Jun 30, 2020 08:54 UTC

As a reminder, it was said that backbiting is one of the great sins. You also heard that Imam Khomeini was very sensitive not to backbite or listen to backbiting done by others.

We said that according to the noble Qur’an, backbiting is like eating the dead meat of one’s religious brother. It was also said that listening to backbiting is as much evil as backbiting itself. Today, we are going to continue the practice of Imam in this regard. 

Imam Khomeini would say to his pupils that backbiting is a sin without pleasure. Ali Saqafi, one of the relatives of his wife, explains a memory, saying, “Once the Imam’s wife said that one night he was sitting after prayers and I was there. Our maidservant brought tea and put it in front of us. Another servant was working at the other side of the room. I said, ‘Sir, this Fatemeh is a good servant.’ The Imam instantly said, ‘Don’t backbite!’ I said, ‘I didn’t backbite. I just said she is good. The Imam said, ‘When you say this is good, since the other servant can hear, it sounds as if you were saying that this one is not good and this is backbiting.’

Late Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani, too, quoting from the Imam’s wife, said, “The respectful wife of the Imam told me, ‘I lived for 62 years with the great Imam but I didn’t hear a single backbiting from this man during these 62 years.’ This is very much like a miracle. Even she said, ‘We had a worker who was not that diligent; so, we changed him with a better one. After a few days, I went to the Imam and said that this is a very good worker. The Imam said, ‘If you want to tell me with this sentence that the former one was not good this is backbiting and I don’t want to hear.’

Imam Khomeini used to recommend the members of family not to backbite in the gatherings of relatives. Farideh Mostafavi, one of the Imam’s daughters says that from the very childhood it was forbidden to backbite at home and the members of family had no right to backbite anyone even as joking. She says, “We had no right to commit any sin including backbiting, lying, disrespecting the elderly and insulting Muslims since childhood. I don’t remember anyone to dare to backbite in the presence of the Imam even as a joke because he would be very upset.”

Dear friends, Imam Khomeini would tell the women emphatically to speak about themselves rather than others. Zahra Eshraqi, the Imam’s granddaughter, says, “Sometimes we would sit speaking on a gathering or something. He would say, ‘Don’t speak about others.’ We would say, ‘Sir, this is not about others. We are telling something and praising something.’ He would say, ‘When there are words on others, you will be drawn toward backbiting unconsciously. Don’t you have things of your own? Speak of yourselves. Why do you speak of others?’

Imam Khomeini was very cautious on observing the rights of religious dignitaries and attached special respect to them. He would never allow backbiting or insulting them and as soon as facing it, he would become angry. Ayatollah Mazaheri recounting a memory of a young student, who had backbitten one of the Sources of Emulation, says that the Imam became so angry and upset that his Malta fever recrudesced.

Ayatollah Mazaheri says, “I swear that I never heard anything from him that sounded like backbiting. Once he came to Salmas mosque for teaching while he was panting. He said, ‘By God, I have not been scared so much. I have not come to teach. I have come to speak a bit.’ I used to go to his classes for 10-15 years, but I never saw him to speak strongly with the students. The Imam, then, said, ‘If you don’t have knowledge, if you don’t have intellect, if you don’t have religion, be wise and don’t intend to destroy the human identity.’ Then he went home and stayed home for three days as his Malta fever had recrudesced. All this happened because a student had backbitten one of the Sources of Emulation. The Imam had not backbitten but a student had, yet the Imam was panting.”

After the passing away of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, Imam Khomeini was gradually known as a great clergyman to be a Source of Emulation. Thus, some of his pupils and companions tried to propagate for him. Imam Khomeini told them clearly that they had no right to propagate for him as he was scared of backbiting others. Late Ayatollah Mahallati says, “After the passing away of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, we went to the Imam. He said, ‘In the adoption of stances, you don’t have the right to say anything to support me or backbite another one.’ When he was informed that a group of ulema were trying to introduce him as the Source of Emulation and criticize other ulema among themselves, he sent them a message that he was discontent with their action.”

Late Ayatollah Tavassoli said, “The students used to dedicate part of the day and night to debates in the exterior of the Imam’s house. At times, some of the ulema would be criticized in these talks. They were upset why the Imam not only didn’t take a step for becoming a Source of Emulation but also he was even keeping aside. One day, Haaj Aqa Mostafa brought a message, saying that the Imam says, ‘I have heard that some people backbite or insult the ulema. I am not satisfied that anyone backbites or insults others in this house.’

Imam Khomeini would even refuse to insult or backbite those who had serious differences with him and chose different ways from him or cause obstacles in the way of struggles against the regime. For instance, Ayatollah Shariatmadari had deep political differences with the Imam and would even express his opposition to the Imam’s approach and struggles. But, Imam Khomeini would not allow anybody to backbite him. Masih Brojerdi, the Imam’s grandson, says, “Once we were in the Imam’s presence. As soon as, we wanted to ask him a question about Mr. Shariatmadari, he didn’t allow us and said, ‘Don’t backbite.’

Zahra Eshraqi says, “The Imam would recommend us to refrain from great sins, especially backbiting. He would say, ‘If you avoid great sins, God will forgive your little sins because of that.’