Jan 12, 2021 09:34 UTC

We are with you with another episode of this series. If you remember, in the previous episode, we discussed Imam Khomeini’s outstanding characteristic, namely, his refraining from being introduced as Marja’ (Source of Emulation) by ulema and his students. Today, we will continue the same topic.

A famous tradition in seminaries was that the cleric who accepted to lead the prayer for the deceased Source of Emulation would be introduced as the next Source of Emulation. In other words, people would pay attention as who was going to stand as the Leader of the prayer for the former Source of Emulation. Then, they would accept him as the substitute. But, Imam Khomeini (God’s mercy upon him), in order not to be introduced as a Source of Emulation, took part only in the funeral procession of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi and left the ceremony so that another cleric held the prayer. Ayatollah Mohammad Mahdi Rabbani Amlashi said in this regard, “When Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi passed away, all people wanted to see who would be the next Source of Emulation. We, the students of Imam Khomeini had decided to glorify him at the funeral procession of Ayatollah Borujerdi to imply that the majority of the seminary students were advocates of his being the Source of Emulation. Thus, we were seeking to gather around him wherever he went during the ceremony and express our obedience and love to the Imam with reciting Salawat. This way we wanted to introduce him to the people, but we couldn’t find him after a lot of searching for him. Imam Khomeini said later on, ‘I didn’t come to the funeral of Ayatollah Borujerdi not because my health was so poor, but my refusal was because I realized that participation in the funeral has consequences and there would be raised issues in the ceremony. So, I decided not to go there. Anyone who likes me let that liking be in his heart. Let no one take a single step for me to become a chief.’

Another tradition for introducing a Source of Emulation in the seminaries was to hold mourning ceremonies for the deceased Source of Emulation. However, Imam Khomeini refused to do this, either. The Imam’s younger son, late Haaj Ahmad Aqa said, “In summers, the Imam used to come to Imamzadeh Qasem in Tehran with his family. After the demise of Ayatollah Borujerdi, some of the ulema came to Imam from Qom and insisted that he had to hold mourning ceremony. But, he said, ‘I will neither hold the ceremony nor will I take part in it, because these things mean to raise the issue of Source of Emulation.’ I remember that even Mr. Eshraqi [the Imam’s so-in-law] came and said the same thing to him but the Imam didn’t accept.”

Imam Khomeini had emphatically told his pupils not to mention his name in the gatherings and circles. Late Ayatollah Abul-Qasem Khaz’ali mentions a memory in this regard, “After the passing away of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, people flocked to Qom from everywhere in Iran to mark him. The night that I was supposed to deliver speech, I came to the Imam and asked him to tell me something. He said, ‘What is necessary to be said is the unity of the seminary. The unity of the seminary should be preserved. Let there be no name and hint of me.’

Martyr Ayatollah Mahallati also said, “One day I took some money that I had taken as Khoms to the Imam and gave it to him. The Imam advised me and said, ‘Ayatollah Borujerdi has passed away. Don’t think that he was our sustainer or Sheikh Abdul-Karim Haeri was our sustainer. Our sustainer is God. You should preserve the dignity of ulema so that people may not think that clerics are needy. Preserve the dignity of ulema. You should not say the smallest phrase that implies the deficiency of ulema. You don’t have the right to say anything to imply that you are forging a Source of Emulation, to say a word in my support or backbite another one. You should do your duty properly, to serve people and struggle.’

Imam Khomeini considered the unity and coherence of seminaries as very important. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Ali Akbar Masoudi says, “When Ayatollah Borujerdi passed away, the Imam was very sad, but he didn’t take part neither in the funeral procession nor in the mourning ceremonies. When he was asked about the reason, he said, ‘I think that perhaps, my coming to the funeral and the memorial ceremony will divide the ranks of students. I don’t want this divide. I don’t want discrepancy. The great ulema should be in one rank, too.’

Finally, Imam Khomeini held a ceremony to avoid the possible rumours that he was opposed to Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Seyed Mohammad Hassan Mortazavi Langaroudi mentions a memory in this regard, “Imam Khomeini waited for all great ulema to hold memorial ceremony for Ayatollah Borujerdi and then he held such a ceremony.”

As you see Imam Khomeini attached priority to unity and solidarity of seminaries. Thus, when he realized that his refusal of holding a ceremony for Gand Ayatollah Borujerdi might undermine the unity, he accepted to do it. Yet, even in that ceremony he became upset when the preacher mentioned his name as the cleric who had held the ceremony. Late Ayatollah Rezvani said in this regard, “When the Imam entered the ceremony the preacher mentioned his name and said that the ceremony had been held on behalf of the Imam. Upon hearing his voice, the Imam summoned him and protested him saying, ‘Till the end of this ceremony, you are not allowed to mention my name.’