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Leader's Speech on the 16th Demise Anniversary of Imam Khomeini

June 04, 2005

The following is the abridged text of a speech delivered by the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei to hundreds of thousands of faithful mourners on the 16th demise anniversary of the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the late Imam Khomeini. The Leader made the speech at the late Imam's mausoleum on June 4, 2005.

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-il-Qassem al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate and infallible household, especially what remains with Allah on earth.

Today, we once again remember the sad loss of our late magnanimous Imam. The Iranian nation will never forget this bitter incident. The reason for our presence here is to renew our allegiance to Imam Khomeini, to tell his heavenly and blessed soul that we are faithful to our pledge, namely the pledge to continue his path and make every effort to accomplish his ideals and objectives.

Imam Khomeini guided the Iranian nation on the path to the accomplishment of some noble objectives. He also introduced us to certain criteria so that, by observing those criteria, we may not deviate from the right path.

Only by treading this path will we be able to achieve salvation and prosperity; that is, we will be able to eliminate poverty and backwardness from our country, administer justice, which has been the ancient dream of mankind, put an end to the humiliation suffered by Muslim nations, foil the arrogant powers in their expansionist goals through power and strength not through flattery and self-abasement, make moral values, piety and faith prevail both in our individual lives and in the country's macro policies and, finally, enjoy freedom, which is a great divine gift, and all other blessings resulting from it.

These are the objectives and ideals delineated by Imam Khomeini. The late Imam's movement and revolution and the Islamic system which he architected have all come into existence to realize these objectives. Thus, the path of Imam Khomeini is the path to justice, dignity and progress. We have vowed to continue treading this path and will do so by divine favor and assistance.

Imam Khomeini opened this path to us and made us familiar with these objectives. He covered the most basic stage of this long path with strong will and determination and with the help of our nation, and he managed to change the Islamic world. This is the way godly men are. Despite their indifference to worldly charms and allurements, they are able to change the world. Godly men infuse life and spirit into the history of mankind, and they have done so in the past. The real course of history has been influenced or changed by righteous God-fearing men.

Although thousands of years have passed since the time of prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus, the concepts which they bestowed on mankind are still among the most exalted and precious human concepts; they have kept their worth and value like precious gems.

If today there are words in human societies about freedom, dignity of mankind and human rights, if the administration of justice and the removal of discrimination are appealing mottos, and if the combat against corruption and oppression is regarded as the most attractive objective in the eyes of mankind, the reason is that these noble concepts were introduced by prophets, these godly men, in the course of the history of mankind.

Therefore, godly and pious men influence the course of history. They make possible what seems to be impossible through their reliance on and trust in the Almighty. God-fearing and virtuous men rule over hearts due to their strong bonds with the Almighty, and their leadership is characterized by spirituality and charisma.

A rule and leadership that has no spiritual traces, even if it seems attractive, is veiled by deception and hypocrisy. Therefore, the rule and leadership by godly men is different from that by other rulers. Our magnanimous Imam Khomeini was one of these righteous and godly men.

Imam Khomeini presented us with a great model of spiritual leadership. When we think about the conditions in which we live, we come to the conclusion that the gap and distance existing between us and prophets and godly men is so wide that it cannot be covered. But our magnanimous Imam presented us with a perfect example of spiritual leadership through his words and deeds in our time and in the absence of prophets and divine revelation.

Presently also the only way for the Iranian nation and the Islamic Ummah to achieve salvation and prosperity is to follow the path of Imam Khomeini and his thoughts and objectives.

Today, I would like to talk briefly about three topics. First, I will talk about the political school introduced by Imam Khomeini which formed the cornerstone of the Islamic Republic. The present conditions of the world and international challenges facing Islam and Muslims constitute the second topic. Finally, I will mention some points about the upcoming presidential election in our country.

The essence of the political school introduced by our magnanimous Imam is the relationship between religious and temporal affairs. In delineating this relationship, the late Imam used Islamic teachings and guidelines as a basis for his delineation. From an Islamic perspective, the world is a path that human beings should tread in order to attain perfection; the world is compared to a farm, the harvest of which is reaped in the hereafter.

From this viewpoint, the world is the arena of human endeavors in various spheres of activities such as political and economic spheres, and the arena of human efforts to deal with different concepts like the rights and responsibilities of human beings or the concepts of education, wisdom, knowledge and justice.

Therefore, from this perspective, the material world is the place where religion is expected to fulfill its mission and perform its responsibilities. Religion is what gives shape and direction to and guides the activities of human communities in all arenas of life.

Based on this definition of the world, religion and worldly affairs cannot be separated from one another. The reason is that religion cannot find any arena except the material world to perform its mission, and the world without religion will be a place devoid of spirituality, justice, truth, benevolence and spirit. Without religion, the law of the jungle will prevail in the world.

The above definition also implies that politics, economics, government, law, morality and individual and social relations cannot be separated from religion either. Thus, from the viewpoint of our late Imam Khomeini, religion and worldly affairs are intertwined and complement each other.

