The recent events in France and similar ones in
some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you
about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook
your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and
countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest
for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.
I don’t address your politicians and statesmen
either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously
separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and
I would like to talk to you about Islam,
particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts
have been made over the past two decades, almost since the
disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the
seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and
hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the
political history of the West.
Here, I don’t want to deal with the different
phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated.
A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home
to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and
hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured
in new historiographies.
The histories of the United States and Europe
are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined
at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your
researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought
in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the
name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World
Wars. This approach is admirable.
By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I
don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your
intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and
comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why
should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past
and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to
prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the
treatment of Islamic culture and thought?
You know well that humiliation and spreading
hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of
all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself
why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam
and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power
structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and
remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of
the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of
distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: Study and
research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image
My second request is that in reaction to the
flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct
and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that
you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you
about and want you to keep away from.
I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any
other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic
and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through
resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce
their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.
Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and
original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and
the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have
directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims. Have you studied the teachings
of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever
received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?
Have you ever asked yourself how and on the
basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and
intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished
scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?
I would like you not to allow the derogatory and
offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and
the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from
you. Today, the communication media have removed the geographical
borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and
Although no one can individually fill the
created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and
fairness over the gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding
environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you, the
youth, is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and
inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will
provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.
Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain
proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully,
due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations
would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and
the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.
Seyyed Ali Khamenei
21st Jan. 2015