Imam and Women
The Imam believed that the covering of a woman should be such that it should not incite evil and should not show the contours of the body. The colours of clothes should also be dark, i.e. it is possible that a bright red colour could incite mischief.
Imam also believed that one’s tone (of voice) and looks should also be pure. In the work place, he didn’t think laughing loudly or speaking out of turn was at all suitable. On the whole, his advice was to always observe chastity and guard hijab.
On the whole, he thought the chador (a long piece of black cloth that is normally worn by Iranian women over their clothes) was better and believed that it was more becoming. Imam considered the chador to be the symbol of the Revolution. When he used to see women in poor hijab, he would get very upset at the person who had acted contrary to the Islamic laws, and it would be evident from his expression. If at dinner, our hand would come out more than allowable from our sleeves, he would remind us.1
Imam believed the role of the mother to be very determining and gave a lot of importance to the upbringing of children. Sometimes when we would joke and say that a woman must always stay at home, he would say: “Don’t think little of the home; the upbringing of children is no small matter. If somebody is able to raise one person (properly), she has done a great service to society.
He believed that the upbringing of a child could not be accomplished by a man. This was a job specifically designed for a woman because a woman is kinder and the order of a family also had to be based on kindness and love.2
Fatema Tabatabai (Imam’s daughter-in-law)
It was the 15th of the Iranian month of Bahman, the 3rd day of meeting Imam Khomeini that woman came to meet the Imam. That night, we received statistics from the emergency (area) [first aid station] that we had established in the madressa that on that day approximately 817 women had fainted.
When they fainted, we had no choice but to place them on a stretcher and be careful that their hair, hands, or legs did not show. We related this to the Imam and suggested: “Give us permission that women should not be allowed to come and meet you.”
When Imam heard this sentence, he said: “Do you think that my announcements or your speeches have removed the Shah?! It is these very women that have removed the Shah. Treat them with honour.”3
Agha Muhsin Rafiq Doost
Imam always used to tell us: “It is correct that they said that the face and palms (can) be visible; however, it is better that youth cover up a little bit more”. He also emphasised a lot that no type of perfume should be used out of the house.
I remember on one of the Eids, Imam gifted his grandchild (of one of his other daughters) perfume and gave me something else and said: “Because you haven’t married yet, therefore you don’t have the need to perfume.”4