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Imam Ruhullah Musavi Khomeini(Rh)

Imam Ruhullah Musavi Khomeini(Rh) Ruhullah Musavi Khomeini (Rh) was born on 20 Jamadi al-Akhir 1320/24 September 1902, the anniversary of the birth of Hazrat Fatima(S.A), in the small town of Khumayn, some 160 kilometres to the southwest of Qom. He was the child of a family with a long tradition of religious scholarship. His ancestors ,were among the descendants of Imam Musa al-Kazim(A.S), the seventh Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt. They mainly began devoting themselves to the religious instruction and guidance of the regions predominantly Shii population. The most celebrated member of the family was Mir Hamid Husayn (d. 1880), author of Abaqat al-Anwar fi Imamat al-Aimmat al-Athar, a voluminous work on the topics traditionally disputed by Sunni and Shii Muslims. Sayyid Mustafa father of Imam Khomeini( Rh) began his religious education in Isfahan with Mir Muhammad Taqi Mudarrisi before continuing his studies in Najaf and Samarra under the guidance of Mirza Hasan Shirazi (d.1894), the principal authority of the age in Shii jurisprudence. This corresponded to a pattern of preliminary study in Iran followed by advanced study in the atabat, the shrine cities of Iraq, which for long remained normative; Imam Khomeini(Rh) was in fact the first religious leader of prominence whose formation took place entirely in Iran. In Dhu l-Hijja 1320/ March 1903, some five months after the Imams birth, Sayyid Mustafa was attacked and martyred while traveling on the road between Khumayn and the neighboring city of Arak. The identity of the assassin immediately became known; it was Jafar-quli Khan, the cousin of a certain Bahram Khan, one of the richest landowners of the region. The cause of the assassination is, however, difficult to establish with certainty. According to an account that became standard after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, Sayyid Mustafa had aroused the anger of the local landowners because of his defence of the impoverished peasantry. However, Sayyid Mustafa himself, in addition to the religious functions he fulfilled, was also a farmer of moderate prosperity, and it is possible that he fell victim to one of the disputes over irrigation rights that were common at the time. The attempts of Sahiba, Sayyid Mustafas sister, to have the killer punished in Khumayn proved fruitless, so his widow, Hajar, went to Tehran to appeal for justice, according to one account carrying the infant Ruhullah in her arms. She was followed there by her two elder sons, Murtaza and Nur al-Din, and finally, in Rabi al-Awwal 1323May 1925, Jafar-quli Khan was publicly executed in Tehran on the orders of Ayn al-Dawla, the prime minister of the day. In 1918, the Imam lost both his aunt, Sahiba, who had played a great role in his early upbringing, and his mother, Hajar. Hence; Imam Khomeini (Rh) experienced the cruelties of life as well as great experience of martyrdom in his early stages of life. Responsibility for the family then devolved on the eldest brother, Sayyid Murtaza (later to be known as Ayatullah Pasandida). The material welfare of the brothers seems to have been ensured by their fathers estate, but the insecurity and lawlessness that had cost him his life continued. In addition to the incessant feuds among landowners, Khumayn was plagued by the raids mounted on the town by the Bakhtiyari and Lur tribesmen whenever they had the chance. Once when a Bakhtiyari chieftain by the name of Rajab Ali came raiding, the young Imam was obliged to take up a rifle together with his brothers and defend the family home. When recounting these events many years later, the Imam ( Rh) remarked: "I have been at war since my childhood."1" Among the scenes he witnessed during his youth and that remained in his memory to help shape his later political activity mention may also be made of the arbitrary and oppressive deeds of landowners and provincial governors. Imam Khomeini (Rh) began his education by memorizing the Quran at a maktab operated near his home by a certain Mulla Abu l-Qasim; he became a hafiz by the age of seven. He next embarked on the study of Arabic with Shaykh Jafar, one of his mothers cousins, and took lessons on other subjects first from Mirza Mahmud Iftikhar al-Ulama and then from his maternal uncle, Haji Mirza Muhammad Mahdi. His first teacher in logic was Mirza Riza Najafi, his brother-in-law. Finally, among his instructors in Khumayn mention may be made of the Imams elder brother, Murtaza, who taught him Najm al-Din Katib Qazvinis al-Mutawwal on badi and maani and one of the treatises of al-Suyuti on grammar and syntax. (Although Sayyid Murtaza - who took the surname Pasandida after the law mandating the choice of a surname in 1928 - studied for a while in Isfahan, he never completed the higher levels of religious education; after working for a while in the registrars office in Khumayn, he moved to Qom where he was to spend the rest of his life). In 1339/1920-21, Sayyid Murtaza sent the Imam to the city of Arak (or Sultanabad, as it was then known) in order for him to benefit from the more ample educational resources available there. Arak had become an important center of religious learning because of the presence of Ayatullah Abd al-Karim Hairi (d.1936), one of the principal scholars of the day. He had arrived there in 1332/1914 at the invitation of the townspeople, and some three hundred students - a relatively large number - attended his lectures at the Mirza Yusuf Khan madrasa. It is probable that Imam Khomeini (Rh) was not yet advanced enough to study directly under Hairi; instead, he worked on logic with Shaykh Muhammad Gulpayagani, read the Sharh al-Luma of Shaykh Zayn al-Din al-Amili (d. 996/1558), one of the principal texts of Jafari jurisprudence, with Aqa-yi Abbas Araki, and continued his study of al-Mutawwal with Shaykh Muhammad Ali Burujirdi. Roughly a year after the Imams arrival in Arak, Hairi accepted a summons from the ulama of Qom to join them and preside over their activity. One of the earliest strongholds of Shiism in Iran, Qom had traditionally been a major center of religious learning as well as pilgrimage to the shrine of Hazrat-I Masuma (SA), a daughter of Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), but it had been overshadowed for many decades by the shrine cities of Iraq with their superior resources of erudition. The arrival of Hairi in Qom not only brought about a revival of its madrasas but also began a process whereby the city became in effect the spiritual capital of Iran, a process that was completed by the political struggle launched there by Imam Khomeini (Rh) some forty years later. The Imam followed Hairi to Qom after an interval of roughly four months. This move was the first important turning point in his life. It was in Qom that he received all his advanced spiritual and intellectual training, and he was to retain a deep sense of identification with the city throughout the rest of his life. It is possible, indeed, although not in a reductive sense, to describe him as a product of Qom. In1980 when addressing a group of visitors from Qom, he declared: "2Wherever I may be, I am a citizen of Qom, and take pride in the fact. My heart is always with Qom and its people." The Years of Spiritual and Intellectual Formation in Qom After his arrival in Qom in 1922 or 1923, the Imam first devoted himself to completing the preliminary stage of madrasa education known as sutuh; this he did by studying with teachers such as Shaykh Muhammad Riza Najafi Masjid-i Shahi, Mirza Muhammad Taqi Khwansari, and Sayyid Ali Yasribi Kashani. However, from his early days in Qom, the Imam gave an indication that he was destined to become more than another great authority on Jafari jurisprudence. He showed an exceptional interest in subjects that not only were usually absent from the madrasa curriculum but were often an object of hostility and suspicion: philosophy, in its various traditional schools, and Gnosticism (irfan). He began cultivating this interest by studying the Tafsir-i Safi, a commentary on the Quran by the Sufistically-inclined Mulla Muhsin Fayz-i Kashani (d.1091/1680), together with the late Ayatullah Ali Araki (d. 1994), then a young student like himself. His formal instruction in Gnosticism and the related discipline of ethics began with classes taught by Haji Mirza Javad Maliki-Tabrizi, but this scholar died in 1304/1925. Similarly, the Imam was not able to benefit for long from his first teacher in philosophy, Mirza Ali Akbar Hakim Yazdi, a pupil of the great master Mulla Hadi Sabzavari (d.1295/1878), for Yazdi passed away in 1305/1926. Another of the Imams early instructors in philosophy was Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Qazvini (d. 1355/1976), a scholar of both peripatetic and illuminating philosophy; the Imam attended his circle until Qazvinis departure from Qom in 1310/1931. The teacher who had the most profound influence on Imam Khomeinis spiritual development was, however, Mirza Muhammad Ali Shahabadi (d. 1328 Sh./1950); to him the Imam refers in a number of his works as shaykhuna and arif-I kamil, and his relationship with him was that of a murid with his murshid. When Shahabadi first came to Qom in 1307 Solar year ./1928, the young Imam asked him a question concerning the nature of revelation, and was captivated by the answer he received. At his insistent request, Shahabadi consented to teach him and a few other select students the Fusus al-Hikam of Ibn Arabi. Although the basis of instruction was Daud Qaysaris commentary on the Fusus, the Imam testified that Shahabadi also presented his own original insights on the text. Among the other texts that Imam Khomeini(Rh) studied with Shahabadi were the Manazil al-Sairin of the Hanbali Sufi, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (d.482/1089), and the Misbah al-Uns of Muhammad b. Hamza Fanari (d. 834/1431), a commentary on the Mafatih al-Ghayb of Sadr al-Din Qunavi (d. 673/1274). It is conceivable that the Imam derived from Shahabadi, at least in part, whether consciously or not, the fusion of Gnostic and political concerns that came to characterize his life. For this spiritual master of the Imam was one of the relatively few ulama in the time of Riza Shah to preach publicly against the misdeeds of the regime, and in his Shadharat al-Maarif, a work primarily Gnostic in character, described Islam as "most certainly a political religion." The Imam did not engage in any overt political activities during the 1930s. He always believed that the leadership of political activities should be in the hands of the foremost religious scholars, and he was therefore obliged to accept the decision of Hairi to remain relatively passive toward the measures taken by Riza Shah against the traditions and culture of Islam in Iran. In any event, as a still junior figure in the religious institution in Qom, he would have been in no position to mobilize popular opinion on a national scale. He was nonetheless in contact with those few ulama who did openly challenge Riza Shah, not only Shahabadi, but also men such as Haji Nurullah Isfahani, Mirza Sadiq Aqa Tabrizi, Aqazada Kifai, and Sayyid Hasan Mudarris. He expressed his own opinions of the Pahlavi regime, the leading characteristics of which he identified as oppression and hostility to religion, as yet only allusively, in privately circulated poems4. He assumed a public political stance for the first time in a proclamation dated 15 Urdibihisht 1323/ 4 May 1944 that called for action to deliver the Muslims of Iran and the entire Islamic world from the tyranny of foreign powers and their domestic accomplices. The Imam begins by citing Quran, 34:46 ("Say: I enjoin but one thing upon you, that you rise up for Allah, in pairs and singly, and then reflect"). This is the same verse that opens the chapter on awakening (bab al-yaqza) at the very beginning of Ansaris Manazil al-Sairin, the handbook of spiritual wayfaring first taught to the Imam by Shahabadi. The Imams interpretation of "rising up" is, however, both spiritual and political, both individual and collective, a rebellion against lassitude in the self and corruption in society. One could also trace the spirit of" rising up" in one of his book called Kashf al-Asrar (Tehran, 1324 Sh./1945).In which he had talked about a" better system". There can be no doubt that the "better system" already envisaged by Imam Khomeini (Rh) in 1944 was vilayat-i faqih, which became the constitutional cornerstone of the Islamic Republic of Iran established in 1979. The Islamic Revolution There can be no doubting about the centrality of Imam Khomeinis role and the integrally Islamic nature of the revolution he led. Physically removed from his countrymen for fourteen years, he had an unfailing sense of the revolutionary potential that had surfaced and was able to mobilize the broad masses of the Iranian people for the attainment of what seemed to many inside the country (including his chosen premier, Bazargan) a distant and excessively ambitious goal. His role pertained, moreover, not merely to moral inspiration and symbolic leadership; he was also the operational leader of the revolution. Occasionally he accepted advice on details of strategy from persons in Iran, but he took all key decisions himself, silencing early on all advocates of compromise with the Shah. It was the mosques that were the organizational units of the revolution and mass prayers, demonstrations and martyrdom that were - until the very last stage - its principal weapons. Welfare to Imam (Rh) On June 3, 1989, after eleven days in hospital for an operation to stop internal bleeding, Imam Khomeini lapsed into a critical condition and passed away. The outpouring of grief was massive and spontaneous, the exact counterpoint to the vast demonstrations of joy that had greeted his return to Iran a little over ten years earlier. Such was the press of mourners, estimated at some nine million, that the body ultimately had to be transported by helicopter to its place of burial to the south of Tehran on the road leading to Qom. A still expanding complex of structures has grown up around the shrine of the Imam, making it likely that it will become the center of an entire new city devoted to ziyara and religious learning. The testament of Imam Khomeini( Rh) was published soon after his death. A lengthy document, it addresses itself principally to the various classes of Iranian society, urging them to do whatever is necessary for the preservation and strengthening of the Islamic Republic. Significantly, however, it begins with an extended meditation on the hadith-i thaqalayn: "I leave among you two great and precious things: the Book of God and my progeny; they will never be separated from each other until they meet me at the pool." The Imam interprets the misfortunes that have befallen Muslims throughout history and more particularly in the present age as the result of efforts precisely to disengage the Quran from the progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) The legacy of Imam Khomeini(Rh) was considerable. He had bequeathed to Iran not only a political system enshrining the principles both of religious leadership and of an elected legislature and head of the executive branch, but also a whole new ethos and self-image, a dignified stance of independence vis- a -vis the West rare in the Muslim world. He was deeply imbued with the traditions and worldview of Shii Islam, but he viewed the revolution he had led and the republic he had founded as the nucleus for a worldwide awakening of all Muslims. He had sought to attain this goal by, among other things, issuing proclamations to the Hujjaj on a number of occasions and alerting them to the dangers arising from American dominance of the Middle East, the tireless activity of Israel for subverting the Muslim world, and the subservience to America and Israel of numerous Middle Eastern governments. Unity between Shiis and Sunnis was one of his lasting concerns; he was, indeed, the first Shii authority to declare unconditionally valid prayers performed by Shiis behind a Sunni imam. It must finally be stressed that despite the amplitude of his political achievements, Imam Khomeinis personality was essentially that of a Gnostic for whom political activity was but the natural outgrowth of an intense inner life of devotion. The comprehensive vision of Islam that he both articulated and exemplified is, indeed, his most significant legacy. Imam Khomeinis Works • Rites of prayer • The greater warfare or fighting with despotic soul • Hajj Rituals • Explanation of al-Fatiha Sura • Mystical letters • Islamic government or Jurisdiction • Istiftas (Religious Questions) • Collection of poems • Secret of prayer • Description on Mesbah-al-Owns • Messages, Lectures, Interviews, Rules & Letters (22 volumes) • Description of dawn prayer • Epistle of exertion & imitation • Writings of Imam Khomeinis lessons • The political & divine will


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