The following is the full text of the speech delivered on June 26, 2019, by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the head and officials of the judiciary branch. The meeting was held on the occasion of Judiciary Week.
in the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad and upon his pure household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth
You are very welcome dear brothers, dear sisters and active members of a very important organization – the judiciary organization. I would like to congratulate you on Judiciary Week and I also wish to pay homage to Shahid Beheshti. That great Shahid was really a blessing for both the Revolution and particularly for the judiciary of the Islamic Republic. He was a broad-minded, determined, disciplined, diligent and enthusiastic man. He was a great blessing and we honor his memory. May God raise his position, God willing. Also, I thank the other esteemed heads of the judiciary branch in different eras. Each of them undertook certain tasks and rendered services to this very important branch.
Well, many things have been said about the importance of the judiciary branch. I too have raised certain points in this regard. Others have spoken about the significance of the judiciary branch as well. This is obvious. The pivot of this significance is justice which has been mentioned in the Holy Quran, “And when you judge between people, that you judge with justice.” [3: 58] Justice is the basis of decent human life.
When you pray for hastening of the re-appearance of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake), you ask God to make him appear so that he can administer justice: “Through him, God will fill the earth with justice after it has been corrupted with oppression and cruelty.” [Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 36, page 316] Despite the fact that that great personality will inject religion, piety and morality into society as well as justice, you do not say, “Through him, God will fill the earth with religion.” Rather, you say, “with justice.” This shows that justice is the main need of decent human life.
You are the judiciary branch. Your organization deals with justice and your main mission is to administer justice. This is where the significance of the judiciary branch lies. Of course, there are other points in the Constitution which I will mention later on.
The judiciary branch was a new foundation in the Islamic Republic. It was like a seedling and it was radically different from the judiciary branch before the Revolution. Well, this seedling should grow on a daily basis. Every era should witness new achievements compared to previous ones. A new era has begun today and therefore, it should offer a new virtue, a new advantage and a new achievement – as well as what others, the predecessors, offered to the judiciary branch.
What is this achievement? It is transformation: transformation in the judiciary branch. What does this “transformation” mean? Well, you have specific and clear principles on the basis of Islam, the Quran and the Islamic Republic which you are obliged to observe. You should be committed to these principles and move forward on the basis of them. These are the main missions of the judiciary branch and they will not change. These principles existed from the beginning and they exist in the present time and they will exist in the future as well.
Therefore, transformation means that you should create new, innovative, efficient and highly influential methods in order to attend to these principles, fulfil these missions and reach the ideals. You should benefit from these methods. This is the first point. Moreover, you should make up for the shortcomings and flaws that originate from the past. This is what transformation means.
We have an organization with some operational procedures, executive plans and also some shortcomings and flaws. When you want to bring about transformation, you should optimize those methods so that they turn into smoother and more efficient and functional methods and so that those obstacles and problems will be eliminated. This is transformation.
Of course, this endeavor requires planning. Without planning, transformation is not possible. We cannot move in a routine and habitual manner. A broad-mined and intellectual team should sit and devise a comprehensive plan in its mind and then it should write it on paper and make decisions on the basis of it. This has thankfully been done. This part of the work was requested from the new honorable head of the judiciary branch – Mr. Raisi – before he undertook this responsibility and he prepared a comprehensive and satisfactory transformation plan. So, this has been done. This part of the work has been carried out.
This is very good, but planning involves conceptuality. If we want to put it into practice, it requires work. So, my first word of advice to the esteemed head and honorable officials of the judiciary branch is to continue this good plan that you have prepared and presented, according to your timetable and without any other considerations. You should not let it be disrupted. You should not fear anything and you should move forward: rely on Allah the Exalted, take action and put this plan into practice!
You should act in a way that after an acceptable period of time – of course, short-term and monthly plans are not considered as operational measures and tasks – everyone completely feels that the judiciary branch has undergone a transformation. This will be done with your move. Of course, short-term plans are important as well. So, you should prepare a plan.
