The following is the full text of a televised speech delivered on January 9, 2022, by Imam Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, on the anniversary of an uprising by the people of Qom on January 9, 1978.
In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to God, Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings upon our Master, Muhammad, and upon his pure Household, and may God curse all their enemies.
Greetings be upon you my Lady, the Infallible Fatimah who is the daughter of Musa ibn Ja’far and may God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
Meeting with the dear, zealous people of Qom has always been a valuable opportunity for this humble person. It is two years now that I have been deprived of meeting with you in person. Today is an opportunity to be reunited with those who are present and I send my greetings and regards to all the people of Qom.
My talk today is about the important, historic tragedy that took place on January 9, 1978. The memory of historic events that have a deep meaning behind them and which convey important messages to future generations should be kept alive. We should hold discussions about such events. We mustn’t let the dust of oblivion settle on these great events. The January 9th tragedy is one such event.
Of course, when we discuss the January 9th tragedy, we should understand that event and the chain of events that occurred afterwards – because that event led to a chain of events that resulted in the victory of the Revolution in the end. Therefore, we are not merely studying an incident which was confined to one or two days. Rather, we are looking at an event that gave birth to a great movement and is a sign of the depth of the people’s religious beliefs. We wish to stress and highlight this point, because it is one of the clear realities of the Revolution. But the propaganda of those who continue to nurture a grudge in their hearts against the Revolution could gradually cause these realities of the Revolution to be doubted. I wish to stress that the event of January 9th in Qom and also the following events are an indication of the depth of religious belief in the people. The event took place as a result of the role played by a Religious Authority, who was a source of religious knowledge. In other words, if our late Imam (may God bestow paradise on him) had not played a pivotal role as a Religious Authority, religious leader and revolutionary scholar, that event and other such events would not have taken place. No other person and no other movement would have been able to drive a city, then another city, followed by many other cities and ultimately an entire nation to such an undertaking.
You know that during the time of the tyrannical rule (of the Pahlavis), hundreds of great personalities from different political orientations – some or many of whom were revolutionary people from leftist, rightist, Marxist and other orientations – were threatened, imprisoned, tortured, hanged and insulted. But these people’s moves did not bring about any changes. They were unable to influence the social life of the people in any way. But when they wrote a few lines against our magnanimous Imam in a newspaper, it led to that great event in Qom. This means that the event of January 9th is greatly linked to Religious Authorities, religious scholars, religion and religious matters.
And I tell you that most of the important events that have taken place over the past 150 years in our country are like this. As far as I remember, in almost all historic and social events during which the people entered the arena and were able to achieve a certain result, a religious source was involved, one who was brave and knew about political developments. For example, concerning the issue of tobacco, the leader was Mirza Shirazi. Regarding the Constitutional Movement, the leaders were the Religious Authorities in Najaf and the great scholars in Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan and other cities. In the important event related to the Goharshad Mosque, the leaders were the late Haj Aqa Hussein Qomi (may God bestow paradise on him) and the scholars in Mashhad. In the 30th of Tir Uprising, the leader was the late Ayatollah Kashani and in the 15th of Khordad Uprising, the leader was our magnanimous Imam and a number of other great religious scholars. In all of these events, a courageous, revolutionary, political cleric was present and it was his presence that was the foundation for a popular movement.
Of course, some influential people may have been able to make a certain number of people respond to something and urge them to make a move, but moving the majority of the people forward and creating waves in a great ocean has only been something a religious scholar or cleric could do. It is based on this that we can understand the secret behind the enmity of the Arrogant Powers in the world toward religious scholars, political scholars, political religion, political jurisprudence and political intellectuals. Their enmity originates from the fact that such people were anti-arrogance and anti-colonialist, and they were the initiators behind these great events. The enemies are aware of this and that is why they are opposed to political scholars, political Religious Authorities and political jurisprudence. They explicitly say that they are hostile toward political religion and political Islam. This is a reality that we should pay attention to.
Moreover, the deep enmity and grudge the US holds toward the Islamic Republic of Iran can be understood from this matter as well. The Islamic Republic is the embodiment of the people’s religious beliefs and it originates from a revolutionary, religious outlook toward the current issues in the world and in the country. Hence, the leader of the Arrogant Powers, the US, is opposed to the Islamic Republic. Some people say, “Why are you opposed to the US? Why do you say, ‘Death to the USA?’” In my opinion, this is a naïve, shallow comment. The essence of the matter is that the nature of Arrogance is such that it is opposed to a phenomenon called the Islamic Republic, which is completely indebted to religion and which originates from a religious movement and from religious scholars. This is one point about the 9th of January.
Another point is that the role of the people’s religious zeal should not be disregarded concerning this matter. The reason I stress this point is that one can see that there is propaganda against this and an extensive cultural effort is being made to accuse things resulting from religious zeal of unreasonableness and unreasonable violence. However, I wish to stress that this is not the case. Religious zeal is able to show itself and exert an influence when it is accompanied by reason. Basically, religious zeal results from insight, and insight is a branch of reason that is a manifestation of a deep piety. Usually when you look carefully, you can see that religious zeal is accompanied by reason. The people that have the most religious zeal normally possess the highest level of rationality. An example is our magnanimous Imam. He was the epitome of religious zeal. We haven’t really seen anyone who was on an equal footing with our magnanimous Imam in terms of zeal toward religion, religious culture, religious life, religious lifestyle and religious rules. At the same time, he was the pinnacle of rationality. He was wise, reasonable and knowledgeable. It is good on this occasion to also mention our contemporary jurisprudent and philosopher, the late Ayatollah Misbah Yazdi. He was like this as well. He too was truly an excellent student of Imam and he was the pinnacle of religious zeal as well. Likewise, he was a rational, reasonable philosopher in the true sense of the word. The January 9th Uprising was a brilliant combination of zeal and rationality.
I wish to present a brief explanation to make it clear how successful this uprising has been in the area of rationality. The goal of the tyrants was to shatter Imam’s sanctity. The decision to write that article in the Etela’at Newspaper was not a sudden, abrupt decision. It was pursuing a major goal. They wanted to shatter and destroy Imam’s greatness in the public’s opinion. They could see Imam’s increasing influence in the minds of the people. They were witness to that. Therefore, they attempted to bring down Imam’s status among the people. That was why they wrote that article. If the strong fists of the people of Qom had not struck the chest of the tyrants on January 9th, those attempts would have continued. They would not have been satisfied with just that article. They would have written many articles, books and stories, and they would have made films and other such things in order to bring down Imam’s status in the eyes of the people. In fact, they wanted to destroy the axis of the movement. Imam was the pivotal point of the great movement of the people, which was gathering strength on a daily basis. The security services of the tyrants were witness to that. Therefore, they wanted to destroy the axis and center of that movement by adopting such a measure.
The tyrants relied on the support of the US. They were confident that the US would support them if they decided to make a move in this regard. They wished to accuse Imam of extremism and violence, and if anyone supported that great personage, they would have put pressure on him. The US was behind them so they were confident that their moves would not lead to a global reaction and the like. As you know, Carter was in Tehran in those days – in January 1978 – celebrating the New Year with the Shah in Tehran. At that time, he said that Iran – Pahlavi Iran – is an island of stability. One of the wrong statements he made, making it clear how wrong their calculations were – at the present time too, the US continues to make wrong calculations – was this saying that Iran is an island of stability. Therefore, the tyrant, Mohammad Reza, felt that the situation was completely ready for him to extinguish the movement by destroying our magnanimous Imam. They did not have access to his physical body because at that time Imam resided in Najaf, but they felt they could question and insult his name, his memory and his sanctity. They felt the opportunity was right and started. So it was a calculated move. In other words, they had hatched a plot and formulated a plan before starting.
