Different Dimensions of Imam Khomeini's Personality

Different Dimensions of Imam Khomeini's Personality

A personality that managed to throw the 2500 year long effete Pahlavi monarchy into the dustbin of history in light of belief in divinely grace and faith, thus giving a new identity to Islamic society, removing the trauma of self-forgetfulness from their mind and acquainting them with his real

By Ayatollah Ja'far Sobhani

Man's creation is mingled and merged with religion and tendency towards metaphysics, never separating from it. As long as man is living, his nature is incessantly associated with such pulls and inclinations. Naturally, an incident directly connected with man's internal and eternal bents will never slide into oblivion; this is a general principle that knows neither East nor West.

On this basis, Islamic society and history of mankind will never forget the illustrious and unrivalled character of Hazrat Imam Khomeini who has changed the course of history with his lofty thoughts and ideas and sincere endeavors and efforts.

This personality managed to throw the 2500 year long effete Pahlavi monarchy into the dustbin of history in light of belief in divinely grace and faith, thus giving a new identity to Islamic society, removing the trauma of self-forgetfulness from their mind and acquainting them with his real character.

This personality and incident will remain stable and steady on account of the link he has with people's religion and faith, never losing the ability to be consigned to oblivion.

The Imam was not only at the cutting edge of scholarly stages but also abreast of the circumstances of time as far as social and political junctures was concerned, also being conversant with the pain and panacea. His shout of anger at arrogant and domineering powers was like whip shaking their back, frittering away their plans.

The Gnostic and philosophical station, profound understanding of Islamic laws and Ijtihad or independent reasoning in Islamic sources, literary gift and his familiarity with the subtleties of language, his awareness of world policies, instructive and constructive ethics, his world-shaking vigils are only rays of the dimensions of his encompassing character. But that which can be said in this respect is that he treasured two traits that accompanied the entire gamut of effects and manifestations as follow:

1-    Faith in Creationism and Eschatology to the extent that curtains appeared to have risen from his eyes enabling him to see intangible phenomena brightly.

2-    Love for Islamic goals and ideals and all-inclusive devotion in their cause.

These two elements are among the glaring features and noticeable components of his character. On this basis, we touch on some of the dimensions of his character as follows:

Awareness of the World Circumstances

Imam Sadeq (as) states in a brief hadith (narration): "One who is aware of the situation and conditions of time, one will never be caught unawares by sudden and unexpected incidents." In this hadith one of the conditions of leadership has been stated.

One of the dimensions of the Imam's character was his awareness of the world situation and conditions of time. He well knew the political and atheistic movements taking form in the world against Islam and envisaged all of them. If he did not have such features beginning when he was young, he could never lead the Islamic Revolution with such solidity and stability for over ten years and took the rein of affairs at a time he was old, thus astounding the enemies.

In the suffocating time of the rule of Reza Khan beginning 1304 solar calendar and ending 1320 solar calendar all the instruments were at the command of the government. A few books including even non-political ones were only authorized to be published. However, after 20 Shahrivar and incursion of Allied forces into Iran when the flame of war raged in II World War, the chains were removed from pens and expression. Hazrat Imam used this opportunity to denounce the book entitled "The Thousand Year Secrets," unfolding the facts and drawing the curtains.

The pleasing and smooth pen and at the same time exhilarating diction of the book titled "secrets discovery" infused a fresh life into the hearts of Muslims in Iran. He dissected the nature of the government of Reza Khan under the title why Reza Khan was at loggerheads with ulama, elucidating the valuable position of clerics for people. The book that was published in 1323 solar calendar generates an enormous ardor and immense wave in Iran. In any event, anyone who reads this book would affirm that Imam Khomeini enjoyed lofty political thoughts since remote past and incessantly sought to supplant Islamic system in place of corrupt ones.

The Allied forces left Iran in 1324-25 solar calendars. This time colonialists brought to power Reza Khan's son who pursued the father's program with special hypocrisy. In the course of time, he helped dictatorship recur to Iran once again. Over the course of time, the system gathered power, yet we see Imam quite placid and peaceful during this period of recess between the years 1325 up to 1340. At this time, he was simply preoccupied with teaching fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence, usul or fundamentals of jurisprudence, ethics and philosophy and cared little for political issues. Why did that motivating pen a glaring example of which was found in the book Kashf-e Asrar (secret discovery) came to a halt and moved through scholarly channel?

Ayatollah Borujerdi who had come to Tehran for treatment from Borujerdi in 1324 resided in Tehran upon the request of the ulama of Qom and after the death of Ayatollah Isfahani in 1325 took control of religious authority and shouldered the mission of leadership. He was verily a great and unique man and an unexampled faqih (Muslim jurisprudent).

The Imam who was one of those inviting Mr. Borujerdi to Qom felt relief from distress when such a marja (religious authority) accepted the responsibility. No longer did the Imam consider it his duty to trace political issues directly and with special self-control sealed his lips, speaking infrequently. This state is among the spiritual courage of perfect men to hold one's tongue despite commanding lofty ideas and striking guidelines. From this aspect, Hazrat Imam held the great marja in esteem. Only if necessity arouse did the Imam give some gentle reminders and that in private meetings.

Ayatollah Borujerdi passed away in Farvardin 1324 solar calendar. The shah who waited for long time to see the ayatollah dead so as to accomplish his treacherous programs one after another took the occasion to undermine maraja institution in Iran.

To divert the attention of the public opinion from domestic conditions to outside of Iran, the Shah cabled a telegram of condolence for Ayatollah Hakim. The Shah occasionally remarked in his speech, saying: "Now obstacles have been removed; reform programs should be implemented. In Iran no longer do we have significant religious figures to impede our programs."

After a while, approval of the by-law on "regional and provincial associations" was propounded in which our heavenly Book was insulted in special manner and parts of its official laws were trampled.

The idea of "regional and provincial associations" was a tentative plan so that the ruling body would become aware of its reaction among clerical circles.

The generalities of the plan were printed in the evening dailies of the capital Tehran including Kayhan and Ettela'at in the first half of Mehr in 1341 solar calendar. The present writer who is one of the many who have benefited from the scholarly asset of Imam Khomeini witnessed his critiques of the government in private meetings. As such, I took the opportunity and showed a copy of the daily Kayhan to the Imam. He had performed the sunset prayer and wanted to begin the evening prayer. At that time, I informed him of the gist of the bill approving the "regional and provincial associations." Intense feeling of discomfort appeared in the Imam's face. He performed the evening prayer in congregation and then asked his in-law, the late Eshraqi, to go to the house of Ayatollah Haeri and request him to invite the then maraja to his house to think of the approval of the by-law collectively and adopt a decision.

The magnificent gathering of maraja at that night in the house of Ayatollah Haeri was indicative of their unity and oneness. The telegrams forwarded by all indicated the stability and resistance of clerics in the face of the plots of the shah but in this mid, the Imam's telegram indicated special vigor and inflexibility.

In this movement that lasted for two months, the Imam's telegrams and his letters around the country acquainted the people with his knowledgeable character and people gradually came to know their leader.

The course of "regional and provincial associations" came to an end and the then government retracted the approbation with special hypocrisy. However, after a few months the Shah pursued his path using another trick under the hexagonal bills in which he had mingled right with the wrong.

In such conditions, the Imam's stability and firmness and his stamina were unveiled more than ever before. Boycott of referendum and resistance in the face of pressure of the regime and announcement of national mourning dealt a strong blow to the prestige of the ruling body. In such conditions, Imam was arrested in 15 Khordad 1342 solar calendar. Release of the news of the arrest of Imam generated a resurrection in Tehran as the result of which a number of the children of Islam were martyred by the butchers of the shah. Day of 15 Khordad was designated a mourning day for good.

Eventually, the 2500 year long regime collapsed in 22 Bahman 1357 and was consigned to history.

As of 22 Bahman, Imam was recognized as absolute political and religious authority or marja. With his special tact and profound insight many of the plots were foiled. He managed to irrigate the tree of Islam in Iran and after ten years of leadership delivered the glorious Islamic system to the nation whom he had trained.

Philosophical and Gnostic Dimension

Establishment of Theological Seminary in Qom triggered the prominent philosophical and Gnostic figures to dwell in the city to benefit from the shrine of the household of the prophet of Islam (s). Two of these personages consisted of Ayatollah Shah Abadi and Ayatollah Rafiei Qazvini.

Hazrat Imam acquired the knowledge of Gnosticism under the guidance of Ayatollah Shahabadi for five years and philosophy under Ayatollah Rafiei. Between the two instructors, he adorned the late Shah Abadi about whom he observed: "I have not so far seen a man with such wit." He further said: "In my first contact with the master I proposed him to teach Asfar.

He behaved so politely and mystically with his master that if the class happened to last for over two hours, the Imam did not reveal his tiredness. If the master had to teach for instance for five minutes due to certain reasons Imam Khomeini did not again express objection. This outstanding feature of Imam his master related to others.

In Gnostic and philosophical issues he was rightly an incontestable master. In contrast to many of the philosophers and Gnostics who were content with imparting statement and explanation of the issues and many a time they did not fathom out the depth of the subjects, the Imam had enjoyed the full taste and flavor of theological issues. He expressed the materials from the depth of his heart. In some issues he had reached the level of intuition.

While showing interest in both sciences, he had special liking for theoretical and practical Gnosticism. His outstanding work in this discipline indicates his talent. "Mesbah ul-Hedaya Fil Valayeh wal Akhlaq" is a Gnostic subject on the Names and Attributes. He is verily among the rare people of his time and few Gnostics can discover the depth of the subjects.

Never was the number of students important for him; he was excessively interested in quality; therefore, he held Ayatollah Martyr Mutahhari in high esteem.

Ethical Dimension of Imam Khomeini

After the demise of ayatollah Haeri, the Imam launched a debate in the afternoons of Thursdays and Fridays, a move that was as thorn in the flesh of the rulers of the day. He began the subject as a moral lesson and in legal terms it was tantamount to other lessons of the seminary. Since in those days all gatherings excluding teaching classes were banned, they could not stop the class.

In this lesson, Imam expressed instructive moral issues coupled with Gnostic and political issues. Sometimes, due to disturbance of the system for preventing teaching, the Imam transferred the class from Feiziyeh School to Haj Molla Sadeq School. Anyhow, in those conditions he wrote a valuable book called Al-Arbain, that was a summary of his moral lessons on Thursdays and Fridays in the years after the death of Ayatollah Haeri up to 1358 lunar calendar. Fortunately, this book that had been disappeared in the brutal attack of the agents of the Shah's regime against the Imam's house was found years later and printed. Those who remember these lessons and the Gnostic gatherings can confirm the impact of the Imam's words on transforming the hearts and spirits. One teach-in in that moral class made one so detached from the worldly allurements that one would value only spirituality. Moral lessons of Hazrat Ostad had introduced such enormous change in the theology students and learned people in those times that the question of spiritual  journey gradually found its way into the students; they struggled to adapt their words and deeds to Islamic ethics.

As regards the Imam's commitment to moral issues suffice it to say that if one made a statement at a gathering smacked of insult to a Muslim, one would experience a fit of pique by the Imam who prevented the insulter from continuing his words.

When he was teaching philosophy to a group in Feiziyeh seminary, one of the not so much famous teachers of Qom unaware of the subject began teaching the book "Sharh Lom'a" to one student in that place. When Imam entered the madras and saw the man busy teaching, he left the place immediately and was in no way ready to teach that day in that place, noting: "He has started teaching prior to us and was deserving of teaching there." For years when he taught in some mosques, the Imam performed two units of prayers when entering mosques and then began teaching. Unless confirming the eligibility of individuals for the lesson he taught, he did not permit the student to attend his class.


Jurisprudential Dimension of Imam's Personality

Hazrat Imam benefitted from the Kharej or advanced level of fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence and usul or fundamentals of jurisprudence for 11 years under the instruction of the founder of Howzeh. After the death of the founder of Howzeh, the Imam began teaching the Sutuh or preliminary stage of the courses. Never was the thread of his discussion about the two disciplines disconnected. In addition to teaching, he jointly held juristic discussions with a number of distinguished instructors of Howzeh like Ayatollah Muhaqeq Damad and Ayatollah Haj Seyed Ahmad Zanjani.

When Ayatollah Borujerdi arrived in Qom in 1346 lunar calendar, one of the personalities providing warmth to his classes was Hazrat Imam.

Ayatollah Borujerdi differed distinctly with the late Haeri in terms of juristic approach. The late Haeri was attracted to discussion and profound contemplation more than research while the late Borujerdi cared more for research into the history of the question and the fatwas or religious decree of general and specific fuqaha in the first centuries and for intensive investigation of the transmitters of hadith or narration more than other things. In terms of the depth of discussions, he stood at higher level as well.

Hazrat Imam gained knowledge of the privileges of the lessons of the late Borujerdi by participating in his classes, unceasingly inviting scholars to follow the approach of the late Borujerdi. Imam Khomeini attended the classes of the late Borujerdi from 1364 lunar calendar to 1370 lunar calendar. As the result, he combined the advantages of the approach of both masters. In this way, he mastered a style of his own in fiqh and usul. By combination of the two approaches, the Imam laid the foundation of a new approach. As of1364 lunar calendar, he launched teaching advanced course of usul upon the request of a group of ulama. This course was completed in 1370 lunar calendar. He taught usul in over two complete terms, presenting new theories regarding usul in each term. The Imam's lessons with his latest views were published in three volumes entitled Tahzib al-Usul which is currently used by instructors teaching advanced courses of usul.

When the ruling body exiled the Imam to Turkey in 1343 solar calendar, he decided there to rewrite Vasileh and adding subjects the book required and published it under the title of "Tahrir al-Vasileh." From this aspect, this book part of which was written in exile in the city of Bursa, Turkey, and the other part after being settled in Najaf comprises a course of juristic text, indicating his mastership and profound insight into fiqh.

The Fatwas pronounced by Hazrat Imam after the revolution and recently put to writing and explaining modern issues is a valuable juristic work that can be expressive of his juridical dimension.

In contrast to the unexpressive thoughts pervading fiqh thanks to the minds of crude and unsophisticated individuals, Imam Khomeini was greatly interested in traditional fiqh and Jawaheri style of fiqh. Basically, he did not consider other approaches to be correct.

Once a proposal was offered to the Imam to introduce change in text books of Howzeh like "Shafa" and "Asfar" but he objected to the idea and said that simplification and summarization of great books would drain the students of theology of profound insight. He observed to secure originalities and not to apply new approaches as long as no having been examined thoroughly and closely.

Imam as a Faithful Servant of God

Hazrat Imam raised voice against any type of hypocrisy since the prime of his life. At the same time when he was engaged in days in education like other students of theology and participated in gatherings and most of Thursdays and Fridays went outside of Qom for recreation and benefited from such gatherings, in the dead of night he exercised supplications with the Creator like refined pious people. And since the prime of life and as of the age of 27 up to the moment he was capable, his vigil was not stopped. Even the night he returned from Paris to Tehran, he performed the midnight prayer in the airplane. Among the prayers he had special interest in Sahifeh Sajjadiyeh and held that in the mid of prayers there is a series of Gnostic and philosophical issues no philosopher's imagination could fly to reach it. Among the supplications he loved Shabaniyeh supplications. In the month of Ramazan he had special commitment to reading prayers. In 1347 lunar calendar he had written beautiful annotation to "Sahar supplications" quoted from Imam Baqir (as) shaking the hearts of Gnostics and lovers of spiritual journey. Among the pilgrimages he had interest in "Jame'a Ziarat" more than all else. He was committed to recite this prayer in all shrines of the household of Prophet Mohammad (s).

In time of prayer, he was engrossed in God Almighty. And in this line his two valuable books are expressive of Gnostic and divinely discussions. These two books consist of Adab al-Salat and Asar al-Salat both of which are exquisite books the like of which are not found.

Among philosophers he was greatly fond of the school of Sad al-Mutalehin and among Gnostics and Gnostic researchers he profusely adorned Qazi Saeed Qomi to the extent that he personally derived from his book of monotheism. The Imam greatly praised his lofty thoughts. Among other books of Qazi Saeed Qomi, Imam Khomeini esteemed the book Arabain [40 days after the martyrdom of Imam Hossein (as)].

In special states only his intimate relatives could witness, beads of tears trickled down his cheeks by study of some Gnostic books.

Literary Dimension and Diction

Imam Khomeini was a talented man who had special relation with writing. He was also endowed with the gift of beautiful handwriting particularly Nasta'liq style of calligraphy. His handwriting was counted among the first grade ones. Some of his books authored in 1346 and 1349 are now available with me indicating the power of his fingers in creating the literary work.

He enjoyed special talent for poetry which he applied in the service of the household of prophet only. His "Vernal Poetical Works or Bahariyehs" on the birth day of Imam of the Time (as) inspiring the literary and Velaei circles in Qom Theological Seminary in time of Ayatollah Haeri. The Imam had a complete collection of poems as thick as that of Hafez but it was unfortunately stolen from his house and which has not been so far found. Yet, a number of his lovers have derived some of his "Vernal Poetical Works or Bahariyehs"; part of them were garnered by his dear son Hojjatul Eslam Mr. Seyed Ahmad Khomeini

 In writing he used short but battering sentences. He also used beautiful and invigorating words of Gnostics coupled with the way monotheists treat polytheists and atheists in aggressive manner. His declarations since the outset of the revolution up to the last days bear witness to this fact.

He mastered the art of prosody and Qavafi under the guidance of Haj Sheikh Mohammad Reza Isfahani author of the book entitled "Criticism of Philosophy of Darwin." He had knowledge of the old and modern astronomy.

He married the daughter of Ayatollah Haj Mirza Mohammad Saqafi at the age of 27. In light of this marital tie he had two sons and three daughters each of whom held position of honor and achieved success of their own. The Imam's elder son Ayatollah Haj Sayyid Mustafa was very much like his father in terms of scholarly and spiritual accomplishments. Unfortunately, however the claws of death cut out this branch from the trunk of the pure tree. The published scholarly works he left behind indicate the plenty of talent he treasured.

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