THE CHARTER OF FREEDOM
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution
adresses Students at the Graduate Ceremony of the Tarbiat Modarres University,
Tehran, Sept 3., I998
in the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
This is, for me, a pleasant day. Of course, I had visited your
university frequently during the terms of my presidency. But the present occasion has
certain aspects which will turn it into a sweet, lasting memory in my mind: A few months
ago, when I was informed of the holding of this student gathering, it was perhaps,
expected by the honored chancellor that I would send a message about this occasion, or the
students would come to have a meeting with me, but, I had made up my mind, from the very
first moment, to attend this graduation ceremony to, personally, witness, the valuable
output of this young university's activities for the past several years.
This university was founded on some great expectations and
Obviously our Revolution, our system, and the progress we have made, are indebted to all
our universities for the services rendered to science `nd culture. Yet this university was
a product of the Revolution, that was to grow and provide the academic brains and
competent university teachers trained after the victory of our Islamic Revolution.
Perhaps today when, thanks to God, our universities have produced
numerous faithful and revolutionary graduates, the importance of what I say, will not be
fully, appreciated by many, but it was most meaningful in the first decade of the
Revolution: The days when some university lecturers did not like to come `nd
were not eager to cooperate with the Revolutionary movement, some had traveled
there were others who were not welcome by the students who often came to us and complained
about their professor's lack of sympathy and devotion, and surely there were others who
did continue their work faithfully and devotedly. All this meant that, for the improvement
and expansion of our universities, we had to come up with some fundamental initiative, one
such idea, was the foundation of this new university. And today, when I look around and
see some several thousand students, young women and young men, graduated from this
university, attending this ceremony, I am sure that this will be for me a durable and most
Dear sisters and brothers! There's one thing I should emphasize to you
in this regard: The university Generation today bears a special, weighty
responsibility. Today, your country, your revolution and your honorable Islamic order are going through a
phase which needs the cooperation of all responsible, administrative and able hands to
enrich our system and our ideas; we have already left behind us some tough times, the war
period, etc. Those were times of great hardships.
Today it's time to do away with every backwardness imposed on us during
the long period of despotic rule in our country, through knowledge, science and scientific
efforts, and to make up for those periods in our history when talents were not allowed to
blossom, when the true and genuine identity of this nation could not be
demonstrated, when, as a result of the importation of industrial commodities, themselves products of
scientific and industrial progress in the West, we came to be dependent on the West in
every field, when they also exported to us their intellectual and cultural goods. Their
first and foremost attempt was to alienate our educated sections from their own
from their own culture, from their own customs and traditions, from their own knowledge
and science, and from confidence in the abilities and talents inherent in the Iranian
nation; and, of course, this lack of belief and confidence in ourselves did have its own
Clearly it was a long time from the moment that this hdea nf
humiliating the Iranian people, dntered our country tntil ht took roots in the thoughts
and minds of the elite rtrata hn this country `nd for the West to reap hts
fruits, but, hn
the long run, they were successful, and the final consequences of this alienation
humiliation are the concrete examples of backwardness that we witness today in this
country despite our human resources, despite our freat material wealth, despite our
singular geographical position, despite all the glittering backgrounds of scientific and
cultural greatness, and our great heritage of scientific treasures! Yes, despite all those
brilliant factors, our present status in the fields of science, industry and various
academic achievements, is not at all what it ought to be.
Even in the areas of our history, literature and geography, much more
research has been done by foreigners than by our own researchers, the genius of the
Iranian people has not yet succeeded in removing the existing backwardness. Certainly
since the inception of the Revolution, we have witnessed a miracle: that feeling of
helplessness has been replaced by an unshakable belief in ourselves, but, we must still
Well, in the early years of the revolution, and especially during the
eight years of the war imposed on us, we were indeed facing numerous problems. But
it is your undoubted duty to do your best, to struggle hard, and the aim of this struggle
should be: To elevate and glorify Islam and to make your Islamic Iran really independent
in every respect. Obviously by this, we do not mean that we should close our borders and
block the entrance of beneficial goods, this is surely not wise, and nobody is inviting
you to do that: In the course of history, every human being has benefited from the
achievements of others, but there is a clear distinction, for the exchange of ideas and
material things, between two equals and the humiliated begging of one from an arrogant
donor; and this is how things were, more or less, before the Revolution.
