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The Status and Rights of Women in the Islamic System

By: Ayatullah al-Uzma Khomeini, Leader of Islamic Revolution in Iran
Islam wants men and women to develop. Islam freed women from those circumstances, which existed for them during the age of ignorance of pre-Islamic times. Islam did not serve men to the extent that it did women. You cannot imagine what circumstances were like for women during pre-Islamic times and to what degree their situation improved with the advent of Islam. (41)
9 November 1978 (18 Aban 1357 AHS)
Islam did a service for women, which has no precedent in history. Islam raised women up out of that slough and gave her back her identity. (42)
9 November 1978 (18 Aban 1357 AHS)
Question: In the eyes of Western countries, Shi`ism is seen as being a conservative element hindering progress. We have heard Shi`ite calls for the exclusion of women from active roles in society and a return to Shi`ite laws, which envisage religious tradition as the basis of state laws, something stipulated in the Constitution but later and unlawfully dropped. We have also heard that Shi`ism rejects the Western lifestyle because it does not conform to religious customs. Would you please give us your view on this on the basis of the Shi`ite faith?
Reply: Shi`ism is a revolutionary school of thought and is a continuation of the true Islam of the Prophet. Just like the Shi`ites themselves, their faith has always been the target of craven attacks from dictators and imperialists. Not only does Shi`ism not exclude women from society, it gives them their elevated status in society. We accept the developments of the Western world, but not the West’s corruption of which Westerners themselves complain. (43)
15 November 1978 (24 Aban 1357 AHS)
Islam took women by the hand and made them equal with men, whereas before the Prophet came, women had no standing. Islam gave women strength. (44)
11 December 1978 (20 Azar 1357 AHS)
We want women to attain the high rank of true humanity. Women must have a share in determining their destiny. (45)
6 March 1979 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)
If nations were deprived of courageous women to rear true human beings, they would decline and collapse. (46)
6 March 1979 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)
Islam holds you in higher esteem than it does men. Islam wants to save you; it wants to save you from becoming this plaything they want to turn you into. Islam wants to train you to become a perfect human being. (47)
8 March 1979 (17 Isfand 1357 AHS)
Unfortunately, women have suffered from victimisation in the past, notably in two periods. The first was during the Age of Ignorance, the period before the advent of Islam. During this time, women were oppressed; they were treated like animals, even worse than animals. Then Islam came and bestowed its blessings on mankind, it dragged women out of that state of oppression, [and] it pulled her from that slough of ignorance. (48)
16 May 1979 (26 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)
. . . Women are human beings, great human beings. Women are the educators of society. It is from the laps of women that true human beings originate. The first stage in the development of sound men and women begins in the lap of a woman. Women are the educators of human beings. A country’s success or its misfortune depends on women. If they impart sound teachings, they create (sound) human beings and a flourishing country. Good fortune originates from the laps of women; they should be the source of every success and happiness . . . (49)
16 May 1979 (26 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)
Mothers are the source of all blessings, but if, God forbid, they bring their children up badly, they become the source of all evil. (50)
17 July 1979 (26 Tir 1358 AHS)
The realisation of mankind’s hopes lies in the hands of women. She is the educator of great men and women. It is from the laps of women that man begins his ascent. It is in the laps of women that great men and great women are nurtured. (51)
17 May 1979 (27 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)
Women raise brave men in their care. Like the Noble Qur’an itself, women have the function of rearing and training true human beings. Indeed, it is their duty to do so. If nations were deprived of women to rear true human beings, they would decline and collapse. (52)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
The position of women is a high one. Women in Islam enjoy a high rank. (53)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
We want women to enjoy the high rank of true humanity, which is theirs, not to be a plaything in the hands of men, in the hands of depraved men. (54)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
Islam grants woman a say in all affairs, just as it grants man a say. Just as men should avoid corruption, so too should women. Women should not allow themselves to be playthings in the hands of dissolute youths, they should not lower their station and, God forbid, come out into the streets dressed up and made up, placing themselves in full view of depraved men. Women must act like true human beings; they must be pious. Women enjoy a dignified position; they have free will, just as men have. God created you free beings and gave you dignity. (55)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
Islam has particular regard for women. Islam appeared in the Arabian Peninsula at a time when women had lost their dignity, and it raised them up and gave them back their pride. Islam made women equal with men; in fact, it shows a concern for women that it does not show for men. (56)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
One of the benefits of the Islamic movement obvious today is that women, these effective members of society, have to some extent regained their standing. (57)
5 May 1980 (15 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)

Women’s rights in Islam
As regards the issue of the right of the woman to execute a divorce, if, at the time of marriage, she stipulates that she would possess this right either conditionally or unconditionally, the question has been raised: What about those women who have already entered into matrimony?
