Letter to Khomeini on Velayat-e Faqih

Thank God, today is a blessed day for the nation of Iran. We hope that God shall send down His blessings upon each member of this nation and its dear officials and president who are taking up their responsibilities today, and, God willing, we may all benefit from the radiance of divine grace and the interceding prayers of His Holiness the Imam of the Age (May our souls be a sacrifice unto him!). I submit, “God, bless us in what You have bestowed.” [From the Prayers of Humility, du’a al-qunut] God willing, may his great divine gift be a great lasting and blessed gift to the nation. 

Thank God, the conditions in this country in this delicate juncture are such that every country and nation similarly situated and which enjoys such wealth would have right and reason to be optimistic about its future. First, we see signs of divine grace and Providence’s aid in all events. These very elections of thirty million participants were a manifestation of Providence’s grace upon the Islamic Republican system. Just when the propaganda trumpeted by countries that call themselves democratic were claiming that the Iranian nation had parted from the revolution and its system and had turned its back on its Imam [Khomeini]’s aspirations, the nation came on the scene and actively, upon the Imam’s instructions and last will, held a grand and splendid election, the likes of which we have very rarely seen since the beginning of the revolution. See what a manifestation of divine grace this was! It was just as the great Imam once declared to me, and as I, Your Servant, experienced it in the phases of my various duties: Whenever there is hardship, the hand of divine power helped me.

My dear ones! know this: Sometimes events will occur in which the country’s officials, i.e., those who are aware of what is happening – those who, as the saying goes, are aware of what’s going on behind the scenes – know that the agent of these events cannot be an ordinary or natural agent, but that nothing but divine grace is behind them. We believe in such things. The Koran speaks of such things. We believe that “Verily, God helps those who help Him.” [Koran, 22:40] Who has helped God’s religion more than this nation and entered the field of peril?! So divine aid is natural and normal. We have and will have it, God willing. This is a primary point that includes most of or all of our power. Another basic item which must be considered is this great nation, a nation which cooperates with the government, which is devoted to the ruling system and, when necessary, will sacrifice for it. A nation of faith. A nation which is on the scene, whose past shows that it will defend the Islamic country and its Islam wherever necessary, entering the scene defending them. So it was in the past, and so shall it be in the future, God willing. The field of combat, too, shows this. Before that, the field of revolution showed it too. The same with the field of reconstruction; in these recent years, it showed that wherever the people’s presence was necessary, this nation was present – sincerely, resolutely, enthusiastically. 

This people owe nothing to anyone. It has a feeling of responsibility and enters the scene. God willing, so it will be in the future. Of course, it is unlikely that we will have any military experience in the future. But let us suppose that it would occur to a godless individual or government to attempt a military trial of strength with this people and engage with this same nation, with these same youths, and with these same active believers whose show their faith everywhere. The nation showed the same in the elections, in the political field, in demonstrations and in the positions they’ve taken. This nation is a great resource and this nation is with the Imam, on the Imam’s path. Now, too, the most beloved man in this nation and in its hearts is our great Imam, Imam Khomeini. 

Let the others say what they wish. Let them analyze as they wish. It is foolish for someone to ask others how they themselves are doing. Some are accustomed to sitting and seeing what reporters tied to the Zionists and the arrogant and the capitalists, who are opposed to Islam and the Muslims and the Islamic system, say about Iran! It is obvious that they cannot speak the truth! They cannot even perceive the truth. They do not know our nation, they do not know our country, they do not know our system, they do not know our officials, they do not know our characteristics. See how they err and see how they pontificate about our characteristics! It has reached the point that everyone who is in the know laughs at their simple-mindedness. They speak out of their own hopes. It’s that same fable of the camel and the cotton seed! [A poem by Rumi in which a coarse camel dreams of eating delicate cotton seeds.] They present their hearts’ desires as analysis. This isn’t an exposition on the state of the Iranian nation. An exposition on the state of the Iranian nation is what you see. An exposition on the state of the Iranian nation is the battlefield of the Sacred Defense [the Iran-Iraq war] for eight years. An exposition on the state of the Iranian nation is the presence of thirty million in these elections. The nation of Iran is a nation which is Muslim, revolutionary, believing in the Imam, devoted to the Islamic system, and prepared to defend the values in which it believes and stands by. This is a vast resource. Every government which has such a nation behind it must be optimistic about its future. It must feel a sense of power. It must feel that it can act. It must feel that it has a duty to act.

