The Following is the full text of the speech delivered on December 17, 2008 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Republic on the occasion of Eid ul-Ghadir.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
First of all, I would like to congratulate Eid ul-Ghadir on you dear people, all the faithful people of our country, and the entire world of Islam. Eid ul-Ghadir is considered to be a major part of Shias' historical identity. Shia men and women have for consecutive years and centuries preserved their identity through the remembrance of this event. I would also like to welcome you dear brothers and sisters, especially those who have come from faraway cities, and the esteemed families of our martyrs.
Reflecting on Ghadir is one of the issues that can be of great help to our Islamic society, our people, and our country today. That is because reflecting on Ghadir will help them stay on the right path. There are two or three points that I would like to mention in regard to Ghadir.
The event itself is one of the points that I would like to discuss. The world of Islam - which had grown relatively vast - was witness to a very important event toward the end of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) life: The Commander of the Faithful was declared to be the successor of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). Ghadir is not simply an event narrated by Shias alone. Many Sunni luminaries and hadith scholars [muhaddith] have also talked about this event. How the event should be interpreted is debated among Muslims. However, all Muslims are confident about the truth of this event. The fact that the Prophet (s.w.a.) assigned Imam Ali (a.s.) as his successor at the end of his life - about 70 days before his demise - bears testimony to the importance of government, politics, and religious leadership [wilayah] from an Islamic viewpoint. The emphasis that our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) and many other prominent religious scholars have placed on the unity between religion and politics is in fact rooted in Islamic teachings, especially the great lesson that Ghadir taught us. This shows the importance of the issue. All the people who interpret Ghadir in this way - that is, all Shias and even many non-Shia Muslims who have a similar interpretation - must constantly pay attention to the fact that the issue of government is a critical issue, and that it is a high priority in Islam. No one should be indifferent to the issue of government. The important role of governments in guiding or misleading nations is a historical reality. The fact that the Islamic Republic places so much emphasis on the appropriate management of the country - in the Constitution and elsewhere - is all due to the strong emphasis that Islam has placed on this issue. This is a point that must not be ignored.
The fact that the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) of Islam introduced Ali Ibn Abi Talib as his successor in Ghadir al-Khumm is another point that is closely related to the first point. What were the defining characteristics of Imam Ali's life both before and after this event? These characteristics can provide us with a yardstick. Moving on the path of righteousness and attaching great importance to Allah's satisfaction were the primary features of Imam Ali's life, no matter how much hardship and selflessness were required to continue this life. That was the most important feature of Imam Ali's life.
From his childhood to the moment he was martyred, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) remained rock solid for the sake of Allah. He made wholehearted efforts and was never frustrated with his efforts for Allah. He tried to promote Islam when it was time to do so. He fought for Islam when it was time to fight. He was patient when patience was required. He assumed the leadership of his society when it was necessary for him to do so. During his life, he showed selflessness whenever required. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) of Islam appointed such a man as the ruler of the Islamic community. That is a lesson for the Islamic Ummah. That is not just a memory of old times. This lesson can provide us with the yardstick for ruling the Islamic Ummah - that is, monotheism, making efforts for Allah's sake, laying down one's life, solidity in the face of hardships, and turning one's back on material possessions. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) was the embodiment of these characteristics. He is the yardstick. That is the great lesson that Ghadir holds for us.
Take a look at the world of Islam, Islamic governments, and different political systems throughout the world and see the great gap between the current situation of the world and what Islam offered to humanity. A big portion of human sufferings are due to this gap. Islam's prescription for humanity is to follow the model of Imam Ali's (a.s.) government. Of course the Commander of the Faithful was himself a follower of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) in this regard. When he was asked about the degree of his piety, Imam Ali (a.s.) said that his piety was incomparable to the that of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). The Commander of the Faithful was the most prominent follower of the Prophet (s.w.a.) in making efforts for the sake of God, in patience, and in all other aspects. Only such a person can enjoy enough qualifications to rule an Islamic community. We must all consider this as a model, not just for our country, but for the entire world of Islam. This is an expectation.