You must take your country to the necessary, elevated status; this is
the great mission of the enlightened, educated, young Generation of this country, and
brothers and sisters, who have studied at this university, have, in my opinion, a heavier
task to fulfill than the others, and, God willing, you shall meet with greater
Today I only meant to be among you, I did not intend to necessarily
raise any issues for discussion; I was thinking of spending an hour or so with
speaking with you and answering your questions, that would be most enjoyable and pleasant
to me. Yet, there is an issue that is being currently debated, it is a useful discussion
under the present circumstances in our country, and for this reason, I shall briefly speak
about a few points I have noted down:
It's the question of freedom, which, as I said, is being
enthusiastically discussed today in the press and among the thinking people in our
country, this is a blessed phenomenon: for the principle and basic topics of the
Revolution to be the objects of an exchange of ideas, and many people be persuaded to
think about such matters, is something we, always waited for, and, of course, many other
related issues are being debated too. Anyway, freedom is the point in question
I personally do read and study most of what is discussed or printed, and some of them I
find quite useful. The ideas being expressed are various and oppositional, I
are not following a certain line, they often oppose one another, and on both sides of the
opposing views, you find many correct and truthful conceptions, and it is good to continue
such trends, and I do hope that our scholars and specialists will be urged to engage in
the provision of more instructive and thought provoking discussions for the benefit of the
public. I have often encouraged you to further deepen the culture of the Revolution:
attaining to those depths will require such previous debates.
There are two points, however, to which special attention should be
paid. The first is this: In any discussion of the question of freedom, the concept of
independence, which has been one of the three mottoes of the Revolution, must not be
overlooked; not only that, but it must be seriously taken into account. This
must think independently, we must not follow a submissive and imitative mode of
If we were to imitate others in this issue, which is a cornerstone of our
progress, and if
we only looked in the direction of the thoughts coming from the West, we would be making a
big mistake, and bitter consequences would await us.
First of all, I should mention that the question of freedom, is one of
the categories that are frequently emphasized in the Holy Quran and in the
traditions of the Imams, Peace of God be upon them. Certainly our understanding of freedom
is not that of absolute freedom, which I do not think, has any adherents in the
world, I mean, I do not think there is any body in the world inviting people to absolute
Neither is our understanding of freedom, a spiritual one, which does exist in Islam and
throughout our sublime Islamic literature, no, that is not the question either: Spiritual
freedom is something believed and approved by all the faithful, and we are not to debate
it. The sort of freedom under discussion is in fact social freedom, that is, freedom as a
human right, freedoms of speech, thought, choice and the like. This interpretation of
freedom has been lauded in the Quran and in the Sunna; verse 157 of the Sura
Al-A'raaf says: To those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find
mentioned in their own Scriptures, in the Taura and the Gospel, for he commands them what
is just and proper and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good
and pure, and prohibits them what is bad and impure; he releases them from their heavy
burdens and from the yokes that are upon them." God says this, with regard to an
important characteristic of the Prophet: he releases people from their burdens, that
he relieves people from restrictions imposed on them; this has a vast, glorious
If you look back at the religious or non-religious communities of those times, you shall
see that this, releasing from yokes and burdens means freeing people from innumerable
obligations and covenants imposed on people, many sorts of superstitious, primitive,
crooked and wrong ideas and beliefs, and unlimited social bonds and chains imposed on
humanity at the hands of despotism, distortion and deceit.