They oppose this legal power of the faqih even when they don’t know what his powers are. If a man mistreats his wife, this is one of the concerns of the faqih who will first of all counsel him then secondly punish him, and if he sees that none of this has worked, he will grant the divorce. Support this guardianship of the faqih, it is a gift from God the Blessed and Exalted to the Muslims.
Among the concerns the faqih deals with are matters relating to the question you have just posed: what must those women do who already have a husband and are experiencing difficulties in their marriage? They must refer the matter to a faqih, either at a court or elsewhere, and he will deal with it. If the complaint is valid, he will punish the husband, he will try to compel him to behave properly, and if this fails, the faqih will grant the woman a divorce. He has the legal power to do so if he sees that it would be damaging to the people involved if the marriage were to continue.
Even though divorce is the prerogative of the man, in situations where the faqih believes it to be in the interests of Islam, in the interests of the Muslims, and when he realises there can be no other course of action, he will grant the woman a divorce. This is what the guardianship of the faqih is about. It is a divine gift to you. (58)
31 October 1978 (9 Aban 1357 AHS)
Islam put women on a par with men, and made them equal with men. Of course, there are certain Islamic precepts, which apply only to men, and others which apply only to women, but this does not mean that Islam discriminates between men and women. (59)
11 December 1978 (20 Azar 1357 AHS)
Question: Women make up a large section of the Muslim population, what role and what rights do you foresee for them in the Islamic system?
Reply: The Muslim women of Iran are currently participating in the political struggle and the demonstrations against the Shah. I have been told that in some Iranian cities they hold political meetings. In the Islamic system, women will have the same rights as men: the right to education, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to vote, the right to stand for election.
In all aspects that men have rights, women have the same rights. However, there are some things unlawful for men, because of the corruption they create in men, and others unlawful for women because of their tendency to corrupt women. Islam wants the human dignity of both men and women to be safeguarded. It doesn’t want women to be playthings in the hands of men. The image they have portrayed abroad of women being treated harshly under Islam is not a correct one.
This is false propaganda emanating from elements motivated by self-interest. In Islam both men and women enjoy free will, any differences, which exist, do so for both of them and concern their different natures. (60)
7 December 1978 (16 Azar 1357 AHS)
The laws of Islam are all for the benefit of both man and woman. (61)
6 March 1979 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)
Just as the rights of men are propounded in Islam, so too are those of women. Indeed, Islam shows a concern for women that it does not show for men. It pays a greater regard to their rights than those of men. Women have the right to vote; indeed they enjoy more rights than women in the West. They have the right to vote, the right to elect or be elected. They control their finances; they are free, free to choose their profession. In the East certain restrictions are placed on men for their own good.
Consequently Islam prevents gambling, drinking and the use of heroin because these are a cause of corruption. Restrictions exist for everyone. Religion imposes restrictions for the benefit of society, it is not the case that something is beneficial to society and Islam places restrictions on it. (62)
29 March 1979 (9 Farvardin 1358 AHS)
The rights of all segments of the population have also been observed in the law. The rights of the religious minorities, women and other segments of society have all been taken into consideration. Islam does not discriminate between the various groups (in society), the only difference between them stems from their piety and fear of God the Exalted. (63)
1 April 1979 (12 Farvardin 1358 AHS)
Because Islam has laid down special rights for women, show moderation in their case if it is not proved that they are spies. Likewise the black Americans, for they have been subject to oppression and suffering for an age and those there may have been forced to come to Iran. Dear Students![1][58]
Hand over those African Americans and women whom you do not believe to be spies to the Foreign Ministry so their immediate departure can be arranged. The noble nation of Iran does not give permission for the others to be freed, consequently they will be detained until the American government acts on the (Iranian) nation’s demands. (64)
17 November 1979 (26 Aban 1358 AHS)
When women wish to marry, there are certain prerogatives they can stipulate for themselves that are contrary neither to the shari‘a nor to their own self-respect. For example, a woman can stipulate that if her future husband turns out to be of corrupt moral character or if he mistreats her, she would possess the right to execute a divorce.
