In the path of the Imam (90)
We are with you with another episode of this series. In continuation of discussing Imam Khomeini’s ethical virtues, we are going to touch upon his detachment to worldly and material issues.
Of course, this does not mean the Imam led a life of a hermit in seclusion from society. Rather it means that he tried his best to form the strongest bond with God and the spiritual world while living among people and helping them in their problems.
One of the unique characteristics of Islam is the approach towards this world. The Islamic view to the world is focused on refraining from worship of God on the one hand and prohibition of seclusion and hermitage on the other. Islam is quite different from the religions that preach seclusion from society and going to a temple far from the social responsibilities. It emphasizes that the faithful are duty-bound to heed material issues while detaching themselves from its trappings. In other words, Islam warns against going to extremes on both sides. According to the teachings of Islam, God calls on the faithful to enjoy the bounties of this world as they are not obstacles on the way of spiritual perfection if they are used in the correct way. In the first years of Islam, a few Muslims had misunderstood Islam and tried to live like Sufis away from the worldly affairs. One of them had left his family and stayed in a mosque to spend his time in worship!!! Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) strongly castigated his behavior, saying, “Do know that God has not sent me for hermitage. My religion is the religion of innate nature. I perform prayer, fast and I associate with my wife. Anyone who follows my religion should accept my practice. Marriage and association between wife and husband is among my practices.” The noble Qur’an also recommends the faithful to enjoy halal bounties. In ayah 168 of surah Baqara, we read, “O mankind! Eat of what is lawful and pure in the earth, and do not follow in Satan’s steps. Indeed he is your manifest enemy.”
Contrary to hermitage and seclusion from the world, Islam has called on its followers to enjoying the worldly bounties while keeping aloof their harmful aspect. Islamic texts and the Qur’an use the word “Zohd” in this regard. Zohd means paying attention to this world’s affairs in a way that they do not prevent us from moving in the path of perfection and sublimity. Hermits, and most of the nuns and monks in the West, try to detach themselves from material world in a way that they do not participate in people’s affairs and are apart from their problems. But Islam stresses that the path of perfection and proximity to God passes through social responsibilities and communion with people.
Imam Khomeini was among the persons who enjoyed the virtue of Zohd at a very high level. Ayatollah Ja’far Sobhani says, “When the Imam preached ethics he would censure seeking the world and worshipping the world. Sometimes, after the end of the class, one would dislike the world to the extent that it would look as a broken pottery that nobody pays attention to it.”
Hojjat-ol-Eslam Zeinul Abedin Bakooyi also recounts o this, “After the demise of late Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, the seminaries were closed for 40 days. On the first day of the classes, Imam Khomeini advised the students not to grieve on their sustenance. When the students asked him what to do after the demise of the great Source of Emulation, the Imam answered, ‘You should have high ambition so that the world is not worth a farthing in your eyes.”
Dear listeners, although on the one hand Imam Khomeini would prevent students of seminaries and ulema from attaching to the world, on the other hand he would seriously warn them not to sacrifice their hereafter for the world of others. Late Ayatollah Bani Fazl said, “In the beginning of the sacred Islamic uprising, when Imam Khomeini had become known as the Source of Emulation, he told his family members, ‘If there is a chairmanship and world, it is not for you. If you are wise, do not spend from your religion for my world. Stay firm and resolute in your religion.’”