A times I thought that preparing the plan constitutes 50 percent of the work, but as long as this 50 percent is not linked to the subsequent 50 percent, it appears as if it has not been done at all. When you want to pull water from the bottom of a well which is 100 meters deep, for example, you work hard and you pull it up, up to 50 meters, but you leave it there. Well, it looks like you have not pulled it up at all and it does not make any difference. If you want to achieve the result, you should work on the other 50 percent which is dynamism, action, implementation and other required criteria so that you can, God willing, achieve the desired result.
And I am hopeful. When I look at the judicial system of the country and the judiciary branch, I become hopeful that you will be able to accomplish this task, God willing. And I will tell you that you should do so from the beginning. It should not be the case that we say, “we have time, we have some time left and therefore, we will do it later on, God willing.” Then, when we reach the middle of our term or get close to the end, we will say, “we should do this and that.” This will be of no avail. You must begin from the very first day. You should not allow yourself any delay. This is one issue.
I have written down some points about the judiciary branch. The points that Mr. Raisi raised were very good points. My points are related to the same matters. I will discuss certain issues:
One point is that you should refer to the Constitution and see the duties of the judiciary branch within the law. The duty of the judiciary branch is not only to judge and to preside a court. The duties of the judiciary branch are beyond these. According to the Constitution, reviving public rights are among the duties of the judiciary branch. Reviving public rights is very vast in scope: it ranges from the economy, to the issue of security and to the international arena. Defending the rights of the people in the international arena is a very important issue. This is one of your duties.
Another duty is to expand justice and freedom. Well, the expansion of justice goes along the expansion of freedom. By “freedom” we mean legitimate freedom on the basis of the Constitution. This is evident. The expansion of freedom is one of your duties as well. How will you do this? With what method? As I mentioned, the methods that you choose should be new and creative methods. All these issues are required.
Another duty is crime prevention. The issue of prevention is very important. Of course, you assign part of the judiciary branch to crime prevention. Well, this is good and necessary, but crime prevention is very vast in scope. You should understand criminology, you should identity the causes of crimes and the elements that lead to them. You should know what measures can prevent crimes. This is very wide in scope. And each and every one of these tasks requires an executer. We cannot merely assign a committee – as we say “hey’at” – to these tasks. This should not be the case. Each of them should be pursued separately.
Another duty is efficient law enforcement. Who violates the law? The law is not only comprised of driving regulations and of the rules that such and such a wrongdoer violates. The law is sometimes violated in a collective and systematic manner. Here, the judiciary branch should step forward. The purpose of saying these things is that the more one looks at the judiciary branch, the more one can see the greatness and vast scope of its work. This is in your hands. This belongs to you. You have shouldered this heavy responsibility. If, by Allah’s favor, you can do something and succeed, it will be a great accomplishment and you will enormously please God. If you carry out your duties in a satisfactory way, this will be a unique charity and good deed.
Another point, which was also touched on by Mr. Raisi, is the issue of combating corruption. Combating corruption is a point of our discussion both inside and outside the judiciary branch. However, the priority is inside the branch. Well, there are thousands of honorable and virtuous judges and trustworthy employees throughout the branch and they are working hard. Then, a corrupt element shows up in the judicial court of a city who does something wrong which culminates in damaging the reputation of these honorable individuals. Is this a minor incident? Is it a trivial matter? Perhaps, those corrupt elements which exist in the judiciary branch constitute a very small percentage compared to those who are at the peak of honorability or compared to ordinary judges who work in a trustworthy and sincere manner.
We have certain judges who live a difficult life while very important cases are assigned to them. However, they do not commit any wrongdoing whatsoever. If they were into wrongdoing, they would probably have a much better life, but they do not commit anything wrong at all. The ratio of those corrupt individuals to these people is very low, but this low ratio and small percentage can have a very destructive impact. I will expand on this when discussing the public portrayal of the judiciary branch.
You should be strict about corruption inside the judiciary branch. The reason is that this branch is in charge of eliminating corruption. If the judiciary branch itself is corrupt, its sins will be unforgivable. The higher one’s personal and legal status is, the more significant one’s work becomes: both in positive and negative ways. Notice that in the Holy Quran, Allah the Exalted says to the wives of the Holy Prophet, “Oh wives of the Prophet, if any of you were guilty of evident unseemly conduct, the punishment would be doubled to her.” [30: 33] It says that if any of them does something wrong, they will be punished twice as much.
