In the path of the Imam (126)
In the previous episode you heard the story of Imam Khomeini’s residence in the holy city of Qom with lady Khadijeh Saqafi whose father was one of the renowned ulema in Tehran. Today we will be touch upon Imam Khomeini’s simple way of living according to his wife.
Imam Khomeini’s fourth house in Qom was much smaller than the previous ones. It was in the poor neighbourhood of the city. After three years of residing in the third house, the Imam had to leave to somewhere else. Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Sadeq Lavāsāni, who used to help Imam Khomeini in such affairs, tried to find a new house for him. Due to the Imam’s poverty, he had to rent a smaller house. Lady Khadijeh Saqafi says in this regard, “Mr. [Rouhollah Khomeini] had found it better to do so. He was right. There was no income after all. I mean it was not regular and continuous. He would not get the stipend, either. And there was no other money. When he had seen this house, it seems that he didn’t like it. He came and told me, ‘You, too, go and see it.’ I said, ‘No, it is OK for me if you like it. I wish I had gone and seen it; in that case I would not step in that house. When he had told Mr. Seyyed Sadeq that the house was not suitable, he asked, ‘Why? The rent of this house is three Tomans per month; while the current house’s is 5 Tomans. Is it bad to save 2 Tomans every month?’”
Khadijeh Saqafi was a patient and rational woman. Thus, she didn’t disagree and never disputed with the Imam to pressure him. She lived in this humble house from the age of 19-27. Yet she never complained as she knew well that her husband was in economic pressure. She relates on those years, “Mr. [Rouhollah] knew my temperament well and knew how to behave to calm me. I always lived with him sincerely and purely. He would always compensate our poverty with kindness and expression of love. Of course, he never believed that we were in bad condition because the condition of the students at that time was worse than ours. The Imam believed that one is not poor as long as he doesn’t eat carrion. He would tell me, ‘Thank God we have always been well-off.’”
Imam Khomeini had such a lofty spirit that he didn’t let the robbers of their house be exposed and insulted among people. He told his wife, “They are good people and their robbery had originated in their need. We should pardon them.” She pardoned them verbally, but the Imam told her that she had to forgive them in her heart. In a similar incident, a woman had stolen lady Saqafi’s handbag in Najaf. The lady knew her and wanted to pursue her and get back the handbag and its content. But Imam Khomeini dissuaded her as he was very careful to not to tarnish people’s repute. He knew that the woman was poor and he didn’t like to disgrace her among people. This spirit of forgiveness was in circumstances that Rouhollah and Khadijeh had economic problems themselves. Lady Khadijeh had become weak when she was expecting her third child. She says, “At the time of Ahmad’s birth I was so weak that I couldn’t even moan. And at the moment of childbirth there was no one except my 9-year old daughter. As soon as seeing my fainting, Seddiqeh had run and informed her father, saying that I had died. It was at midnight that I regained my consciousness of the pain in my neck. I saw that Mr. [Rouhollah] was massaging my neck vessels. I opened my eyes but fainted again. This happened several times but I had no ability to talk because I had not eaten anything for several days.” Imam Khomeini and his wife were so magnanimous that they never asked anyone for financial help despite dire need. Lady Khadijeh relates a memoir on this. When she had gone to Tehran for her stomach ulcer, she had paid a visit to her sister whose husband was a colonel. As she saw Khadijeh’s son Ahmad in poor condition, she told her, “What kind of life is this; winter, snow and tattered shoes?” Khadijeh was very upset and could not forget those bitter remarks for years.
Imam Khomeini was in poor economic conditions but he would not give up worship and studying. Lady Khadijeh says, “The whole thought and love of Mr. [Rouhollah] was studying and teaching. He used to wake up for midnight prayer. Then he would be engaged in studying and then teaching till night that he would sleep again. He had said several times, ‘I do not prefer anything to my ritual duties and studying.”
Imam Khomeini was very kind with his family. He would never let the family affected by daily debates between him and his wife. He would always be the first to solve differences and make peace. Ms. Fatemeh Tabatabai, Imam Khomeini’s daughter-in-law and wife of Haaj Ahmad, says in this regard that when she and Haaj Ahmad had gone to visit the Imam for the first time after marriage, he left them for midnight prayer. He told them, “You can speak with the lady [my wife]. I have to take care of my affair.” Ms. Tabatabai says, “I asked Ahmad in surprise where the Imam had gone. Ahmad answered that he had gone for midnight prayer. I had expected him to be more with his daughter-in-law and grandson whom he was visiting for the first time. But he told us to rest as we could visit him again the following day.”