After the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini began the practice of addressing an annual message to the Ummah as they athered for the Hajj. IMAM SAYYID ALI KHAMENEI has maintained the tradition since becoming Rahbar. Here we publish his message to the hujjaj issued as Iranian hujjaj prepared to leave for the Haramain.
In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful...
“O our people! Respond to Allah’s summoner and have faith in Him; He will forgive you some of your sins and save you from a painful punishment.” (The Qur’an, 46:31)
Hastening in response to the Divine call with cries of “Labbayk,” once again the devout have arrived at the House of the Beloved. The Hajj season has returned and, for the seekers of grace and spirituality, the road towards the summits of love and communion is open. Before you is the House of Allah, and the plains of Arafaat and Mash’ar are ready for the surging mainspring of remembrance of God and gnosis of the Divine. Mina and Safa are poised to deliver their lessons of effort and perseverence for the attainment of nearness to Allah and casting out of the Devils at the Jamaraat.
The time is ripe for self-renewal from the refreshing water of tawheed (the oneness of Allah) and the solidarity of the Ummah. Let the calls of “Labbayk,” which you make while assuming ihram and entering the state of sanctity, become firmly implanted in your heart. Let your Hajj journey, made in response to the Divine invitation to visit the holy precincts of the Beloved, be enriched with thought and contemplation about the meanings and purposes of Hajj.
When performed with intelligence and understanding, the Hajj is a source of grace and strength for the individual pilgrim as well as for the Ummah of Muslims. It sets the pilgrim on the path of piety and spirituality and brings the Ummah closer to the goals of solidarity, dignity and power. The first step for the pilgrim is self-development. The rites of ihram, tawaaf andsalah, the sojourns at Arafat, Mash’ar and Mina, the rituals of the sacrifice, the symbolic stoning and head-shaving — all are expressions of the human being’s humility before God, and cues for remembering Him, entreating Him and seeking nearness to Him.
These rites should not be performed casually. While performing them, the pilgrim faring through the land of Hajj should always consider himself to be in the presence of Allah the Exalted. In the midst of the pressing crowd, he should feel himself alone in the company of the Beloved, communing with Him in prayer and supplication, opening his heart to Him and casting out from it the Devil and all whims, appetites and desires.
The pilgrim should cleanse his heart of the defilements of greed, envy, cowardice and lust, and thank God for His gifts of guidance and blessings. He must learn to train his heart for the struggle in His way, and dispose it to feel kindness for the faithful and dislike for the enemies and opponents of the truth. He should make a firm resolve to reform his own person as well as the world about him, and make a pledge with his God to work for the good of the world and the Hereafter.
The Hajj is nevertheless also a collective ibadah. The Divine invitation to Hajj is meant to bring the faithful together, so that they may see themselves standing together, side by side, and experience this unique expression of the unity of the Muslim polity. The Hajj is meant to be a collective movement towards nearness to Allah, as well as a collective repudiation of devils of all kinds, human and demonic. It is an exercise to promote the solidarity and integrity of the Ummah. Never before has the Muslim Ummah been in such great need of mutual brotherhood and outright repudiation of the mushrikeen and the arrogance of the imperialists.
The Islamic world today is faced with an all-out siege, both on the economic and the technological fronts, as well as with a propaganda offensive and, increasingly, with military occupation. The long-established occupation of Palestine and the holy city of al-Quds has been followed more recently by the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Zionist octopus, allied with the power of the imperialistic US, vicious and despicable, now harbors plans for the entire Middle East, as well as North Africa and the rest of the Islamic world. They have made the general awakening of the Muslims, which has breathed a new life into the Ummah, the target of their anger and vengeance.
The Western imperialists have concluded that Muslim countries and peoples, especially those of the Middle East, form the core of this awakening and of resistance to their plans for global domination. They realise that if they fail to control or suppress this Islamic awakening in the next few years through their political and economic policies, through propaganda and, as a last resort, by military aggression, all their plans for an absolute global hegemony and control of vital oil and gas resources, which fuel their industrial machinery and underpin their material edge over the rest of the world, will come to nothing. If that happens, the Western and Zionist capitalists, who are the real power behind the imperialist governments, will fall from the height of their power and their imposed hegemony over the world. This is way the imperialist powers have turned all their power against this Islamic awakening. It has launched this fateful war, using political pressure on some fronts, threats of economic sanctions on others, propaganda tactics elswhere, and bombs, missiles, tanks and troops where necessary, as inIraq and Afghanistan, exactly as it did earlier in Palestine and Quds.
The most important tool of these savage predators is the deceptive mask of hypocrisy they wear. They send assassination squads to kill innocent persons while talking of waging war on terrorism. They openly support the bloodthirsty terrorist regime that has usurped Palestine, and label the defenders of Palestine who strive with their backs to the wall as terrorists. They manufacture, supply and use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. They have perpetrated such horrors as those at Hiroshima and Halabja and on the Iranian warfront during the imposed war [Iraq’s US-backed invasion of Islamic Revolutionary Iran, 1980-88], while they profess to be against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They are themselves behind the drug-trade mafia, but claim to be fighting the narcotics trade. They make a display of support for science and globalization of science, and yet obstruct the development of science and technology in the Muslim world, considering the emergence of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in Muslim countries a mortal sin.
They talk of freedom and the rights of minorities while depriving Muslim girls of the right to education for the sin of wearing the hijab. They speak glibly about the freedom of expression and belief, while branding every expression of opinion about zionism a crime. They ban the publication of many outstanding Islamic works and forbid even the publication of the documents retrieved from the US den of spies in Tehran in the United States. They proclaim human rights, while running scores of torture centers for political prisoners, such as the ones atGuantanamo and Abu Ghraib, or maintain a knowing silence over such atrocities elsewhere. They talk about respect for all religions, while supporting such renegades as Salman Rushdie, who has been sentenced to capital punishment, and the BBC broadcasts sacrilegious statements against Islamic sanctities.
However, as a consequence of the blatantly reckless conduct of the US and British governments, this mask of deception and hypocrisy has been broken. With their own hands they have stuffed the hearts of Muslim nations and youth with hatred for the arrogant imperialists. Should free elections be held today in any Muslim country, the people will definitely vote against the wishes of the US and Britain. Now we have the elections in Iraq before us. The intended object of these elections for the Iraqi people and their genuine leaders is the very opposite of the objective sought by the occupiers.
The Iraqi people and their leaders want to hold elections to establish a popular government derived from the will of the people, and a free, independent and undivided Iraq. For them, the elections are a way of ending military occupation and the political control of the US and Britain. To them, the elections should end to the influence of the Zionists, who have landed on the banks of the Euphrates in the shadow of American arms and seem to think they have found a partial fulfillment of their dream of a land extending “from the Nile to the Euphrates.” For the Iraqi people, the elections should provide for a transition from sectarian and ethnic conflict—itself incited by the malice of the common enemies—to brotherhood and unity.
But the elections are part of a different programme in the plans of the occupiers. In the guise of popular elections, they want to impose on the people their own mercenaries, most of whom are abject and docile puppets in the hands of the occupiers. With the assistance of these mercenaries, the occupiers seek to relieve themselves of the costs of military occupation by transferring them to the resources of the Iraqi people and their oil revenues, while maintaining effective control. In this postmodern colonialism, the foreign puppets are not appointed directly by the colonial power. Rather, the helm of the government is taken over by the puppets through the process of elections, in which the will of the people is superseded and set aside by fraud or other well-known stratagems. The façade is that of a democracy, while the reality is of the absolute dominance of aliens over the fate of a hapless people.
Two great dangers loom over the Iraqi elections. The first is that of outright fraud and manipulation of the popular vote—something which is a specialty of the Americans. If the Iraqi elites and the country’s educated and politically active youth, working day and night, are able to prevent such a fraud and succeed in bringing a popular government into power, then appears the prospect of a second danger: the danger of a military coup and imposition of another dictatorship. This latter danger can also be forestalled by vigilance, timely alertness and courage of the people of Iraq and their true leaders. At this critical historic juncture, whose outcome will affect their fortunes for decades to come, they should make the utmost use of their faith, courage and solidarity, to hold sound countrywide elections fired with a spirit of enthusiasm and secure the election results with all the power they can command.
The Shi’a-Sunni differences, or those between Arabs, Kurds and Turkemans, or those arising from any other kind of divisive grouping, are fostered by our the enemies. So too are lawlessness and insecurity, which always make an excuse for the emergence of dictatorship, are planned and promoted by the enemy’s intelligence services. Those who target Iraqi citizens, and academic and political figures, are not to be counted among warriors fighting oppressive occupiers for the sake of Muslims’ dignity and independence.
Brothers and sisters who have assembled for Hajj! Muslim peoples and governments!
Today, more than ever before, the Muslim world stands in need of solidarity, unity of purpose and the discipleship of the Quran. On the one hand, the potential of the Islamic world for development and restitution of its dignity and power are more evident than ever before. Throughout the Muslim world today, the elite and the youth aspire to restore the grandeur and glory of the Ummah. The hypocritical slogans of the imperialists have lost their charm and their foul intentions have gradually become exposed. On the other hand, the world-eaters whoentertain hopes of global dominance are alarmed by the awakening and solidarity of the Ummah of Islam. They regard them as obstacles to their destructive plans, which they are determined to defeat.
Today is the time to foster brotherhood practically as a deterrent against all these threats and dangers. Today is the time to work to bring about conditions conducive to the establishment of the government of Imam Mahdi, may Allah soon bring about his noble appearance. Today is the time to respond to the Divine summons in all walks of life. Today is the time to realise the meanings of such Qur’anic verses as “Indeed the faithful are brethren” [49:10]; “Do not say to someone who offers you the greeting of peace, ‘You are not a believer’” [4:94]; and the verse “[the Muslims are] firm and unyielding against the faithless and merciful amongst themselves” [48:29].
Let us realize our duty in every sphere, whether it is with regard to the bombardment of Najaf, Falluja and Mosul, or the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, which has left tens of thousands of bereaved families, whether it is with respect to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan or the chronicles of Palestine written every day in blood.
We call on all Muslims to unite, not against the Christians nor the followers of any other religion or creed, but to resist aggressors, occupiers and warmongers. This unity is a call for establishing the norms of ethics and spirituality, for the revival of rationality and justice, for scientific and economic progress and for the restitution of the dignity of Islam. We remind the peoples of the world that Christians and Jews enjoyed complete peace and security in the city of Quds under Muslim rule during the era of the caliphate. But now that Quds and other territories are under the yoke of the Zionists, their shedding of Muslims’ blood is not considered a crime.
I call upon the hujjaj to remember Allah with humility and penitence, to read the Qur’an with thought and reflection, to attend regularly the congregational prayers, to treat with kindness pilgrims from other countries, and to refrain from squnadering their time. I pray to God that He will accept your ibadah and grant you success and welfare. I invite everyone to pray for the personage of the Baqiyyatullah, may our souls be ransomed for him, and for the establishment of the just world government by him—he whom Allah has appointed to this task.
Was-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
Sayyid Ali Khamenei
Dhul Hijjah, 1425 / January 2005.