The following is the full text of the speech delivered on September 26, 2016 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Ummah, in a meeting with the officials of the Kohgiluyeh Boyer-Ahmad and North Khorasan Martyrs Commemoration Congress.
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 immaculate household
Thankfully, our meeting is imbued with the scent of martyrdom. You brothers who have come from two provinces of Kohgiluyeh Boyer-Ahmad, and North Khorasan have endeavored to commemorate the names and memory of martyrs and to render services to them. Today too, you have shown your kindness by attending this meeting. I hope that God will reward you, that He eternalizes your intentions and your firm determination, that He accepts these services and efforts from you, and that – by Allah’s favor – our people enjoy the benefits of these valuable cultural services because today they really need these benefits.
Because the two groups of people who have come here are of the same nature, I decided to speak to them in one speech because this is the memory and remembrance of martyrs and martyrs’ blessings will – by Allah’s favor – be sent down on this gathering and on this speech. Despite the fact that about 28 years have passed from the end of the Sacred Defense Era, martyrs’ memory and names will not become old and lost. The reason is that Allah the Exalted has said, “They are alive in presence of their Lord” [The Holy Quran, 3: 169]. They are alive, as are all martyrs in history.
So many great ulama, great personalities and great politicians have passed away throughout history, but only a few of them are remembered by society. However, the memory of the individuals who have been recognized as martyrs is and will continue to be alive. The same is true of our martyrs. The memory of martyrs is alive and we should continue the preservation of martyrs’ names and memory as an important task.
This is because martyrs are the deliverers of a happy message: “And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them in their bliss, the martyrs glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they cause to grieve” [The Holy Quran, 3: 170]. Martyrs say to us that we should not have any fear and worry. They say to us that we should not be disappointed and hopeless. They keep divine blessings, divine kindness and divine bounties before our eyes and this is what we need today.
Today, the goal of the enemy’s soft and covert war is to make the people drift away from the arena of jihad and resistance and to make them indifferent towards ideals. This is their goal. Their vast propaganda, on which they spend billions, is pursued with the purpose of disappointing the people of Iran – who have managed to frustrate many desires of global powers and imperialist systems with their resistance and steadfastness – and eliminate them from the scene. This is the goal.
If they exert economic pressures, this is the goal. If they exert political pressures, this is the goal. If they exert security pressures, this is the goal. If we think that the enemy is after waging a war in order to occupy part of the country, this is an old notion. Today, they are not after such things and the enemy does not want this. Today, even if the enemy makes a military move, it does it in order to achieve that goal – the goal of occupying the psychological and mental environment of the country. If it carries out an economic task, it does it with this intention. If it makes a security and psychological move, if it uses cyberspace, satellite, radio and television and if it hires mercenary promoters around the world, they do these things with this intention.
Well, under such circumstances, the thing that can keep the people thriving and the thing that can generate enthusiasm and freshness in them is martyrs’ memory. One of the important factors in this regard is martyrs’ memory. That is why the issue of commemorating martyrs and these commemoration congresses that are formed for martyrs are very important. They are very valuable.
The reports that you gentlemen delivered – whether the brothers who spoke about the tasks that have been carried out in Kohgiluyeh Boyer-Ahmad or the brothers who spoke about the tasks that have been carried out in North Khorasan – are good reports and these tasks are good tasks as well. Of course, not all these tasks are of the same value. Some of these tasks are good, some are better, some have deeper impacts and some are not like this. But in any case, guarding the memory of martyrs is a duty in the present time.
There are a number of fundamental points here that should receive attention. One is that in preparing the biographies of martyrs, we should try to explain the characteristics of their life, their lifestyle and their way of life. This is important. Well, the excitement of going to war and to the arena of battle is one issue – of course, it is a valuable thing to jeopardize one’s life by going to war – but the spirit, characteristics and the intellectual and ideological background of individuals is quite another issue. The latter is very important. How did a martyr – from whose memory, sacrifices and martyrdom in the arena of war you become excited – live within his own family? How did he act in his ordinary environment of life? These are very important points. Another question is this: how did they act in the case of the issues which are important to us in the present time?
For example, in the present time, we show sensitivity about extravagance, transgression against public funds, and adoption of an aristocratic lifestyle. These are things that are important and fundamental today for sympathetic groups of people in our society. What was the outlook of our dear martyrs towards these matters during the time when they were alive and during the time when they used to live in their own cities and in their own families?
Yesterday or the day before yesterday, a program was being broadcast on TV. It was about some of our martyrs and I watched a few minutes of by chance. What was being said about those martyrs and about their biography would really astonish one because of their psychological greatness. One of the martyrs was saying, “I am an educated person and I am afraid that my education – that has cost the country some amount of money – has been an imposition on public funds and that this falls on me. When I am martyred, you should sell my moped, take the money that I have in my bank account and put it in public funds in place of the money that was spent on my education.” These are lessons. These are lessons!
How did martyrs live their ordinary life? For example, how was their marriage? In the memoirs of some martyrs which are, in fact, their biographies – of course, I have seen, read and looked at part of these biographies – the issue of their marriage comes up. The discussion is about how they married, their way of choosing a spouse – the kind of spouse that they were looking for – their marriage ceremony, and their behavior towards their family. All of these are peaks of Islamic ethics.
Today, we have serious problems in this regard. Today, we need these things. How do our youth think and how should they really think about choosing their spouse in the present time? Those role models should be kept within their sight. They are role models. Our martyrs are role models. Sometimes, some people come to us and complain that we do not introduce role models to our youth. Well, these are thousands of role models! These are 3,000 role models in North Khorasan province and these are 1,800 role models in Kohgiluyeh Boyer-Ahmad province. And there are thousands of role models in various other provinces.
You should highlight these role models. You should keep their enlightened faces within the sight of our youth. I do not have any objections about preparing albums and the like, but this is not the main task that you should carry out. Speaking about the things that they used to do in their lives, and about how they acted, how they behaved, how they spent money and how they looked at their responsibilities is one of those very important issues that can create role models.
Our artists should step into the arena. They should benefit from the art of writing and the art of textual illustration. These are very important things. They should not only benefit from movies. Movies are good and very necessary. I have emphasized their role and recommended them many times. In the present time, I recommend them as well. However, this emphasis on movies should not make us ignore books.
If there are some people who are skilled at writing – good writing – and who are talented in these areas, they should sit and prepare illustrations. They should write short books so that youth show the patience to read them. They should produce books. And it is not necessary for them to exaggerate. It is not necessary to say untrue things. They should write about the things that really existed in a correct, exquisite and eloquent manner. This will attract hearts. This will influence individuals.
So, one point is that we should portray and present the life and lifestyle of our martyrs for our youth and for our future generations. We should show this to them so that they see what existed and what happened. This is because the imposed war – which was in fact a Sacred Defense – was not a small event. After the passage of many years, we have not yet managed to explain to our addressees the important dimensions of this war in a correct manner.
That war was an international war. It was an international war against Islam, against the authority of Islam, and against our magnanimous Imam (r.a.). It was such a war. Of course, they made that lowly and foolish ba’athist element – Saddam – the spearhead of the battle. But there was a front, made of other forces, behind him. They were people who used to help and show the path to him. They were people who used to provide him with the necessary tools and who used to strengthen him whenever he became vulnerable. They used to do this so that he would not become weak. We were faced with such a war.
Who were the people who managed to save the country from such a disaster? This is important for our youth in the present time. Who were the people who managed to save the country and who stepped into the middle of the arena? These are important points. Therefore, one point is that it should be clear to today’s addressees how those youth behaved.
Another issue is about their ideals. Well, what were the ideals of those youth? What lofty goals did those youth who went there and fought have? Was the issue confined to a land and border dispute and the like? Was it only about an enemy who had transgressed against our borders and whom we wanted to force into retreat? Was it only about this? What were the ideals of parents? Those parents – who had raised their youth, who were not prepared to see their youth come to any harm, and who did not want their youth to have the slightest disease – sent their youth to the front lines without being sure that they would return. This is very important.
With what ideals did those parents send their youth to war? These points are important. You should pay attention to these points. Many people are trying to keep these points hidden. Their ideal was Islam. Their ideal was God. Their ideal was religious and Islamic government. It was this that drew youth towards the front lines.
Those who do not believe this should take a look at their testaments. Our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) used to say, “May God accept it if you have worshipped Him for 50 years. But you should also go and read these testaments once.” The reason why he said this was that such testaments show for what reason those youth went to the front lines, and what attraction and what magnetic force moved them. These testaments show how they forgot about youthful desires, their lessons, their university, and the comfortable environment of living with their parents, and how they tolerated the cold in the western part of the country or the heat in Khuzestan in order to fight against the enemy and lay down their lives.
Fighting against the enemy looks easy from a long distance away. As long as you do not go there and you do not hear the sound of cannons, guns, explosions and the like, you do not understand correctly what is going on. Those youth went there, jeopardized their lives and went through many dangers. What was the reason? This has been reflected in those testaments. They did so for God, for Imam (r.a.) and for hijab. You have seen what great emphasis has been placed on hijab in martyrs’ testaments. Well, hijab is a religious rule. This ideal that martyrs had should not be forgotten.
It should not be the case that we think that it was only a war like the other wars that others are fighting in all over the world. We should not think to ourselves, “Every country has an enemy, after all. Sometimes a war breaks out, certain youth go to front lines and they fight. And eventually, they are killed, injured or return home alive. This war was like the other wars.” This was not the issue. The issue was the issue of religion, of divine ideals, of the authority of Islam, of the Revolution and of revolutionary Islam, one that drew the youth to the war.