In other words, if another woman does something wrong, for the Allah the Exalted the punishment is a hundred lashes, for example. However, if the wives of the Holy Prophet commit that wrongdoing, the punishment is 200 lashes. Why is that? It is because they are the wives of the Holy Prophet. “But any of you that is devout in the service of Allah and His Messenger” will be rewarded twice as much. [33: 31] When they do something good, the reward is twice as much too. This is because of the importance of one’s status.
Many times, I feel pity for Hazrat Yunus (God’s greetings be upon him). What had he done that made him say, “Glory be upon You, I was indeed from among the unjust!” [The Holy Quran, 21: 87] Allah the Exalted meted out a heavy punishment on him. Well, his people did not listen to him no matter how hard he tried to invite them, and as a result, he did not speak to them anymore and he departed the city. That was all that he did. Well, if a scholar offers some words of advice to the people of a certain city, if they do not listen to him and if he decides to leave, well this is bad conduct, but should he be punished by being sent into the sea and being swallowed by a whale?
And then Allah the Exalted says to him, “He would certainly have remained inside the whale until the Day of Resurrection.” [The Holy Quran, 37: 144] He was supposed to stay inside the whale until the Day of Judgement! Is this the right punishment for such a person? However, Allah the Exalted punished him like that. Why? Because he was a prophet! He said to him, “You are a prophet…he imagined that We had no power over him”. The Arabic word “naqder” means to be hard on somebody. “But he cried through the depths of darkness, ‘There is no God but You. Glory be upon You: I was indeed from among the unjust!”. He considered himself as a wrongdoer and he confessed to it: “So We listened to him and delivered him from distress.” [The Holy Quran, 21: 88]
This is how it is. You are different from ordinary people. Should you commit a wrongdoing that is committed by an ordinary person, you will be blamed twice or several times as much. It makes a difference. You should have such an outlook towards the crimes committed inside the judiciary branch.
Of course, there are many attempts to slander and attack the judiciary branch and I am aware of it. They speak and write against the branch much more than what the reality is. In the present time, there is cyberspace as well which is an unrestrained and unbridled apparatus where everyone says whatever they like. These things are of no significance and they should not prevent you from doing your work. Do you know anyone who is more fair-minded than the Commander of the Faithful in the world and in the history of humanity? However, he who was the manifestation of justice, was accused of injustice! Well, they say such things and they say them against everyone: against the Holy Prophet, against the prophets, against the Commander of the Faithful, against God and against you too. Let them say whatever they want. This should not prevent you from doing your work.
Another point which is very important is the issue of the public portrayal of the judiciary branch. You might be very good and honorable, but a certain incident or incidents might occur which prevent that honorability, trustworthiness and sincerity from being conveyed to the people. As a matter of fact, the opposite might be reflected. This is a very bad phenomenon. What should be conveyed to the people is that the judiciary branch has these characteristics:
First of all, it should be shown that it has wisdom: wisdom in its appointments, in its decrees, in its conduct and in its statements. It should show that it enjoys wisdom. In particular, the high-ranking officials of the judiciary branch can play a part in this regard.
It should show that it is knowledgeable about jurisprudence. It should be shown and it should become clear that it is a knowledgeable organization, that it works on the basis of knowledge and scholarly work. Knowledge here, means knowledge about the law and fiqh. In the judiciary branch, the principles of jurisprudence are fiqh and the law.
It should be shown that it is willing to listen. It should have the patience to listen: this includes in the public prosecutor’s office – the interrogators – in facing public prosecutors and finally, in the court of law when facing judges. It should be willing to listen. You should listen to both the plaintiffs – those who have filed a complaint – and the accused – those who defend themselves against complaints. You should completely listen to them to see what they have to say. You might disagree with them, but you should listen anyway.
