Islam dignifies women, Liberalism wants them humiliated, exposed to abuse by men
The following is the full text of a speech delivered on March 8, 2018, by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, during an assembly with the panegyrists who honor Ahl ul-Bayt (as), on the occasion of the birthday anniversary Hazrat Fatimah az-Zahra (as).
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful:
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and peace and greetings are upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his pure, immaculate and chosen household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth.
Dear brothers and sisters, May your Eid be blessed. I hope, that by Allah's favor, you have always remained at the service of the household of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Wilayat, and at the service of the loud cry for truth on days when darkness and evil dominate. Thankfully, today, you represent this [as just described]. Our pious and dear youth--including this group of panegyrists and eulogists who represent the immaculate and pure Ahlul Bayt (PBUT)--truly serve as a loud cry of truth throughout this world--which is filled with oppression and chaos.
Words fail me and those who are like me when it comes to clarifying the lofty and indescribable position of the Holy Prophet's daughter (PBUT). Humanity cannot describe the spiritual position and the psychological greatness of exceptional, divine, and heavenly individuals like Fatima Zahra (God's greetings be upon her). This description should be heard from Allah the Exalted, Himself, and from His great servants and divine saints: this should be learned from them. We can only speculate about their position within the scope of our understanding. The Holy Prophet (God's peace and greetings be upon him and his household) said about Fatima Zahra (God's greetings be upon her), "She is the doyenne of all women in paradise." Of course, there are other narrations as well: "The doyenne of all women of the Worlds" and "The doyenne of all women in this world."--All of these statements have been narrated by Shi'a and Sunni through reliable documentation.
It is not only Shia Muslims who have narrated them [hadith]. However, in my opinion, the most important one is "The doyen of women in Paradise." Notice that in a Quranic ayah – the ayah which was recited by the honorable Quran reciter today – Allah, the Exalted, reveals: "And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh," [The Holy Quran, 66: 11]. She was a role model for all believers, not only for women: "To those who believe." Allah the Exalted introduced two female role models for all believers: "And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh." --This verse is about Asiya; the subsequent sentences are about her. Then, God says, "And Maryam the daughter of Imran," [The Holy Quran, 66: 12].--The other woman is Hazrat Maryam.
Well, these two women are role models for all of humanity and for all believers who walk this earth. These two individuals, with all other outstanding women and divine female saints, are in paradise: they reside in paradise. That is while Fatima Zahra is "The doyenne of all women in paradise." She oversees all of them: we cannot understand positions beyond this. Of course, our dear poets and our honorable and dear performers made some excellent statements today, but all of them failed to convey the lofty and ideal position of Siddiqat al-Tahirah (God's greetings be upon her). However, the descriptions and statements of the Holy Prophet (saws) and God are more eloquent than all of these.
Our time is brief: I have written down some talking points, but noon is soon arriving; therefore, I will discuss these points briefly. The birthday anniversary of Siddiqat al-Tahirah (God's greetings be upon her) falls upon International Women's Day [this year]--[with this in mind,] according to Islamic ideals, there is a paradigm for Muslim women to follow. This model is complete: an Islamic woman is a woman who possesses faith; she embraces "ifaff" [chastity, virtue]; she manages the most important elements of human education; she is influential in society; she can grow, scientifically and spiritually; she is the doyenne of the very important foundation of family and a great source of comfort for man: all of these qualities exist, as well as other female qualities such as delicacy, softness of heart, and preparedness for receiving the divine light. These qualities make up the paradigm for the Muslim woman. These are the very characteristics that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) applied to various statements while praising Fatima Zahra, Khadija al-Kubra (God's greeting be upon them), and women in general.
Against this [Islamic paradigm], there is a deviant prototype for women: it has taken up different forms during various eras. Today, that deviant prototype is the standard used by several western women. Presently, instead of all the outstanding characteristics witnessed in Muslim women, the socially acceptable qualities of women promoted by the west are mostly geared towards her ability to attract [negative forms of] attention and objectification from the opposite sex. Henceforth, today, [among western cultures] the most socially encouraged quality of the western woman is nudity. [For example,] During formal meetings –where men and women are allowed to participate together – men cover themselves completely, the women, however, are expected to bare as much as possible: this happens during formal meetings, let alone their social environment!
This situation [previously mentioned] is related to the most recent western history – Europe and the U.S.--this has not been the case in the past. As far as I know, debauchery, nudity, and decadence, to this extent, did not exist in the west over 100-150 years ago. Of course, hijab – in its Islamic sense – did not exist there either. Long and detailed discussions are necessary surrounding the nature of the policy that has driven the western community towards this direction and the overall goals of that policy. But, presently, this is the reality: women in the west are introduced as manifestations of consumption, ornamentation, exhibitionism and to serve as instruments of male arousal. The other ideologies that they preach – for example, issues regarding gender justice and the like – are just empty words. They are for the sake of appearances: that is the truth of the matter.
You might have heard, a few months ago, that a large number of western, female politicians announced, one right after another, they had been subjected to abuse, harassment, or violence--at times when they were working in government offices. They have, certainly, expressed this, and have spoken against such abuse: they were prominent western women. By introducing hijab, Islam has shut the door on a path that would pull women towards such deviation. Islam does not allow this [sexual abuse or violence]. Islamic hijab is a means immunity for women. Hijab is not a means for restricting women.
Today, the flag of identity and cultural independence is in the hands of Iranian women. Today, by preserving hijab, Iranian women confirm their identity, independence, and cultural identity. They are exporting their qualities throughout the world. The world is hearing a new concept: women can have an active presence in social arenas, and they can exert a deep social influence. Today, the women of our country influence various fields. At the same time, hijab, modesty, [preserving] distinguished characteristics of men and women as well as [observing] a distance [of privacy] between men and women, refusal to be abused by men, or being reduced to an object of pleasure for selfish strangers are among the characteristics of Iranian and Muslim women. We offer this model, of course. Among our ladies, there are some individuals who are observing this prototype to a great and exact degree; some women are observing it to an average degree; in any case, this model exists and it's the cornerstone of Iranian women's achievements.
Those who humiliate the foundation of the family are betraying both the nation and women – the society of women. Those who pretend that 'gender justice' means the participation of women in all areas, that men participate in, are betraying women's trust, respectability, and identity. Women are respectable. No one has said that women should not participate in various social arenas, or that they should not undertake responsibilities, or that they should not become scientists: this is not what is said. Today, there are countless women, within our society, who are among the best scientists, the best writers, and the best cultural personalities.
And you should know that this is the Revolution's feat: such rights for women did not exist before the Revolution. There were a very few numbers of women who had managed to achieve great scientific, cultural, belletristic, and other such rankings. Today, such women are abundant [in numbers]: this was the Revolution's masterpiece. This is because the paradigm for Muslim women upholds such features. At the same time, women are the heads of their household: they are the center of the family. The most important job that a woman can have is motherhood, wifehood, and the being at the center of tranquility and calm in the family: "And made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her in love" [The Holy Quran, 7: 189]. Thus, women are a great source of tranquility and calm: this is the greatest characteristic of women in Islam, and one should pay attention to these points on Women's Day.
With certainty, we advise the honorable Iranian, Muslim, and pious women to preserve these Islamic and Quranic concepts and to strengthen them on a daily basis. They should avoid maladies, like the extravagant, negative comparisons with others – for example, negative competitiveness and imitation of deviant western models. They should take great care of themselves. Today, Muslim women are dignified in our country. Iranian women have the privilege of having an independent cultural identity, so much so that they are not influenced by others: you [the women] should preserve these qualities for yourselves.
Additionally, there are certain enemies for this state of affairs. I will remind you that the main interest of the enemy's soft and psychological warfare, in our country, tends to focus on this subject. You are the heralds of the truth. You should promote these issues in your statements, in your words, and in your poetry.--Fortunately, that did occur in some of the words that were stated and poems that were read. This is your most important responsibility: you are a medium [for carrying out messages]. One of the most important elements in media is the medium of panegyrists and religious performers; thankfully, this has developed in our country. The duty of a medium is exceptionally important.
I would like to raise another issue to make the most of the time we have. By Allah's favor, I will make it as brief as possible. Notice that the enemies of the Islamic Revolution are constantly scheming; this is a source of pride for us. It has been over 40 years, now, that they have been hatching various plots – in a continuous manner – against the Islamic government and against Islamic Iran. Billions are being spent and pseudo-intellectual personalities gather to deliver damage to the doorstep of this government or to uproot it. And it has been over 40 years that this blessed and pure tree has continued to grow: this is a source of pride for us! If they had not acted against us, we would not have felt divine kindness to such a great extent. Much activity is carried out against the Islamic Republic: there has not been this much plotting against any nation and country; but, at the same time, they [the enemy] have not managed to accomplish a single thing; and the Islamic Republic has moved forward on its path of growth and perfection.
Such plots have always existed and they exist at the present time as well. A few months ago, so-called think tanks – specialized 'intellectual' groups – sat around: they discussed and plotted. They formulated plans for the Islamic Republic and set a timetable for Dey, Bahman, and Esfand – [Persian] days and months that we are passing. They said that they would carry out some [radical] attempt during Dey, another mission during Bahman, and another plan during Esfand; they said they would put an end to the Islamic Republic by the end of this year. Well, they can dream on! You've witnessed the response of the Iranian people during Dey; you've witnessed how they responded during Bahman. And during Esfand – the present time – the people of Iran are prepared: they will put every transgressor and aggressor in their place.
I don't want to repeat myself. I have said these things many times, all of us and everyone else understands how our enemies work. Our enemies, too, know that the Islamic Republic owes its strength to the people: to their faith, to enthusiastic and interested youth, and to the righteous path that our magnanimous Imam has laid out before us. We are moving forward; the others can do what they please. They can say whatever they want, but they cannot accomplish even the smallest of their goals: this is clear. Now, what I want to say is in regards to hijab: they [enemies] spend a lot of money, conduct many activities, and employ hundreds of media outlets – all sorts of media-related tactics– in order to influence a sensitive concept which represents Muslim women's independence and cultural identity.
Our enemies are literally killing themselves outside the country in order to do so [promote ideas against hijab]. They carry out this mission in different ways: they are spending large sums of money in order to employ television, radio channels, and internet websites; they request that these media outlets promote their agendas and repeat them numerous times [to persuade the public]. But, to what end? To deceive a handful of girls to remove their hijabs on the street. So much money, endeavor, and planning are behind this course of action. Their efforts are intense, but their efforts are also in vain. The result was that a few individuals–four girls in some corner of the country–were deceived by people with different motives [hijab was not their main motive]. Some of them might have received money–I cannot say this for sure–in order to remove their scarves. To prove what, overall? The result of all that scheming is summarized into this tiny and mean outcome.
Well, there is no problem up to this point. What makes me sensitive is that suddenly some individuals–who are considered elites–speak on the issue of "obligatory hijab." This means that some people are unknowingly–I say unknowingly and hope that God willing it is so–pursuing the same direction that the enemy is, despite the fact that he has not managed accomplish his pursuits outside the country, even with all that spending. They are pursuing the same goal. There are journalists, semi-intellectuals, clerics and clergymen among these individuals. They say, "When Imam [Khomeini] said that women should wear hijab, he did not mean all women." This is a nonsensical statement. We were present at that time; we are aware of this. How can it be otherwise so? Imam stood like a mountain against a clear munkar [what is forbidden by God] which had been created in the country by the Pahlavi regime and their followers: and he [Imam Khomeini] said that hijab should exist: Imam stood with such courage against all munkars.