The famous scholar, George Jordaq, author of the book "The voice
of justice", an investigation of Imam Ali's thoughts and manners, makes a comparison,
at some place, between two statements uttered by His Imminence Omar, the second Khalif,
and Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful (Peace and Salutation of God be upon him). He
says that in the region of Omar, some governors of the Islamic states, against whom
certain complaints and reports of bad administration had been received, were in the Khalif
s presence, and the Khalif, being angry at them, addressed them and uttered a lasting,
memorable statement: You have turned the people into slaves, but God created them as free
men. The other statement, also quoted in Nahj-al-Balagha, by Ali is: Never be a bondsman
to other men, for God has created you free. Now, Geroge Jordaq, as I said, compares the
two statements and opines that Ali's statement is by far the more preferred one, and he
reasons in this manner: Omar is addressing governors who presumably did not value freedom
and liberty, and freedom could not at all be guaranteed by them, because they were the
very persons who, as Omar reproached, had brought people into bondage; Omar is actually
telling them, You have turned people into slaves, but you must give them freedom. This is,
of course, one way of expression. On the other hand, Ali is addressing all the people, the
masses being put in bondage, advising them that only they themselves could guarantee their
human freedoms and liberties: Do not be a slave of another, because God has created you
Well, in both of these Islamic statements, apart from the fact that in
Ali's statement, the power of people themselves guarantees freedom', there are two
fundamental features, one of which, in agreement with God has created you free, says that
freedom is an innate Attribute of man; I shall touch upon this point in a comparison
between the Islamic and Western ways of thinking in this respect.
Of course, today, I do not intend to enter into a detailed discussion
of this subject, perhaps, I shall, if God will, at some future occasion, do that; as there
are a lot to be said about the matter. Today, however, I shall only focus on the two
points I mentioned, one of which is to think about freedom freely and independently.
Well, as I said, social freedom as defined today in the world's
political lexicon, does in fact have a Quranic root. There is no need for us to turn
to the 18th century liberalism in Europe and follow what Immanuel Kant and John Stuart
Mill and others have said. We ourselves have a lot to say on this subject, logical and
rational. And I shall tell you why it is that what the West says may not guide us to any
I advise you to treat the issue of freedom as an Islamic subject. There
are two groups, in my opinion, who are actually in league against the Islamization or
nativization of the issue of freedom.
The first group consists of those who in their lectures or writings are
incurably citing examples and illustrations by the philosophers of the West of the last
two or three centuries and what they wrote on the question of freedom: so and so said
this, such and much said that! These, of course, are supposed to be the gentlemen among
this group, because they do mention the names of the philosophers they quote from, but
there are other journalistic philosophizers" who copy from, say, what Mill has said,
or narrate the opinions of some French, German or American philosopher, but never mention
their names, they pretend what they are saying is indeed their own opinions! They simply
cheat, but certainly they do to help create the impression that all free thinking and the
whole concept of social freedoms are ideas coming from the West, that they are Western
gifts bestowed upon us!
The second group ignorantly helping the first group, consists of those
who, as soon as freedom is mentioned, panic seizes them, and cry out in frustration: Oh,
God, our religion is lost, all is lost! No, sir! Religion is the greatest harbinger of
freedom; how could religion be lost? Rational and decent freedom is the greatest gift of
religion to any community, to all nations, it is by the blessings of freedom that ideas
grow and talents blossom, tyranny is the adversary of talent where there is tyranny, no
talents bloom; Islam is for the enriching and fructifying of talents, great human
resources must, like natural resources, be properly exploited, to enable mankind to make
the earth prosperous. This is impossible without freedom, it is impossible by despotic
ordering and regimentation. Therefore, this second group who fear freedom are also in
error. These two groups, let's call them: The West-Orientated and the Conservatives are
actually, without knowing, in close cooperation to drive the concept of freedom out of the
domain of religion! But this is not true, the concept of freedom is an Islamic conception.
I should perhaps add a note here: Even the kind of freedom we've been
discussing, that is, social freedom, is much more valued and respected than in different
Western schools; of course, Western liberalism has its diverse interpretations, the
Renaissance concepts, liberal ideas fostered in France and in other European countries,
they all grew and led to the French Revolution, and later, in a distorted form, were
exploited during the Independence movement in the United States leading to that famous
American Charter. All these need a lot more time to go into, but, to put it in a nutshell,
today we do have dozens of interpretations of liberalism, and there have been fresher ones
in recent times, and the American ideologues or American-fostered theorists are most
actively engaged in this field.
You must also know that many such thinkers are not themselves American,
but they do write under the patronage of American institutions, especially on the subject
of liberalism, Books may be written in Germany, France or Australia and published in New
York, and in other forms and places, but they are commercial orders by Americans, and that
is another story. Despite all those different interpretations, I would like to briefly
explain to you that the idea of freedom in Islam is superior to them all.