Another characteristic is power and decisiveness. You should enjoy wisdom, knowledge, the patience to listen and also power. They should know that the judiciary branch is powerful and that it acts on its decisions in a decisive manner. However, when judicial cases are delayed and put off – this is a matter that I have reiterated many times in my meetings with the officials of the judiciary branch – this is kicking this characteristic in the teeth! When a case lasts for one, two, five, ten years, this means that the judiciary is suffering from “what should I do, what should I do?” malady. It shows that it does not know how to act. This cannot be! They should act on whatever decision that they reach.
Well, what should we do to create this image of the judiciary branch in the minds of the people? This should be done through your conduct, your statements, your performance and your correct promotional activities. Of course, various other organizations, the IRIB and others should help as well. The judiciary organization belongs to the Revolution, to the people, to the country. Therefore, all organizations should help this happen.
It should not be the case that they broadcast and publish a minor incident on TV and in the press – like cyberspace where everyone says whatever they like: a vague incident for which there is not enough evidence. This will lead to undermining the judiciary branch. This should not be the case. So, this public portrayal falls on everyone. It falls on you and others as well. This is one point.
The next point is about appointments. Notice that the Commander of the Faithful (peace and greetings be upon him) has a well-known edict to Malik al-Ashtar which is his lengthiest writing. In it, there is a section related to the judiciary which is falsely referred to as a “convention”. However, it is not a convention, rather it is a command. “Command” means edict. First, he says to him, “For the settlement of disputes among people, select him who is the most distinguished of your subjects in your view.” [Nahjul Balaghah, Letter 53] He asks him to choose the best people for judgement. “The best” is very important!
After that, he mentions the characteristic that this superior person should have: there are ten, twelve characteristics. You should refer to it. I strongly request that everyone – in particular, the managers in the judiciary branch and those who are in charge of appointments – go and read it. Hazrat mentions characteristics which are exactly compatible with the needs that we feel. He has enumerated all of them and he has stated that judges should have them. So, appointments are very important. The vetting process of selecting individuals is very important: both appointments and the vetting process. When you want to select a judge, when you want to appoint them to certain tasks, you should definitely look at and refer to these characteristics. I strongly request that you refer to this part of the letter by the Commander of the Faithful (greetings be upon him) – the decree of that Hazrat to Malik al-Ashtar.
Another point, which is the last one, is that the responsibility of the judiciary branch is to enforce the law, to assert the people’s rights and to mete out punishment, but within this important steel wheel of the judiciary branch, there must be softening instruments as well. There are certain things which “soften” both the judiciary branch itself and the products of its work. Inside the judiciary branch, this is done through observing ethics, in particular refraining from being bad-tempered towards applicants. The same is true of one’s behavior towards subordinates, but more importantly towards applicants. You should promote good-temperedness. You should deem it your responsibility to behave towards them in a good-tempered way. Interrogators in the process of interrogation, and public prosecutors in the process of arguing with the accused or their lawyer should be good-tempered. They can present their arguments, but they should do so in an ethical way.
Some of the things that westerners do – and they release films of it: for example, a public prosecutor speaks in such and such a tone and uses such and such disrespectful words – first of all, many of them are lies. Secondly, you should not copy westerners. You should look and see what Islam says and what Islamic commands are in this regard. You should behave in a good-tempered way. Sometimes, judges argue with the accused. They ask and answer questions, but these things should be done in an ethical, soft and patient manner. This is about behavior inside the judiciary branch.
Where there is hostility in certain cases, you should advise people to forgive. In Islam, there are narrations about family matters which say, “If they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves and such settlement is best.” [The Holy Quran, 4: 128] They should do something to help people make up with each other. On the issue of settling disputes related to family issues – the work related to dispute settlement councils: of course, this should be done in a correct way – this is the same as involving ethics on the matters related to the judiciary branch and the judiciary process. Well, these matters were about the judiciary branch.
As for current political matters, the Iranian nation has thankfully displayed dignity, greatness and power in the true sense of the word. This claim is not related to recent incidents – of course, these incidents provide another example – rather, throughout the past 40 years, the people have really shown this. when you see that politicians, diplomats and the like keep saying through foreign news media that Iran cannot be brought to its knees with pressure, sanctions, threats and so on and so forth, this does not originate from the events of the last month or the past two, six months, rather it originates from 40 years of movement on the part of the Iranian nation.
With the Revolution, the people of Iran broke out of the shell of subservience and humiliation which had been imposed on them. They broke that shell and came out. Iranian identity has displayed itself with Islamic characteristics. The Iranians demand dignity, independence and progress. That is why they are not influenced no matter how much pressure the unjust enemies exert. You only need to look at various rallies, at the Quds Day rally and the 22nd of Bahman rally. It is 40 years now that they have been doing so. Is this a minor issue?
You only need to look at elections. They created many obstacles in the way of the country’s elections, but the people show their presence in various elections with really praiseworthy determination and willpower. At the end of the year, there is another election. Despite the doubts that some people create, I know that the people will participate in the elections with enthusiasm and excitement. These incidents exhibit the greatness of the Iranian nation.
Now, they accuse this great, courageous and reputable nation. Who does so? The most vicious government in the world, in other words – the US government! The most vicious government and political system – one that is the main factor in waging wars, in shedding blood, in creating discord and in looting nations in the course of a long history, not only in the course of 10, 20 years – and the most hated figures in such a government are accusing the Iranian nation! Every day that passes, they swear at the Iranian nation and insult them in some way. The Iranian nation is not moved by these insults. The Iranian nation will not retreat with these insults and words of abuse!
The Iranian nation has become subject to an act of injustice – these oppressive sanctions are a clear act of injustice against the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation has been subject to oppression, but it is not weak. The Iranian nation is powerful. By Allah’s favor and grace, the Iranian nation will reach the goals that it has set itself in a powerful way.
We have been oppressed, but we are not weak. We are powerful. The main and most important reason behind the power of the Iranian nation is belief in divine assistance. “He said: ‘Fear not for I am with you: I hear and see everything.” [The Holy Quran, 20: 46]. Allah the Exalted is with us. He is helping us. A sign of this assistance is these 40 years of plotting against us. They exerted so many pressures. They waged wars, created sedition and made attempts to infiltrate, and pit terrorists against the people. They did thousands of indecent and treacherous things to this nation. However, the Iranian nation stood firm like a mountain and it became stronger on a daily basis. Today, it is even stronger and more powerful than 10, 20 years ago.
Now that they have not managed to attain their goals through pressure and the like, thinking that the Iranian nation is a naïve and simple-minded nation, they say, “let us negotiate because you can progress.” Yes, the Iranian nation will surely progress – but without you! If you come, there will be no progress! You, the English and others used to be in control of everything in this country for 50 years during the era of the Pahlavi – in particular, the US enjoyed this domination for about 30 years during the second Pahlavi monarch. However, our country moved backwards on a daily basis! You cannot be an element of progress. You are an element of the Iranian nation’s backwardness! The Iranian nation will make progress provided that you do not get close.
They say, “let us negotiate.” Negotiation is a deception. Negotiating what? You have a weapon at your disposal and therefore, he does not dare advance. Therefore, he says, “Give me your weapon or drop it so that I can do whatever I want to you and so that I can create all kinds of disasters for you.” This is what negotiation is. If you accept what he says in this negotiation, you will be done. And if you do not accept his terms, there will be the same situation: the same skirmishes, the same fuss and the same propaganda campaigns. They will say, “they do not accept these sensible terms.” And they will rant and rave about American human rights and the same nonsensical remarks. They kill more than 300 people in an [Iranian] airliner and they claim to be advocating human rights! They help the Saudis by cruelly bombarding the people in Yemen: the people in the market, in the mosque, in joyous and mourning occasions, in the hospital and in other such places – and then they claim to be supporting human rights! They are like this.
No, the Iranian nation has found its way. Our path has been rendered by the Revolution. It was our magnanimous Imam who rendered it. Our goals are clear-cut. In the past decades, these goals have reappeared time and time again and they are valuable and attractive goals: achieving welfare, social dignity, maximum rationality, advanced and superior science, social tranquility and social security. These are our goals which Islam has set for every nation. Islam has set these goals for us too and we have always pursued them. Despite the foolish desires of the enemy, we will reach them all!
I hope that God will bestow success on you and us so that we can carry out the duties which we have undertaken in the best way possible, God willing.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings