In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master, Muhammad, and upon his pure Household, particularly the remnant of God on earth
I would like to congratulate each and every one of you dear brothers and sisters and the honorable, respectable activists who work in the health profession on the occasion of the anniversary of the birth of Hazrat Zeinab al-Kubra (peace be upon her) and Nurse’s Day.
This meeting is a good opportunity to speak about the “defenders of health” and the dear nurses. But before that, I deem it necessary to raise a few points in honor of the great lady of Karbala, Hazrat Zeinab al-Kubra (may God’s peace be upon her). Many discussions have been held and many complimentary remarks have been made about Zeinab al-Kubra, which have all been correct, but there are two important points that may be seen in the life of that great personage that I wish to discuss here.
The first and foremost point is that Zeinab al-Kubra (peace be upon her) showed the great spiritual and intellectual capacities of women to all of history and the entire world. This is very important. Despite the foolish wishes of the people who humiliated women at that time and those who are doing so in our own time, Zeinab al-Kubra was able to show the high status of women and the great psychological, mental and spiritual strength of women. I will give a brief explanation about these points. When I said that they are humiliating women today, this is a fact, but I do not want to enter into that discussion now. More than anyone else, it is the West who is humiliating women in a dangerous way. That great personage, Zeinab al-Kubra (peace be upon her), showed two points. The first point is that women can be a vast ocean of patience and endurance, and the second point is that women can be a peak of wisdom and prudence. Zeinab al-Kubra (peace be upon her) demonstrated these in practice, and not just to those who were living in Kufah and Shaam [the Levant]. She showed this to history and all of humanity.
As for her patience and endurance, the patience and endurance that Zeinab al-Kubra showed and the tragedies she faced cannot be described at all. Firstly, she showed great endurance in the face of the martyrdoms. In about half a day or less than a day, 18 of her dear ones and relatives were martyred. One of these was her noble brother – God’s Proof on earth, the Master of Martyrs (peace be upon him). These people were martyred in front of her eyes. Her two children were martyred as well, but she endured all of these. A mountain would collapse in the face of such tragedies, but Zeinab al-Kubra was able to show patience and endurance and to carry out her subsequent duties with the inner strength that she possessed. If she had been impatient, wailed and shown restlessness, she would not have been able to deliver those speeches and to launch that great movement. So, one point is her patience in the face of the martyrdoms.
She also showed patience in the face of insults. A lady who had lived with dignity from the time she was born and one whom everyone had held in high regard from her childhood to her adulthood was insulted by the thugs and ruffians in the Umayyad army, but she was patient and did not break down.
She also showed her patience when faced with the huge responsibility of gathering together the orphaned children and the mourning women. This was a great task. She was able to bring together and take care of tens of women and children who were mourning and injured during that difficult journey. These were some of the tasks carried out by Zeinab. She showed great endurance. Indeed, Zeinab al-Kubra was an ocean of patience and tranquility. She showed that women can reach this point and this great level of inner, spiritual strength. In addition to these, she also nursed God’s Proof on earth – Hazrat Sajjad (peace be upon him). This also required patience, but she carried out this task in the best possible way. These were some points about her patience.
As for her wisdom, intelligent behavior and mental power, her behavior during her captivity was truly amazing. I believe that we should study, deliberate on, write and speak about each and every aspect of this behavior. We should produce artistic works about this because this is not a minor issue.
She was also a manifestation of resistance and mental strength in the face of those proud, arrogant rulers. When Ibn Ziad began to address her with derisory remarks in Kufa and said, “Did you see what happened. Did you see that you have failed?” she replied, “I did not see anything but beauty.” [Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 116] This was a slap across the face of that arrogant, malicious man, Ibn Ziad. When Yazid made those nonsensical, ludicrous remarks, Hazrat Zeinab replied in an interesting way. She made this well-known, truly historic statement, “Use every trick that you know and every deception you can, but by God, you will not be able to erase our memory.” [Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 135] In today’s language, this means, “Do whatever awful thing you can, but you cannot make people forget about us.” Whom does she say this to? To the arrogant, proud, tyrannical, bloodthirsty Yazid. This shows the inner strength of a woman. What strength is this! What greatness is this! These qualities are a sign of wisdom and prudence. Those statements were made in a calculated manner. But when she addresses the people, she does not express her strength. Instead she makes critical remarks, explains things and blames a people who do not know what they have done and what they should have done.
When Hazrat Zeinab delivered a speech in Kufa, the people began to cry. In response, Hazrat Zeinab (peace be upon her) said, “Are you crying? May your tears never stop, and may your moans and groans never end.” In other words, she tells them, “What are these tears? Do you know what you have done?” Then she says, “You are like a woman who undoes her weaving after having tied it firmly.” [Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 109] You have destroyed all your past efforts. She spoke in this way. I find it highly probable that one of the important reasons behind the movement of the Tawwabin, who later rose up in Kufa and launched that great movement, was this sermon delivered by Hazrat Zeinab. This is the first point about Hazrat Zeinab. In sum, this means that Hazrat Zeinab showed the spiritual and intellectual capacities of women with her behavior and her statements. She spoke the way the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) did. She stood firmly the way the Holy Prophet did when facing the unbelievers. This is a woman’s capacity.
Another important point about the life of this great woman, which is another sign of her prudence, is that this noble lady launched the jihad (struggle) of clarification and narration [of truth]. She did not give the enemy’s narrative the opportunity to overcome. She acted in such a way to make her own narrative the dominant one among public opinion. The narrative provided by Zeinab al-Kubra about the event of Ashura has remained in history until today. But at that time too, it influenced the people in Shaam [the Levant] and in Kufa. Its effects were unending throughout the Umayyad Dynasty and it actually led to that dynasty’s overthrow.
There is a lesson in this. This is what I have always said, “It is you who should narrate the truth about your society, your country and your Revolution.” If you do not narrate these events, the enemies will do as they wish. They will tell lies and turn things 180 degrees around. They will change the place of the oppressor and the oppressed. If you do not narrate the event regarding the takeover of the Den of Espionage – unfortunately, we have not narrated this – the enemies will narrate it, as they have already done, and they will lie. We must relate the true story. Our youth have this responsibility.
Now, let us discuss the issues related to nurses. What I wish to say is primarily a discussion of the value of nursing. This is one point that I will discuss. Afterwards, I will look at the hardships and difficulties endured by nurses. We should know what these hardships are. The Iranian nation should know what nurses are enduring in doing their job. Another point is about nurses’ demands. Well, officials are thankfully present in the meeting. I will speak about some but not all of the demands that nurses have.
As for the value of nursing, there is an important point and that is helping people in need of help. In other words, a nurse is a person who helps another person who needs help for everything. That person needs water, food, comfort for sleeping at night, medication and other needs. Like an angel of salvation, nurses help these people who are in dire need of help. Well, helping a person in need is a lofty value in all cultures and even more so in the case of the people with the most needs – that is to say, patients. This is an important point which is about helping those who are in need. I should add that one recommendation and command issued by mystics and spiritual, monotheistic people is about helping those in need. In other words, you nurses are actually obeying an important monotheistic command when you are doing your job. Such is the importance of this job. This is a very lofty value. This is one point.
Another value of nursing lies in the fact that it is a difficult task. There are more rewards for difficult tasks and such tasks are of more value. A task that is accomplished with difficulty and for which a person endures hardships is of more value in God’s balance. This is because such tasks are accompanied by hardships. Later on, I will briefly discuss these hardships. Therefore, nursing is of more value. It is more important than other kinds of assistance because it is a difficult job.
Another value of nursing lies in the fact that nursing is a source of surety. Whose surety? First, that of the patient. When a nurse is watching over a patient, he feels assured. Secondly, his family feels assured since there is a nurse in the hospital who is with their patient. If there were no nurse, they would feel anxious and worried. And thirdly, everyone feels assured. Everyone’s conscious is bothered and people are worried about the pains and sufferings of the people who are suffering. If we see there is no one attending to the needs of a patient who is in pain and who is hungry and thirsty, our consciences will naturally be bothered. But because we know there is a nurse there, we feel assured. So, nurses are a source of surety for the patient, for their family members and for everyone else since nurses soothe our troubled consciences. Therefore, on this basis, not only are the patients indebted to the nursing community, but you and I are also indebted to them and other people who are not related to that patient in any way are also indebted to them, because nurses give everyone a feeling of assurance.
One reason why nursing in Islamic Iran is more valuable is that the Arrogant Powers in the world take delight in the suffering of the Iranian nation. You don’t believe this? The enemies rejoice at the suffering of the Iranian nation. What is the reason for saying this? The reason is the chemical bombings during the Sacred Defense. Thousands of our youth were afflicted with acute, painful, incurable diseases as a result of the chemical bombings. Sometimes, their family members and their children were affected as well. Of course, the chemical bombings were carried out at Saddam’s command, but who gave him the bombs? Who gave him the chemical substances? Who gave him the go ahead and who watched this happening with satisfaction? Just the mere possibility that a country may possess chemical weapons causes a huge uproar in the world today. But he used to drop chemical bombs in front of everyone’s eyes. The US, England, France and others were watching, and they were even admiring and helping him as well! Therefore, they are pleased to see the suffering of the Iranian nation. Another example is the embargos on medicines. God was merciful to us and our young scientists were able to produce a Coronavirus vaccine. They ( the enemies) witnessed that if they shut the door to Iran and prevent it from importing vaccines, Iran will produce them on its own. If our young scientists had not produced this vaccine, it was not clear how this vaccine would reach the Iranian nation and the officials of the country. They take delight in the suffering of the Iranian nation.