Such a great person - who is indifferent to worldly possessions - would always be prepared to lay down his life for the sake of righteousness and the truth. Such a person can save human communities. Carnal desires cannot overcome such a person. Personal interests cannot make such a person blind to critical issues. That is one reason why we constantly say that Islam and the Islamic Republic have a new message for the world. That is a prominent example of our message.
Take a look at the current situation of humanity in the world. Take a look at the statesmen and rulers of countries. Are there any individuals among them who are prepared to give up their personal interests? Is there anyone among them who is prepared to lay down his or her life for the sake of his or her country's national interests? Are there any people among them who are prepared to give up all their considerations? Today humanity is suffering from the lack of such men. Islam introduced the embodiment of all these characteristics to the world. Of course, it goes without saying that ordinary people cannot reach that peak of perfection. No one can live and act the way the Commander of the Faithful did. That is an ambition that cannot be realized. However, the existence of that peak of perfection can serve as a beacon and show us the right way. We must all move towards that peak. We must all try to model our behavior on that peak of perfection. That is the great shortcoming of humankind. That is an important point about Ghadir. This point is certainly worthy of our attention. The Islamic model of government is the message of Ghadir to the world.
It is hard to imagine how Imam Ali (a.s.), who was so severe with the enemies [of Islam] and with all instances of spiteful acts, managed to be so patient with oppressed and weak people. When he had entered Kufa for the first time and the people of Kufa were not familiar with him, his behavior and simple clothes made it impossible for the people to realize that the Commander of the Faithful was the same person who was walking past. He was humble and patient when dealing with ordinary and weak people. When faced with powerful enemies, he stood up to them like a solid mountain. We must set these characteristics as a model for ourselves.
Let me mention another point in regard to Ghadir. The issue of Ghadir forms the basis of the Shia belief system. We believe in Imam Ali (a.s.) as the rightful ruler of the Islamic Ummah after the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.). This is the essence of the Shia belief system. Our Sunni brothers do not hold such a belief. They have a different opinion in regard to this issue and think differently than Shia Muslims. This is the difference between the two belief systems. However, the issue of Ghadir also gives a cause for unity among the Islamic Ummah. This cause is the character of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). There is no disagreement among Muslims in regard to the character of this great and noble man. The Commander of the Faithful is so highly regard by all Muslims with regard to his knowledge, piety, and courage. In fact, All Muslims share the same opinions in regard to Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (a.s.).
What we Muslims have to consider today is the fact that Shia Muslims have protected this belief like their own lives over many consecutive years. Shia Muslims preserved their beliefs despite all opposition. Everyone is more or less aware of the enmity that is shown towards Shia Muslims, and the pressure that has been exerted on them. Despite all these acts, Shia Muslims promoted the teachings of Shia Islam. Shia jurisprudence, kalam, philosophy, and civilization as well as the different sciences of Shia Islam stand out in the history of Islam. And so do the ideas of Shia Muslims and the prominent figures of Shia Islam. Therefore, Shia Muslims have preserved their beliefs and will continue to do so in the future as well. However, you should note that such beliefs should not turn into a source of discord. This is a point which I have mentioned several times over the years and which I still emphasize. We are aware of the enemies' intentions and the evil goals which they try to achieve through fomenting discord in the Muslim world. They try to achieve their goals under different pretexts such as the conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. By enemy, I mean the enemies of Islam and the Holy Quran. I mean those who are opposed to monotheism and the commonly held beliefs of Muslims. I do not mean those who are opposed to certain aspects of Islam.
The enemies try to foment discord in the Muslim world. They know that the unity of Muslims is harmful to them. The enemies were witness to the fact that the Islamic Revolution attracted many hearts in the Muslim world after its victory. This was all due to the grandeur of the Islamic Revolution. Even those who were not Shia Muslims were attracted to the Islamic Revolution. Millions of our Sunni brothers in Arab, African, and Asian countries were attracted to the Islamic Revolution, and this was a blow to the enemies of the Islamic Republic. The enemies suffered this blow due to the unity of Muslims and their attention to the Islamic Revolution. They now try to deflect the attention of the Muslims away from the Islamic Revolution. How do they try to achieve this goal? They try to do so by fomenting discord among Shia and Sunni Muslims.
Today, one of the most important policies of the arrogant powers is to get some of the Arab governments of the region to cooperate with them and to oppose the Islamic Republic. They try to convince some of the Arab governments to oppose the Islamic Republic, both in regard to the nuclear issue and other issues. They hold meetings with the heads of those governments, sign deals with them, and plot against the Islamic Republic. The US sometimes asks the Islamic countries about how willing they are to oppose the Islamic Republic. Their efforts are all aimed at fomenting discord. What the enemies can do on the political front is to force the heads of certain governments to oppose the Islamic Republic. They are unable to do anything besides that. The enemies cannot turn the hearts of the people - the people of Arab countries, Islamic countries, Palestine, and Iraq - away from the Islamic Republic. They cannot turn the hearts of these people away from the Islamic Republic. The only thing they can do is to force the heads of some governments to oppose the Islamic Republic. Of course, those governments also take certain considerations into account, and it is not the case that they will readily accept whatever the Zionists and the arrogant powers ask them to do.
The enemies cannot change the mentality of the people towards the Islamic Republic. What can make them change their mentality towards the Islamic Republic? What can turn the hearts of Muslims away from the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic? Discord and religious prejudice can turn the hearts of Muslims away from the Islamic Republic. This is what you should be vigilant about. Everyone shoulders a responsibility in this regard. Writing books against Shia or Sunni Muslims or slandering the followers of other denominations will not cause any Shia or Sunni Muslims to convert to other denominations. Those who like to attract all Muslims to the Prophet's Household should know that no one can be convinced to convert to Shia Islam by means of slandering or fomenting discord. Such acts will only result in enmity and conflict among Muslims. And this is exactly what the US and the Zionists are looking for. Their efforts are all aimed at fomenting discord among Muslims.
You see today that there are televised debates between Shia and Sunni Muslims in some non-Muslim European countries. They usually invite both Shia and Sunni Muslims to such programs and ask them to have a debate. What is the purpose behind these programs? Why would a Christian country - a colonialist country with an unenviable historical record - provoke a debate between Shia and Sunni Muslims? Are they after the truth? Are they after revealing the truth to their viewers? Or are they after fanning the flames of discord between Shia and Sunni? We should be vigilant about these facts and act wisely in this regard. Shia beliefs are based on a strong logic. There is strong reasoning behind what Shia ulama and intellectuals say in regard to Shia beliefs. But this does not give Shia Muslims the right to insult and slander Sunni Muslims. I have been informed that there are some centers which provide the funds for Shia and Sunni Muslims to publish insulting books against one another. In some cases, the funds are provided by the same center. Is this not a warning? You should be careful in this regard.
Imam Ali's (a.s.) birth anniversary provided me with the opportunity to make these points and I sought assistance from the great soul of the Commander of the Faithful. These points were made to emphasize what Imam Khomeini (r.a.) always used to say, and which I have always repeated as well. All Muslims should know that defending Shia Muslims does not mean provoking the enmity of those who are opposed to Shia Muslims. This is not defending the Shia. This is not defending wilayah. In fact, this is defending the US and the Zionists. There is nothing wrong with presenting logical reasoning. Shia Muslims can write books and present logical reasoning in regard to their beliefs. This is what our ulama have been doing. Shias have their own independent views in regard to religious principles. They should present logical reasoning in regard to these principles and reject what is contrary to them through logical reasoning. It is not incorrect to do so. This is different from enmity and insult. This is what should be taken into consideration.
O God, bestow vigilance on our hearts for the sake of Prophet Muhammad (s.w.a.) and his household. O God, help us benefit from the assistance of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). Dear God, bestow patience and sincerity on our people and the Islamic Ummah, and assist them in their jihad. O God, help us follow the wilayah of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) from the beginning to the end of our lives. Dear God, make the holy heart of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) pleased with us.
Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings