Elevated Status of Martyrdom Common Teaching of Divine Religions: Ayatollah Khamenei

Elevated Status of Martyrdom Common Teaching of Divine Religions: Ayatollah Khamenei

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei highlighted the great value that all divine religions have placed on martyrdom, saying martyrs have gained the pleasure of God by making sacrifices and offering their lives on the way of God Almighty.

Ayatollah Khamenei delivered an address at a meeting with the organizers of the National Congress of the Martyrs of Ardabil Province, held on August 13.

What follows is the full text of the Leader’s speech, read out at the congress in Ardabil Province, northwest of Iran, on August 20:

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

All praise is due to God, Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master, Muhammad, and his pure, immaculate, chosen Progeny, particularly the Remnant of God on earth.

(Wishing you) a warm welcome here. My memories of Ardabil, the people of Ardabil, and their spirit have, thank God, been revived by meeting you and hearing the clear, competent statements of the gentlemen. Thank God, we have continuously witnessed the spirit of the people of Ardabil and their sincere activities.

I would like to speak about several matters today. One of these is about Ardabil itself. Whenever I have a meeting with the people or locals of a certain region, city, or province, I like to speak about the prominent features of that area so that the people of Iran may hear and know about that place and so that the people of those areas themselves will appreciate these features. Ardabil is one of those places that has had outstanding part in our history. We are greatly indebted to Ardabil. During a meeting that I had with the people of Ardabil several years ago, I told my brothers and sisters that the people of Ardabil have done two great things for Iran. One was for the nation, and the other was for religion.

That which was for the nation concerned the unity of the country. In other words, this harmony and unity that you see in Iran today is because of the Safavids and it began in Ardabil, during the time of Shah Ismail. Before the Safavids came to power in Iran, the country was governed by tribal monarchies. Each corner of it was controlled by one person. This collection that is known as Iran, which, of course, was broader and more extensive at that time than it is today, did not exist with this unity and harmony. The Safavids arose from Ardabil and unified the country and this unity has remained to this day. Therefore, today we are indebted to Ardabil for the historic work they did for the nation that brought unity to the country.

What (Ardabil) did for religion was to spread the religion of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS). Of course, Iranians have been devoted and loving of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) since long ago, but the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt were not known everywhere, they were suppressed. Their teachings could be seen in some parts of the country, but they were nonexistent in many other parts. The great service of the Safavids for the country was that they spread the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt throughout Iran. The love that you have for the Ahl al-Bayt today, your devotion to them, the lessons we learn from the school of the Ahl al-Bayt in all political, social, religious, and other fields are all because of them.

Therefore, when we look at this historically, we find that there have been two outstanding, important points in the interaction of the people of your region with the country of Iran. One is with regard to the nation and the other is with regard to Islam. And this has continued starting from the period when the Safavids ruled, a great scholar like Mohaqeq Ardabili (may God bless him) in Najaf became the focal point for science and jurisprudence. Great scholars from far lands, including the Levant and other places, would come to Najaf to study under him. The late Aqa Baqir Behbahani (may God bless him), who was one of the great figures in the history of Shia jurisprudence, gave him the appellation Sheikh al-Taifah (Cheif of the Denomination). The appellation Sheikh al-Taifah was also used for Sheikh Tusi.

The late Aqa Baqir Behbahani said that Mohaqeq Ardabili is Sheikh al-Taifah. He used the term Sheikh al-Taifah for him. Up until the period before our times, there were great, outstanding scholars in Ardabil such as the late Aqa Mirza Ali Akbar Ardabili. He was an influential, active scholar and his mosque is famous and still exists today — and up until our time when there was the late Sayyid Younes Ardabili. He was a marja taqlid (religious authority) and a top scholar in Mashhad. There were many scholars, but the one who was above all of them was the late Sayyid Younes Ardabili. And there were also many other scholars who were present in different areas.

In terms of jihad and being present on the battlefield, the people of Ardabil have always been at the frontlines. The gentlemen here have already mentioned some of the details of this. Around 35,000 soldiers from Ardabil went to the battlefields. That is a good figure. It is a high number. This region has given about 3,400 or more martyrs and there are also many veterans and the great families of martyrs. These (values) must be protected. They are part of Ardabil’s identity.

When it comes to knowing more about our cities and provinces, we should not limit ourselves to geographical boundaries, climatic issues, and such things. The main characteristics that form Ardabil’s identity are the following: its scholarly history, its history of jihad, its history of martyrdom, and its presence in the fields that revive a feeling of being a nation. This includes in the nation’s political life, in jihad, in independence, in similar areas, and in its scholarly life. These are very important matters.

Mr. Ameli (Friday Prayer leader of Ardabil) mentioned a sentence, he said, "We will not stop at just commemorating the martyrs, whether it’s in this meeting or elsewhere.” Yes, that’s correct. The things you are doing, which I will speak about, are necessary and very important, but these things should lead us to follow the path of the martyrs. We should learn the lessons they taught us and implement them. This is what’s important.

Regarding the subject of martyrdom, I am truly unable to speak about the status of martyrdom and the ranks of the martyrs. These verses that were recited, “Indeed, Allah has bought from the faithful their souls and their possessions for paradise to be theirs” (Quran 9:111), (show that) this is a deal with God. “They fight in the way of Allah, kill and are killed” (9:111). Both destroying the enemy and getting killed on this path are valuable. This is a deal that is made with Almighty God.

Martyr has given his life and gained the pleasure of God, which is the highest value in the world. Almighty God then states (in the same verse), “A promise binding upon Him in the Torah, the Evangel (Bible), and the Quran.” In other words, this is a part of the teachings that are common to all divine religions. This is not limited to Islam. In all divine religions, great value is placed on making sacrifices and offering life in the way of God. This was a verse from Surah at-Tawba.

This blessed verse in Surah Al-e-Imran is also very significant, “Do not suppose those who were slain in the way of Allah to be dead, no, they are living and provided for by their Lord” (3:169). There is also a verse similar to this in Surah al-Baqarah, “And say not of those slain in God's way, 'they are dead,' rather they are living, but you are not aware” (2:154), but the emphasis in the (former) verse, with la tahsabanna (do not suppose), is a very clear emphasis — this is stressed very firmly. First, using the verb hasiba, it signifies don’t even imagine that, don’t even think of such a thing that the martyrs are dead. Second, using the emphatic nun (a suffix for emphasis in Arabic), the verse emphasizes that the martyrs are living.

Almighty God has not specified how these martyrs are living, but (He says,) “They are living with their Lord.” They are in the divine sanctuary of rububiyya, they are in the divine sanctuary of uluhiyyah. This is something higher than what our minds understand about being alive. It is something beyond and above these things. (The verse) shows their status, “They are living and provided for with their Lord.” They have divine sustenance. What is this divine sustenance?

Now, there is sustenance in paradise for the believers and this is mentioned in the Quran, but this “sustenance” is different. That is how one comprehends it. It is a different sort of provision. It is a greater sustenance. (So) one matter is the rank of the martyrs. And then the Quran tells us about what the martyrs say: “And they rejoice for those who will succeed and have not yet joined them; for on them is no fear nor any grief” (3:170). There is no fear or grief when you are on this path. This is the path to happiness, victory, contentment, and benevolence. This is the message of the martyrs. In other words, the martyrs are encouraging us, telling us to follow them on the path they have taken. That is what the position of the martyrs is like. If a person contemplates over the verses of the Quran about the tribulations of the Day of Resurrection and Purgatory — those regrets, those hardships, those pressures — he will then understand how important and valuable this divine sustenance and presence in the divine sanctuary of rububiyya is.

Well, let me mention one point to you, my dear brothers and sisters. We lived in the same time period as the martyrs, and we saw the martyrs up close. We saw their jihad, and we saw their martyrdom. You yourselves saw that 13-14-year-old teenager (martyr Marhamat Balahzadeh). You saw his martyrdom, knew this, understood this, and everything is still before your eyes. The next generation will not see this with the same clarity and certainty. We need to think about them (the next generation).

We saw how the martyrs were able to untie very difficult knots. We saw how all the active, advanced military powers of the world joined forces to attack a country — which had just experienced a revolution, had many problems, and was dealing with the bitter legacy of the period of Taghut (Pahlavi) rulers — to stop it and destroy it. The martyrs stood against them and thwarted this all-out attack. This is not a joke. It is a very important matter.

These eight years of the Sacred Defense demonstrated the roles that our soldiers, our struggles, and our martyrs played in solving the problems. This has continued up until this day. After the war, after the eight-year defense, the military war finished, but the cognitive war, knowledge-related war, economic war, political war, and security war have increased every day, up until this very day. All of these have been thwarted thanks to the blessing of standing firmly, the blessing of resistances, and the blessing of martyrdoms.

Therefore, the path that we must take is clear. It is the path of struggle, it is the path of resistance, and it is the path of steadfastness. This is the path that we must think about and work to make it better. The scholars in one way, the intellectuals in one way, the university students in one way, and various government officials should all work in their own way. This is what we need to do, and Almighty God will bless us in the same way that He blessed the martyrs’ blood.

Consider a martyr like Martyr Soleimani, for example, who was martyred in the way of God. An entire nation was moved. An entire nation began a movement, it eliminated all these imaginary barriers between different groups of people, and it became one united nation. This is the blessing that God gives to the blood of the martyrs. The clearest example is the pure blood of Imam Hussain (AS). The enemies tried very hard to reduce the splendor of Muharram this year, but they did not succeed and the outcome was the opposite of what they wanted.

This year’s Muharram and Ashura were more fervent, more spirited, more profound, and more enlightening than all previous years. This is the work of God that the Karbala tragedy, which took place in a desert in about half a day or a single day, created a flame that has been growing more and more throughout history and (created) the love for Hussain which is not limited to Muslims alone. We can see people of various branches of Islam expressing their love for Imam Hussain, and this includes non-Muslims as well — Christians, Zoroastrians, and Hindus.

Just take a look at the Arbaeen Walk! All of these things show how God values martyrdom, the blood of the martyrs, and the path of the martyrs. We must preserve and maintain this. Today, you who are doing this great task and are reviving the name of the martyrs have a responsibility similar to that of Imam Sajjad (AS) and Hazrat Zainab (SA). They too preserved (the memory of) the Ashura tragedy, they maintained it, upheld it, and caused it to remain throughout history. They did not allow it (Ashura) to be erased or become lost in history. You are doing this as well. This is the value of what you are doing to preserve the work of the martyrs.

I hope that, God willing, Almighty God will give you success in preserving the name of the martyrs, the remembrance of the martyrs, the memories of the martyrs, the events of their martyrdoms and their stories using all the various methods that are needed — most importantly through the means of art. Use as many artistic techniques as you can. God willing, Almighty God will reward you and this way will continue.

May God’s greetings, mercy, and blessings be upon you.

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