The speech delivered by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the head and members of the Assembly of Experts on the occasion of the inauguration of the Fifth Assembly of Experts.

The following is the full text of the speech delivered by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the head and members of the Assembly of Experts on the occasion of the inauguration of the Fifth Assembly of Experts.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad and upon his immaculate household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth

I thank Allah the Exalted with all my heart for the good elections that were held throughout the country with the great participation of our dear people and for the praiseworthy and respectable assembly that was thankfully formed. I would like to welcome all the dear brothers, the honorable gentlemen and the esteemed Ulama and scholars, in particular the newly-arrived and those who have entered this honorable assembly for the first time among whom there are thankfully a large number of enthusiastic youth and young and active mujtahids. I hope that God will bestow success on all you and us so that we can carry out our responsibilities.

I would like to say something in memory of the deceased in this assembly. Certain dear and great personalities were present in this assembly who carried out a number of tasks and rendered services. May God raise their positions. The last one of them was our dear brother, the late Mr. Tabasi (may Allah the Exalted grant him paradise). I hope that at this difficult and perilous stage, God will bestow rewards on that diligent and hard-working man for the efforts that he made and I hope that this will be a source of light for him in the hereafter.

This meeting has coincided with the month of Sha’ban which is the month of great eids, supplication, humility and repentance. We consider this as a good sign. It was an important month that is coming to an end. I hope that God has not left us in a position where we have not benefitted from the blessings of this month: “This is a month in which the Messenger of God (God’s greetings be upon him and his household) would engage in fasting and praying at nights and during the daytime” [Misbah al-Mujtahid, Vol.2, page 829].

I have prepared three points to discuss: one is about the identity of this assembly. Another is about the path that this assembly should take and the responsibilities that fall on it – about what the orientation and path of this assembly look like. And if there is time and our inconvenience for you does not take too long, the last point is about the general responsibilities that fall on everyone in this term, including on you, us, this assembly and others.

As for the identity of this assembly, when I think deeply about this, I see that this was a divine gift that Allah the Exalted bestowed on the Islamic Republic. The Assembly of Experts is a gift from God. It is an important thing. Although this assembly is for a particular purpose which has been specified in the Constitution, it will remain a very great event and phenomenon even if we forget about that purpose.

Why is that? It is because the Assembly of Experts is an organization that is formed by scholars and religious and scholarly experts from throughout the country who gather together every year – two times a year or even more if need be – on the occasion of this responsibility. They create a great capacity for exchanging viewpoints, for thinking and for adapting.

We should not forget that in the beginning of the revolutionary movement – in the years 1961, 1962 – our late great Imam (may God bestow paradise on him) used to recommend, by sending messages, that the scholars who live in provincial cities should gather together from time to time even if only to drink a cup of tea together. He recommended that even this much would be good although no serious and important discussion would be held. This means that the gathering of scholars and religious and scholarly experts is of such significance.

Today, you should take a look at the world and see that they gather the individuals who have certain common points with different excuses and under different names – under the name of unions, associations and syndicates. These groups of people carry out great tasks which are sometimes not very relevant to their professions. Take the case of the union of economists, the international union of lawyers and the international union of artists. Such unions express their viewpoints about such and such a political matter in their countries and in the world – at an international level. They establish unions so that the individuals who have a common point – whatever it is – gather together although they might have different opinions and viewpoints. The essence of such gatherings gives them the opportunity to carry out great tasks and to exert influence on the path of their countries’ movement or even on the path of international movements. This is common in the world.

Now we have this. Allah the Exalted has given this to the country as a gift. A number of religious scholars and credible and honorable clergy – who are trusted by the people – gather together and create a great capacity. This can lead to a wonderful achievement. It cannot be expected that they sit and wait for the responsibility that has been specified in the Constitution to occur so that they fulfill it. This cannot be expected. They can carry out many other tasks.