However, the people of Qom foiled their plan. The action of the people of Qom ruined the enemy’s calculations, “But it is the faithless who are the outmaneuvered ones!” [Holy Qur’an, 52:42] They hatched a plot, but it ended to their own disadvantage. They wanted to break Imam, but their move caused Imam to achieve a more powerful, brilliant appearance. They wanted to weaken Imam’s relationship with the people, but this relationship became stronger. They wanted to weaken the movement, but the movement became stronger. In fact, the people’s move guaranteed that the calculations they had made would end in this result. I am not saying that each and every person who came into the streets had made this calculation. But behind that collective movement, which was inspired by God, the Exalted, there existed an important calculation that disrupted and shattered the enemy’s calculation. That is, the same person who described Iran as an island of stability on January 1, 1978 -Carter – was forced to send General Huyser to Tehran in order to distinguish the movement at any cost – with a coup or by massacring the people. Of course, thankfully they were unsuccessful in that move as well since they failed to prevent the Revolution from being successful.
The US’s wrong calculations in their system of calculations keep continuing. The same is true at the present time. Today too, they make certain calculations about various matters. An example is the events following the martyrdom of our dear martyr, Martyr Soleimani. Look at what they thought but what happened. They thought that with the assassination of Martyr Soleimani, the great movement of Resistance that he represented and was a symbol of would be extinguished. But as you have witnessed, this movement has become even stronger. Who launched that great movement this year on the second anniversary of the martyrdom of Martyr Soleimani? In whose hands was it? Who can claim that they were the ones behind the movement? That movement was not possible except with divine power and God’s hands. The enemy was not and will not be able to calculate and measure such great movements and the public’s admiration of Martyr Soleimani both inside Iran and outside Iran. The system of calculations of the enemy is really, truly negligent and dysfunctional, and they are unable to fathom the realities related to the Islamic Republic the way they truly are. When their calculations about the existing situation are wrong, their decisions will be wrong as well. And their wrong decisions lead to the failure of the enemies. Until now, they have failed. And from now on too, they will continue to fail, God willing.
Well my dears, those days are past, but January 9th will not be forgotten. Thankfully, it has survived until today, and from now on too, it will not be forgotten. After the January 9th tragedy in Qom, the movement reached its peak. God blessed the movement launched by the people of Qom and consequently, the movement reached its peak, leading to the big days of the Revolution. Our great Imam returned to the country victoriously, the Revolution was victorious and the Islamic Republic, a religious democracy, was established and came into being.
Forty-three years have passed since that day, and these 43 years have been accompanied by struggle on the path of God, numerous ups and downs, and various events. These events form our history and we must learn from them, but a nation that is alive does not look only at the past. It also looks at the next step to be taken and the horizons ahead in every stage of its history, in accordance with the developments of it time and in accordance with the duties that fall on that nation. We must identify the task to be done at the present moment, we must determine our steps for the future, and we must identify the horizon, fix our eyes on it and move toward it with all our strength and power. In this way, the movement will be successful in the real sense of the word. In addition, it will achieve the final victory, which is first of all a pure life for the Iranian nation. If others learn from it and if it becomes a model, this is another issue. But we should achieve prosperity and an Islamic lifestyle, which is a pure life that has worldly comforts, has both religion and welfare, and is good for both the body and the soul. At the present time, we are in the middle of the path. Of course, part of the way has been travelled up until today. The Iranian nation has worked hard and we have moved forward a little, but we should identify what our duty is today and what our duty and horizons are for the future as well.
Sometimes one sees that they carry out polls. For example, they ask the opinion of the people. But these things do not show the truth of the Iranian nation. The truth of the Iranian nation is shown by the funeral of Martyr Soleimani. It is these things that show the mood of the Iranian nation and what their sentiments and feelings are. In other words, in order to understand the reality and feelings of this nation, a domain as great and vast as the country and people of Iran is needed. Therefore, the polls that some groups carry out here and there, some of which have ulterior motives behind them and some of which are innocent, cannot be a criterion in this regard.
Fortunately, today the thoughts and ideas of the pious, dedicated youth are wide-ranging. Fortunately, today we are witness to revolutionary, religious, blossoming, progressive ideas presented by a large number of the youth. On this basis, I wish to raise a number of points. There are many points to be raised, but one cannot speak at length about all these points in this meetings. So I will only mention several of them.
The first point is that my dear ones who hear these statements from this humble person, you should preserve religious zeal. You must preserve it. The factor that has saved the country in different times has been the religious zeal of the Iranian nation. It is religious zeal that turns threats into opportunities. An example of this was the Imposed War, the 8-year Sacred Defense, which presented a great threat. But the religious zeal of the people, the religious zeal of the youth, the religious zeal of the fathers and mothers and wives caused our youth to go to the frontlines. In that war that was truly global and in which the US, the Soviet Union, NATO, and the reactionary forces in the region those days had all joined hands to defeat Iran, bring Imam to his knees and annihilate the movement. It was religious zeal that defeated all of them. This achievement had its base in religious zeal. This was about the role of religious zeal during the Sacred Defense, but there were other events in subsequent years as well.
In our own time, we can mention the martyrdom of our dear martyr, Martyr Soleimani. The martyrdom of Martyr Soleimani truly turned into a historic, astonishing event. No one thought that tragedy would achieve such greatness and that God, the Exalted, would bless it in a such a way that it would be able to show the religious and revolutionary identity of the people to everyone in the world. The Iranian nation showed its identity and unity in the true sense of the word when they were carrying the coffin of Martyr Soleimani. Well, funerals were held for him in Tehran, Kerman, Tabriz, Mashhad and various other cities in Iran. An enormous funeral was held for him in Iraq too. If that martyr’s holy body had been taken to Syria and Lebanon, the same things would have happened there as well. If it had been taken to Pakistan, the same thing would have happened. In other words, that enormous movement showed the identity of the Muslim nation. That event was a very big event. From the viewpoint of the enemy and everyone, the martyrdom of a great personality such as Martyr Soleimani was considered to be a threat. However, the zeal of the Islamic nation and the Iranian nation turned that threat into an opportunity.
We have had many such events in our history. The event of January 9th was another example. The event of January 9th in the year 1978 was the same. At that time too, there was a big threat that lasted several months, but the people’s zeal brought them into the arena on the 9th of January and put an end to the threat and any ill effects it may have had. Their zeal turned that threat into an opportunity. So one point is that the religious zeal of the people has been the main factor in these achievements and in turning threats into opportunities. This should be preserved. Speakers, writers and those who can influence the people’s thinking should pay attention to this point. Of course, it is evident that the opponents and enemies will be busy in this regard. They will question the statements that I have made today, but the truth is this. The truth is that religious zeal should be preserved in the people and by God’s grace, it will be preserved.
The second point I wish to raise is that you must pay attention to the fact that one of the things that is very serious in the plots formulated by the enemies of the Revolution and the Islamic Republic is their plan to eliminate sensitivity about the principles and foundations of the Revolution. The people are sensitive about the fundamental principles of the Revolution and they refute those who question these principles. However, the enemies wish to gradually undermine this sensitivity. They are attempting to do this using the vast propaganda that is being spread through the internet and in the foreign media in one way or another. Sometimes, they highlight and magnify the viewpoints of people who are not of much value – neither their comments nor their ideas. There are some people who have a limited intellectual capacity, but they make extravagant claims and question the principles and foundations of the Revolution.
One important principle of the Revolution is the authority of religion. The Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution were essentially established for the sake of the authority of God’s religion. They were established to help society have a religious form and a religious geometry. They were established to help the government take on a religious geometry and to move forward accordingly. This was one of the clear principles of the Revolution. The people laid down their lives and offered their blood for this to come about. This (authority of religion) is one of the principles of the Revolution, but they are undermining this.
The refusal to surrender to an arrogant enemy is another principle of the Revolution. One should not tolerate the enemy’s aggression. It is one thing to negotiate, for example, with the enemy, but it is quite another thing to interact and cooperate with him. The Revolution says that we should not surrender to the aggression and unreasonable demands of the enemy. We have not surrendered up until now and we will not surrender from now on either. This is one of the principles. But they are attempting to undermine this by saying, “What’s wrong with that? What’s the problem?” In other words, they wish to undermine such an outstanding principle. Other principles of the Revolution include the independence of the country and fighting corruption, injustice and the like.
These are parts of the vast, diverse soft war which is pursued by the enemy. We should pay attention to these points and prevent the elimination of this sensitivity. Intellectuals, writers, speakers, those who pursue various social activities, those who are active in the internet and those have various capabilities are responsible in this regard. They should not allow the enemies to gradually undermine this sensitivity and zeal of the people.
We must realize that the idea that these principles are not beneficial for the people, for the country and for the future is a very wrong idea. It is pure injustice. Over the past 43 years in our country, whenever we have made progress, whenever we have made a successful move and whenever we have had resources at our disposal, it was because we had revolutionary people who entered the field with high morale and diligence who worked hard. As a result of this we have made progress. Whenever pious, revolutionary, well-informed, competent individuals entered scientific, industrial, technical or political areas, we have been able to make progress. And when we look at why a task in hand did not move forward, we see that it was because of opportunism, corruption, and aristocratic, non-revolutionary outlooks and moves. These things cause the tasks in hand to not be worked on and to stop moving forward. Therefore, commitment to the principles of the Revolution is surely one of the most important means for the progress of the country and the nation. This is another point that you should pay attention to.
The next point, which in my opinion is very important, is the issue of preserving unity in the country. We must reduce the factors that create discord as much as we can. Of course, there are differences in opinion, viewpoints, methods and mentalities. These things exist, but we should not let them lead to taking stances against one another. The people’s solidarity should not be destroyed by these things. We should not allow these differences to become exacerbated.
Of course, there are naturally some individuals who stand up against the Revolution, and the Revolution has no choice but to stand up against them. But if the issue is about differences of opinion and differences in taste, and if these differences exist in society, they should not cause national solidarity to be destroyed. In other words, the collective decision to defend the country, to help the country progress and to inspire hope in the youth of the country should remain firmly in place.
We should know that there are always some people in the enemy’s camp whose expertise is creating discord. They have an expertise in “creating discord in order to rule.” This is an old policy which originates from these individuals. They know how to do this. We see that they have done this wherever they could. One such policy is creating religious discord, for instance, between the Shi’ah and the Sunni. We should not allow these things to happen or to become exacerbated in the country. Well, Shi’ah and Sunni people have been living together for centuries. They have been living together without any problems for many years. Of course, there have been some differences between some ethnic groups. There have been some issues between various ethnic groups, but there have not been any problems or conflicts between the Shi’ah and the Sunni. Now, if some individuals find an excuse to create such discord… Of course, such a thing has not happened so far, but we should not let it happen and we must be vigilant. For instance, if someone makes a wrong comment and someone else responds to them out of their sense of responsibility, this should not be dragged out and continued. Therefore, everyone should preserve this state of solidarity.
Pay attention to this fact that the Islamic Republic is an Islamic government and its flag is the flag of Shi’ism. But even in the Islamic countries where Sunnis are living, sometimes people express their interest in the Islamic Republic. They express their interest, advocacy, cooperation and support. In many countries from East Asia to West Africa, there are those who look at the Islamic Republic in this way, but they are not Shi’a. Therefore, in the Islamic world today, the Islamic Republic is a manifestation of Islam, of the Islamic nation, and of the sovereignty of the Islamic nation. As I mentioned before, in countries in which many Sunnis live, the people held large demonstrations on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Martyr Soleimani. Therefore, we should not think that we are entitled to show negligence toward national solidarity.
Of course, there are other points that I have mentioned before many times, for instance, boosting hope and looking to the future. This is one of the important issues of our time. There are some individuals who try to undermine hope in the youth and try to make them hopeless, distrustful of the future and think that there are no prospects for them. It is our duty to strengthen hope in their hearts. Boosting hope cannot be done by just talking. It should be done by working hard. And the country’s officials are thankfully busy and active. They should pay attention to the fact that many of their positive deeds can fill the hearts of the youth with hope. Their actions can fill the youth with hope and make them hopeful. When youth have hope, they will work well in various fields, they will study and they will conduct research. One of these positive actions is preventing some people from taking moves in the opposite direction in trying to cause the youth to lose their hope. They do this using different temptations in the internet and other media.
Another point is that we must not allow the achievements of the Islamic Republic to remain hidden. This is one of the very important issues. Well, we have economic problems today. For example, there are the problems of inflation, the expensive prices of some goods, the people’s livelihood – especially the underprivileged classes – and problems with our banking system, taxes and the like. Well, these are our problems. Some describe these problems as if nothing positive has happened in the Islamic Republic and they conceal the achievements. Tens of accomplishments have been made in different parts of the Islamic Republic, some of which I have mentioned in the Statement of the Second Step of the Revolution. We must speak about these great achievements of the Islamic Republic and remind the people and those who forget these things. So this is another point that needs to be considered.
Another point is the issue of being among the people. Well, thankfully the government that is in office today has good relations with the people. It shows its presence among the people. Its popular movement is tangible, but this must be completed. First of all, it must continue. Now, some individuals are questioning this course of action, but they should be ignored. It is very tiring to constantly be present among the people, even for government officials. It is hard work and is not easy. But it is very effective, it is very good and it must continue. Secondly, they must fulfill the promises that have been made to the people. These promises must be fulfilled in the allotted time so that people will know that this is serious. It may not be possible to fulfill a promise – there are cases when a promise is made but in practice, the background has not been prepared for it to be put it into practice. In such cases, they must go to those people to whom this promise was made and explain things clearly. They should state the reasons why they could not fulfill that promise and say that they will do their best to fulfill it at a later time, God willing. This is another point which is about fulfilling the promises that have been made to the people.
Another point is that sometimes experts and specialists – who are from among the people – suggest ideas and solutions to the officials for different sectors. Officials should come up with a mechanism in order to be able to benefit better from these ideas. And this will actually help people to participate in the decisions of the responsible organizations of the country. This is one point. In addition, in order to benefit from the capabilities that are available in the people in practice, they should come up with another mechanism so that they can help the people participate in action as well. There are many individuals who are willing to help the administration in part of its work. They should make it clear how the people can become linked with a particular area in the administration. They should sit and think about this. This requires thinking, research and other such things.
Officials should also use the people’s capabilities for supervision. There are cases of corruption and favoritism in some parts of the country. These may be hidden from the eyes of the authorities in charge, but the people see these. Therefore, they must use this capability of the people in this regard as well. Therefore, being from the people and being among the people are fundamental tasks and government officials should pursue this in the way that has been briefly explained here.
Overall, in return for the recommendations that we make to our dear people, the esteemed officials of the country should also consider themselves obliged to truly work with all their might. Of course, what I see today is that thankfully the esteemed officials – from the top to the bottom – are working and struggling hard. As far as I see, they are trying and going through much trouble. I hope their efforts will be blessed by God. They must continue these efforts, work for the people and purify their intentions for God. In this case, their efforts will be a great worship act. I will conclude my statements now.
I ask God, the Exalted, to make the Iranian nation successful in all areas and fields, to help it defeat its enemies, to gladden the pure soul of our magnanimous Imam, to associate him with the Friends of God and to make him satisfied and pleased with us so that we will not feel embarrassed before our magnanimous Imam. I hope that He will make the pure souls of the martyrs satisfied with us, to raise them with His Friends and to not make us ashamed before them.
I once more send my greetings to the dear people of Qom and to you honorable participants in this meeting, and I hope that God will bestow His grace, mercy and blessings on all of you.
May God’s greetings, mercy and blessings be upon you.
Jan 9, 2022