Birthday of Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul)
Today, the 20th of Jamadi as-Sani, the auspicious birth anniversary of the Most Noble Lady, Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA), which is celebrated as “Mother’s Day in the Islamic Republic of Iran, was the day on which one of her devoted servants, the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul), was born.
Now we have a brief biography of the person who transformed Iran into the center of genuine Islam, devoted to Hazrat Zahra (SA), her husband Imam Ali (AS), and the Infallible Imams of her lineage that preserved for humanity the genuine teachings of her Peerless Father, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
The story begins over a century ago. It was a day of rejoicing in Iran. It was the 20th of the lunar month of Jamadi as-Sani, the birth anniversary of that ‘Spring of Perpetual Munificence’, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA). As usual, the annual festivities were also in progress that day in obscure Khomein (215 km south of Tehran), when news arrived of the birth of an exuberant baby boy to a respected scholar of the town, Seyyed Mostafa Musawí al-Hindi, who as his first name suggests, was a direct descendant of the Prophet’s daughter. He was naturally pleased with the divine blessings granted to him that auspicious day. He offered his thanks to the Almighty Creator and named the newborn bundle of energy, Ruhollah (literally ‘Spirit of God’, the Islamic epithet for Prophet Jesus).
Little did Seyyed Mostafa think that the boy born to him that day, was destined to earn immortal fame for ridding Iran of centuries of monarchical oppression and in the process resurrecting Islam and reviving for the benefit of humanity the enlightened path of the Prophet and his Infallible Ahl al-Bayt.
The baby Ruhollah’s future greatness was beyond the ken of mortals that day, but for Divine Providence, it was already a matter decreed. He would one day, in the true steps of his great ancestress Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), stand up against tyranny and disbelief and show the path of liberation to oppressed mankind. He would be tested with imprisonment and exile and after proving his mettle, would establish the first ever Islamic state in Iran and the contemporary world.
The boy soon lost his father, who was martyred by a group of brigands for having opposed their lawless ways. Nonetheless, his brave-hearted mother and aunt took over his grooming and instilled in him all those qualities and iron-resolve which would endear him to people around the globe one day. At the age of sixteen, he lost both his mother and aunt in the course of a single year. At the age of 19, he moved to Arak to study under Ayatollah Shaykh Abdul-Karim Ha’eri Yazdi, who was a student of Mírza Hassan Shirazí, the Ayatolloh whose ruling against the tobacco concession to the British had shaken Qajarid Iran. The teenager from Khomein excelled as a bright student in all fields especially in Akhlaq (ethics) and Irfan (gnosis), and from his teacher he had first-hand information of the struggles of the great ulema of the 19th century who combined learnings with political activism in view of the corruption of the rulers and their meek submission to the colonial powers. He also learned about the role of women in forcing Naser od-Dín Shah to cancel the tobacco concession.
When Shaykh Abdul-Karim Ha’eri moved to Qom to reorganize the Hawzah or seminary, Seyyed Ruhollah followed his teacher to the holy city which would one day propel him to world fame. Here he had the opportunity to study gnosis and philosophy under Ayatollah Mohammad Alí Shahabadí, and astronomy under Ali Akbar Yazdi. At the age of 27 the bright young scholar, now known as Hojjat al-Islam Khomeini, wrote the book Misbah al-Hidayah on the topic of ethics. At 29 he wrote a commentary on the famous pre-dawn or sahar supplication of the fasting month of Ramadhan and soon established himself as a budding scholar with a series of books and treatises to his name. He consequently reached the level of ijtehad and started holding his own classes, which were attended by hundreds of students, at a time when the British agent, Reza Khan Pahlaví, was consolidating his power in Tehran as the new monarch after ending the Qajarid dynasty.
By 1937, the 35-year old Seyyed Ruhollah Khomeini was considered among the leading scholars of the Qom seminary. From his speeches and writings, we find that besides being a jurisprudent of repute, he was a fearless protagonist of social rights. His piety and disciplined way of life made him shun the company of the shallow-minded and he devoted his time and energies in deep reflection of the socio-political realities. In fact, so disciplined was his life and so punctual was he, that according to his friends and family, time could be told without the need of a clock by his movements and actions.
In 1943, he wrote his famous work Kashf al-Asrar, after the removal from power of Reza Khan, thereby revealing the first signs of his political acumen. He clearly saw that the Pahlaví dictator’s mortgaging of national prestige and natural resources to foreigners, his repression of the Iranian people and their traditional values, his forced unveiling of women in the name of progress and civilization, were part of an elaborate plot conceived by world imperialism to eliminate Islam as a social and political force. He wrote: “All the orders issued by the bandit Reza Khan have no value. The laws passed by his parliament must be scrapped. All the idiotic words that have proceeded from the brain of that illiterate soldier are rotten and it is only the law of God that will remain and resist the ravages of time.”
This book could be called the start of a mission which would begin to bear fruits twenty years later, when he shaped the historical 15th of Khordad uprising on June 5, 1963 against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s un-Islamic rule. Incidentally, it was the birth anniversary of the Prophet’s Daughter in 1964 when Imam Khomeini had delivered his famous denunciation of the Shah’s ‘Bill of Capitulation’, a measure which inspired Iranian women as well. As a result he was arrested and exiled from Iran, but returned in triumph 15-years later as the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The rest of the events including the 8-year war imposed by the US through Saddam and how Imam Khomeini guided the nation for ten years, defeating every conceivable plot of the superpowers, especially that of US, are well documented and too vivid in our memory to be repeated in this brief biographical sketch. In between, were the dynamic steps he took, such as the uplifting of the status of women, focus on Islamic unity, the declaration of the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadhan as World Qods Day in order to garner support for Islam’s first Qiblah, and his historic verdict against apostasy.
Thus, the birth of Imam Khomeini on the 20th of Jamadí as-Sani was not a mere coincidence. In fact, the All-Wise Creator had a purpose behind bringing Ruhollah into the world on the great Zahra’s (SA) birth anniversary. The man was destined to free Iranian women from the shackles of western-style corruption and create a worldwide impact for a return to innate feminine values. Thanks to his liberating measures in Iran, Muslim women all over the world began to rediscover the freedom and virtues of the Hijab. This was a brief biographical sketch of statesman, scholar, jurisprudent, gnostic and poet, rolled into one. He was not a person but an institution.