That which I submit by way of admonition to the officials of the future government and the dear president thereof–who, thank God, is aware of just this point–is, first, all our efforts must be to get to know this people and, second, to fulfill its desires and needs. We are deeply obliged to this great nation. It is this nation which has protected the country and it is this nation which, in fact, is a sign of Providence’s power.

In the few terms in which our great Imam inaugurated the presidency, voted for by the people, I looked at his declarations and saw that he always talked about the people and the nation, no matter whom he was addressing. This is the Imam’s wisdom. We see this is correct, it is best, no matter how we look at it and study the matter. This is particularly so among the abased layers, the poor and weak layers of people who have been and are still and ever shall be the faithful and lasting forces of the revolution, the Imam, and the various governments. Those dear ones who, God willing, will be officials in the near future must utilize this eternal reserve and serve and work for them with all their might. This is how it is today, thank God. This is a country which has taken great and fundamental strides in reconstruction.

Perhaps the amount of reconstruction of this country the previous regime performed in its time is not even a fraction of what has been accomplished along these lines these past few years, since work must have both quality and quantity. Even if they have worked for the country (which is little, even from the perspective of quantity compared with what has been accomplished in this brief time), we have buried it in terms of quality. For in their case, the independence of this nation has not been considered. The basis of that regime’s policy was dependence. A few relatively courageous statesmen were found one day in Reza Khan’s time and wrote an oil treaty in which the interests of the nation of Iran were to some extent recognized. Reza Khan entered the cabinet’s chamber with his boots on and seized what they wrote, the oil accord, and threw it in the oven in the interests of the British and burned it before their eyes! This is something they themselves wrote. Taqizadeh and others wrote about this affair.

Its policy was one of dependence. Even the railroad they built was more in the interest of joining the two fronts of the Allies, who were fighting against Germany, than for Iran and Iranian trade. Such was the cross-country railroad! The northern and southern railroad was so that the Soviets could link up with the south, the Persian Gulf – which was where the British were stationed – so that they could transfer weapons and so that the Allied military fronts against the Axis – Germany and its allies. It was a railroad which was based on a treasonous plan and indifference to this nation’s independence, and in which the honor and prestige of this nation were ignored. 

Now note: The great railways that were built in Iran after the Imposed War were just what the nation of Iran needed. An orientalist who had come to Iran to travel said, I am amazed how the Iranian railroad does not pass through the cities, which are Iran’s main centers of trade! (Those very places which today, thank God, blessed by the Islamic Republic, we see are included in sound relations and junctures and connections.)

What this popular and divine system–the Islamic Republic–accomplished in this country is both quantitatively and qualitatively incomparable with what was accomplished in this country before the Islamic Republic. This is the meaning of a system connected with spirituality and faith, a system that enjoys vast popular support, votes, passions, and assistance of the people, as well as faith and spirituality, brotherhood and coordination, reliance on God and faith in the occult. This is the result of that. Despite all the conspiracies and opposition that this nation has suffered, despite being besieged in these various ways, politically, economically, and propagandistically, this nation has been able to been able to support its governments, one after the other, and the governments have been able to advance this country in terms of welfare and prosperity, politics, international honor and national power. These are the values our country has and, thank God, our governments all enjoy this and always shall. This is a manifestation of great divine gifts and this is the same powerful hand with which, I have submitted, exalted God has always and shall always support this system.

Of course, I have urged and emphasized that there must be efforts made in uprooting poverty, injustice, and discrimination, which is the inheritance of the past demons, from this country. I, Your Servant, have devoted most of my efforts to this and continue to do so. My advice is that others behave likewise. If all these blessings and benefits, whose manifestation reached their peak in these few years past under the government of our dear brother, His Eminence Hashemi-Rafsanjani (May exalted God protect him!), all that we accomplished was several l times greater [than what had been accomplished under the monarchy] and may it yet be several times greater, but let us not focus on that, or else our work will be deficient.

My dear ones! The Islamic system is not a capitalist system. Four years ago, in this very place, on inauguration day, I raised this same topic among those present. I submitted, “Our system is not a capitalist system. The capitalist system looks at the accumulation of wealth, economic prosperity, and the gross national income. It is unimportant for it how this wealth was obtained, who obtained it and what percent of the people they represent, and how it is used!” The national income must go up, wealth must increase, economic effort is to be sustained, which indeed it is. There are also laws in this matter. There is an executive branch in this matter. The most that capitalist countries–not all of them, but some of them–do is to provide insurance and guarantees for the oppressed and deprived groups so that they receive the basics. This is the capitalist system. 

The Islamic system is not like this. The Islamic system declares, “The heavens and the earth stand on justice.” [Tafsir Sadeqi, Koran 55:7] Justice is the principle. Of course, there is the production of wealth. The Islamic system does not want a poor society. It does not want a poor nation and an insignificant public income. It utilizes wealth, it advances science, it extracts underground resources, it develops people’s intellects, it engages in trade and launches industry. The history of Islam shows that Islam, blessed with these same luminous commandments, was for a long era the master of science and industry in the whole world. But the point of all this is justice. There is wealth, but justice must be guaranteed in society. For there to be justice, we await the Imam of the Age. The prophets have come. All came to establish justice. “To establish justice for the people.” [Koran, 57:25] These are very meaningful words which the Koran tells us, which Nahj ol-Balagha [the sayings of Imam Ali] tells us, and which are also in the stories of the prophets. 

This determines policy. That’s just what justice means. If society prospers, let everyone prosper. We do not say everyone should be identical, since uniformity is impossible. Ultimately, efforts, enthusiasms, and powers vary. Some work harder, some less. Some show greater initiative. Capabilities are not uniform. “Had your Lord willed, all the people would have been one congregation (of believers) … This is why He created them.” [Koran, 11:119 – 118] People have different degrees of capability. It is not the point, that they should be uniform. The point is that they work in accordance with their capabilities and strive in accordance with their enthusiasm, and that everyone should achieve in accordance with their power. No one should remain dispossessed. No one should be oppressed. No one should be repressed. This is the principle goal.

We, who have come into power(that day which was the day to strive, we strived; that day which they recommended that we be in office, we accepted this in every way), have done so to achieve this very goal. Let those who are unacquainted with our culture believe it. Although I know that they will not fully believe these responsibilities have no attraction for us, we ourselves know. Those who are acquainted with this culture and character first hand, they know that these responsibilities are only valuable, beloved, and attractive in order to establish justice, to establish God’s rule, and to pave the path of God for men to tread. Effort must be for this.

Of course, work has been done in this regard. If I don’t say how much our dear brothers have strived in various offices in past terms of office for this, I would be ungrateful. But the road ahead is longer than the one we have so far treaded. We have more work ahead of us than what we have accomplished so far. This is the point. The basis of the government’s work must be this, whether in the cultural field or economics or reconstruction; this must be the orientation, even if the activities vary.

We thank God that the elections went well and that the public was satisfied with them. Today, people feel that the country’s public atmosphere is like a holiday, and this, too, is Providence’s grace. 

We hope that exalted God will bless this day and this event and that His grace and blessings will cover them. We hope that He will remove evil from this nation and that He will crush and smite this nation’s enemies and deliver to this nation its great aspiration. We hope that he will grant the dear president and his officials, which shall be selected, success in their important tasks which lie ahead, that he will make the sacred heart of His Holiness the Lord of the Age pleased with all of us, that he will forever keep the blessed soul of the great Imam, who is surely pleased with these events and ceremonies, pleased and keep the good souls of our great martyrs by the Prophet and his family.

Peace be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings.


Authors: Khamenei, Khomeini
Title: Letter on the absolute velayat-e faqih
Language: Persian
Western Date: 11/1/1988
Persian Date: 21/5/1376

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