Under such circumstances, if you nurses can bring a smile to the lips of patients and their families, you are in fact fighting on the path of God against the Arrogant Powers. That is why nursing can be defined to be a confrontation with the Arrogant Powers as well. Such is the status of the nursing community. It has great value. I have only pointed out a few examples, but much can be said about this. These points were about the value of nursing.
As for the difficulties and bitter aspects of nursing, nursing is hard and bitter by nature. Seeing the pains, sufferings, moans and sleeplessness of patients and constantly watching these things is bitter and very difficult. This is one of the most difficult things for a person. When you constantly witness the physical needs of patients and attend to them – not merely see these things and pass by them – and when you treat those pains, when you see the patient is hungry and thirsty and you provide for these needs and when they have various other needs and you help them while watching over them day and night, these are some of the difficulties of nursing. Therefore, nursing is difficult by nature.
At times, these hardships multiply in number, such as during the Coronavirus pandemic and during the Sacred Defense. During the Sacred Defense too, these same difficulties existed. Most of you are young and do not remember those days. Those who were present in the field know this. At the time of the Sacred Defense, we had a number of hospitals that were not far from the frontlines. I myself saw those hospitals up close. There were physicians and nurses in those hospitals who were under heavy bombardment. I myself was present in one of those hospitals and medical centers when it was bombarded. I saw up close the heavy bombardment of it. The rescue workers went forward into the middle of the fire and blood. These hardships existed during the Sacred Defense as well and their magnitude was several times as much.
The same was true during the Coronavirus pandemic. During the Coronavirus pandemic too, work became much more difficult. Working hours increased and the number of days of vacation time decreased. During the Nowruz (New Year) holiday, nurses did not have time for their own families, children, spouses and parents. These are truly meaningful, important events. At a time when everyone is resting and enjoying their time, nurses have to face bitter events and difficult diseases, and they cannot go home. All of these are difficult events. They were also witnesses to much death. Well, how patient can people be when they are witnessing the death of someone? During the pandemic, nurses witnessed the death of many people – old, young, men and women – many times. These are difficult events. This is very difficult.
Besides all of these, they witnessed the death of their own colleagues. How many of their colleagues passed away! Until yesterday and the day before that, their colleagues were by their side. But now, some of them became infected with the Coronavirus and passed away. These are difficult events. In my opinion, the Iranian nation should see, understand and appreciate these difficulties and the value of the nursing community. Beside all of these difficulties, there is the risk that nurses themselves may become infected with a deadly disease. They are constantly anticipating this danger. How many nurses became infected! All nurses know it is probable that they might come down with a disease tomorrow despite the fact that they are working today safe and sound. This is a very grave danger. In the past, we had heard about these things during epidemics such as the cholera epidemic, plagues and the like. There were certain individuals who would go and help the patients. They would watch over and nurse them, but they would often become infected and pass away. There were limited cases like this. However, we witnessed these events extensively during our own time.
There is one point that I should mention here. As well as nurses, we had some volunteers who cooperated with them. They were from among the clergy, students and other youth who would visit hospitals, learn a few things (about nursing) and help out. They did whatever they could. The same was true during the Sacred Defense. Non-professionals used to come to help the nurses at that time. Because of their sense of responsibility, they would go to the hospitals and help the medical staff, including the nurses, in whatever way they could. In my opinion, this shows an important, glorious truth in our dear country and for our dear people. It shows the energetic, dynamic, conscientious personality of the Iranian nation. It shows that this movement exists at the public level among the Iranian nation. Of course, this was seen during other natural disasters as well. I only referred to the nursing part of it, but this is a continuous chain. This idea of commitment and a sense of responsibility had shown itself in the Iranian nation before the Revolution – during the activities that were carried out against the oppression of the Shah – and up until the events that took place after the Revolution, during the Sacred Defense and after that, and during the Coronavirus pandemic. This spirit existed during pre-revolutionary activities against the oppression of the Shah in the same way that it existed during the Sacred Defense and after that, during the pandemic and during the great scientific movement of the country. This is an important chain that shows the character of our nation.
This shows the character of our nation. This movement is a movement that builds the character of the nation. This is the same character from which emerge heroes such as Martyr Soleimani, Martyr Fakhrizadeh and Martyr Shahriari. This is a truth that manifests itself in various forms and shapes. Such is the character of the Iranian nation. These are truths that build character. They are both a sign of character and a force for strengthening and building the character of the Iranian nation. These were some points related to the hardships.
