Adapted from: "The Position of Women from the Viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (r.a.)"
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
If a day is to be designated ‘Women’s Day’, what day is more deserving, is prouder, than the day commemorating the joyous birth of Fatima Zahra, upon whom be peace, a woman who is the pride of the family of divine revelation and who like a sun shines brightly in the crown of beloved Islam; a woman whose virtues were on a par with the endless virtues of the Most Noble Messenger and the household of infallibility and purity; a woman for whom everyone, with whatever viewpoint he may hold, has praises, yet none has been able to offer her adequate praise.
The hadiths that have come down to us from the family of divine revelation are such that the listener can easily understand, for one cannot contain a sea in a bottle. And whatever others have said in her praise was according to their own level of understanding, not commensurate with her standing. So let us leave this vale of wonder and turn to the virtues of women in general.
During this past half-century of blackness and bondage, this opprobrious Pahlavi era, the poisonous pens of the misguided and the words of benighted speakers sought to give women the status of a commodity, and those women who were vulnerable were drawn to centres that the pen is ashamed to mention. Anyone wishing to know something of these crimes can refer to the newspapers and magazines of the Riza Khan era, to the poems of the blackguards and scoundrels of that period, that corrupt period from the compulsory unveiling of women onwards. One can find out about the social gatherings of those days and the centres of corruption that existed.
Shame on those people. May the pens of such intellectuals be broken. Do not think that the crimes perpetrated on the plea of freedom for women and freedom for men had nothing to do with the plans of the world-plunderers and the international criminals. One of their plans was to lure the youth into the centres of vice and fornication, and in this they succeeded. Consequently, our country was deprived of young people who were active members of society. They robbed the youth of their ability to think, and brainwashed them into believing that they should be indifferent to the plundering and pillaging they carried out in this blighted country of xenomaniacs.35
Today, through the blessings of the Islamic movement, women are effective members of society, and have to a certain degree regained their proper standing. There are still a limited number of women in the upper echelons of society who have inherited the views of the black period of the former vile regime and consider women’s proper standing to lie in prinking, in making herself up and participating in bacchanalian revelry.
They have made themselves into an article of trade, they are the followers and agents of the previous regime, the executers of the foreigners’ plans and the helpers of the CIA and SAVAK.
Apart from these, the women of Iran today are committed, lion-hearted individuals who shoulder-to-shoulder with our dear men are busy rebuilding their beloved country just as they are busy rebuilding themselves through learning and education. You will not find a town or village without cultural or scientific centres composed of dedicated and honourable Muslim women. Through the blessings of Islam, the Islamic movement has brought about such a change in the spirit of the men and women of our society that they have travelled a road in one night that would have normally taken a hundred years to travel.
You noble people witnessed for yourselves how the respected, committed women of Iran entered the arena ahead of the men to free the country from the trammels of imperial rule. We are all indebted to them for their uprising and their efforts. After defeating the superpowers and eradicating their corrupt roots, we can truly designate a day as Women’s Day and tell the world about women and their progress in the Islamic Republic with pride and honour.
Today, women in the Islamic Republic are striving shoulder-to-shoulder with the men to rebuild their country and rebuild themselves. This is the true meaning of free men and free women, not that which was promulgated during the reign of the deposed Shah, for freedom then meant prison, repression and torture. I advise the women to forget the habits of the taghut36 era and rebuild beloved Iran, which belongs to them and their children, such that with the help of all segments of the population it is freed from all aspects of (foreign) dependence.
I offer my best wishes to the committed women on this 20th day of Jumada II, which is a blessed day, and pray to God the Exalted for their health and happiness and for the greatness of Islam and the Muslims. (27)
Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khomeini
5 May 1980 (15 Urdibihisht 1359)
24 April 1981
35. - Xenomaniacs: those infatuated with foreign and especially Western models of culture. This is a translation of a Persian term, gharbzadeha, popularised by Jalal Al-i Ahmad (d. 1969) in his book Gharbzadegi (Xenomania). He was a writer of great influence and Imam Khomeini was acquainted with his work.
36. - Taghut: one who surpasses all bounds in his despotism and tyranny and claims the prerogatives of divinity for himself, whether explicitly or implicitly. The illegitimate ruling power.