinctive. In the past, they used to promote the idea that men and women should be allowed to have free relationships with one another to diminish their sexual desires; later on, clearly, quite the opposite happened. The more that they allowed men and women to have free sexual relationships with one another, the more the resulting situation of sexual desires increased. Today, Westerners feel no shame of promoting homosexuality as a moral value: this makes any dignified human embarrassed, but Westerners have no shame. The Western view of women is perverted, flawed, misleading and simply wrong. The Islamic view of women brings about dignity, honor, growth and an independent identity for women: this is our assertion, and we can prove it with extremely compelling evidence.


In an Islamic environment, a woman achieves scholarly growth; she achieves personal growth; she achieves ethical growth; she achieves political growth; she becomes a pioneer of the most essential social issues: yet, she remains a woman. Being a woman is an advantage for any human: a source of pride. Isolating women from much needed feminine environments and characteristics will not bring about a feeling of honor for most women. Moreover, housekeeping, raising children and taking care of one's husband must not be considered a source of disgrace for women! Western culture led to the collapse of family values. Today, one of the greatest problems of the Western world is the breakup of family environments and an increase in the number of orphaned children! The West is suffering from the consequences of neglecting family values and will suffer more: these social developments build up over time. The West will be harmed greatly by this problem, and the flashy, materialistic civilization of the West will collapse along the faults of this problem.


Islam regards women as dignified humans. Men and women share the same characteristic of being human. A human is a human before being a man or a woman. People are equal as far as human nature is concerned: this is the Islamic view. Allah, the Exalted, has bestowed certain physical traits on men and women. Both men and women play a role in creation, in the growth and transcendence of humanity, and in the course of history, but the role of women is more important than that of men. The most important duty of humanity is to aid in human survival through reproduction; in this regard, the role of women is incomparable to the role of men: this is why the home environment is so important. --This is why the family is important. This is why imposing restrictions on human sexual instinct is important. --This is the view that should be adopted on Islamic issues and shari'a. The West, which has strayed from the righteous path, calls these things "limitations” while they label its misleading bondage of women as "freedom." --These are among plots that the west was carried out.


Today one of the most important responsibilities that you should shoulder as outstanding ladies is to delineate and highlight the role of women from an Islamic perspective. The greatest service to human and Islamic societies is to help women develop their human characteristics: this movement should be launched. Of course, it has already started, but it should be strengthened; it should become widespread. This movement will definitely achieve victory. This is one of the essential goals that should be carried out.


The next point is related to the role of women in social developments--in revolutions, in the great wave of Islamic Awakening. I would think that if women do not take part in the social movements of a nation, that movement will not reach effective results: it will not succeed. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"] If women take part in a movement with awareness and insight, that movement will take off quickly. In this great wave, of an Islamic Awakening, women play an unparalleled role, and it is necessary for them to continue this role. It is women who prepare and encourage their husbands and children to step into the most dangerous areas. We have clearly witnessed the significance of the role women played during the time we were fighting taghut [tyrannical monarchy] in Iran and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution. If our women had not fought in the battlefields during the eight-year war, which was imposed on us, if they had not been present in different national arenas, we would not have achieved victory during that difficult test. Our women helped us to achieve victory. The mothers and wives of our martyrs and war veterans created an atmosphere with their unwavering patience, in which our youth and men were encouraged to have a determined presence. And this atmosphere spread to every part of the country. As a result, the general atmosphere of our country was filled with selflessness and self-sacrifice, and we achieved victory. This is the case today within the world of Islam--in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya, in Bahrain, in Yemen, and in every other place. If women strengthen and continue their presence on the front lines, they can achieve victories one after another: there is no doubt about it. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"]


