In the path of the Imam (53)
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 reached the pinnacle of piety and in accordance with Islamic teachings developed a highly ethical relationship with people from various walks of life. 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. We then elaborated on the outlook and behaviour of the Late Imam towards martyrs and their families.
In the last episode, we focused 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).
We continue our discussion on the patience and steadfastness of the Founder of Islamic Republic of Iran against the repressive and unrepresentative Ba’th minority regime of Baghdad, during his years of exile in Iraq.
The repressive Ba’th regime, in a futile bid to weaken Imam Khomeini's indomitable resolve, piled psychological pressure upon him. He, however, never gave in to this psychological war. One of his associates, Hojjat al-Islam
Seyyed Mahmoud Do’aei, recounts in his memoirs an instance of the Late Imam's grandeur and resilience in the face of the climate of fear which was incited by the Godless Ba’th party officials. He notes: Following the passing away of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohsin al-Hakim in 1969, the Ba’thist hypocrites made strenuous efforts to earn credibility among the long suppressed Shi’a Muslim majority of Iraq. In order to deceive the masses, the then Iraqi president, General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, took part in the Grand Ayatollah’s funeral, accompanied by his appointed officials of the Najaf and Karbala provinces. When Imam Khomeini organized a memorial service for Grand Ayatollah Mohsin al-Hakim, these hypocrites also decided to attend it as they intended to deceive the people in believing that they are sympathetic to Imam Khomeini because of his political campaign against Iran’s Pahlavi regime. Throughout the memorial ceremony, Imam Khomeini sat next to the entrance, greeting and welcoming all visitors. Upon the arrival of the governor-general and other Ba’thist officials, while people were eager to see his reaction, the Imam remained motionless on the carpet that he was sitting without the least intention to stand up. As a result, the governor-general and his party was forced to bend and shake hand with Imam Khomeini. In the meantime, when a religious scholar arrived at the memorial service, Imam Khomeini gently stood up and warmly welcomed him.
An Iraqi gentleman relates that it was the habit of Imam Khomeini not to respond to the greetings of some people during unintended encounters. Later, these persons came to know that this attitude of the Imam was for their own safety, because anyone found suspected of maintaining contacts with him would be persecuted by the ungodly Ba’thist regime.
It has also been related that the Father of the Islamic Revolution, who regarded himself as a humble servant of the Prophet and the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt, used to visit twice-a-day the holy shrine of Imam Ali (AS). He used to perform the ritual prayers every day in the holy shrine and recite supplications. This is while the other religious authorities did not visit the holy shrine with such frequency. When asked the reason for his devotion to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), he replied: “It would be a great loss if someone staying in Najaf fails to benefit from the Ocean of Knowledge and Wisdom.”
In 1975, upon the conclusion of Algiers Treaty, relations between the Ba’thist and Pahlavi regime improved, and Baghdad started pressuring Imam Khomeini to halt his political campaign against the Shah. The Imam, however, firmly rejected the unlawful demand, saying he was prepared to leave Iraq if his political campaign for the liberation of the Iranian people was obstructed.
The Imam also displayed his exemplary prudence when the Ba’thist regime tried to involve him in the Iran-Iraq border disputes, by separating Iran’s national issues of importance from issues concerning the campaign for overthrow of the despotic Pahlavi regime, thereby supporting the interests of the Iranian people and the territorial integrity of Iran.
The Imam spared no efforts to safeguard the Islam and the School of the Prophet’s Immaculate Household, the Ahl al-Bayt, in the face of the seditious moves of the repressive and unrepresentative Ba’th minority regime against Iraq’s long suppressed and persecuted Shi’a Arab Muslim majority.
He also maintained his personal independence, made utmost efforts to protect the independence and grandeur of the Najaf Seminary in the face of threats by the Ba’thist regime. He foiled the Ba’thist conspiracy against the Najaf Seminar by declaring his solidarity with other Grand Ayatollahs or Sources of Emulation in Iraq.
In short, Imam Khomeini was never awed by the political and military power of the repressive Ba’th minority regime of Baghdad, and at every turn exposed its hypocrisy and Godless nature, under the guise of Arab nationalism, against the people of Iran and the Muslim World.