Imam always offered me the better place in the room. He would not start eating until I came to the dinner table. He would also tell the children: ‘Wait until Khanom comes.’ He maintained respect for me and was not even willing that I should work in the house. He would always tell me: ‘Don’t sweep.’ If I wanted to wash the children’s clothes at the pond1, he would come and say: “Get up, you shouldn’t be washing.”
On the whole, I have to say that Imam did not consider sweeping, washing dishes and even washing my children’s clothes as part of my responsibilities. If out of necessity I sometimes did these, he would get upset considering them as a type of unjust dealing towards me.
Even when I entered the room, he would never say: ‘Close the door behind you,’ but waited till I sat down and then would himself get up and shut the door.2[
The Imam’s Wife
Imam had extraordinary respect for his wife. For example, I am not lying if I say that in the period of 60 years of living together, he did not even reach for food (on the dinner table) before his wife, nor did he have even the smallest expectation from her. I can even say that in the period of 60 years of living together, at no time did he even ask for a glass of water, but would always get it himself. If he was in such a position that he could not, he would say: ‘Is the water not here?’ He would never say: ‘Get up and bring me water.’ He behaved this way not only with his wife but also with all of us who were his daughters. If he ever wanted water we would all enthusiastically run to get it, but he never wanted us to bring and give him a glass of water in his hand.
During the difficult last days of his life, each time he would open his eyes, if he was capable of speaking, he would ask: ‘How is Khanom?’ We would reply: ‘She is good. Shall we tell her to come to you?’ He would answer: ‘No, her back is hurting. Let her rest.’3
Siddiqa Mustafavi (Imam’s daughter)
Imam was very attached to his wife and had special respect for her, so much so that he placed his wife on one side, and his children on the other.
I remember that once Imam’s wife had gone on a journey, and Imam was missing her very much. When he would frown, we would jokingly say to him: ‘When Khanom is here, Imam laughs, and when she is not here, Imam is upset and frowns.’
In short, however much we teased Imam, he would not stop frowning. Finally I said: ‘Blessed is Khanom that you like her so much.’ He said: ‘Blessed am I that I have such a wife. No one else has sacrificed as much in life as she has. If you too would be like Khanom, your husband would also like you this much.’ 4
Siddiqa Mustafavi (Imam’s daughter)
As far as possible, Imam was particular that he should not impose his work on others, but rather carry it out himself. In Najaf, it sometimes happened that from the roof 5, Imam would notice that the kitchen or bathroom light was left on.
In these cases, he would not tell his wife or anybody else who was also on the roof to go and switch off the light. Rather, he would himself make his way down three flights of stairs in the darkness, switch off the light and return.
Occasionally, he would also want a pen or paper that was upstairs. In this circumstance too, he would not tell anyone, not even his loved ones the children of Martyr Marhum Hajj Sayyid Mustafa (Imam’s son), to bring them for him. He would himself get up and go up the stairs to get what he needed and return.6
Hujjatul Islam Sayyid Hamid Ruhani
It was around Dhuhr on the day that Marhum Hajj Agha Mustafa had passed away. Imam’s house was full of people who had come to offer their condolences. When everyone had left, the Adhaan of Dhuhr was heard. Imam got up and went to do wudu and said: “I am going to the mosque.” I said: “Oh, Agha is not leaving his habit of praying congregational prayers even today.” I then said to one of the servants: “Quickly go and let the caretaker of the mosque know.”
When the people realised that Imam was going to the mosque, crowds of people from all over also flocked there. When we reached the mosque with Agha, the people who were crying and wailing opened the way and the Imam entered the mosque. The people remarked to each other with surprise: “What is this? Imam is not crying at all.”7
Hujjatul Islam Furqani
On the night of the martyrdom of Marhum Hajj Agha Mustafa, a Fatiha majlis (a service of prayer and condolence) took place in the Hindi Mosque in Najaf, and Agha Sayyid Jawad Shabbar recited from the pulpit. He narrates:
In that majlis in which Imam was also present, I narrated the masaib of Hazrat Ali Akbar (as), and also mentioned it 7 times from the pulpit, connecting it to my lecture. Imam sat throughout the majlis with complete calm.
Agha Sayyid Jawad Shabbar had wanted to make the Imam cry with these narrations so that his heart would become light, but he wasn’t successful despite the fact that it (the death of his son) was a major calamity. A number of people who witnessed the Imam’s state thought that Imam was not crying because he was in a state of shock from the heavy calamity. Therefore, after the majlis they went to the Imam who had returned home and asked: “Agha, you didn’t cry at the masaib today?” He replied: “When he was reciting the masaib he was looking at me, and I was scared that if I cry it would be for other than Allah, i.e. it would be for the tragedy of my son, and not for the pleasure of Allah.”8
Hujjatul Islam Sayyid Murtaza Musawi Ardabili Abarkuhi
Imam acted exactly according to all the instructions that he gave from the start, and in actuality, was an embodiment of those very instructions. He himself was the book ‘Forty Hadith’ that he had written in his youth. Suppose he spoke about riya (performing any action for the purpose of other than the pleasure of Allah) and reproached it, he himself would stay away from it with intensity.
I remember one day my son entered the house wearing trousers which I had patched up at one knee. Imam asked: “Why is Hassan dishevelled like this?” I jokingly replied: “It’s the life of poor people, Agha.”
Immediately, his face became drawn, and he said: “You don’t want to do riya.” I said: “No, why riya?” He said: “Be careful. Not paying attention to outward physical appearances has value. However, if you want to show (people) that I am such and such, it is riya.”
Imam said this sentence to me with the same intensity with which he had, at the age of 30 years, written in his book!9
Fatema Tabatabai (Imam’s daughter-in-law)
One day, as it so happened, there were many guests at Imam’s house. After the meal, I collected the dishes and took them to the kitchen. Along with Zahra, the daughter of Agha Ishraqi, we prepared to wash the dishes. However we saw that Imam himself had immediately come to the kitchen.
I asked Zahra: “Why has Hajj Agha come to the kitchen?” I had a right to be surprised because it wasn’t time to perform wudu. Imam rolled up his sleeves and said: “Because there are many dishes today, I have come to help you.” My body started to tremble. My Lord! What am I seeing! I said to Zahra: “I swear by you to Allah, please request Imam to leave. We will wash the dishes ourselves.” This was really unexpected for me10
Marzieh Hadide Chi (Dabagh)
One of Imam’s daughters narrates: “At the start of my marriage, I went to Hajj Agha so that he could give me some advice. He said: “If your husband is upset, or if he says something to you for whatever reason, or acts badly, at that time don’t say anything, even if you are in the right. Leave it until he has calmed down, and then say what you have to.” He also gave the exact same advice to my husband.
In the beginning I didn’t give this advice much importance. Later upon reflection, I saw that indeed the root of many of the family disputes came back to this very issue. Therefore, from then on, every time somebody has wanted advice about family issues, I have given them this very same advice of the Imam.11
Hujjatul Islam Muhammad Hassan Murtadhavi Langarudi
The simplicity of Imam’s house in Qom during his life was an indication of his contentment.
It is well known that the bricks of the courtyard stairs were worn away. A builder had advised: “Get a number of bricks made so that these worn away ones can be replaced.” Imam responded: “Turn these worn away bricks around and let them be.”12
Ayatullah Bani Fadhl