It has been narrated about the spiritual station of the great marja, Ayatullah Muhammad Husein Burujerdi (d.1961), that he had made a vow (nadhr) that if he ever uttered inappropriate words when angry, he would fast for a whole year (to train his soul). Indeed, he had a very lofty station.
He himself has said, “Before I came to Qom, I used to hear the voices of angels, but after I arrived here and became occupied and busy in the role of Marja, I lost that blessing!”
Ayatullah Burujerdi was a marja whose credentials as a supreme authority have been endorsed by Amir al-Mu'mineen (A.S.) himself. Allamah Nahawandi relates the following incident:
“When the late Ayatullah Burujerdi came to Mashad, I gave him my place in the holy shrine - that is, I asked him to lead the prayers and I stood behind him, out of respect.” He continues, “That same year, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Najaf-al-Ashraf. The great marja, Ayatullah Sayyid Abu'l Hasan Isfahani, who was the leader of the prayers in the courtyard of Amir al-Mu'mineen (A.S.), insisted that I lead the prayers.
I was very surprised, that a man of the status of Ayatullah Isfahani, to whom even the Imam of our Age (A) had written a letter stating: ”Irkhas Nafsaka - Make yourself easily accessible to the people - wajal majlisataka fi al-dahliz - and sit in the street outside your house (so people can easily benefit from your knowledge) - waqdhi hawaijan nas - and fulfil the needs of the people - nahnu nansuruka - we will help you - made me stand at the head of the prayers and himself stood behind me.”
Allamah Nahawandi says, “I was still wondering as to why a scholar of this great stature was following me in prayer. As I prepared to say the opening takbir, I heard the voice of Amir al-Mu'mineen (A.S.)) coming from his sacred tomb, “You showed respect to my son Burujerdi, so we have also honoured and respected you, by making Sayyid Abu'l Hassan Isfahani pray behind you.”
Ayatullah Burujerdi had made a vow, in order to train his soul, that if he ever said something unbefitting in anger, he would fast one whole year. One day he was sitting teaching a class in Burujerd. At these times he had a great presence and a special dignity. A student began to argue with him, and Agha answered his query. He raised another objection, which was also answered. However, when he objected a third time, Ayatullah Burujerdi became momentarily angry and with an annoyed tone, he said from the pulpit, “Be quiet, young man”.
However, realising what he had done, as soon as Agha finished his class, he called that student and, in front of the whole class, he bowed and kissed his (student's) hand and gave him a cloak and 500 Tumans (a reasonable amount in those days), and then said, “Forgive the mistake of Burujerdi! I do not understand how the reins of my soul slipped from my hands and why I asked you to be quiet in front of everyone.”
From the very next day, Ayatullah Burujerdi began to fast - just for one harsh word, which in itself was neither backbiting nor a lie.
Taken from the speech of Haj Agha Hashimi Najhad, as quoted in “Karamat wa Hikayate Ashiqane Khuda” - “Miracles and Anecdotes of the Close Servants of Allah”. Translated AJ/091105.