In the path of the Imam (72)
We discussed humbleness as a prominent characteristic of Imam Khomeini (God’s mercy upon him). It was said that humbleness has been emphasized by the Qur’an, the Prophet of Islam and his infallible successors (blessings of God upon them). We also presented you some behavioral examples in his life. Today we are going to finish the discussion on this merit of Imam Khomeini.
One of the aspects of humbleness is to break cultural clichés and wrong habits that have been internalized among people. These clichés have often turned into beliefs to the extent that people think they are part and parcel of religion. As a matter of fact, some of these habits are profitable to some strata in society; hence they try to maintain them. However, some of these habits are not that inhumane and false but they gradually captivate persons and turn into indecent customs. Imam Khomeini was a great scholar who humbly reformed many common habits in the seminary. One of his pupils explains a memory from the time of the Imam’s stay in Holy Najaf. He says, “In the seminary of Holy Najaf, scholars with different scientific levels had to stick to their own level. For instance, a student in the first years couldn’t consort with scholars of higher level. A scholar couldn’t consort with a Mujtahid (a scholar who is able to deduce new laws from the Hadiths); and a Mujtahid couldn’t consort with a Source of Emulation. Everybody had to observe these limits. It was not common for a Source of Emulation to pay a visit to a poor student. As a custom, everyone had to pay a visit a Mujtahid or Source of Emulation. But when Imam Khomeini went to Najaf, he would visit all seminaries and meet students kindly. The Imam used to go to each of the students and pay attention to their problems. Imam Khomeini initiated this Islamic tradition in the Holy Najaf.”
Another aspect of humbleness, especially among rulers, is to accept criticism and even advice of others. Rulers and powerful people usually are displeased at being questioned by citizens as they do not consider others in the position to advise rulers. But, Imam Khomeini was so humble that he would listen to the criticisms and advice and this included even the advice of children. For instance, the children of a village in Neishabour had written a letter to the Imam wherein they had told him, “We would like to write a letter to you and advise you, just like Imam Mohammad Taqi who had advised the governor of Sistan. But, we noticed that this is a big false and it is a sin because you are a great, Godwary and pious person; and you have stood against the Eastern and Western powers and you are struggling against devilish powers while we are only children who cannot differentiate even between our right and left hands. So, how can we be content to advise you?” Imam Khomeini wrote in response to their letter, “My dear children, it would be so good if you wrote your advice. We all need advice. The advice of you dear ones is impartial and stems from pure heart.”
Another aspect of Imam Khomeini’s humbleness was that he considered himself as one of the people and as a simple student. Hojjatol-Eslam Mohammad Ali Feiz said that several times the Imam was seen to do his housework himself. He would even stand in queue for buying bread. He says, “Imam Khomeini had bought a house in Qom which was nearly 300 square meters and had three rooms. He sold the house he had in Khomein and bought this house. It coincided with the years 1955-56 when Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi came to Qom. The Imam lived in that house and sometimes we saw that he was standing in queue of bakery. He would do his housework himself. In reaction to those who tried to respect him and do his works, Imam Khomeini would say, “I am just a student.’”
Hojjatol-Eslam Mohammad Fazel Eshtehardi relates a memory in this regard, “On the very day of the Imam’s arrival in Karaj, Hojjatol-Eslam Hussein Lankarani came to visit him. Upon arrival, he told the Imam, ‘I do not deserve to kiss your hand. Let me kiss your foot.’ Then he expressed regret that he hadn’t been able to accord a great welcome for Imam’s arrival. The Imam told him, ‘I am no more than a student and do not deserve your words.’”
Imam Khomeini had the same behavior before being a Source of Emulation and after that, before the victory of the Islamic Revolution and after that. It is very difficult to keep one’s behavior unchanged particularly after reaching high levels of knowledge, reputation, post and prestige. But Imam Khomeini remained the same without the least change in his behavior toward people, fellow students, friends and relatives.
Ayatollah Mazaheri says, “The humbleness that was seen in Imam Khomeini after the revolution, concerning his conduct, speech, hearing the words of others, was the same as before the revolution.”
Dear listeners, due to this humbleness, Imam Khomeini said to those, who were worried about the fate of Islam and the Islamic Revolution after the Imam’s passing away, “Who am I that Islam and the revolution would perish with my departure?”
Hojjatol-Eslam Ansari says, “Several times there was extensive propaganda from the external and internal enemies that, for instance, the Imam is sick; and some people told the Imam to let people to visit him or send a message to the people and the combatants on the battlefronts to strengthen their morale. But he would say, ‘Have the people fought for me to become weak? They have fought for God and Islam and will never become weak. Who am I that Islam and the revolution will perish with my departure?’”
Imam Khomeini was very humble before ulema and very much respected them. Late Grand ayatollah Reza Bahaoddini said, “The Imam was unique in terms of morals. Perhaps, he attended courses with late Zanjani for nearly 25-30 years; but, he was not seen to go ahead of him even once. In the sessions that the Imam had with his friends, he would always put them ahead and he would walk behind them and this way he glorified them. This was not for once or twice; it was his habit for 20 years which I saw myself. Imam Khomeini had a strange spiritual greatness.”