The next point covers the essence of the Islamic Awakening: this great event has happened in the world of Islam. It started in Tunisia and developed into a great movement in Egypt. Later on, it spread to other countries. It is an amazing and unprecedented event. It is a great event in our history: it is no ordinary event. This event can change the direction of the world. It can put an end to the oppressive domination the arrogant powers and Zionism have over the world of Islam, which has continued for many years. It can unite the Islamic Ummah, providing that it continues. The Islamic movements have accomplished certain achievements, but they are threatened with certain failures and problems. It is necessary to identify and prevent these problems. Fortunately, Muslim nations of North Africa had a brilliant performance. The movement is a great movement and, thankfully, it has been successful as well, but pay attention to the fact that the West--headed by USA and Zionists--have stepped into the arena with all they have, and they will continue their efforts more vigorously so that they can curb this movement and ride its waves: nations must be vigilant. They [Westerners] were taken off-guard. They could not predict what was going to happen and this was a divine plan. "And they planned and Allah (also) planned, and Allah is the best of planners." [The Holy Quran, 3: 54]


In the case of Lebanon, the victory of the Lebanese resisting youth over the well-equipped Zionist army also took them off-guard; they were taken off-guard 33 years ago, too, by the Islamic Revolution in Iran: it is necessary to continue this bewilderment. They were taken by surprise during these events, and they could not predict or prevent what was going to happen, but they are making preparations. One of the things that they are trying to do is to undermine the motivation of the people. The youth of the Islamic World--including men, women and outstanding personalities throughout the world of Islam, particularly in countries that have sparked revolutions--must understand that if they remain on the scene and resist, they will definitely achieve victory over the arrogant powers in spite of all the facilities that they have. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"] All instruments of power, that the arrogant ones enjoy, are ineffective against the presence and faith of righteous people. Take care not to lose this religious faith as a result of discord; as a result of the enemies' efforts to keep the young and elder people, the pious and impious individuals, distracted by various obstacles in one way or another. Unity of the people on the basis of religious and Islamic beliefs is the only thing that can help these nations move forward: we have endured prolonged and continued experiences in this regard.


My dear sisters, my dear children, we have faced the hostilities of the arrogant powers for thirty-three years. Today, they have created some global hype about sanctions that they have imposed on Iran. They do not understand that they've been immunizing us against sanctions for thirty years! Yes, we have endured the enemies’ sanctions for thirty years: we are immune to these sanctions: sanctions do not harm us. The people of Iran have stood firm. The people of Iran have sacrificed their lives, their wealth, and the lives of their loved ones in order to show resistance in the face of the enemy's machinations. Today, we are a hundred times more powerful and advanced than we used to be thirty years ago. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"] As far as science, politics, economy, managing the affairs of the country and the insight of the people are concerned, today we are far more advanced than we used to be during the early days of the Revolution. And the people of Iran have achieved all this while enduring the hostilities of the enemies.


Today, it is an honor to announce that Muslim women in Iran are proud and dignified. They use numerous propaganda techniques to distort this truth, the truth has remained intact: today our educated women are the most pious and revolutionary people in our country. Today, our women, our educated women, and our young women are active in the most advanced laboratories of scientific and scholarly centers. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"] Our pious and revolutionary young women are among the most active women in political, scientific, and managerial areas: they are highly educated, and they think critically. The advancements that the Iranian nation has achieved are due to resistance. If the people of a country resist for the sake of God, and in the way of God, Allah, the Exalted, will help them: this is a divine promise, and divine promises are inviolable. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"]


The organizations affiliated with the arrogant powers did everything within their might to discourage the Islamic Republic from supporting Palestine: we stood firm in the case of Palestine. They tried to magnify sectarian and ethnic issues: the Islamic Republic stood by its Muslim brothers who followed different Islamic denominations, including Shia and Sunni Islam and other Islamic denominations. The Islamic Republic is and will be, present wherever there is an Islamic movement, wherever efforts are made to defend the Islamic identity, wherever efforts are made to defend the oppressed. America, Zionism, and the corrupt political network of the arrogant powers have not been able to defeat the Islamic Republic, and they will not be able to do so in the future. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"] By Allah's favor, we stood by the Palestinian nation. We stood by the Muslim nations that carried out a revolution. We stood by all those who are opposed to USA and Zionism. We are standing firm, we support them [oppressed nations], and we will not take the interests of any individual or any power into consideration in this regard. [Audience shout "Allahu Akbar!"]


Try to appreciate this movement by Muslim women and the opportunity that has been provided, for you, people from throughout the world of Islam, to become acquainted with one another. Use this opportunity to launch a great movement among members of the Islamic Ummah, and, by Allah's favor, the movement you spark will result in greater victories.


May greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings