AYATOLLAH KHAMENEI WRITES LETTER TO THE YOUTH OF THE WEST

In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful
To the Youth in Europe and North America,

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 truth.
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 of
Islam.
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 mental borders.
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 January 2015

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