The same is true of parents. If it were not for God, if it were not for the hope of divine kindness and blessings, how would parents allow their youth to go to the arena of war and to wait afterwards? I have said to families of martyrs and to parents many times that it was their patience that prevented this movement and this flame of resistance and fighting in the way of the truth from being extinguished and snuffed out. It was because of parents’ patience, otherwise if parents engaged in crying, weeping, complaining and fighting here and there when their youth went to the front lines and when they were martyred, then the next family would not send their youth. It was the families of martyrs and these spirits that preserved the Revolution. This is a spirit of self-sacrifice and altruism.
Perhaps, I have narrated this memory many times. Of course, there are many such memories in hundreds of places and perhaps many more. This memory is related to one of the cities that I had visited during my presidency. When I delivered a speech and wanted to go back, the people gathered around us and showed their kindness. I was going towards the car and wanted to get in. Suddenly, I heard a lady continuously shouting my name from the middle of the crowd. I found out that she had an important business. I stopped and said, “Let that woman step forward so that we see what her business is and why she is shouting in the middle of the crowd.” She stepped forward and said, “Sir, my son became captive a while ago.” I think that she said “my only son”. I do not remember exactly. Perhaps, she said, “My only son”. Most probably, she said, “My only son”.
She continued, “A few days ago, I found out that he has been martyred in a prison. Say to Imam, “Fadaye saretan (a common expression in Persian meaning I sacrificed him and it is alright).” She said something like this, of course I do not remember everything that she said, but I have written it down and I have said it many times. “Even if I had another son, I would send him again.” This was a message that the mother of a martyr delivered.
Notice what a great spirit this is! I went back and delivered that message to Imam (r.a.). Imam (r.a.) cried when he heard of that feeling. He shed tears. Whom and what were those spirits for? When the mother of two martyrs puts her own sons inside the grave, holds back her tears and asks others around her to stop crying because she has offered her sons in the way of God and because she is happy, one cannot find any non-divine reason for it. These are ideals.
Therefore, we should not forget the ideals of martyrs – God, Islam, revolutionary Islam, Islamic government and the authority of religion. We should not normalize the event by saying that it was a war like the other wars that broke out in the world. Well, some people are killed and some are injured or become captive. In all wars, some youth are killed. This was not the issue and we should not forget this. This is another issue.
Another point is that you should use the remaining time to speak to parents. I fortunately witnessed this in the speeches that the gentlemen in the meeting delivered and I saw that they paid attention to it. Many parents have passed away and we have missed the opportunity to find the reasons behind the movement of those youth. When parents speak, they make it clear in what environment their youth have been raised. This is very important. It should become clear in what environment they were raised in terms of their social position, their social class and the different orientations that they had.
Besides, speaking to parents can clarify the details of martyrs’ lives for us. This is another benefit of speaking to parents and therefore, you should not miss this opportunity. You should meet with parents. About 30 years have passed from the end of the war. Many parents have passed away and some others are on the verge of their demise. You only have a short time left. You should consider this as one of your priorities. Primarily, you should meet with the parents that exist, with martyrs’ spouses – those who had a spouse – and with their brothers and sisters, those who had brothers and sisters. You should ask them about martyrs, about their behavior and about their spirit and then, you should provide that information for the young generation.
Good tasks are really being carried out in these commemoration congresses and these gatherings. Some of these tasks are impressive tasks. This is good. Impressive tasks are necessary. The auspicious names of martyrs, their photos, their pictures and their quotations on some of the streets and passageways are eye-catching and necessary. However, what is more important than this is content-based issues. There should be an effort to strengthen the content-based, educational and instructional aspects of these commemoration congresses.
Every commemoration congress that you organize exerts deep influence on a large number of people. I am not saying that they influence everyone, but individuals are different from one another and they are influenced in different ways. However, such commemoration congresses exert some influence on a group of people. The condition of the war and front lines should be portrayed by using martyrs’ words. Today’s youth and teenagers should know what Sacred Defense was when we speak about it. This should be explained through martyrs’ language.
There are some books that have been written on the issue of martyrs and I have written some notes in some of them. Some of these writings are good because the details that have existed in the war, those innovations, those self-sacrificing acts, those lonely times, those altruistic and courageous acts that individuals did during and before military operations and the things that they did during those difficult times have been portrayed and illustrated in a good way. These things should be clarified for youth as well.
I hope that God will make all of you successful. I hope that God gives us the blessing to really understand the martyrs’ position and status. I hope that God turns our society into a martyrdom-based society because if this happens, the welfare of our country, our people and our society will be achieved in this world and in the hereafter, God willing.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings