In the path of the Imam (71)
In discussing the characteristics of Imam Khomeini (God’s mercy upon him), we reached humbleness and talked some examples in his practice and behavior that showed his humbleness. Today we are going to continue the discussion.
Scholars of ethics and Gnosticism consider humbleness as one of the highest merits. Imam Khomeini has also dealt with the issue in his works. He says that, according to the Islamic narrations, humbleness is one of the forces of intellect while arrogance is one of the forces of ignorance. With the help of the narrations and Hadiths, he also explains that humbleness is divided into two kinds: the one that is praised and the other one that is reprimanded. Then he goes on to say that humbleness before God, parents, brothers in faith and teacher are praised; whereas humbleness before disbelievers, the arrogant and the rich is reprimanded. Imam Khomeini considers the praised humbleness the kind that one shows without any expectation. He maintains that there are subtle differences between humbleness and flattery and sometimes it is too difficult to differentiate between the two. He says that humbleness stems from fulfilling God’s order and ends in the proximity of God and bears the fruit of spiritual perfection; while flattery stems from ignorance, polytheism, poverty in heart, spiritual meanness and negligence of God which bears the fruit of abjection and loss of faith.
One of the aspects of humbleness is the humbleness of the ruler before his people. It is narrated from the Prophet of Islam that the most superior person is the one who is humble to people while he is in power and high position. Imam Ali (AS) says in his letter to Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, “Bring down your wings for them (people) and be soft before them.”
In view of this, Imam Khomeini used to recommend the officials to be humble before the people as he himself would fully observe this principle. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Mohammad Reza Naseri, pointing to the forcible migreation of the Imam from Iraq to Kuwait and refusal of Kuwait from accepting him and the concern of the Imam’s companions and family over the issue, said that in those conditions Imam Khomeini felt ashamed before the people who had been in trouble because of him and said, “I have got reports from Tehran that people have been very much disturbed and many demonstrations have been staged and all are worried about the circumstances.” Mr.Naseri continues that in those tough conditions as everyone was perplexed on the future, Imam Khomeini said, “I am ashamed of and owing to the people. I feel belittled before these people. They have been in trouble for our sake and we are sitting here in quite comfortably.” Hojjat-ol-Eslam Hashemi Rafsanjani narrated a memory, saying, “Once we were by the Imam. He said, ‘I don’t know how we should know and explain the value of this nation. When I see the youths, I feel belittled before them.’”
According to the Islamic culture, greeting first is the sign of humbleness. Imam Khomeini observed this in his life although he was one of the best experts of Islamic sciences and a very high-ranking jurisprudent. Late Ayatollah Ezzeddin Zanjani said, “What will never be forgotten by the pupils of Imam Khomeini and even those who had seen him is that he was very humble and very kind to his pupils. I was not only his pupil but also fascinated with his personality. All the time that I was with him, I couldn’t precede him in greeting even once.”
Hojjat-ol-Eslam Ashtiani said, “Whenever the Imam entered a gathering, he wouldm greet everyone and even his family members would rarely precede him in this.”
Dear listeners, Imam Khomeini would even greet children. Dr. Mahmoud Borujerdi says in this regard, “Imam Khomeini, despite his grandeur that even hearing his name would horrify powers, was so kind and affectionate that he would greet children when facing them.”
One of the features of humble people is that they apologize when they wrong or disturb others. Imam Khomeini would apologize for the slightest disturbance that he might cause for others. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Ghaffari, pointing to the last night of Imam Khomeini’s staying in Nauphle le Chateau in Paris, said, “On the night that the Imam was due to set out for Iran, the people of Nauphle le Chateau came to his residence with bouquets of flower. Even the Christian women, who didn’t believe in hejab, had come with scarves. That night, people were in a strange state and all were crying. The Leader of the Revolution asked the apology of the neighbours in a short speech, and said, ‘Pardon me that I have caused trouble for you during my stay here.’ After translating the Imam’s words, the people of Nauphle le Chateau cried intensively.”
Ayatollah Sobhani, one of the current Sources of Emulation, says, “The Imam didn’t attend anybody’s class after the demise of Ayatollah Haeri and was engaged in teaching. He had joint discussions with the great figures of the seminary in order to complete his degrees of jurisprudence, and he would attend the joint discussion between Ayatollah Sadr and Ayatollah Zanjani, saying, ‘One day, there was a heated discussion between me and Ayatollah Zanjani. But, I kissed his hand because of his being elder and greatness.’”
Imam Khomeini didn’t like his name to be mentioned much on TV and newspapers while he was the beloved leader of scores of millions of Iranians and free-spirited people in the world. It was mentioned by different people that the Imam would ask the officials of IRIB not to mention his name much on the media. When then president of IRIB, Mr. Hashemi, came to Imam Khomeini, the Imam told him, “I don’t like to be the first news and picture whenever news is broadcast on TV.” He also said that he disliked to be mentioned on newspapers too much. He would say that he likes to see other news on ordinary people in the country.