Ever since the beginning of the Imam Khomeini's movement, this viewpoint has provoked the greatest resistance, hostility and opposition from the arrogant powers, the powers whose wealth, power and rule depend on the elimination of religion, moral values and spirituality from human societies.

There is also a second definition and meaning for the material world given by the Islamic texts, which define it as the source of sensuality, egotism and pursuit of allurements and carnal desires. It is quite clear that the material world, as featured by such characteristics, is rejected and despised from an Islamic perspective, and it can never be associated with religion.

The material world with the above definition is epitomized by all the tyrants and oppressors in the course of the history of mankind, from Pharaoh and Nero to Shah and Saddam and Bush. Bringing religion at the service of this world is a betrayal of religion. Our late magnanimous Imam Khomeini, who considered religion totally intertwined with political, economic and other worldly affairs, always warned the people and government officials against getting entrapped and bogged down in this kind of material world.

We should make a distinction between the two definitions of the material world. Imam Khomeini had completely distanced himself from the material world it its second sense. He was totally opposed to sensuality, selfishness and worldly allurements. But the material world in its first sense, namely the arena of worldly affairs and activities in various spheres of life, was quite in conformity with religion from the late Imam's viewpoint and in line with what is taught to us by Islamic texts.

The Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (peace and greetings be upon him), stated: "The material world is the place where the friends of Allah engage in business and transaction." This statement means that the friends of Allah use the material world as a ladder for spiritual elevation.

The Iranian nation is pursuing the goal of attaining worldly prosperity and progress in various economic, political and social spheres. This goal will be accomplished under the aegis of religion. This is the lesson that our late Imam taught to us, and it is the main factor that has provoked the ceaseless enmity and blind hostility of the arrogant powers toward the Islamic Republic.

Even today, a major target of the negative propaganda disseminated by our enemies is the principle of the unity of religion and worldly affairs. The enemies are alarmed by this principle, which views religion as the architect of the material world. They are alarmed because the material world that they want is a world filled with oppression and aggression and devoid of morality and spirituality.

This is the so-called new order that has been devised by global arrogance for humanity. The Islamic Republic abolished this wrong order by showing to the world that religion is able to play an effective role in the people's everyday lives.

The second topic I am going to talk about relates to the regional and international developments somehow affecting Islam and Muslim nations. The world has greatly changed since the time of Imam Khomeini in political and geopolitical areas. Among the great developments that have taken place in the world over the past two decades are the collapse of the Communist camp in the world, the uprising of the oppressed Palestinian people in the occupied territories, the widespread hatred for the United States not only in the Islamic world but among all world nations, the elimination of an evil tyrant such as Saddam from political equations of the region, and the intense rivalry and wide gap between the United States and Europe in the Western camp.

There are two different interpretations of the present situation. The first interpretation, which is rather superficial, is that the United States has grown more powerful owing to the developments that have taken place in the region, since it has besieged the Islamic world and Iran. Those in favor of the first interpretation claim that the United States, through its presence in Iraq, west of Iran, and in Afghanistan, east of Iran, as well as in the Persian Gulf and in some regions in Southwest Asia, has practically surrounded Iran and the Islamic Revolution. Therefore, they assert, the United States has become stronger than in the past.

However, the second interpretation points to the fact that the present developments in the region indicate U.S. resistance and reaction to the renaissance movement of the Islamic world.

Before the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the United States, despite the existence of a rival such as the former Soviet Union, was furthering its illegitimate interests in this region. But since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the tranquility formerly enjoyed by the United States in this part of the world has been disturbed, and the U.S. feels threatened in the Islamic region.

Once the United States was the absolute power in the Middle East region, and even the governments that had leftist leanings were not considered a threat to the U.S. The Ba'thist regime of Iraq was a so-called leftist regime and had close ties with the former Soviet Union, but it was not considered a threat to the United States. The reason was that U.S. officials knew that they could easily manipulate the Iraqi regime, a regime which did not rely on its own nation, and use it as a tool for achieving their own aims. Other left-leaning regimes in the region did not pose a threat to the United States either.

However, when the Islamic Republic was established, it was a new and unexplainable phenomenon for the United States. First of all, it was not a leftist regime affiliated to the Communist camp. It was a system that relied on the faith and determination of every single Iranian individual, not on any outside power.

Second, the Leader of this newly established system was inspired by religious precepts and had a deep faith in the Almighty. Consequently, temporal matters were not able to influence his strong will.

As a result of the truth and sincerity of the Islamic system and its promotion of spiritual and Islamic values, which also reminded other Muslim nations of their Islamic identity, an Islamic renaissance movement emerged throughout the Islamic world.

What the United States has done in the Middle East and the Islamic region over the recent years has been a reaction to the establishment of a strong Islamic system in our country. The U.S. 'Greater Middle East' plan, which has so far failed to yield any results despite all U.S. efforts, and which will prove futile in the future as well, is also a reaction to the Islamic renaissance movement.

U.S. officials know that they have no future in the Islamic world. Thus, by making such attempts, they are trying to prevent the Islamic renaissance movement of Muslim nations from turning into a revolutionary movement and to delay the indubitable victory of Muslims.

The officials of U.S. administration recently acknowledged that if they had not invaded Iraq, the faithful Iraqi people would have acted on their own initiative and toppled Saddam in a short time. This is what the United States is afraid of. The acknowledgement points to the fact that U.S. regional measures have not been motivated by U.S. power and strength, but that they have been prompted by a fear of the consequences of the Islamic renaissance movement in the Islamic world and the power existing in the Islamic camp.

Still, it is necessary for Muslim nations to remain watchful and vigilant. They should not underestimate the enemy and its plots and machinations. Today is the day of unity and harmony among Islamic nations and governments. From this podium, I would like to warn the Iranian nation, the nations of Iraq and Pakistan and also other Muslim nations to try to rein in their religious conflicts, especially the conflicts between the Shia and the Sunni.

Today, I can clearly see that there are certain hands at work to create rifts and schisms between the Shia and the Sunni. The Zionists and arrogant powers are definitely involved in the bloody incidents and explosions taking place during congregational prayers at the mosques and Friday prayer grounds. Muslims have nothing to do with the incidents taking place in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.

Muslims should try to consolidate their unity by underlining their shared features and commonalities. All Muslims worship Almighty Allah and believe in the Holy Qur'an and Islamic precepts such as monotheism, prophetic mission, and resurrection as well as most of the ordinances of the Islamic law. But the enemies, by highlighting some minor differences, are trying to pit Muslims against one another in order to achieve their own objectives.

Our late magnanimous Imam Khomeini often emphasized the need for unity among Muslim nations, because he was very well aware of the threats emanating from the lack of Islamic unity. The British and their intelligence services created conflicts between the Shia and the Sunni in Iran and in other Islamic countries. The British have a great deal of experience in taking such divisive measures.

Today, the agents of the Zionists are also involved in creating rifts and schisms among Muslims. We are informed that the wicked hands of the Zionists and other enemies of Islam are directly or indirectly involved in the incidents taking place in various parts of the Islamic world.

The Islamic world should take pride in the fact that its power and awakening has alarmed and panicked the arrogant powers. Today, Muslim nations should greatly value their Islamic renaissance. The Iranian nation should think highly of its great revolution, which revived hopes and aspirations in the hearts of Muslims, and which assured them of the progress and prosperity of the Islamic world and its deliverance from its chronic backwardness and humiliation by its enemies.

In conclusion, I would like to mention some points about the upcoming presidential election in our country. The upcoming election bears great significance, since the Iranian nation will entrust the fate of the country and its executive affairs to the next president for the next four years. It is likely that the next president will use his vast legal power and authority as well as the country's numerous resources and facilities to solve the people's problems and help our country and nation to advance; or, God forbid, he may stop the society from making progress because of his negligence and inattention, or he may even cause the society to regress. This is why the forthcoming election is of great significance.

Elections are also important from another aspect. They are a symbol of the Islamic movement in our country and a gift bestowed by Islam on the Iranian nation. The late magnanimous Imam cleared the world's mentality of the absolutely wrong belief that government in Islam is of an authoritarian and hereditary nature, and he presented to the Iranian nation and to the world a real Islamic government that relies on public participation and the people's freedom of choice.

Today, the Iranian officials of various ranks are elected either directly or indirectly by the people. Presidential elections and the elections to the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the Experts Assembly and city councils are among the prides of the Iranian nation and our late magnanimous Imam Khomeini.

There are basic differences between religious democracy and Western democracy. Religious democracy, which stems from the people's divine right and duty to seal their own fate, is not a mere social contract. All human beings have the right to choose and the right to decide their own fate. This is what makes elections in our country and under the Islamic system meaningful. It is more advanced, more meaningful and more deep-rooted than what exists under Western liberal democracy today. It is one of our prides, and it should be preserved.

Presently the negative propaganda of the sworn enemies of the Iranian nation is aimed at discouraging the Iranian people from participating in the upcoming presidential election. What is the reason for their propaganda? The reason is that the enemies of Islam and Iran will receive a heavy blow from the Iranian people's high turnout in the upcoming election, since this massive turnout will display the attractive character of the Islamic Republic to the international community.

This is what worries the enemies. Thus, they are making every effort to undermine the Iranian people's participation in the upcoming election. Despite this, I am sure that the great Iranian nation will pass this trial with pride and honor.

In conclusion, I would like to call on the dear brothers and sisters and all the honorable Iranian people to keep the atmosphere of the upcoming election sound and healthy. In particular, the supporters of different presidential candidates are expected to refrain from mudslinging and trying to tarnish the image of one another.

The Iranian people should vote for the candidate who attaches the most significance to religious and revolutionary values and to the Iranian people's honor and dignity as well as to their progress and prosperity. Fortunately, the present healthy atmosphere in society will enable the public to identity the most competent and suitable candidate from among those running in the next presidential election.

I pray to Almighty Allah to guide the Iranian people so that they may vote for the best and most efficient presidential candidate. I also pray to the Almighty to help us remain steadfast in our pledge of allegiance to our late magnanimous Imam, bestow His grace and favor on our nation and make His Holiness Imam of the Age - may our souls be sacrificed for his sake - pleased and contented with us.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings

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