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Letters to the Western Youths
By Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Sayyid Hussein Alamdar
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Sayyid Hussein Alamdar
All rights reserved.
Biography of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei the Leader of Islamic Revolution of Iran
The Leader of Islamic Republic of Iran was born in the Holy City of Mashhad, in the Province of Khorasan on July 16, 1939. Sayyid Ali was the second son of Sayyid Javad Khamenei (RA) — a humble Islamic scholar who taught all members of his family how to lead a simple and humble way of life. Ayatollah Khamenei says about his father:
"My father, although a well-known religious figure, was a bit of an ascetic. We had a hard life, and sometimes for supper we had nothing but bread with some raisins, which our mother had somehow improvised. ... Our house, some sixty-five square meters (700 sq ft), consisted of a single room and a gloomy basement. When visitors came to see my father as local cleric to consult about their problems, my family had to move into basement while the visit went on. ... Years later some charitable persons bought small, empty lot adjacent to our house, so we were able to build two more rooms."
At the age of four, Sayyid Ali and his older brother Muhammad, were sent to traditional primary-schools (maktab) of that time, in order to learn alphabet and the Holy Qur'an. Later he was transferred to a newly established Islamic school to continue his learning. After this primary schooling, Sayyid Ali pursued his studies at the theological seminary in Mashhad. "The main encouraging factors for this enlightened decision were my parents, especially my father," says Ayatollah Khamenei.
At Soleiman Khan and Nawwab religious schools and under the supervision of his father and tutorships of some great religious scholars, he studied all intermediate level curriculum including logic, philosophy and Islamic jurisprudence in exceptionally short time of five years. He then started his advanced level studies called dars-e-kharij with such eminent scholars and instructors as Grand Ayatollah Milani (RA).
Famous Seminaries of Najaf and Qum:
Young Sayyid Ali was only eighteen years old when he started his studies at the highest level. He decided to make a pilgrimage to the holy shrines in Iraq, and left Iran for Najaf in 1957. He was fascinated by theological and academic instructions of such eminent scholars as Ayatollahs Hakim (RA) and Shahrudi (RA). He attended their lessons and was willing to stay there and continue his studies in order to profit from these excellent teachers.
However, his father made it known that he preferred his son to continue his advanced studies in the Holy City of Qum. Thus, respecting his fathers wish, he returned to Iran in 1958. Diligently and enthusiastically he followed his advanced studies in Qum from 1958 to 1964 and benefited from the teachings of great scholars and grand ayatollahs such as Borujerdi (RA), Imam Khomeini (RA), Haeri Yazdi and Allamah Tabatabai (RA).
He received the bad news that his father had lost his sight in one eye and was not able to read properly. This prompted him to return to Mashhad and while being at the service of his father, seek further knowledge from him, Ayatollah Milani (RA), and other important scholars residing in Mashhad. Young Sayyid Ali, who had now become a jurisprudent (mujtahid) through having completed his advanced level studies, began to teach various religious subjects to younger seminary and university students.
Recalling this important point of departure in his life, he says, "If there have been any successes in my life, they all go back to God's blessings favored upon me because of my dutiful caring for my parents."
"In the areas of political and revolutionary ideas and Islamic jurisprudence, I am certainly a disciple of Imam Khomeini (RA)," says Ayatollah Khamenei. He adds: "Yet the very first sparks of consciousness concerning the Islamic, revolutionary ideas and duty to fight ex-Shah's despotism and his British supporters, was kindled in my soul at the age of 13 when the brave cleric, Nawwab Safavi (RA), later martyred by ex-Shah's regime, came to our school in Mashhad in 1952 and delivered a fiery speech against ex-Shah's anti-Islamic and devious policies."
It was in Qum in 1962, that Sayyed Ali joined the ranks of the revolutionary followers of Imam Khomeini (RA) who opposed the pro-American, anti-Islamic policies of ex-Shah's regime. Dedicated and fearless, he followed this path for next 16 years which ultimately led to the downfall of ex-Shah's brutal regime: persecution, torture, imprisonment and exile could not make him waver for a moment. In May of 1963 (corresponding to the Holy Month of Muharram), Imam Khomeini (RA) honored the young, brave cleric Sayyid Ali, with the mission of taking a secret message to Ayatollah Milani (RA) and other clergymen in Mashhad, on the ways and tactics of exposing the true nature of ex-Shah's regime.
