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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Salam ya Mahdi:” How Iran’s Indoctrination Policy Mobilizes Shiite Audiences to Support the Islamic Republic

Filed under: Iran, Operation Swords of Iron, Radical Islam

“Salam ya Mahdi:” How Iran’s Indoctrination Policy Mobilizes Shiite Audiences to Support the Islamic Republic
The original Persian song, sung to honor Gen. Qasem Soleimani, is sung by Iranian children in this version.

Salam Ya Mahdi” (Peace Be Upon You, O’ Mahdi) is the Arabic version of the Iranian song (Salam Farmandeh), which was initially written in the Persian language and sung in March 2022 by Abou Zar Rouhi in the huge eighteenth-century Jamkarane mosque, one of the most important mosques in Jamkaran, a village in the outskirts of the Iranian city of Qom.

The song, commissioned by the “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei and backed by the Iranian Ministry of Education, is dedicated to the memory of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force in the IRGC, killed by an American drone attack in Baghdad on January 2020. It calls on children and youth to address Imam Mahdi, the 12th Shia Imam and the divined apocalyptic savior in Shia Islam, who is believed to be currently living in concealment, and demand his comeback. The Mahdi (Arabic for “the Guided”), a glaring figure in Islamic eschatology, is believed to re-appear at the End of Time to save the world from evil and injustice.

Shiite song
Click to hear a short version of the Shiite song, originally in Persian, now mobilized for the Palestinians. (YouTube)

The song was released in March 2022. Since then, the song has sparked an extraordinary social phenomenon across Iran and Muslim countries, including Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan. Videos have gone viral on social networks. The song targets and highlights the contribution of the new generation to supporting the Islamic Republic and its ideology. Organizations mobilize school students to form choirs to sing the song in large groups, such as the performance in the Azadi Stadium Western Tehran, which took place on May 26, 2022, where some tens of thousands of parents and their children flocked to perform the song in a choir orchestrated by the professional artists live. State media reported the gathering to be 100,000 in size.

Thousands of Lebanese children aged seven and above, including sons and daughters of Hizbullah members killed in action, have been filmed all over Lebanon, in Shiite concentrations as well as in Sunni and Christian areas. They performed the Lebanese version of the song in moving scenes that went viral on social media, where hysterical and crying Lebanese children and youth pledged allegiance to Imam Mahdi.

Lebanese Children Pledge Allegiance to Imam Mahdi
Lebanese Children Pledge Allegiance to Imam Mahdi in the Epic Song “Salam Farmandeh” in 2022.

The song has also been performed in considerable crowds in countries beyond Iran and translated into many languages, including Urdu, Azerbaijani, Pashto, Kurdish, Malay, Swahili, Kashmiri, Arabic, and even Spanish, English, and French.

Quickly, the song became an anthem and a flag to rally around that bridged Shiite communities internationally and confirmed Iran’s ideological hegemony and leadership over Shiites scattered around the world.

The Divine Authority of the Iranian Leader

The song is the most explicit and simplistic version and interpretation of the rhetoric behind the Islamic Republic. This comes in a constant effort by the Mullahs’ regime to spread the ideology of the “Vilayet el-Faqih, (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist), the single authority who rules the world.

Like the dictatorial and authoritarian regimes established over history and nowadays, the Iranian Mullahs have chosen to concentrate on the ideological indoctrination of children (aged seven and above) as well as youth to spread their doctrine. Hizbullah has already created youth movements and scout organizations in Lebanon dedicated to serving the “Supreme Guide.” Many other youth movements have been established in the Muslim world (and not only) following the same pattern.

Salam Ya Mahdi” sung in Tanzania.
“Salam Ya Mahdi” sung in Tanzania.

Iran’s rivals understand the long-term potential subversive impact on their regimes in the creation of a base built on children and youth. Once indoctrinated, these recruits would serve the goals set by the Islamic Revolution according to the religious and ideological guidelines in the song. The young audience would be brought closer to the Islamic Revolution heralded by Khamenei, which was meant to dominate the world of Islam.

Bahrain was the first Muslim country, followed by Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and India, to ban “the pure ideological song” from being performed in the kingdom.

A shortened version of “Salam Ya Mahdi” (Lyrics)

Salam Ya Mahdi

Beloved, awaited.

Our world is dark with deceit,
Mourning your absence,
Longing your essence,
We call upon you,
seeking your guidance.

Salam ya, Mahdi
Salam from the children born to serve your family
Salam ya, Mahdi
On the path of your grandfather, we will remain steady
Salam ya Mahdi!

Just like our fathers before,
We’ll stand by you now,
Look at us lined up now
Come and reach for us now
We’re prepared for tomorrow from now
For us, it’s easy to give all we have before you. We bow!

Many have come before us.
But all these children have been brought up just for you.
Many have come before us
Our mothers prayed that we would live and stand just for you
Many have come before us
We salute you with all our hearts. Our love is devoted to you!

Followers of Ali,
With supporters like us, our strength will surely amaze everyone
Followers of Ali,
We were given the torch at birth; our work has already begun.
Followers of Ali,
This is what we prepared for. We promise to shine bright, like the sun.
Shine bright, just like the sun.

We promise to
Follow your every command.
We promise to
Stand for justice.
We promise to
From east to west
Raise your flag in all the lands

We promise to
Stay by your side
No matter how hard they try.
We will remain
On your line
Show us our place in the sky

The world is anxiously waiting.
For the savior to finally arrive.
We’ll play our part in preparing.
Come soon, and the world will revive.