In the path of the Imam (92)
We are with you with another episode of this series. In a few episodes, we are going to make you familiar with Imam Khomeini’s behavior during the period of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi as the Source of Emulation. Although Imam Khomeini was a prominent scholar himself, he highly respected Grand Ayatollah Hussein Borujerdi as he wanted to keep the unity and solidarity of scholars and students of seminaries.
Grand Ayatollah Hussein Borujerdi was one of the great students of Akhund Khorasani. He took the helm of leadership of Qom seminary a few years after the demise of Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi upon the invitation of three famous scholars of Qom, Ayatollah Hojjat, Ayatollah Khansari and Ayatollah Sadr. Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi became the Source of Emulation after the passing away of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Abul-Hassan Esfahani. He played a significant role in the development of Qom seminary and the number of seminary students increased considerably during his management. Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi made great efforts in proximity of Islamic sects and sent his representative to Egypt for membership at Dar-al-Taqrib in Cairo. The famous fatwa of Al-Azhar University’s Sheikh Shaltut on recognition of Shia school of thought among Sunni sects was the result of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi’s endeavours. This great Source of Emulation sent preachers to different parts of Iran and abroad, set up scientific and religious centers, built mosques and madrasas in Iran and various countries, and ordered the Pahlavi regime’s education ministry to add religious teachings in the courses of schools in the country.
Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi’s presence at Qom seminary played a very important role in the prosperity of the place and it was Imam Khomeini who played a key role in bringing him to Qom from Borujerd. Late Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Bodalā (بدلا) said on this, “When Ayatollah Borujerdi was sick and had come to Shahr-e Rey [South of Tehran] to spend his recovery at hospital, Imam Khomeini visited him several times and asked him to come to Qom forever. The Imam said on this, ‘With the coming of Mr. Borujerdi to Qom, the seminary will be saved from the difference among the Sources of Emulation and their proponents.’”
Imam Khomeini’s younger son, late Hojjat-ol-Eslam Seyed Ahmad, wrote, “Among the things that the Imam considered vital for scientific life of the seminary after the demise of Mr. Haeri Yazdi, was the presence of Ayatollah Borujerdi in Qom. Thus, the Imam tried a lot for his residence in Qom and when late Ayatollah Borujerdi had come to Firuzabadi hospital in Shahr-e Rey for surgery, according to my mother, the Imam sometimes wrote 50-60 letters to the scholars across the country to ask Mr. Borujerdi to come to Qom; and finally, due to the all-out efforts of scholars, particularly the Imam, late Ayatollah Borujerdi was satisfied with residing in Qom.”
Imam Khomeini very much respected Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi. For this reason, he used to participate in his classes, although at that time, he was an outstanding scholar himself and his classes were full of students. Late Ayatollah Mohammad Vaez-zadeh Khorasani said in this regard, “Imam Khomeini, after finishing his own class, would attend the class of the great Source of Emulation Ayatollah Borujerdi along with his students. This is while the Imam had 400-500 students in his jurisprudence class.” Martyr Ayatollah Fazlollah Mahallati said, “The Imam used to attend the class of Ayatollah Borujerdi. I think his attending was not because of needing that class but rather for respecting him.”
Ayatollah Ali Panah Eshtehardi recounts a memoir on Imam Khomeini’s reverence towards Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, “The Imam used to attend the class of Ayatollah Borujerdi and would respect him much more than a student respects his instructor. Sometimes, he would accompany Ayatollah Borujerdi till his house.”
In the view of Imam Khomeini, Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, besides scientific position, had a firm character that could reduce the oppression of the ruling system and strengthen the role of clergy against tyranny. Ayatollah Mahllati said in this regard, “After the demise of Ayatollah Borujerdi we were at the Imam’s service for a week in Imamzadeh Qasem. He said, ‘That I insisted on Ayatollah Borujerdi’s coming to Qom was that before his coming, there were three scholars like Ayatollah Khansari, Ayatollah Hojjat and Ayatollah Sadr. But there was not an eminent person to be considered as a power for the clergy. Moreover, the comprehensiveness of Ayatollah Borujerdi didn’t exist in others. Because he had the spirit that he could rule over these rulers. Once Bakhtiyar had come there and the ulema were sitting there, too. Bakhtiyar was sitting on a step while laying his legs. Late Ayatollah Borujerdi told him, ‘Sit politely in the presence of ulema.’ This spirit was not like this among other ulema. And since this spirit was in late Ayatollah Borujerdi, I insisted him to exercise his power to form the Islamic government so that we could repress the regime or at least control it.’”
Imam Khomeini had decided to bring Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi to Qom for years. Late Ayatollah Soltani was narrated as saying, “During the period of Mr. Seyed Abul-Hassan Esfahani, sometimes the Imam would ask me about Mr. Borujerdi to know what kind of person he was. I told him, ‘He doesn’t listen to the government officials. He is independent. The Imam said happily, ‘Bravo, a clergy should be like this.’”