He fulfilled this mission properly and traveled to the city of Birjand for further propagation of Imam Khomeini's (RA) views. Here he was arrested for the first time and spent one night in jail. The following day authorities ordered him not to speak at the pulpit again. From that moment he knew that he would be under police surveillance all the time. Of course he did not submit to police threats, and as a result of his activities relating to bloody June 1963 Uprising?15th of Khordad, he was again arrested and transferred to Mashhad to spend ten days in prison under severe conditions.
In January 1964 (Holy Month of Ramadhan 1383), according to a well-organized plan, Ayatollah Khamenei and a few close friends traveled to Kirman and Zahedan in southern Iran, to expose phony referendum ex-Shah was holding for his so-called reforms. There in the course of many public speeches, he exposed satanic American policies of Pahlavi regime. This time, ex-Shah's feared intelligence agency, SAVAK, stepped in and arrested him on one late evening. He was taken to Tehran by an airplane to spend two months into solitary confinement during which time he was also tortured. Once freed, he started holding lessons on exegeses of the Holy Qur'an, Prophetic Traditions and Islamic ideology in Mashhad and Tehran. These lessons were most appreciated by revolutionary Iranian youths. As he was sure now that SAVAK was watching him closely, he was forced to go underground in 1967. However, he was arrested again for holding such classes and Islamic discussions. Ayatollah Khamenei has himself explained the reasons for such measures by SAVAK:
"From 1970 onwards, grounds for an armed movement were being laid out. Accordingly ex-regime's sensitivity and severity of action against me increased. They could not believe that armed actions were not connected with a sound, Islamic ideology. They thought that there must be links between these revolutionaries and people like me because of my intellectual and diligent activities. Despite all this, after I was released, more and more people attended my classes on the Holy Qur'an and many were present at our clandestine gatherings."
Last Arrest and Exile:
Throughout the years 1972-1975, Ayatollah Khamenei was holding classes on the Holy Qur'an and Islamic ideology in three different mosques in Mashhad. These classes together with his lectures on Imam Ali's (AS) Path of Eloquence (Nahj al-Balagheh) attracted thousands of conscious, politically-minded youths and students. The lectures were circulated among people in hand-written or typed forms, in most of the towns and cities.
His students traveled to distant cities to spread his lessons and ideas. All this frightened ex-Shah's SAVAK agents and so, in the winter of 1975, they broke into his home in Mashhad, arrested him for the 6th time, and confiscated all of his books and notes.
Now he was detained in Tehran's notorious — Police-SAVAK Joint Prison — for many months. This had been his most trying imprisonment, and Ayatollah Khamenei said about barbarous treatment of detainees: "These conditions may be understood only by those who suffered them ..." In the autumn of 1975, he was freed and sent back to Mashhad and was now completely banned from delivering lectures or holding classes. His clandestine activities, however, prompted SAVAK to apprehend him in the winter of 1976 and sentence him to exile for three years. This difficult period came to an end in the latter part of 1978 due to prevailing political conditions, and Ayatollah Khamenei returned to Mashhad a few months before the historical triumph of Islamic Revolution.
He diligently continued his political-religious activities in this momentous period of civil unrest and mass demonstrations throughout Iran. Thus, after nearly 15 years of bearing all sorts of torture and maltreatment at the hands of agents of ex-Shah's bloodthirsty regime, he could now witness the fall of tyrannical Pahlavi regime and the rise of an Islamic Republic in Iran.
Victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran:
Shortly before triumph of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, 1979 and before Imam Khomeini's (RA) victorious return to Iran from Paris, an Islamic Revolutionary Council was formed at Imam Khomeini's (RA) order. Ayatollah Khamenei was appointed as a member of this Council together with other important Islamic notables such Martyrs Ayatollahs Motahari (RA) and Beheshti (RA). He, therefore, left Mashhad for Tehran to take up his new responsibilities.
The following is a list of services he has rendered to the Islamic Republic since that time:
1980-Founding member of Islamic Republic Party, together with such religious scholars and combatants as Martyr Beheshti (RA), Rafsanjani, Martyr Bahonar (RA), and Musavi-Ardebili.