The gatherings, organizations and unions which we referred to do not have any popular source of support. They are either economists or lawyers. In their own fields, some people pay attention to them, but in their societies, they do not have any popular source of support, unlike this assembly. All the individuals who are present in the Assembly of Experts have a more or less popular source of support. Some of them enjoy a great source of popular support. The outstanding clergy of a province, a city, and an Islamic seminary, who have the capability to exert influence, gather together. They can share with each other viewpoints on different matters. They can focus on one issue of the country and they can pursue it.

It should not be said that implementation is not in the hands of this assembly. This is true. Implementation is in the hands of executive officials, but something greater than implementation is in your hands and that is public opinion. You are Friday prayer leaders, the Wali Faqih’s representatives, high-ranking teachers in Islamic seminaries or reputable and honorable clergy. You can influence public opinion. When public opinion is formed, a discourse is created in society about a particular matter. Naturally, this will make executive officials, legislators and other officials involved to pursue the matter. This is natural. Therefore, in my opinion, this assembly is an extraordinary phenomenon in this regard. We should pay attention to this significance.

Therefore, we conclude that considering this outstanding and exalted significance, this assembly can carry out great tasks in the direction of revolutionary goals. A few years ago – perhaps, in the last one, two terms – I mentioned among the members of this assembly that you can issue resolutions about different matters. You can focus on one particular issue and say that this is what the Assembly of Experts demands. The members of the Assembly of Experts are elected by the people. They are not normal and ordinary individuals. The people trust them. They are experts, authorities and men of knowledge. When they come to an understanding about a particular issue, they can make a request and a demand to the Leader, to the administration, to the judiciary branch, to the Majlis and to different organizations. This was about the first point which is, in my opinion, a very important one. All of us – including me, you and officials – should appreciate the value of this majlis. This assembly can exert great influence.

As for the second point – which is a discussion about the path and orientation of this assembly – to put it briefly, this humble person believes that the path and the goals of the Revolution define the path of this majlis. In other words, this majlis should move in the direction of the Revolution and its goals.

What are the goals of the Revolution? The most important goal is the authority of Islam. The Revolution was formed on the basis of this goal. It was formed so that Islam rules and has authority in its own specific sense. The goals of the Revolution are the authority of God’s religion, freedom, social justice, and public welfare, the elimination of poverty and ignorance, and resistance in the face of the destructive flood of moral decadence which has originated from the west and which is overflowing into the whole world. Today, you are witnessing the characteristics of this moral decadence. They legalize homosexuality in countries. Not only do they legalize it, but also they strongly censure those who oppose it. Is there any kind of corruption which is higher than this?

In recent years, some people used to think that there is freedom for men and women in the west, that they can easily associate with one another, that there are fewer temptations and motivations [for indulging in lust]. They used to think that when there is limitation, “Humans become more greedy about what they been prevented from” [speaking in Arabic]. Now, it has become clear that it is the other way around! In those places where there is freedom and where there are not any limits for the relationship between men and women, sexual lust shows itself in a stronger and more active, violent and aggressive manner.

And this will not stop here. In the future, the issue will come down to marriage between maharem [close relatives whom you cannot marry]. And it will even come down to more sensitive things. The world of moral decadence is moving towards this direction. These points were about the moral aspects of the issue.

The same is true of economic aspects. Take the case of money laundering. They speak about money laundering and they consider it as a crime, but the main thing that the most important companies and cartels in the world do is playing these monetary and financial games and increasing their already enormous wealth. This will naturally lead to discrimination. It will naturally lead to class inequalities which are increasing on a daily basis. This is a destructive flood which is flowing to all countries and societies. One of the goals of the Revolution is to resist this annihilating flood.

Another goal of the Revolution is resisting the domination of arrogance. Arrogance is after domination by nature. It is after domination and it is after spreading it everywhere. Any nation and government that does not resist this will become captive and stuck in their claws. These are among the goals of the Revolution. The path on which this assembly is moving is the path of the Revolution’s goals.