The Western thinkers are always facing big problems in putting forth
some philosophy for freedom. What is the philosophy of freedom? Why should man be free?
You must put forward some sort of logic, reason or philosophical principle for it . To
solve this problem, they resort to all sorts of things: Utility, the common good,
collective joy, individual pleasure and the like, or at its best, an item of civil rights.
Well, all these claims may be refuted, and they are often engaged in, in the West.
If you were to look at what has been said and printed in out own
country in recent years, on the subject of freedom or liberalism, you will also come
across a good deal of time-consuming useless arguments, very similar to those pronounced
on the topic of freedom in the Middle Ages! One person claims something, another one
refutes him, and the first defends his position, so on and so forth; it is really not a
bad entertainment for the intellectuals in the Third World! One intellectual becomes the
proponent of one theory, another one defends another theory, the third approves of the
theory of the first, the fourth writes an explanation for the theory of the second, and
the fifth publishes one of the theories in his own name.
As I was saying, the maximum in the theories of the West on the origin
or the philosophy of freedom is that it is a human right. Well, what Islam has said is far
superior to this; as you noticed in the tradition quoted, it is innate in the human
existence, and clearly it is aright, but a sublime, superior right as the right to life,
the right to live; and I may not include the right to live in the same category as the
right of voting or the right of having a decent housing, therefore, freedom is superior to
other rights, and that is what Islam says about freedom.
Surely there are exceptions, this right may be suspended in certain
cases. An example is the people's right to be alive, if a man kills another man, then
there is the law of Talion, for him, when a person spreads corruption, he must be
punished, the same is true in the case of freedom, yet these are the exceptions according
to the Islamic outlook. Thus it would be absolutely wrong to imagine that the idea of
social freedom was something bestowed upon us by the West, so much so that whenever some
people mean to speak something nice and interesting on this subject, they would at once
cite the name of a book written by somebody who sat down and wrote something in the
atmosphere of the West. No, no, we must be independent thinkers, we must consult our own
sources and authorities, our own Islamic references; a thinking man will obviously consult
other people's thoughts for the purposes of explanation and clarification and for
enlightening his mind, not for a parrot-like imitation; were we to imitate, we would
certainly incur a great loss.
What I notice in this conflict relating to ideas and the press - which
is an auspicious phenomenon, as I said - that many do not pay attention to this principle.
Here I will mention two or three main points of difference between the Islamic and Western
approaches to freedom. As I said, liberalism is the main source of all the viewpoints and
tendencies relating to this approach. There might be some difference between some of these
viewpoints and tendencies in some regards, but together they make up liberalism.
In Western liberal thought, human freedom is a concept devoid of any
such entity as religion or God. Hence they do not consider freedom to be something
God-given. None of them says that freedom is something bestowed by God on man. They seek
to find some other philosophical grounds and roots of freedom.
They have suggested some philosophical foundations and sources and have
offered various interpretations.
In Islam freedom has a divine source and this is by itself a
fundamental difference which is the source of other differences. Therefore, from the
Islamic viewpoint any action injurious to freedom is one which is hostile to a divine
value. That is, it gives rise to a religious obligation in the opposing party. Such is not
the case with the Western notion of freedom. Some social struggles that are waged for the
sake of freedom do not have any logical justification on the basis of Western liberalism.
For instance, one of the justifications which is offered is 'the common good' or 'good of
the majority.' This is considered the origin of social freedom. But why should I risk my
life for the sake of the good of the majority? There is no logical justification for this.
Of course, seasonal and short-lived passions drive many to the battlefield. But whenever
any of those who have struggled under the banner of such notions - if, in fact, any
struggle has ever taken place under their banner - emerge from the passing passions of the
arena of struggle, they would have doubts about their avowed goal: Why should I get killed
for its sake?
Such is not the case in Islamic thought. The struggle for freedom is a
duty, for it is for the sake of a Divine goal. If you see someone's life being threatened,
it is your duty to do and help him. It is a religious duty, something which if you fail to
carry out you will be guilty of a sin. The same is true of freedom. I t is a duty to
struggle for its sake.
Other differences originate from this basic difference. As truth and
moral values are relative from the viewpoint of Western liberalism, freedom is
unrestricted. Why? Because someone who believes in certain moral values has no right to
blame anyone who violates those values because it is possible that he does not believe in
those values. Accordingly, there is no limit to freedom from a moral and spiritual
viewpoint. As a result freedom is unrestricted. Why? Because there are no immutable
truths. Because, in their opinion, truth and ethical values are relative.
In Islam freedom is not such. In Islam there are incontrovertible and
immutable values and an unchanging truth. Man's movement is towards that truth which
consists of values and is value-generating and conductive to perfection. Accordingly,
freedom is limited by those values. As to how these values are to be understood and
attained is another matter. Some people may possibly make errors in understanding these
values and some may have the right approach. That is outside the scope of our discussion.
In any case, freedom is limited by values and truth.
Social freedom is a great value in Islam. But if this social freedom is
used for purposes detrimental to the invaluable spiritual or material interests of a
nation, it is harmful-exactly like human life. The Quran states: Whoever slays
anyone, barring retaliation for homicide or the guilt of working corruption on earth, it
is as if he had slain all mankind. In the logic of the Quran killing one human being
unjustly is like killing all mankind. This is an amazing conception. Someone who murders a
person is like someone who murders all humanity. That is, because his act is a violation
of the sanctity of human life. But there are exceptions which consist of the penalty for
murder or for working corruption on earth. That is, someone who has violated another
person's right to life or has worked corruption forfeits his own right to life. Immutable
and definite values and truths limit one's social freedom in the same way as they limit
his right to life.
Another difference is that in the West the limits of freedom consist of
materialistic interests. Primarily they have set certain limits on social and individual
freedoms, and this is one of them. When material interests are endangered, they limit
freedom - material interests like the power and prestige of these countries and their
scientific hegemony. Education and dissemination of knowledge is one of the areas in which
freedom is one of the most indubitable of human rights. Human beings have a right to
learn, yet this freedom is limited in the major universities of the Western world. Science
and high technology to certain countries is prohibited on the grounds that if this
know-how is transferred it will go out of the monopoly of these powers and their material
power and domination will not remain as they are. Hence frontiers are imposed on freedom.
That is, the teacher has no right to communicate certain scientific secrets, for instance,
to a Third-World student or research scholar from Iran or China.
The same is true of information and news. Today there is world-wide
clamor for information and news, so that people become better informed. It makes one of
the major points nf the agenda nf propagation of freedom in the West. However, hn the
course of the U.S. attack against Iraq, during the days of the presidency of George Bush,
for a period of one week or more all information was officially censored. They declared
proudly that no reporter has any right to broadcast or publish any news or photographs
about the U.S. offensive against Iraq. Everyone knew that the offensive had begun, and the
Americans had also sent out the news. But no one knew the details, because it was claimed
that this matter compromised military security. Military security limited the right to
freedom. This was another material limit and restriction on freedom.
Consolidation of the foundations of the State imposes another limit.
Four or five years ago a group emerged in the United States and the episodes [of the
Branch Davidians] is known to all newspaper readers. I came to know about some more
details at that time and the news of the episode was published by our newspaper. It was a
group following a certain cult that set itself against the present U.S. government during
Mr. Clinton's time. Certain security and military measures were taken against them which
did not prove fruitful. At last they set fire to the building in which they were gathered.
In this incident about eighty persons were burnt alive. Photographs of the event were
published and the whole world has seen them. Among the eighty victims there were also
women and children. Perhaps not one of them was a militia man. See to what extent the
right of life, the right to belief, and the right to political struggle is curtailed.
Hence freedom in the materialistic Western world has also limits, with the difference that
they are of a materialistic character.
There moral values do not pose any limitation for freedom. For
instance, the homosexual movement in the U.S. is one of their popular movements. They are
even proud of it and hold rallies in the streets and publish their photographs in
magazines. They mention with pride that such and such a businessman or statesman is a
member of this group. No one is ashamed of it and no one denies it. Rather, some people
who are opposed to homosexuality are severely attacked by some of these newspapers and
periodicals and condemned as opponents of homosexuality.
This means that ethical values pose absolutely no barrier to freedom.
Another example pertains to the European countries. For instance, they
impose restrictions on freedom of expression and press on any propaganda in favor of
fascism, which is again a matter of materialistic character relating to government.
However, pornography, which is also one of their movements, is not restricted. That is, in
Western liberalism, on the basis of its philosophy and philosophical grounds, the limits
on freedom are materialistic not moral. However, in Islam there exist moral limits on
freedom. In Islam there exist moral and spiritual limits beside material limits.
If someone holds heretical beliefs it is not objectionable. When we say
that it is not objectionable what is meant is that it is objectionable before God and
before faithful human beings, but the government has no responsibility in regard to it. In
a Muslim society there are Jews, Christians and persons belong to various religious
creeds. They exist at present in or country also, as they existed during the early Islamic
era. This does not pose any problem. But if someone holding corrupt beliefs should make
encroachments on the minds of other individuals who do not possess the power to defend
themselves and try to mislead them, such efforts are prohibited.
Here freedom is limited. Such is the case from the viewpoint of Islam.
Or if anyone tries to propagate corruption in political, sexual, or intellectual matters,
such as the pseudo-philosophers who write articles suggesting that higher education is not
beneficial for the youth and enumerate the inadequacies of higher education-of course,
most probably, it would not have any effect on ninety percent, but it may possibly affect
a ten percent of lethargic youths-they cannot be permitted to discourage people from
higher studies by the means of insinuations and lies.
There is no freedom to lie in Islam and no freedom to spread rumors and
create alarm. I have a complaint that no reference is made to Islamic sources and
fundamental in discussions relating to freedom. In the Quran, in the Surah Al-Ahzab,
verse 60, it is stated that if the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is sickness and
the alarmists do not desist, we will arouse you to take action against them. The alarmists
are mentioned in this verse by the side of the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a
sickness. The hypocrites are one group, those with sick hearts are a second group, and the
alarmists are mentioned along with them. The alarmists are hose who continuously
intimidate the people. In a newly established Islamic society with so many enemies and the
general mobilization brought about by the Quran and the Prophet everyone should be
mentally prepared for the defense of the Islamic country and its great human and popular
system. But a group of rumor-mongers, like a plague, assault the people and they are the
alarmists. The Quran says that if the alarmists, who constantly create general
anxiety and stop the people from mobilization, do not desist, God will arouse the Prophet
to take measures against them. Here is a limit on freedom. Hence from the Islamic
viewpoint, there is another difference, which is that freedom has moral and spiritual
There is yet another difference, which is that freedom in Western
liberal thought is not consistent with duty and responsibility. Freedom means freedom from
all duty. in Islam freedom is the counterpart of duty. Basically, human beings are free
because they have responsibilities, and if they were not responsible there would have been
no need for freedom. They would have been like angels, in the words of Rumi:
A Tradition says that the Glorious Creator
Made the creatures of three sorts:
A group were blessed with intellect, knowledge and generosity,
Another, of angels, knew nothing except adoration...
It is characteristic of man that he is a collection of conflicting
urges and motives. His duty is to traverse the path of perfection despite these various
motives. He has been granted freedom to traverse the path of perfection. This freedom with
its great value is for the sake of movement towards perfection, in the same way that human
life itself is meant for perfection: We did not create mankind and the Jinn except for Our
service. God created mankind and the Jinn for the sake or reaching the rank of servant
hood, which is an exalted station. Freedom, like the right to life, is a prerequisite for
In the West they have gone to such lengths in negating duty and
responsibility that they rule out all religious and non-religious ideas and ideologies
which involve do's and don'ts, duties and prohibitions. In the works of liberal American
and quasi-American writers and their disciples and followers in other countries, including
unfortunately our own, it is observed that they say that free Western thought is opposed
to the ideas of do's and don'ts and the notion jog ideology. Islam is diametrically
opposed to this position. The position of Islam is that it considers freedom to be
necessary by the side of duty so that man can fulfill his responsibilities with the means
of his freedom, make great achievements, and make great choices so as to attain
Accordingly my first suggestion to those who write and discuss issues
is that, let us be independent in our understanding of freedom. Let us think
independently, without aping others. My second suggestion is that freedom should not be
misused. Nowadays some people consistently repeat the phrase 'newly acquired press
freedom.' In my view it does not refer to any fact. It is something whose sources are
hostile foreign radios. Of course, nowadays they write certain things in newspapers and
periodicals and express hostile views. Some of these persons did not do this in the past.