Deputy-Minister of Defense.
Supervisor of Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
Imam of Tehran's Friday Congregational Prayers, per Imam Khomeini's (RA) decree.
Elected Tehran Member of Parliament in the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
1981- Imam Khomeini's (RA) Representative at the High Council of Defense.
Active presence at the fronts of Iraqi-imposed war.
1982- Elected President of Islamic Republic of Iran following martyrdom of President Muhammad Ali Rajai (RA) (Ayatollah Khamenei was himself the target of an assassination attempt at Abu Dhar Mosque in Tehran after which he was hospitalized for a few months).
Appointed Chairman of Supreme Cultural Council of the Islamic Revolution.
1986-President of Expediency Council.
Re-elected President of Islamic Republic of Iran for a second 4-year term.
1989-Elected as the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Assembly of Experts after the demise of Imam Khomeini (RA).
1990-Chairman of Committee for the Constitutional Revision.
Works Authored and Translations: Works Authored:
1. Islamic Thought in the Holy Qur'an (An Outline).
2. Profundities of Prayer.
3. Discourse On Patience.
4. On the Four Principal Books of Traditions Concerning the Biography of Narrators.
5. Guardianship (Wilayah).
6. A General Report of Islamic Seminary of Mashhad.
7. Imam Al-Sadiq (AS).
8. Unity and Political Parties.
9. Personal Views on the Arts.
10. Understanding Religion Properly.
11. Struggles of Shi'i Imams (AS).
12. Essence of God's Unity.
13. Necessity of Returning to the Holy Qur'an.
14. Imam al-Sajjad (AS).
15. Imam al-Rida (AS) and His Appointment as the Crown Prince.
16. Cultural Invasion (Collection of Speeches).
17. Collections of Speeches and Messages (9 Volumes).
Translations (from Arabic into Farsi):
1. Peace Treaty of Imam al-Hasan (AS), by Raazi Aal-Yasseen.
2. Future in Islamic Lands, by Sayyid Qutub (RA).
3. Muslims in the Liberation Movement of India, by Abdul Munaim Nassri.
4. An Indictment against Western Civilization, by Sayyid Qutub (RA).CHAPTER 2
"In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful."
Recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me directly talk to you about them. I am addressing to you — the youths — not because I overlook your parents, rather it's because of your nations' and countries' future will be in your hands soon; and I also find that sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and conscientious in your hearts. I don't address your politicians and statesmen in this letter because I believe that they have consciously separated the paths between politics, righteousness, and truth. I would like to talk to you about Islam — particularly its image that has been presented to you as — Islam.
Many attempts have been made over past two decades, almost since disintegration of former Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), 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 been a long record in the West's political history. Here, I don't want to deal with different phobias through which Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the reality that 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 colonial period and annoyed at oppression of non-Christians and colored people.
Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of bloodsheds caused in the name of religion between Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars which is an admirable approach. Through referring to a fraction of this long list, I don't wish to reproach the history; rather I would like to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses only — after a delay of several decades or centuries?
Why should revision of collective conscience apply to distant past and not to current problems? Why 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 — 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 especially Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity? Why does power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain concealed? What concepts and values in Islam disturb super powers' programs and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting Islam's image? Therefore, my first request is: Study and research incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of Islam's image.
My second request is that while reacting to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns — try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The rational logic requires that you must understand the nature and essence of what they are really frightening about, and want you to take a distance from it. I don't insist that you accept my or any other reading of Islam. What I really 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 Islam's representatives. Learn Islam's knowledge from its primary and original sources and obtain its information through the Holy Qur'an and the life of its great Holy Prophet (SAW). I would like to ask you whether you have directly studied the Holy Qur'an of Muslims? Have you studied teachings of the Holy Prophet (SAW) of Islam and his humane ethical doctrines? Have you ever received Islam's message from any sources other than media?
Did you ever ask yourself the question that on the basis of which values Islam had 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 derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and reality — taking away possibility of an impartial judgment from you.
Excerpted from Letters to the Western Youths by Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Sayyid Hussein Alamdar. Copyright © 2016 Sayyid Hussein Alamdar. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
Contents1. Biography of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei the Leader of Islamic Revolution of Iran, 1,
2. First Letter, 17,
3. Second Letter, 23,