An interesting memory that I have of Imam’s lessons is his first sentence in his first lesson in Najaf. After a period of exile in Turkey, and after several journeys back and forth, Imam Khomeini began giving lessons.
In the Shaikh Ansari Mosque that was filled with people, he sat on a pulpit of two small stairs and then began speaking. Everyone was waiting and eager to hear his words. They wanted to see what the Imam would say after the exiles and imprisonments affairs in Iran.
After beginning with the Name of Allah, Imam said: “Oh Allah, make us turn to you! Oh Allah, make us turn away from anything that is other than you!” At that moment, it occurred to me that this supplication has been granted for the Imam himself.1
In his first speech to students after entering Najaf, Imam said: “Be thinking from now, be thinking from youth, every step you take now is towards the grave. Every minute you spend from your noble life, you are getting a little closer to the grave and the place where you will be questioned.
Think about this. The issue is nearing the grave and nobody has given you a deed that will allow you to live for 120 years. It is possible that one dies at 25 years, it is possible that one dies at this very moment, God forbid. You don’t have a deed in your hands; you must pay attention and refine your ethics.2
Hujjatul Islam Sayyid Hamid Ruhani
I remember one day in Najaf, I wrote a letter to the Imam along these lines: “Please give us some advice; however it should be a general and complete piece of advice.”
In his reply, he said: “The best advice is that which Allah has stated in the Qur’an:
قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَعِظُكُم بِوَاحِدَةٍ أَن تَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ
The advice of the Imam was this: “After you have brought knowledge in line with your intellect, try and give it to your heart; when it goes to the heart, it will be the promoter of affairs (i.e. affect your actions). This will be the knowledge that moves you.
When you don’t send knowledge to your heart and just learn it, it becomes a box that you have stored memories in, like a library, and this knowledge itself will become a veil.”5
Fatema Tabatabai (Imam’s daughter-in-law)
Hajj Ahmad (Imam’s son) relates: Once I requested some brothers from the sentries who were at the house of Imam to erect a hand-rail at the front of the veranda of the house. When they were doing this, Imam entered and said: “Ahmad! What are you doing?” I told Imam that to protect Ali (my son) that God Forbid he should not fall down, I have requested the brothers to erect a hand rail at the front of the veranda, and this is normal (custom) everywhere.
Imam said: “Shaytan comes to a person through this very way; first he tells them that your house needs a hand-rail, then he says it needs to be painted, and afterwards he says that your house is small and is below your dignity, and he wants a bigger house, and slowly slowly, the person falls into the grip of shaytan.”6
Note: Imam’s point was not that measures should not be taken to protect children, rather that it should not be a means of Shaytan leading one astray
Hujjatul Islam Muhammad Ali Ansari Karmani
Imam’s wife narrates: One night after prayers, Agha was sitting and I was also with him. Our maid Fatema Khanom brought tea and placed it in front of us. Another maid was also busy gathering (things) in the corner. I said to Agha that Fatema Khanom is a very good maid.
Imam said: “Don’t backbite.” I said: “Agha, but I didn’t backbite. I said that she is very good.” He said: “What you said is good (enough to be backbiting) because the other maid can hear and it seems that you want to say that she is not good, and this is backbiting.”7
One time, Imam called his family and said: “I had the intention to tell you something at a time when you are altogether.” Then he said: “Do you know how much sin backbiting has?” We said: “Yes.” Then he said: “Do you know how much sin killing a person has?” We said: “Yes.” He said: “Backbiting has more (sin)!” He then said: “Do you know how much sin unlawful acts and acting against chastity (i.e. adultery) is?” We said: “Yes.” He said: “Backbiting has more (sin).”8
Zahra Mustafavi (Imam's granddaughter)
Every time Imam saw something that was against the dignity of a person, he would object; for example, one member of our family had worn something that was black on the outside, but that seemed luxurious to the Imam. It was the day of Eid and we were at Imam’s house. Imam said: “These clothes are not suitable, don’t wear them.” She said: “It’s black.” He said: “Yes, but it is below your dignity.” She accepted this and went to change her clothes.9
Zahra Mustafavi (Imam's granddaughter)
In the smallest and finest details of affairs of life, Imam was not only particular about carrying out the compulsory acts and to shun the forbidden acts, but was just as particular about carrying out the recommended acts that are in the traditions and customs of Islam. Furthermore, between those acts that hold no reward or sin and recommended acts, he used to choose the best and most advisable act, and therefore acted on the recommended acts. On the whole it can be said his life was an incarnation of perfect Islamic lifestyle.
For example, going on the tens and hundreds of times that it occurred when we went to see him, it was necessary that we get permission to enter by knocking the door. Rather than use the word ‘Befarmaid’, 10 Imam would say, ‘Bismillah.’ Despite the fact that ‘Befarmaid’ was agreeable and common, Imam used to say ‘Bismillah’ so that while doing dhikr of Allah, he would give permission to enter and couple the start of the meeting with the name of Allah.
It is this very Godly way and manner of Imam that led the society in the direction of the rites and values of Islam. He spread the culture of Islam in even the most simplest of affairs.
The followers of his method chose the recitation of Takbirs and Salawats rather than clapping as a method of encouragement and confirmation, ‘Alhamdulillah’ (Praise be to Allah) rather than the foreign word ‘Merci’ as a method of thanking, and adopted dhikr and praise of Allah and Salawat rather than foreign acts.11
Hujjatul Islam Rahimian
One time, after I had met Imam in Jamaaraan, somebody working for the government came to Imam for some work that he had. His aged father also came with him. When he returned from his meeting with the Imam, he said:
When I wanted to go to the Imam, I fell in front and my father came following me. After greeting him, I introduced my father. Imam looked (at me) and said: “This Agha is your father? Then why were you walking in front of him and why did you enter first?”
See how careful and exact the Imam was! Someone who had all these enemies and supervised the politics of the East and the West did not stay negligent of even a single point of ethics.12
Hujjatul Islam Jami
One day, Imam wrote a message addressed to the Baseejees (war volunteers) and had sent it to be broadcast on radio and T.V. Suddenly he wanted the message to be returned before it was broadcast. I saw that he changed a word and said: “In my message I had written, ‘I am praying for you with all my efforts,’ then I changed it to ‘most of my efforts’. This sentence is more exact.”
He never said or wrote a word that was against reality and if it was ever possible that he wouldn’t act on what he had written, he would immediately take steps to change the expression and words so that he would not be held responsible in the presence of The Exalted Creator.13
Farida Mustafavi (Imam’s daughter)
After the death of Ayatullah Hakim, one of his representatives in one of the cities of Iran wrote a letter to Imam in Najaf and asked for permission to be Imam’s agent after Ayatullah Hakim.
Imam wrote a general permission for him and sent it. However, the representative was not content with the common permission, and wanted to be the agent of the Imam in that city and that province. Marhum Hag Agha Mustafa also mediated and told the Imam that not only was this man the agent and representative of Ayatullah Hakim, but also was suitable for this job. However, Imam replied: “No, the amount of permission we have written is enough.”
Afterwards it is said that the man wrote a threatening letter to the Imam in Najaf – and I understood this from the Imam’s reply – that if Imam did not give the post to him, he would tell the people to stop doing the taqlid of Imam. In reply to this letter, Imam wrote: “If you do such a service to me, I will be thankful to you until the day of Judgement as you will have lightened my load. If people stop doing my taqlid, my load of responsibility becomes lighter.”14
Hujjatul Islam IravaniHujjatul Islam Iravani
The comment of a female reporter: “Because you have accepted me as a woman, this shows that our movement is a progressive movement; even if others try to show that it is a backward movement.”
Imam: “That I have accepted you is not true. You have come here and I didn’t know you wanted to come here. And this is not an indication that Islam is progressive just because you came here. Nor does progressiveness mean that which some of our men and women think; (rather) it is progression to the perfection of humanity and of the soul.15
When Ayatullah Taliqani found out that his child has been arrested, he stayed away from sight for several days to protest.
(Afterwards) when he went to Imam, Imam said to him: “Your son is one of the deviators connected with the leftist groups, and you should not become so upset that he has been arrested.” He then added: “By Allah, if Ahmad gets involved in the slightest deviation and his verdict is death, I will personally kill him.”16
Hujjatul Islam Ali Akber Aashtiani
After the death of Ayatullah Kashani, a number of people from various social classes of Tehran came to Qom to see the Imam. There, they said with loud voices a sentence in Arabic which translates to: If Kashani left, in his place Khomeini returned to us, and he (Khomeini) is a marja, i.e. somebody has been given to us who has all the characteristics of Ayatullah Kashani, but in addition he is also a marja, whereas Ayatullah Kashani was not a marja.
In this gathering, one person who went forward to kiss the hand of the Imam had a gold ring on his hand. At the time he wanted to kiss the hand of the Imam, Imam kept him away and said: “My dear! This ring is haraam for men. Take this ring off and put another one on.” Most willingly and obediently, the man took off the ring right there and put it in his pocket.
From this incident, we can clearly understand that Imam considered it his duty to do Amr bil Ma’roof (enjoining good) under all circumstances, and if a situation arose, he would do it there and then.17
Hujjatul Islam Ali Akber Mas’oodi
During the first few days that Imam came to A’zam Mosque, instead of giving a lesson he would give advice to the students. His advice was such that he would break the connection and attachment between man and the world, and bring his attention to gnosticism, the hereafter and Allah.
One day, as part of his advice he said: “Look there. That picture up there, it is a picture of Agha Burujurdi while he is studying. In the picture below, his corpse is in the hands of the people. (In the picture) a little bit below that, Agha Burujurdi is under the ground.
That thing which will be of use to Agha Burujurdi is a healthy nafs, which is what Agha Burujurdi had. Otherwise these positions of power, these noises, these worldy matters, these are of no use to man when he goes under the ground.18
Hujjatul Islam Taahiriye Khorram Abaadi
I was with my great teacher, the grand leader of the Revolution, for 30 years and I swear on the life of this great personality that I never heard something that even had the resemblance of being back-biting. Forget back-biting, I didn’t even see the resemblance of back-biting.
I will not forget, one time he came to Sulemasi Mosque to give a lesson in a state whereby he was breathing heavily and slowly; he said: “By Allah, I have never been so scared as I am now.” He then added: “I have not come to give a lesson; I have come to speak a bit.”
I, who had been going to his classes for approximately 15 years, had never seen such boldness from him towards his students. Imam while in this state said: “If you don’t have knowledge and if you don’t have religion, be wise, and don’t desire to spoil the identity of humankind.” He then went home and his Malta fever returned and he stayed at home for 3 days because of this fever.
All this was because he had heard a student back-biting about one of the marja. Imam himself hadn’t back-bitten but rather had heard someone back-bite and this caused his breathing to become heavy and slow!19
Imam used to say to students: “If youth spend too much time carrying out recommended acts, they lag behind in their compulsory acts.”
He even said: “Those that were very holy (and religious), because of immoderation in these actions, they went away from the Islamic seminary. Excessive religiousness is tiring for children who are 15 or 16 years old. One should have lawful recreations but not sin.20
Ayatullah Shahid Sheikh Fadhlullah Mahallati
On one of the days when Imam was at Madressa Alavi, a sayyid (descendant of the Imams) and a non-turbaned man who had a wrinkled coat and small white cap (like the ones worn for prayers), had come, such that they were very moved, upset, scared and had pale faces.
I was in charge of the order and discipline there; I said: “What is it?” They said: “We have particular work with the Imam, and our worry is that magic and witchcraft has been carried out against the Imam. What we see (happening) is that it is possible he will become sick and like a candle, will dissolve. We are upset and have come to give Imam supplications and incantations to nullify this witchcraft.
We said: “What is this talk?” They replied: “No, we are worried. Because of the love we have for Imam, even if there was a one in a million chance of danger, our hearts would shake.” We said: “Let it not be that God Forbid there is something and we take it lightly.” We went to the Imam and told him the situation. Imam smiled and said: “Tell them that I myself am the nullifier of witchcraft.”21
Hujjatul Islam Natiq-e-Nuri
Towards the end of the year 1328, I had invited Imam to come to our house for the occasion of the walima (feast) of the birth of our first child. A group of scholars were present in this meeting. One of the scholars turned to Marhum Hajj Agha Mustafa, who at that time was a thin youth, very witty by nature, cheerful and likeable, and said: “Agha Mustafa, I have heard that you have seen a strange dream, have you also narrated it for Hajj Agha (Imam)?”
Marhum Hajj Agha Mustafa looked at Imam and waited for his permission. Imam looked at him out of the corner of his eyes. He (Marhum Hajj Agha Mustafa) said: “No.” That scholar said: “Say it. Hajj Agha (Imam) will give permission.”
However, Marhum Agha Mustafa, while having a smile on his face as always, refused to say it, while in actuality, with his looks towards the Imam, he was waiting for his permission.
The scholar kept insisting, Imam was silent, and Agha Mustafa was surprised and waiting. Finally, Marhum Hajj Agha Abdullah Ale Agha said to the Imam: “Hajj Agha, give him permission to say it. It is a strange dream, and should be heard. Many have heard it.”
In the same way that he was silent and relaxed and looking at one point, Imam smiled and told Agha Mustafa: “What is it? Say it.” The Marhum said: “A few nights ago I saw a dream that I am at a gathering where all the sages and philosophers are sitting in order: Farabi, Shaikh Al Rais Ibn Sina, Biruni, Fakhrarazi, Khawaje Nasir Toosi, Allama Hilli, Mulla Sadr, Hajj Mullahadi Sabzwari and a number of others.
In that same state, I saw that you entered and all the sages and philosophers stood up and came to welcome you, and took you and made you sit in the seat of honour.” When Marhum finished talking, Imam turned to him and said: “You saw this dream?” He said: “Yes.” Imam said: “You saw a pointless dream!” With these words of the Imam, everyone laughed heartily and Imam himself smiled.22
Hujjatul Islam Muhammed Redha Sajjadi Isfahani