I wish to address our artists now. We have a shortage of artistic narrations of these events. One example is the events that have taken place in hospitals, which I have referred to. The hardships and difficulties that nurses are faced with are of artistic significance. As is commonly said by artists, which is a western term, these events are “dramatic.” Therefore, artists can produce enthralling artistic works describing these events. They should do this work using all kinds of the arts – the dramatic arts, visual arts, poetry and literature. They should include these events in their artistic works. These are great cultural assets. Everyone must make use of these, but the people who can work the most with these assets are our artists. Thankfully, we do not have a shortage of committed, dutiful artists. They should enter this field. Well, these points were related to the hardships and difficulties, and we have discussed these in brief. Of course, much more could be said about this.
As for the (nurses) demands. The main demand of the nursing community is to strengthen the nursing community. To put if briefly, the nursing community expects all of us – in particular, the organizations that are in charge such as the honorable Minister who is present here as well – to strengthen the nursing community. If we do not strengthen the nursing community, we will be hurt at the turning points. The Coronavirus pandemic showed this clearly. When we need help, we will be hurt. The nursing community should be strengthened for when they are needed. We may not always feel this need. At the present time of course, we do feel this need and we have problems in the area of manpower and many other areas, but I will explain this more further on. But even assuming that we do not have a major issue right now, if we do not strengthen the nursing community, we will be hurt at critical junctures similar to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, one of the nurses’ demands is the tariffing of nursing services. Of course, this is their major demand. I said this last year as well and placed great emphasis on it. Unfortunately, those in charge did not do their duty. The law concerning tariffs was passed in the year 1386, but until the last days of the former administration, the regulations concerning it had not been written. In other words, the law existed for 14 years without the existence of any regulations for it. Why? I insist the Ministry of Health pursue the issue of tariffs under this administration. This is an important demand for nurses, and it is a legitimate demand.
Another demand is the issue of a shortage of nurses. We do not have as many nurses as we need. The figures that were shown to me were compared with the global figures in this regard. I have nothing to do with that. The global average might be right or wrong. What I am concerned about is our need. We do not have as many nurses as are needed for our hospital beds. Some people speak of 100,000 and some mention a smaller number. I do not want to set a number because I do not know exactly how many are needed, but I know that we have a shortage of nurses. The number of nurses should be completely in accordance with our needs, and we know the current number is too small. Of course, this is not a task that can be accomplished over the course of one or two months. This is something that takes time, but this is something that should be taken care of in a reasonable amount of time, God willing.
Another issue is job security. This happened in previous years as well. It also happened during the Coronavirus pandemic. They called people to come and work and signed short-term contracts with them, but as soon as they had no need for them, they asked them to leave. Well, when one does not have job security, what should their motive be for working in nursing? Therefore, job security is one of the various demands that the nurses have. You should not look at nurses like a laborer on a short-term contract. We should not hire them today and dismiss them tomorrow. Job security is important. Obviously, there are certain ways for doing this and experts know about how this can be done. Of course, there are other demands as well, but there is no time left and I will not continue speaking about these now. The friends – in particular, the ones in the Ministry of Health and Medical Education – should pursue these matters.
There are two other points that are not related to nurses, but are related to the issue of health. I wish to discuss them because they are important. One point is about the health network of the country. I have emphasized this issue as well in the past. During the 1360s and 1370s, the focus of the administration and organizations was on health and prevention, and this had very good effects. We should pursue that same policy. This is important. Prevention is better than treatment. Treatment is necessary and I do not mean to say that we should ignore that, but we should not ignore prevention either. What is needed to do this is is to renovate the health network. It was created some time ago and had certain blessings. The network exists at present, but it is weak and it has been neglected. It should be strengthened and renovated. If this health network is truly active, it will be able to accomplish great feats at a lower cost.
The second issue is the fair distribution of physicians. I do not want to enter into the discussion about whether we have enough physicians or not. The officials in charge know whether we have enough physicians or not, but what I know is that the distribution of physicians is not fair. There are certain shortcomings in some remote areas of the country. We should pay attention to the fair distribution of physicians. These were the points that I wanted to discuss.
You should ask God, the Exalted, for help and rely on Him. We should ask God for help in all affairs of the country and of life. We should beseech God and rely on him, “And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is Allah for him.” [Holy Qur’an, 65:3] Anyone who relies on God, He is sufficient for him. Of course, relying on God does not mean that we should not work. It means that you should work hard while trusting in the divine promises because He has said that He will bless your efforts. We should have trust in divine promises.
I hope that your future will be better than what it has been in the present and the past, God willing. By God’s grace, the Iranian nation will benefit from your efforts and endeavors and God, the Exalted, will reward all of you nurses. God willing, He will make the Iranian nation victorious and proud in the area of confrontation with the enemies – in all the areas of confrontation.
May God’s greetings, mercy and blessings be upon you.