This is a right that Islam has granted to women. If Islam has imposed certain restrictions on both women and men, it is for the benefit of both. All Islamic laws, be they those which permit or those which prohibit, are for the benefit of all. Similarly, just as Islam has granted man the right to divorce, it has also granted it to woman, on condition that the parties stipulate at the time of the marriage that if the husband behaves in a certain manner, the wife will have the right to execute a divorce.
Once the man has accepted such a stipulation, he can never repudiate it. Apart from making it possible to include such a stipulation in the marriage contract, Islam forbids the husband to mistreat his wife; if he habitually mistreats her, he is to be punished, lashed even, and if he still persists, the mujtahid will grant the wife a divorce. (65)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
Just as God has laid down laws for men imposing restrictions to prevent them from becoming corrupt, so too He has laid down laws for women. These are for your benefit; all Islamic laws are for the good of society. (66)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
Question: What exactly are the rights of women in an Islamic republic? What will become of coeducational schools? And how will such issues as birth control and abortion be dealt with?
Reply: In an Islamic republic, from a human rights point of view, there is no difference between men and women for both are human beings, and women have as much right as men to determine their destiny. In some areas, however, differences exist between men and women, which have nothing to do with their status as human beings. Anything that is not incompatible with the high social standing and dignity of women is allowed. Abortion is prohibited in Islam. (67)
5 November 1980 (16 Aban 1359 AHS)
Question: The issue of divorce being a man’s prerogative is something that has upset and worried a group of militant Iranian women who believe that under no circumstances do they have the right to execute a divorce. Some people have and still are exploiting this issue. What is your opinion?
Reply: The law has prescribed an easy way for the respected women to be able to execute a divorce, and that is when she enters into marriage she must stipulate her conditions. If she stipulates that she can execute a divorce whenever she wants or under certain conditions, such as if the husband were to mistreat her or get another wife, then she will have no problem in getting a divorce. I ask God Almighty to grant the honourable women success. It is hoped that you will not fall under the influence of those who oppose Islam and the Islamic revolution, for Islam is beneficial to all. (68)
29 October 1980 (7 Aban 1359 AHS)
Question: Please tell us how married women should practise taqlid.[2][59] Can she follow the rulings of a different mujtahid[3][60] from the one her husband follows, and if so would that contradict the requirement of a woman to obey her husband?
Reply: Women are independent in matters relating to taqlid, but must obey their husbands in marital affairs. They should not leave their homes without their husbands’ consent.
Istifta’at, Vol. 1, p. 13.
Question: During the taghut period, when the so-called courts for family protection finalised a divorce, they would collect a sum of money from the husband as ‘rent’ on the bride’s dower, if it were cash, because of the period which had elapsed since the marriage, in addition to the main dower to be paid to the woman. If the dower is cash and the time for collecting it has not been legally stipulated, is it permissible to put rent on the original dower?
Reply: Rent cannot be put on money and taking an additional sum is prohibited.
Istifta’at, Vol. 1, p. 210.
Question: If, when the marriage vows are exchanged, the woman stipulates that she reserves the right to execute a divorce, can this right be taken from her?
Reply: If she stipulates this condition at the time of the marriage, it cannot be taken from her later.[4][61]
Istifta’at, Vol. 2, p. 319.

Women’s role in the establishment of an Islamic society
Question: What does a return to Qur’anic laws mean for women? To what extent will entertainment (alcohol, films, etc.) be available to the people?
Reply: In an Islamic system, women, in their role as human beings, can work alongside men to establish the Islamic society, but not if they wish to act as mere objects. Women do not have the right to lower themselves to such a level, nor do men have the right to think of them as such. As to those things known as entertainment, Islam opposes anything that tends to lead human beings towards acquiring a frivolous nature or towards self-estrangement. The consumption of alcohol is forbidden in Islam, as are films, which pervert the exalted nature of the human being. (69)
9 November 1978 (18 Aban 1357 AHS)
Question: In Islam, to what extent are women permitted to participate in the establishment of an Islamic government?
Reply: In Islam, women have a sensitive role to play in the establishment of the Islamic society. Islam elevates women to the extent that they can regain their human status in society and leave that woman-as-object level. In proportion with such growth, she can assume responsibilities in an Islamic government. (70)
10 November 1978 (19 Aban 1357 AHS)
Women like men have a part to play in building the Islamic society of tomorrow. They enjoy the right to vote and be voted for. Iranian women participate in Iran’s current struggle just as the men do. (71)
23 January 1979 (3 Bahman 1357 AHS)
Islam grants woman a say in all affairs just as it grants man a say. All the people of Iran, men and women alike, must repair the ruins that the previous regime has left us; the hands of men alone will not suffice to accomplish the task. Men and women must collaborate in this respect. (72)
6 March 1979 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)
Women must have a say in the fundamental destiny of the country. Just as you have participated in our revolutionary movement, indeed played a basic role in it, now you must also participate in its triumph, and must not fail to rise up again whenever it is necessary. The country belongs to you and, God willing, you will rebuild it. (73)
6 March 1979 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)
You and we together, the government and nation together, must right this chaos, for neither can do it alone. If the ladies think they can leave it up to the men to do, who in turn think they can leave it up to the ladies, or both think the government can do it or all three think the clergymen can do it, then they are all sadly mistaken. For the situation is so chaotic, the problems so many that it is up to each individual to do his duty and rebuild wherever he is to the best of his ability. (74)
13 September 1979 (22 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)
Women have the right to participate in politics; indeed it is their duty to do so. The clergymen too have a right to concern themselves with politics, and it is their duty to do so. The Islamic religion is a political religion; everything in it has a political dimension, even its acts of worship. (75)
16 September 1979 (25 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)
Greetings to you great women who through your counsel wish to lead us to the right path. (76)
16 March 1981 (25 Isfand 1359 AHS)
It is hoped that the community of women will cease being indifferent and will awaken from the unnatural stupor the plunderers have forced them into, and that together, shoulder-to-shoulder, they will help those who have been deceived and guide them to the lofty station which is theirs.
It is also hoped that women in the other Islamic countries will take lessons from the miraculous change that has occurred in the Iranian women as a result of the great Islamic revolution, and will strive to reform their society and bring freedom and independence to their countries. (77)
24 April 1981 (4 Urdibihisht 1360 AHS)
The role of women in the world enjoys certain special characteristics. The rectitude or immorality of a society stems from the rectitude or immorality of the women in that society. Women are the only creatures who can bestow upon society individuals raised in their care whose deeds can be a blessing to communities and can inspire perseverance and lofty human values, or can have the opposite effect. (78)
14 April 1982 (25 Farvardin 1361 AHS)

Women’s activities in the social and political arenas
All of you must cast your vote, a vote for an Islamic republic, not a word less (in this designation) nor a word more.[5][62] You too must vote, you are no different from others, indeed you lead the men. (79)
8 March 1979 (17 Isfand 1357 AHS)
It is necessary for me to reiterate that the crusading and brave women all over Iran must participate in the referendum. The women who played a sensitive role in the victory of the Islamic revolution at the side of men, indeed who led the men, should realise that by actively participating they will ensure the further victory of the Iranian nation. Participation in this referendum is one of the national and Islamic duties of the men and women. (80)
24 March 1979 (4 Farvardin 1358 AHS)
Women have the right to vote; indeed they enjoy more rights than women in the West. They have the right to vote, the right to elect or be elected. (81)
29 March 1979 (9 Farvardin 1358 AHS)
I ask Almighty God to grant you health and happiness and I hope that side by side with the men you will vote for the Constituent Assembly[6][63] and the National Consultative Assembly so that an Islamic republic, the Constitution of the Islamic Republic and the Consultative Assembly of the Islamic Republic can be founded and we can attain that which we want. (82)
10 April 1979 (21 Farvardin 1358 AHS)
Of course there is no objection to women taking up employment, sound employment, but we do not want a repeat of the way it was during the Pahlavi era. Then they did not have employment in mind for women, rather their aim was to degrade both men and women, pulling them down from that position they occupy. They did not want a natural growth for either sex. (83)
16 May 1979 (26 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)
It is one of the blessings of the movement that you ladies from the coastal regions, and indeed the other respected ladies of Iran, are now involved with the issues of the day and political issues. The criminal hands, which were manifested in the form of the hands of Muhammad Riza and his father, had excluded all segments of the population from involvement in social and political affairs.
Political matters were never presented for the consideration of the ladies, nor for that matter the brothers either. And if a political issue was put forward for the people to decide on, it was still based on their (the West’s) plundering policy. If some classes of the population, the so-called political classes, became involved in the political issues of the day, they were simply involving themselves in policies dictated by the West and aimed at plundering the East. (84)
3 July 1979 (12 Tir 1358 AHS)
It is today when all segments of society have a say in their own affairs, in the affairs of the country and the political affairs of state. It is today when all people of the nation, whether the esteemed ladies or the brothers, have a say in determining their own destiny. (85)
3 July 1979 (12 Tir 1358 AHS)
The respected women and dear ladies have gone into the villages to help with the harvest and other things. Of course they are not reapers in the same sense as the farmers are, but by their action, small as it may seem, they enable the reaper to work twice as much of his land and thus double his harvest.
For when the men who reap the land see that these ladies, who normally sit in the shade and have nothing to do with such work, are prepared to come out into the sun and harvest the barley, it breathes new life into their spirit. So the action of these ladies is also valuable in that it gives renewed vigour to the farmers and they work even harder. (86)
21 July 1979 (30 Tir 1358 AHS)
We all voted for an Islamic republic, you too voted, but voting alone is not enough. Our votes mean only that the country of Iran is now officially an Islamic republic. But it will be a true Islamic republic only when you ladies, along with these gentlemen, undertake your responsibilities and we all see ourselves as having a duty to perform. (87)
13 September 1979 (22 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)
It is important that each of us sees ourselves as having a duty to perform. So, for example, I, as a theological student, consider it my duty to serve (the nation) to the best of my ability, while you sisters must consider it your duty to help rebuild this country which they (the Pahlavis) ruined and destroyed, beginning in the area where you live, and through your efforts put it right. (88)
20 September 1979 (29 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)
The sisters who hitherto have not been involved in the issues of the day must now involve themselves. (89)
20 September 1979 (29 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)
Women must have a say in determining their destiny. Women in the Islamic Republic must vote. Just as men have the right to vote, women too have that right. (90)
1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)
Today, women in the Islamic Republic shoulder-to-shoulder with the men are striving to rebuild themselves and their country. (91)
5 May 1980 (15 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)
I return once again to you sisters and dear ones and remind you that you must attend to the matter of observing Islamic rules in your environment. The country is an Islamic one, it is an Islamic republic, [and] there must be a change in all aspects of its character. (92)
13 May 1980 (23 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)
Who has mobilised these women to involve themselves, and quite rightly so, in all the country’s affairs? God has called them to this task and they are obeying His call. (93)
12 July 1980 (21 Tir 1359 AHS)
Today, the ladies must act on their social and religious duties and protect public morality, and in so doing carry out their social and political activities. (94)
10 September 1980 (19 Shahrivar 1359 AHS)
I hope that this movement will end in victory and you will all be successful, God willing. May you expand your gatherings everywhere in an even more splendid manner so that women will awaken and reject those things of the past, reject that former role of being a plaything, of having to dress up and make up. You yourselves know how much damage that attitude did to our economy and how much harm it did to public morality. Today’s women, like the men, must be properly educated and concern themselves with the issues (of the day), they too must exercise sound judgement in their involvement in the (country’s) affairs, and God willing, they will be successful. (95)
10 September 1980 (19 Shahrivar 1359 AHS)
All the women and all the men must involve themselves in social and political affairs. They must be supervisors, supervising the work of the Parliament and the government; they must express their opinions. (96)
10 September 1980 (19 Shahrivar 1359 AHS)
Guiding a nation is a momentous task to undertake, and guiding half of that nation - the women - is even more so. This task[7][64] is fraught with difficulties; indeed the decision to take it on is itself an important undertaking. But now that you have resolved to do such a thing, let nothing weaken or shake that resolve. (97)
