Mar 09, 2021 09:20 UTC

We are with you with another episode of this series. In continuation of discussing Imam Khomeini’s ethical virtues, you will hear more about his high carefulness about achieving spirituality and expurgation of the soul.

According to the Islamic culture, the remembrance of death is one of the means to gain spirituality and purify the soul. Remembrance of death revives the heart and reminds the individual that the world is transient; hence he should make the best use of time for self-building. In Islamic narrations we read, “Increase the remembrance of death; because no servant [of God] has increased the remembrance of death except God has revived his heart and made death easy for him.” The 10th infallible successor of the Prophet of Islam, Imam Hadi (AS), says, “Remember the time when you are lying in deathbed in your family while no physician can prevent your death nor any friend can benefit you.”

One of the recommendations of Imam Khomeini for young students of seminaries was to remember death. He used to tell the students to think that every moment of man’s life is a step toward death and grave. Hojjat-ol-Eslam Hamid Rouhani says, “Imam Khomeini said in his first speech after arriving in Najaf, ‘Think right from now. Think right from your youth. Every step that you take is towards grave. Every minute that passes in your life you are going a little closer to grave and the place in which you’ll be interrogated. What matters is approaching death and no one has given you a document that you’ll live for 120 years. Man may die at the age of 25. God forbid he may die just now. There is no document. You should take heed and expurgate yourselves.’”

Imam Khomeini used to emphasize on expurgation of the soul and the self just as the individual acquires knowledge or even more than that. According to the Qur’anic teachings, he believed that the prerequisite for real benefiting of knowledge is to engage in self-expurgation. Late Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Tavassoli recounts a memory on this, “Imam Khomeini used to advise young students at classes, saying, ‘Expurgate yourselves. Moral expurgation is before acquisition of knowledge and if man wants to benefit from his knowledge, he should first be expurgated.’”

Dear listeners, Imam Khomeini would advise young students to take two steps in self-expurgation for every step in acquisition of knowledge. Ayatollah Hassan Qadiri says, “The Imam not only himself was expurgated, but also he always tried to train students with expurgation. And he used to advise them from time to time, and that, through his special method of sincerity and love. Years later, we still recall his advice. He used to say that for every step in knowledge two steps should be taken in expurgation of the soul. He said, ‘All leaders of false religions have been scholars but not expurgated.’”

Dear friends, Imam Khomeini used to tell young students to appreciate their youth for worship and attaining good virtues so that they get accustomed to those virtues. Late Ayatollah Abbasali Amid Zanjani related an account on this, “One day the Imam told the students, ‘Try not to let evil characteristics take root in you because with the passage of life these characteristics will be firm and the person will reach the place that it would be impossible to get rid of these characteristics. As long as you are young try to get accustomed to worship.’”

Ayatollah Seyyed Ja’far Karimi also says, “Imam Khomeini perhaps would remind scores of times, ‘Do everything such as writing, studying, research, worship and attaining spiritual virtues in youth and make use of the circumstances.’”

Although Imam Khomeini emphasized on worship for young students, he would warn against going to extremes. Martyr Ayatollah Fazlollah Mahallati said, “Imam Khomeini would tell students, ‘If the youths stick to recommended deeds, they would be distanced from obligatory deeds.’ He would even say, ‘Those who were too sacred, left the seminary due to such extremes. Too much worship is tiring for teens of 15 and 16. Youths should enjoy legitimate entertainments but shouldn’t sin.’ He even said, ‘They can wrestle but not backbite.’”

 Ayatollah Jannati says, “Once I asked Imam Khomeini to guide me on spiritual perfection. He said, ‘Strive in purity of action.’”

Late Ayatollah Mohammad Mo’men also said, “When I was in Najaf, I wrote a letter to the Imam and requested him to advise me even if it is a general advice. He said, ‘The best advice is the one that God has said in the Qur’an, ‘Say, I give you just a single advice: that you rise up for Allah’s sake.’ The Imam considered remembrance of God as an important factor for inward building and attaining and preserving of light in the heart and the soul.”

Late Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Bodalā, too, said, “I remember once the Imam said during his ethical class in Qom, ‘Those who take steps in the way of self-building sometimes there will be small holes of light for them. The more this hole is preserved the more it will increase. After the class, I asked the Imam how to preserve this luminous state. He answered, ‘That state should be kept through communication with God and remembrance of God and man should be in remembrance of God as much as he can.’”