And this is a difficult task. This is one of the most difficult tasks. Notice that it is difficult to gain something for whose achievement there is a competition and fight, but preserving it is even more difficult. Take the case of a precious and expensive jewel which has many suitors. You enter this competition and you gain it with great difficulty. However, keeping it is more difficult than gaining it. And the reason is clear. When you enter the arena of competition, you have an offensive position. You enter this competition with a spirit of attack. You are very motivated and you know what your goal is. You are moving after a specific goal. However, when you achieve it, the other side who wants to snatch it away from you enjoys a spirit of attack. He is the attacker now and he is motivated to achieve it. You do not know from where he will move and attack. He plans, comes up with a scheme and then attacks.

The Revolution was a difficult task. It was not easy to launch the Revolution because it required innovation, endeavor and sweating blood. Well, our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) moved the people and active and revolutionary groups with his slogans, spirit, piety, faith and sincerity. This was how this difficult task was accomplished and this was how the Revolution built a system and became successful and victorious. However, preserving the Revolution is even more difficult. Preserving it is more difficult. The enemies – that is to say, those who were fought against for the sake of launching the Revolution – are not sitting idle. They have not given up trying. They are after snatching the Revolution away from your hands as was the case in some countries. In recent years, peoples launched great movements, but their enemies came and snatched them away from their hands, thus creating a disastrous situation for them.

Without a doubt, Islam is a demolisher of oppression and arrogance: “That He might cause it to prevail over all religions” [The Holy Quran, 9: 33]. Islam can undoubtedly defeat kufr and the opposite front, but which kind of Islam can do so? Only the kind of Islam that enjoys a government, a military force, media, politics, economy and many tools and instruments can annihilate kufr and oppression or restrict and prevent it from transgressing. Only the kind of Islam that has managed to build a system and establish a government can resist. Otherwise, if individuals – although they might be outstanding Muslims – and Islamic movements, like the ones that exist in the world, do not move towards the goal of establishing a government, they will not cause any danger to arrogance.

This is because they cannot do anything in this way. They cannot annihilate kufr, oppression and arrogance. You have achieved this kind of Islam that is able to confront, to resist and to stick out its chest in the face of the front of kufr and you have achieved it with difficulty, but how do you want to preserve it? This should be preserved in the face of the enemy. This is not something that will prevail if we abandon it. The enemy will attack.

The enemy attacks in several ways: one way is launching hard attacks and waging hard wars. The enemy experienced it and suffered a defeat. The eight-year war that they waged against us was of this kind. It was a global war. One gave Saddam chemical weapons, another gave him MiG fighter planes, another gave him Mirage fighter planes, another gave him anti-aircraft weapons, and another gave him war plans. Even the Iraqi war planes and trenches had been formulated and built with the assistance of others! All of them helped him so that he would win the war, but he failed.

An example of hard wars is the eight-year war. Another example is the tribal unrest that they provoked in the country – in all the borders of the country. You remember that they waged wars and provoked riots everywhere in the country. However, the enemy could not win. These were examples of hard wars. They either activated or created terrorist activities and orientations. America attacked one of our oil platforms. America shot down one of our civilian passenger planes. They did whatever they could. These are examples of hard wars. They were defeated in all of these wars. They were defeated in the face of the people of Iran and our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) and they became more intimidated.

Because of the power that Allah the Exalted had given him, because of his piety and reliance on God, because of the insight that he enjoyed and because of dedicating himself- in a clear manner- to his goal, Allah the Exalted gave him charisma with the result that others were afraid of him. The enemies were afraid of Imam (r.a.) in the real sense of the word: “As if they were frightened donkeys fleeing from a lion” [The Holy Quran, 50-51]. Imam’s (r.a.) cry and voice used to intimidate them like the roar of a lion that scares animals off. Well, they were defeated at this stage.

Another stage of their confrontation and hostility was waging soft wars. One kind of soft war is the things that you witnessed including economic sanctions, enticing propaganda and the like. These are the tasks that the enemy began and continued since the first day. They falsely thought that they had imposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic. However, this did not work either. This measure failed as well. They wanted to cripple the Islamic Republic with these sanctions and economic sieges, but the Islamic Republic was not crippled.

Even during the time of sanctions, great tasks were carried out. I read a quotation from a general that was attached to the Zionist regime. This quotation was published at that time in foreign newspapers. He said, “I am an enemy of Iran. I do not like Iran, but I admire it. Despite sanctions, they have managed to build a missile- at that time, a missile had been tested and they had managed to track it with their satellites and the like- I admire them.” These achievements were made despite and during the time of sanctions, in the face of economic pressures and without receiving any help from others.

Another example of the soft war that they waged was striking the Islamic Republic’s back-up in some countries. They destroyed the groups that were considered the Islamic Republic’s back-up and strategic depth. They struck these groups in many countries. They either destroyed or harmed them. This did not pay off either. None of these measures reached anywhere. So, both their hard and soft wars were defeated.

What is being done at the third stage is waging a soft war of a different kind. Of course, this has not begun just today. It is several years now that it has begun, but it has developed on a daily basis. This is the type that is very dangerous. This is what I have repeatedly warned officials about and I have done so in different ways. This kind of soft war is infiltrating decision-building and decision-making centers. It is a kind of infiltration with the purpose of changing popular beliefs in the country. It is a kind of infiltration with the purpose of changing our calculations. We who are officials and who have adopted these positions have certain calculations for our tasks. We calculate and the result is that we adopt such positions. If they can change our calculations, our positions will change as well.

One of the main things that they do is exerting change in officials’ calculations, in the people’s beliefs and in decision-building and decision-making centers – the centers that build and make decisions. This is a dangerous plot that includes an attack on the principles of the Revolution and on guardian organizations. They attack the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. They launch propaganda attacks. They attack the Guardian Council. They attack pious forces and pious hezbollahi youth.

In the present time, foreign radio, television and media are full of such statements. I do not know how much access you have to these media and how much you watch them. They are constantly working on these areas – particularly with the new means of mass communications that have come into being – so that they can make their audience reach these conclusions. They attack revolutionary clergy. They condemn revolutionary clergy by labeling them as governmental clergy and the like. To say it briefly, making efforts in this soft war is preparing the ground for emptying the Islamic Republic of its power elements. They want to act in a way that the Islamic Republic becomes empty of the elements that are inside it and that are a source of power for it. When it becomes weak, when power elements do not exist in it and when it does not enjoy solidity, then dragging it this way and that way will not be difficult for superpowers. They want to make it to follow them.

This is the time when we should engage in the great jihad that I spoke about a few days ago [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on May 23, 2016 at Imam Hussein (a.s.) University]: “So do not follow the unbelievers and strive against them with a great jihad” [The Holy Quran, 25: 52]. It has been said in different tafsirs [interpretations of the Holy Quran] that the pronoun “bihi” in this case means the Holy Quran. Although the term “the Quran” has not been mentioned so much so that the pronoun refers to it, both the late Tabarsi – in Majma’ al-Bayan – and the late Allamah Tabatabai say that the context shows that “bihi” means “with the Quran”. I too said this in that speech. However, later on, it occurred to me that there is a clearer interpretation. It means refusal to obey. “Adam ul-ita’a” [refusal to obey] is the infinitive that the verb is derived from. It is actually hidden in the verb. The Arabic ayah means: “Engage in this great jihad by refusing to obey others” [speaking in Arabic]. So, “adam ul-ita’a” is the “great jihad”. This makes more sense to one’s mind.

Of course, I have not taken a look at other interpreters to see if some of them have considered this probability or not, but in any case, this probability is an important one. “Great jihad” means this. It means jihad for the sake of refusal to follow and to pursue the enemy. So, the path and orientation of this assembly is this. It is a revolutionary path, one that pursues the path of the Revolution and that establishes the authority of Islam and God’s religion.

Why are we here if we are not after executing divine orders and establishing the divine religion? Well, under such circumstances, those who previously ruled over the country – either they or the likes of them – can come and manage the government. We are here because we want to establish God’s religion. The authority of God’s religion should be established. We are pursuing this. This is the path on which you are considered a martyr if you are killed. This is the reason why our people offered and continue to offer their youth so generously. If it were not for this reason, others and others could carry out the duty of improving the economy. Why should I – who am an akhund and a clergy – engage in such tasks? I would pursue my own lessons and seminarian discussions. Well, others can do and are actually doing such tasks. This is being done everywhere in the world. If the issue is not about God’s religion and establishing God’s religion and divine authority, our presence in such positions is not necessary at all. So the goal is to establish the authority of Islam.

Another task is innovation. The issue which I would like to place great emphasis on is innovation. However, innovation should be done in an orderly manner and by knowledgeable – not illiterate and semi-literate – individuals. I am speaking about innovation on religious matters. Religion can be developed and expanded. This is because it is for all times and for all conditions. So, God’s religion can sometimes be developed by those mujtahids that are skilled at inference and ijtihad. Our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) too showed examples of this, some of which were implemented and some of which were at least addressed in his own time.

One of the tasks is to heal the wounds that the enemy inflicts. The enemy is inflicting some wounds on the body of the Revolution. We should heal them. One wound is the issue of creating denominational and tribal discord – between Shia and Sunni – another is the issue of partisan differences and another is creating false polarizations in society. These are the wounds that they are inflicting and therefore, they should be healed.

In any case, what I would like to stress is that the principle of change and progress should always be in front of our eyes. Stagnation is not good. We should constantly move forward and make progress. However, it should be in the direction of the goals of the Revolution and of religion. This was the second part which was about the path of this honorable and esteemed – in the real sense of the word – assembly.

Now, there are some general responsibilities that I will discuss in brief so that my speech does not become too long. To say it briefly, we should give power to the country. The country should become strong. The path of the Revolution’s survival and progress and the path of attaining the goals of the Revolution – in a general sense of the word – is the path of strengthening the country. If we can carry out this duty – that is to say, if the administration, the Majlis, the judiciary branch, the Armed Forces, and revolutionary forces can carry it out and if this assembly can do something in this regard and help in some way – then we will be sure that we can preserve the Revolution in the real sense of the word. If the country becomes strong, I will tell you that it will be possible for us to obtain concessions even from arrogance. If the country becomes weak, then even incompetent, weak and mean governments will order us around, let alone arrogance and superpowers. If we become weak, things will be like this. However, if we become strong, this will not be the case.

Power is a relative matter. At every stage of power, we can do some activities. Take the case of the nuclear negotiations, for instance – of course, I do not want to expand on this matter. Our dear friends in the administration said that they obtained certain concessions from the enemies. The enemies – who previously did not accept that we can have a nuclear industry – have now signed on paper that we can have a nuclear industry. Well, how was this achieved? This was achieved after we showed our power and after we did something that they could not imagine – that is to say, achieving 20-percent enrichment. They themselves and the experts in this field know that the difficult part in achieving 99 percent enrichment is enrichment until 20 percent. If a country can take the path that leads to 20 percent, then moving from that point to 90 and 99 percent will become easy. It is not far from there. They know this.

The Islamic Republic treaded this path. It managed to achieve 20-percent enrichment. It managed to produce 19,000 first-generation centrifuges. It managed to operate about 10,000 first-generation centrifuges. It managed to produce second, third, fourth-generation centrifuges as well. It managed to build Arak’s heavy water reactor. It managed to build a factory that produces heavy water. And this heavy water is being bought from us today. It was because of accomplishing these tasks that the enemy agreed to give us the minimum which is having a nuclear industry. If we had not carried out these tasks, they would not have complied with us.

I and all of you friends remember that 12 years ago, when we were conducting the previous round of negotiations, we were arguing with them so that they would allow us to run five centrifuges. However, they said that this is not possible. In the beginning, we were arguing over 20 centrifuges. However, they said that this is not possible at all. Then, we got along with them and said that we want five. They said that it is not possible again. Then, we said that one would be enough. However, they said that this is not possible either. When we do not have resources, when we do not have power, the enemy enters like this. However, when you build 19,000 centrifuges despite what the enemy wants, when you operate them, when you produce second, third-generation centrifuges, and when you carry out many other peripheral tasks, the enemy will be forced to accept. This is how power works. If power exists, one can obtain concessions even from arrogance. This was not a concession that the Americans granted to us, rather it was a concession that we won with our own power. No one granted it to us.

This is the case in all areas. It is the case in the area of the economy as well. The reason why I constantly speak about and stress the issue of the resistance econony – well, the friends in the administration have established a command center and certain things are being done whose results we hope to see on the ground, God willing – is this. If we become strong and powerful in the economy, then imposing sanctions will become meaningless and absurd. If we can achieve a powerful economy inside the country, they themselves will come begging to us. They will come and pursue establishing economic relations. Not only will they not impose sanctions, but they will also come and ask us not to impose sanctions on them – if we have the intention of doing so. This is natural. The same is true of the area of politics. The same is true of different other areas.

The administration, the Majlis and others should pursue the elements of power and this assembly can demand them. You can demand them of this humble person, of our dear Dr. Rouhani, of the gentlemen in the Majlis and of the judiciary branch. You can ask for these elements. As we said, this magnificent and exceptional group of people are a phenomenon and a divine gift. They can carry out these tasks. You should focus on one area and then pursue it. Then, you should do something to make public opinion join you. This is what is really suitable and proper.

Now, if we want to mention the criteria for being a revolutionary – of course, mentioning these criteria requires courage – in these organizations, I believe that the criteria for being a revolutionary are piety, courage, insight, outspokenness and fearlessness in the face of “the censure of any censurer” [The Holy Quran, 5: 54]. These are the criteria for being a revolutionary. If we have piety and the necessary courage and outspokenness – of course, outspokenness is good only when it is necessary and in those places where tact is necessary, being outspoken is harmful – and if we can have these characteristics, we are revolutionaries.

We should have a correct understanding of the enemy. The enemy is a front. The enemy is not an individual and a specific government, rather it is a front. We should identity this front and see who is dependent on it and from where and how it moves so that it makes us confuse him with others. We should know the enemy front and enmity methods. We should know how it shows enmity.

Sometimes, the enemy enters the arena to hatch a plot with the purpose of attaining a malicious goal and we do not know exactly what that goal might be. When we take a superficial look, we see that it is a good thing and we welcome it. This is while it is pursuing its own goal. We have witnessed such cases. We have had such cases in the country. Sometimes, they have begun a task with a particular goal. We looked at the surface and we said, “Wow, this is really good. This is alright.” However, if we have insight and if we know the enemy’s goals, we will not be deceived like this.

We should not suffer a psychological defeat in the face of the enemy either. This is one of the fundamental aspects of the issue. Psychological defeat is harmful. Anyone who is defeated inside themselves will certainly be defeated on the scene as well. The first defeat of every individual is inner defeat, one that makes us feel that we cannot, that trying is of no use, that the other side is much stronger than us, and that we cannot do anything. This is psychological defeat. If we suffer this defeat, we will certainly be defeated on the scene as well. This should not happen. We should take care not to let this happen.

God’s mercy be upon our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) and upon our martyrs and greetings be upon Muhammad (s.w.a.) and his household (a.s.).