But some others did so in the past as well. In the past we have witnessed many instances
of harsh criticism of the then president and various officials and even dissent with the
principles of the Revolution itself. But nobody bothered them.
Yes, there were some persons whose background was dubious and their
hands were tainted. They did not dare to express their views. Even if they had done it
nobody would have bothered them. They could have said the same things that they say today.
Nobody would have stopped them. But they themselves were afraid because they had bad
records. Their enmity of the Revolution, of the Imam and the Imam's Islamic thought was
known since long and they themselves lacked the courage to enter the field. However, after
the last presidential elections they suddenly found the courage on the basis of a wrong
analysis of those elections. That wrong analysis was that they thought that 30 million
people had voted against the system and this made them glad, whereas those 30 million had
cast their vote for the sake of the consolidation of the system. One of the things that
constitutes a matter of pride for the Islamic system in that 18 years after the victory of
the Revolution a 30 million out of 32 million eligible voters - that is, about 90 percent
- participated in that election. However, they considered this strong point of the system
as a weak point.
Of course, from the very first days of the elections, the foreign
radios had raised a clamor in order to give a direction to those who were prone to this
error, by insinuating that thirty million people has expressed discontent against the
system. They wanted to project the system's strong point as a weak point and these poor
guys believed it, worthy fooled themselves. They thought that a country where 30 million
people were opposed to the system they too could also come and express their views. Now
they have found courage and express their opinions whereas nothing in fact has changed.
Had they committed any offense in the past and violated the logical limits they would have
been prosecuted. The same is the case today and nothing has changed. Today also the same
measures will be taken against those who work corruption and cause alarm. There has been
no change. Accordingly, one should not say 'newly acquired press freedom.' We see that
some officials repeatedly advise the press not to overuse their freedom because that would
endanger freedom itself. What kind to logic is that? As much use as they make of freedom
it is better. But they should not violate the limits. The more individuals make use of
this God-given right, the nearer will it bring the Islamic system to its goals. Our
compliant against the writers has always been as to why they did not write, investigate,
and analyze as much as they should.
The correct limits must however be observed. Of course, these limits
are not something which a government or system determines in its own interest
Even if there should be governments in the world - and there certainly
are - which lay down such limits, the Islamic system is not such. The system of the
Islamic republic is based on justice. Should the leader violate the criteria of justice he
is automatically dismissed from leadership without the interference of any other agent. In
such as system there is no meaning in setting limits in the interests of any group on
clique or for imposing the views of a particular kind. The limits are Islamic limits, the
same things which are stated in the Quran and hadith and recognized as such by a
correct understanding of Islam. These are valid, and they should be observed. If they are
not observed, it is the duty of the authorities, judicial and executive, as well as
Ministry of Guidance and others to monitor their observance. Should they fail to carry out
this responsibility they will have committed an offense and sin. They are responsible to
see that these limits are observed. Within these limits - which of course make the
exceptions - it is the luminous principle of freedom which must be made use of. I do not
like these irresponsible statements to be repeated.
To sum up, that which I wish to say today is that the concept of
freedom is an Islamic conception and we should think about it in Islamic terms and have
faith in hts fruits as an Islamic movement and responsibility. We should consider as an
opportunity that which exists today on the plane of society and make maximum use of this
opportunity. Thinkers and scholars should increase their efforts. Of course, there are
some topics which are of a specialized journals and forums. But there are other topics
which are of a general interest and all can benefit from such discussions.
I hope that God the Exalted will provide us with the opportunity to
witness the blossoming of this system and the ever greater success of this great and dear
nation, and it is hoped that you, university people, especially the youth, on whom the
country's hopes and future depend, will play a great role in its blossoming.
Was salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu.