In the path of the Imam (52)
Welcome to this week's episode of the series "On the Path of the Imam". In our earlier episodes, we pointed out that the Father of the Islamic Revolution, the Late Imam Khomeini (RA), was a self-built figure, who had achieved the pinnacle of piety and developed with people from various walks of life, a highly ethical relationship, in accordance with Islamic teachings.
We also spoke of his approach towards the deprived and disadvantaged strata of the society, noting that he acted kindly toward the poor and the needy, both in his personal life, and in the political-social arenas, as the Founder of Islamic Republic of Iran. We then elaborated on the outlook and behaviour of the Late Imam towards martyrs and their families.
In this episode, we focus on the steadfastness of that Sage of the Age during his 14 years of exile in the holy city of Najaf, in the shadows of the blessed shrine of the Leader of the Pious, the Commander of the Faithful, the Gateway of Knowledge and Wisdom, and the Symbol of Justice, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), the first divinely-designated Heir of the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to all mankind with the universal message of Islam, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
Previously, it was pointed out that late Imam, due to his unshakable faith in God and profound Islamic beliefs, maintained his resilience throughout the crucial phases of the Islamic Revolution, especially during the hardships amid the 8-year war imposed on Iran by the US through Saddam of the repressive Ba’th minority of Baghdad.
One of the other manifestations of late Imam's resilience was his steadfastness and patience during his years of exile in Iraq from 1964 to 1978, of which the last nine years witnessed the reign of terror of the Godless Ba’thist regime, which was secretly supported by the CIA and Britain against the aspirations of the Muslims people of Iraq.
A year after the historical uprising of 15th Khordad (June 5, 1963), Imam Khomeini fearlessly opposed the treasonous activities of the British-installed and American-supported Shah at the approval by the rubber-stamp parliament of the infamous Capitulation Bill that gave complete liberty to the Americans to commit whatever crime they intended in Iran. This made the Pahlavi regime unlawfully arrest the beloved leader of the Iranian people, and exile him to Turkey, from where after some time Imam Khomeini decided to move to the religious atmosphere of holy Najaf in Iraq, where he stayed till the closing months of 1978 when the Ba’thist regime, under pressure from the Shah, forced him to leave. He had a valid visa for Kuwait but was barred entry by the Kuwaiti authorities on the Iraqi border, and then on procurement of a visit visa from the French embassy, he flew to Paris, where after a less than three-month stay, he returned in triumph to Iran from 15 years of exile, on the auspicious victory of the Islamic Revolution.
Iraq was an unstable country where coups and counter coups occurred with frequency by the military, while the people had no say in the national affairs. In 1969, the Godless Ba’th minority party seized power installing General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr as president and the murderous Saddam as vice-president. The Ba’thist regime was anti-religious and dictatorial, and committed horrendous crimes against the Iraqi nation, especially long oppressed Shi’a Arab majority. The Ba’th minority regime was also intent on taking advantage of the presence of Imam Khomeini in Najaf for attaining its political goals and for undermining Iran. In the meantime, the Shah's despotic regime was also intent on taking political advantages from the presence of Imam Khomeini in Iraq, given its differences of opinion with the Ba’thists.
Thus, the disputes between these two ungodly dictatorial regimes caused hardships for Imam Khomeini, who exercised utmost patience and was steadfast in the face of pressures.
For instance, in the year 1969, when Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohsin al-Hakim was forced to leave holy Najaf and reside in nearby Kufa, following his protests against the ungodly rule of the Ba’th minority regime, the ulema were forced to sever their contacts with Grand Ayatollah Hakim. Nonetheless, Imam Khomeini was the only Source of Emulation who continued his communications openly with Grand Ayatollah Mohsin al-Hakim during these times of difficulty.
Grand Ayatollah Hakim passed away in 1970, and pressures increased upon Imam Khomeini. He was, however, patient and steadfast. In 1975, more intense pressures were piled upon him following an agreement between Ba’thist Iraq and Pahlavi Iran in Algiers regarding the marine borders in the Arvand Roud or Shatt al-Arab, according to which they pledged not to interfere in each other's internal affairs and not to support each other’s opposition groups.
This accord in turn led Shah’s despotic regime to urge the repressive Ba’th minority regime to restrict the activities of Imam Khomeini in holy Najaf, in a bid to somehow negatively impact his political campaign and support among the Iranian masses, but to no avail.
During his stay in holy Najaf, Imam Khomeini refused any communication and/or interaction with the representatives of Ba’th minority regime. in fact, he showed timely and prudent reactions to events, which might have been taken advantage of, in order to somehow harm his status as a Marja’ Taqlid or Source of Emulation for the masses, as well as Leader of the budding Islamic Revolution.
Accordingly, the Ba’th minority regime made feverish efforts to obstruct the Imam's political activities against the Shah's regime. The Imam, however, refused to submit to the Iraqi regime’s unjust demands, while announcing his preparedness to leave Iraq.
Although he was in exile in Iraq, he maintained his grandeur and honour in the face of pressure piled upon him by the repressive Ba’th minority regime.