At that time, there was an argument over the business of alcoholic drinks. We were on the Council of the Revolution, and we held common meetings with the administration: there were some individuals who believed that the business of alcoholic drinks was beneficial for the country! They said, "How can we forget about this advantage?" They were willing to continue this business, and they wanted to import wine from outside of the country. However, Imam stood firm and powerful. Our magnanimous Imam used to stand up against what was considered divinely haram. Alcohol was a divine haram. Now [about hijab] someone from the opposing side has said: "This sin is not graver than that of backbiting. You do not sue someone for backbiting. So, why do you sue someone who removes her scarf and who does not wear hijab?" Notice what a major mistake they are making! This exhibits lack of recognition and understanding! What leads one to suffer is that there is no understanding! We did not say that we would pursue those who remove their scarves in front of a non-mahram [men who are not allowed to see a woman without hijab] in their own houses. We will not pursue them because they are doing this at home: this is a personal affair.
However, what is committed on the streets is a public and social action! This is a kind of public lesson. This creates obligations for a government which operates in the name of Islam. There is no difference between small and great haram. What is illegal and haram should not be committed in public. If someone does something wrong, in private, this is between them and God, but the Islamic government–like the government of the Commander of the Faithful–is obliged to stand up against what is committed in front of the people's eyes and in the social environment. The idea which upholds, "You should allow the people to make their own decisions" exists for selling wine too. Well, we should legalize wine in the country, so that people drink it if they like and avoid drinking it if they do not like it! Is this a reasonable statement? It can be applied to all grave social sins. Is this a reasonable idea? The Holy Legislator has obliged the Islamic government to prevent the promotion of divine haram in a society. The Islamic government is responsible for standing up against haram and sins.
Today, we are proud of our women's willingness to wear hijab inside the country. While wearing the chador – chador is an Iranian model of hijab – and while wearing Islamic hijab, Iranian women have achieved the highest rankings in science. They have achieved some of the highest artistic and cultural rankings. They are among the best women in the world, and they have influenced social issues. At the same time, they have been committed to housekeeping, raising their children, and caring for their husbands. If we intend to, constantly, maneuver the laws in order to pursue deviant western civilization, this is a grave mistake; however, some people make this mistake.
The subject of increasing the population and the number of children, in society, has been brought up as well; officials have cooperated and expressed their agreement with this goal; however, I have heard that some people are acting against it in some corners of the country. Again, this is what westerners want: westerners are opposed to an increase in the number of Muslims and of a people whose youth can appear in various areas and help the country reach its peaks: it is evident that they are opposed to this. We should not move forward with a task in a way that their goal can be attained. You should move forward in a way that Islamic goals can be achieved; this is our responsibility: this is the responsibility of our officials.
Our culture is a divine culture. This culture guarantees our independence and our freedom. Those who promote decadence in the name of freedom are not free; rather, they are slaves whose hands have been tied by western culture: it is a western culture which guides them. What kind of freedom is this? Freedom results from having and pursuing your own intentions, your own faith, your own thoughts, your own Quran, and your own Islamic paradigm: these points represent freedom.--This is great, this is liberty, and this should be provided.
Regarding education, I have highlighted the issue of the "2030 Education Agenda." Some people pursued this matter, and good efforts were carried out. I have received reports that certain misconducts are being committed in some parts of the country: this should be prevented. The officials of the country are responsible for preventing every wrongdoing which is against the Islamic policy of the country, including those related to issues of education and women.
The topic of gender justice and other such topics are unsubstantial ideas. These are ideas that others–westerners–have put forward. Some people are merely mimicking them: they have turned these ideas up on their megaphones. Where is the justice? In the present time, the largest numbers of violent rape are being committed in throughout west–in the US and in Europe. Is this justice? Their statistical calculations [for violent sex crimes] are much larger than in other countries. That is the while, some women, apparently–according to their own statements–enjoy freedom there [in the west]! According to statistics, most instances of domestic violence–violence at home--by men against women are committed in western countries.
Moreover, these statistics reveal that many women will not dare file a complaint against their abuser. These statistics are related to only those who file a complaint; so, these statistics do not represent all victims. It is those countries [Western countries] which have problems–problems related to life, to culture, and to the management of that society. So, where is the justice? There is no justice! They speak about gender justice simply to pursue their own goals [elsewhere]. Within Islam, gender justice means that women must be respected, they must be shielded from harassment, that men are not be entitled to bully or use violence against women just because of their physical strength or because of having a larger body than women.--Justice represents this.
Certain laws should be passed in the country [Iran]; of course, the issues [discussed] should be observed by those laws. I have heard that they are passing a bill on familial issues and on violence against women. Both executive and legislative officials should be careful not to attach western culture to such issues, so much so, that if a father objects to his daughter's marriage this will be considered as an "act of violence."--They categorize violence in this manner too. What is considered violent and what is not considered violent should not be adopted from the western ideology: these things should be decided on the basis of our own logic and our own Islamic concepts. Today, we are faced with malicious entities; therefore, we should be careful.
Approaching the end of my statements, I would like to say to you, as a society of panegyrists, what I have said to you before: your job is important. You are very important mediums. The responsibility of the society of panegyrists is a heavy one. You go everywhere, and you face all kinds of people. You have the opportunity to speak, and ears are ready to listen to you: this makes your responsibility heavy. Here is what I have written down to discuss with you: First of all, you should improve your audience's understanding and faith. You should choose your poems and your words in such a way that the understanding and faith of your audience will increase. Both their understanding – their religious wisdom and logic – and their faith should increase. So, one responsibility is increasing understanding and faith. Another responsibility is political enlightenment. Our various political issues in the present time require clear and cogent clarification. You should definitely learn these lessons, and you should convey them to the people.
Another responsibility is promoting morality and Islamic behavior. You should learn Islamic morality and behavior from books of ethics and from the scholars of ethics and morality. Then, you should convey what you have learned to the people by expressing it in the art form, as your work is related to art – for example, poetry and singing. You should promote morality; you should promote appropriate Islamic behavior; you should promote brotherhood among the people, kindness and affection, national unity, closeness to the Quran, and daily prayers and attention to God. You should also remind your audience to avoid sin. These words of advice are valuable, both for your audience and yourselves.--They are valuable for ourselves as well. When we advise someone to do something, we are in fact advising ourselves; so they become valuable for us.
Today, the enemies often stir up falsehoods in political arenas. They fabricate stories about Iran's presence in the region. And, who is responsible for such claims? It is the US, the country who has a seditious and corrupt presence everywhere. Wherever the US goes, corruption is sure to follow. Wherever the US goes, sedition follows. The seditious and corruption-generating US government asks, "Why are you present in the region?" Well, if we are present in our region, must we ask for your permission? In order to be present in the region, we negotiate with regional governments [native to the region]. Why should we negotiate with you [US]? Whenever we decide to show up in the US, we will negotiate with you [Audience laughs].
The same is true of European countries. They say that they want to negotiate with Iran over its presence in the region. What's it to you? Why are you, yourselves, present in the region? Is this our region or yours? If it is our region, what are you doing here? This is our own region, and we, ourselves, are negotiating with, speaking to, and making arrangements with regional peoples and governments. We have, thankfully, made arrangements; we have, thankfully, succeeded in doing so, and we have thankfully moved forward in this regard. By Allah's favor, we will continue to move forward. When I speak about political issues, these political issues are not confined to partisan and domestic issues: these are part of political issues as well: the people should know about these matters.
I hope that Allah the Exalted will help you succeed so that you can carry out the important duty of these times.
Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings