In the path of the Imam (88)
We are with you with another episode of this series. If you remember 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.
One of the customs in seminaries is that after the demise of a Source of Emulation, other qualified ulema usually hold the session of Eftā, meaning that in a special session they issue Fatwa (edict) for various subjects. In this way, other clerics and ordinary people understand who is qualified for being the next Source(s) of Emulation. But Imam Khomeini seriously opposed this custom. Late Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini said, “It was customary among the Sources of Emulation to hold sessions for answering religious subjects, but, Imam Khomeini didn’t hold such a session. Naturally, we liked him to hold such a session because it was one of the features of being a Source of Emulation. However, we were sure that he would not accept. So, I told him, ‘Some of the jurisprudents, who used to attend the classes of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, do not attend other classes and their studies have halted. If you allow I will invite them to come to our house a few nights a week to ask jurisprudential issues s that you help them with their problems.’ Of course, I had meant the session of Eftā, but, I didn’t mention it lest he might not accept. After finishing my words, the Imam looked at me and said, ‘Mr. Amini, I didn’t expect this from you. I expected you to tell me that I am old and my death is close, so, I should think of God and the Hereafter and reforming myself and fighting my mean desires. Now you are telling me such words. By the way, what do I need the session of Eftā for? If someone asks I will answer myself.’”
Imam Khomeini maintained that accepting to be a Source of Emulation would put a heavy responsibility on his shoulder. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Seyyed Hamid Rouhani says, “One of the Iranian ulema cane to Najaf after the passing away of Ayatollah Hakim and told the Imam, ‘Some of the clerics of Tehran have sent a message to you meaning saying that your inattention has caused people to refer to others after the demise of Mr. Hakim.’ They wanted to warn the Imam to do something if he intended to become a Source of Emulation. But he said, ‘Give my regards to them and tell them the more you distance people from us the more we are comfortable and the lighter our duty and responsibility will be.’”
Another custom in seminaries is that after the demise of a Source of Emulation, the guardian of the seminary is appointed and announced. In other words, the jurisprudent(s) who accept the guardianship of the seminary will naturally be known as the Source(s) of Emulation. Although Imam Khomeini was quite qualified for this position, he refrained from being introduced. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Masoudi says, “After the passing away of Ayatollah Borujerdi, the top ulema held a meeting and everyone accepted to assume part of the affairs of the seminary. After the meeting, the Imam’s son-in-law, Mr. Eshraqi, asked the reason for his refusal, which the Imam answered, ‘Nothing. Others are there to handle the affairs of seminary.’ Mr. Eshraqi was upset and left there. We told the Imam that he had a lot of students who have expectations from him. But he rejected. Mr. Eshraqi said later on that the Imam was very happy and told him, ‘I am happy because the seminary has found a guardian. There are people who will pay the tuition of the seminary and I am comfortable.’”
Imam Khomeini used to pay tuition to the students in proportionate to the amount of money he had. Once, Mr. Eshraqi asked him to pay part of the tuition of the students through borrowing money. The Imam said, “I don’t need to put myself in trouble.” Mr. Masoudi Khomeini also narrates a memory, “Once there was a meeting for tuition of seminary students. Imam Khomeini had also attended the meeting. When he came back we asked him if he had accepted part of the tuition by borrowing money. But he answered, ‘I will never do this. If money comes I will give the students. Otherwise, there is no need to put myself in trouble. Almighty God is the Protector of seminary.’”
Late Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani said, “After the demise of Ayatollah Borujerdi, for a while, Imam Khomeini was not content to publish his manual for emulation although we begged him saying that our families are his emulators and they need his manual for their religious deeds. The Imam would say, ‘Let me be a teacher.’”
Another custom in seminaries is that the Sources of Emulation send envoys to the Hajj to answer religious questions of the pilgrims. But Imam Khomeini refused to do this. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Qarahi says, “When the Imam was in Najaf, it was customary among the Sources of Emulation to send an envoy to the Hajj. Mr. Nasrollah Khalkhali insisted that the Imam should send an envoy but the Imam refused as it was a clear act for introduction of Source(s) of Emulations.”