7 February 1981 (18 Bahman 1359 AHS)
You ladies who are occupied with this humanitarian and Islamic task can be absolutely certain that because you are doing this work for God, you will be successful. (98)
7 February 1981 (18 Bahman 1359 AHS)
Today we see that the respected ladies of Iran throughout the country are useful members (of our society) and form a committed and devout community serving their country. They are the mainstay of this country. I hope that, mindful of Islamic precepts and armed with the weapon of faith and devotion to Islam, they will carry this victory forward and will be the mainstay of this revolution too. (99)
23 May 1981 (2 Khurdad 1360 AHS)
It is the duty of every man and woman of legal voting age to go to the polling stations and cast their vote for a president. If you waver in this regard, then those who wish to see this country destroyed may be victorious. All of you, all of us, men and women together, are bound by duty to determine our destiny just as we are bound by duty to perform our namaz (the ritual prayer). (100)
4 July 1981 (13 Tir 1360 AHS)
I advise both men and women who are of legal voting age to take part in these elections and vote for any of the candidates they wish. Participate they must. (101)
27 November 1982 (6 Azar 1361 AHS)
Wherever one looks in Iran, one sees women pursuing Islamic activities, religious and even political activities, while at the same time preserving their modesty and their dignity. Whereas those women who freely mingled with men in society produced nothing other than corruption throughout the whole of the taghut period, these women (today), in this short span of time, have been so active that the results of their endeavours are already beginning to show in Qum and other cities. (102)
13 March 1983 (22 Isfand 1361 AHS)
If those people[8][65] who wish to sabotage the activities of these ladies - this great service they are performing which before God is a worthy service - are Muslim, then they are committing a cardinal sin, and if they are not Muslim and by their actions merely seek a return to the dissoluteness which once existed, then they should know that the season of wantonness is over, and the ladies of Iran will no longer give them permission to return to the way they used to act.
I must thank all of you. Praise God, you are busy doing religious activities and you also have political insight. Iranian women today enjoy both religious and political acumen. The obstacles that once prevented you from carrying out religious and political activities have now been removed. I hope that very soon each one of you will reach the point where you will be able to educate others. (103)
13 March 1983 (22 Isfand 1361 AHS)
You must involve yourselves in all aspects of the country’s life to the extent that Islam has allowed, such as taking part in elections. The elections are one of the most talked about issues in Iran at the moment, and participation in them today is something that must be done. The ladies must be active in the elections just as the men are, for when it comes to their destiny, there is no difference between them and others.
The destiny of Iran is the destiny of all. Islam has served you ladies more than it has the men. Islam protected you, so now you reciprocate by protecting Islam. This means taking part in these elections, for they will determine the formation of the second parliamentary assembly. Elections play a very important role in your destiny and ours, a primary role. It is elections that must lay down the path the country follows in all its affairs, whether domestic or foreign.
Therefore, you ladies must play a very active role so that the parliament does not become one that is, God forbid, infiltrated by some unscrupulous elements and is gradually drawn towards the East or the West, becoming the kind of parliament that existed in the previous era and imposing on us policies which parliaments of that time imposed on the people. (104)
8 April 1984 (19 Farvardin 1363 AHS)
Just as men should concern themselves with political matters and safeguard their society, so too should women. Women should take part in social and political activities shoulder-to-shoulder with men, while, of course, at the same time complying with Islamic principles. God be praised, this is happening today. (105)
8 April 1984 (19 Farvardin 1363 AHS)
We are proud that the ladies, both young and old, are present in the cultural, economic and military arenas, and that they are active shoulder-to-shoulder with the men or even more so than they are - in the area of elevating Islam and advancing the goals of the Most Noble Qur’an. (106)
5 June 1989 (15 Khurdad 1368 AHS)

Women and Education
Question: Can women attain the position of mujtahid?[9][66] Would you please elaborate.
Reply: It is possible for a woman to become a mujtahid, however she cannot become a marja’ -i taqlid[10][67] for others.
Istifta’at Vol. 1, p. 21.
The men and women of Qum are exemplary in their learning and their willingness to act, as are the men and women of Iran on the whole. (107)
17 May 1979 (27 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)
If you are in a position that requires you to educate small girls, educate them well. If you are in a place where your position is to propagate, then do so well. All segments of the population in whatever post they may occupy must carry out their duties well. (108)
13 September 1979 (22 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)
One of the most significant effects of this movement is the change brought about in all of you, in the ladies, in the brothers and sisters alike. That change is the sense of duty that we all now feel, a duty to our country, a duty to educate, to educate people in those things that will be useful to them in religious and worldly affairs. (109)
16 September 1979 (25 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)
All those who are illiterate should rise up and embark on a campaign to learn, and all the literate brothers and sisters should rise up to teach them. The Ministry of Education, with all the facilities it has at its disposal, should also take action in this regard, not allowing bureaucracy and administrative formalities to get in its way.
Brothers and sisters in faith! You must mobilise yourselves in order to eradicate this painful shortcoming. Teaching and learning are forms of worship which God the Blessed and Exalted has called on us to perform. The congregational prayer leaders in the provincial towns and villages should invite the people to this task.
Those who are literate should teach reading and writing to the brothers and sisters who are not in the mosques, in other religious centres and even in their homes. They should not wait for the authorities to take action. For their part, the illiterate people should not shrink from this task. (110)
28 December 1979 (7 Dey 1358 AHS)
The women of Iran today are committed, lion-hearted individuals, who shoulder-to-shoulder with our dear men are busy rebuilding their beloved country, just as they are busy rebuilding themselves through learning and education. You will not find a town or village without cultural or scientific centres composed of dedicated and honourable Muslim women. (111)
5 May 1980 (15 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)
I hope that the teachers, the brothers and sisters, wherever they may be, in whatever capacity they may be teaching, whether as trained teachers, as students or simply as scholars with a knowledge to pass on, consider themselves to be both teachers and students. Teachers to call the people to the straight path of guidance of the prophets, and students as they themselves tread that path. (112)
30 August 1980 (8 Shahrivar 1359 AHS)
Elderly men and women too can learn. They too can receive an education. They should not give up on themselves. (113)
27 December 1980 (6 Dey 1359 AHS)
I hope that the sisters and brothers busy with their studies and propaganda activities at the Shahid Mutahhari (may God grant him peace) school of higher education are mindful of the fact that this school was named after a martyr who was very beneficial to Islam and whose teachings serve as instruction for our youth, as well they should.
You sisters and brothers who attend this school should arrange your daily programme in such a way that other Mutahharis or another Mutahhari will emerge from your midst. Resolve to see this happen, direct your attention to God and let everything you do be for God the Blessed and Exalted alone. Strive to pursue your studies well at the school, and even more importantly, strive to achieve moral edification.
Be Islamic, and as you complete your Islamic studies, so too perfect an Islamic spirit in yourselves. Alongside your studies be serious about observing Islamic decrees and striving to purify yourselves Islamically. (114)
1 March 1981 (10 Isfand 1359 AHS)
Endless greetings to the committed women who are presently busy throughout the country educating children and illiterate people and teaching the rich culture of the Qur’an. (115)
24 April 1981 (4 Urdibihisht 1360 AHS)
Women who in the past were deprived of an active involvement in society, have, over these past few years, praise God, entered the arena. And they have done so in a fitting manner, with shari’a rules being adhered to. They are now active in the areas of education and propagation. (116)
13 January 1982 (23 Dey 1360 AHS)
Praise God, those shackles that once bound our beliefs have today been cast off. Today, all segments of the nation are engaged in education, including the ladies. Today, ladies are among the theological students in Qum and other places; wherever they are in the country, they are busy with education. And this is something that has materialised in this revolution.
Previously, the ladies were confined to such an extent that they did not even have the right to join a group of ten people and discuss scientific or religious matters. Today, however, while observing Islamic precepts, they can go and speak anywhere in the country, even abroad. In these matters we were very backward, today we must make up for that, we must redress the failings. (117)
6 September 1983 (15 Shahrivar 1362 AHS)
I ask God, the Blessed and Exalted, to grant you ladies and sisters success both in your educational endeavours and in your ability to take action and to purify yourselves morally. For just as knowledge alone is to no avail, so too is blind purification. It is knowledge and purification together that will take man to the stage of the true human being.
I ask God the Blessed and Exalted to grant you ladies, indeed all the sisters throughout the country and the brothers, success in advancing these two aspects, which are learning and action, together with Islamic morals, so that Islam can be put into practice in Iran in a way that pleases God the Blessed and Exalted. (118)
8 April 1984 (19 Farvardin 1363 AHS)
Now the situation is such that the women, shoulder-to-shoulder with the brothers, are studying mysticism, philosophy, all branches of science, and, God willing, of industry too. At that time they used to say that the half of Iran’s population in veils could not do anything, not that they wanted them to be able to do anything for they prevented the men too from being productive. No, they simply wanted to get them to enter society adopting the style that they, their friends and adherents had adopted, and thus drag society into corruption.
God, however, did not want them to succeed. Today, you ladies are a source of pride, for along with your brothers in the theological schools you are busy studying and teaching or pursuing other Islamic activities; and I hope you will prove to be even more active than they are. Still you must be careful and act contrary to what was expected under the former regime. They wanted to destroy Islamic values and put European values in their place. Act contrary to this so that some of those who were deceived, and are still to be found in Iran, may be influenced by you and adopt your style instead. (119)
8 April 1984 (19 Farvardin 1363 AHS)
Sciences without exception, and particularly Islamic sciences, are not the preserve of any one section of society. The respected women of Iran have proved throughout the revolution that shoulder-to-shoulder with the men, they can render valuable services to Islam and the Muslims in political and social activities, and be the spearhead of the movement to educate the great community of women (in Iran).
Praise God, currently an institute is in the process of being built in the holy city of Qum, the city of learning and struggle (jihad), for the education of the respected ladies. It is hoped that through the efforts of the learned `ulama and the teachers at Qum’s theological schools, may their blessings continue, this Islamic goal is achieved and proves to be an effective step towards the intellectual development of women and the blossoming of Islamic learning among them.
Therefore, I appoint their excellencies the Hujjat-ul Islams Hajj Shaykh Ali Meshkini, Musawi Ardabili, Hajj Shaykh Ahmad Jannati, Hajj Shaykh Muhammad Fazel, Hajj Shaykh Muhammad Ali Shar‘ei, Hajj Shaykh Muhammad Riza Tavassoli and Hajj Shaykh Hassan Sane‘i, may their blessings continue, as the organising committee for this institute so that they can take the appropriate steps to appoint the managerial board, prepare the articles of association, determine its name and see to its other affairs.
It is hoped that with the assistance of Almighty God and the prayers of Hazrat Mahdi, may our souls be sacrificed for his coming, this institute will render a valuable service to the community of revolutionary Muslim women of Iran. (120)
22 August 1984 (31 Murdad 1363 AHS)
God be praised, you worked hard, you suffered and were steadfast in every stage (of the movement). Iranian women were actively involved in all affairs, from the cultural to the economic, and today a large number of them are involved in agriculture, a large number in industry and still others in the educational arena in the areas of literature, science and the arts.
All of these efforts are commendable in the eyes of God the Blessed and Exalted, and you are all in God’s care; as long as you remain committed, God the Blessed and Exalted will assist you. (121)
12 March 1985 (21 Isfand 1363 AHS)
Strive to acquire learning and godliness, for learning is not the preserve of any one person, learning is for all, godliness is for all, and striving to acquire learning and achieve godliness is the duty of us all.
I hope that the state organs will help you and will meet your needs in all areas, and in your educational activities will adequately provide you with the things you need. I hope that you will be assisted by God and will be successful in everything you do.
The Iranian ladies have brought Islam to the stage it is now at by sacrificing their lives, their youth and their time, and I hope that from now on it will be advanced even further. You can be sure that as long as you remain active and committed to Islam, as long as you are ready to give your young ones for the cause and are willing to train them properly, then Islam will progress and will sever the hands of the enemies of religion from this country, and all Islamic countries, allowing happiness and goodness to follow, God willing.
I hope that Muslim women wherever they may be will imitate you dear ones who are striving to elevate the status of women and to make up for the injustices, which were perpetrated against you in that era. (122)
12 March 1985 (21 Isfand 1363 AHS)

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