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By Professor Abdullahi Danladi National Chairman, Resource Forum, Islamic Movement in Nigeria Being a paper presented at the Thirty-forth Anniversary of the Demise of Imam Khomeini (QS) At The Embassy of The Islamic Republic of Iran, Abuja, Nigeria. 3rd June, 2023

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful. May the peace of Allah and His infinite Mercy continue to descend on His noble Prophet Muhammad and hos pure Household. It is a privilege to get this opportunity to participate in this year’s commemoration of the demise of the great leader of the Muslim Ummah, Imam Khomeini (QS). The man who shook the world, the man who succeeded in changing the world political equation, the man who brought meaning to the spiritual life of Muslims. Imam Khomeini did not achieve these because of military power nor material values nor any other worldly thing he had. The greatest weapon Imam used to achieve this great feat was his total and absolute reliance on Allah. I will like to send our condolence to Imam Mahdi (AF), the Leader Sayyeed Ali Khamenei and the great people of the Islamic Republic of Iran and other people of good conscious. On this thirty-forth anniversary of his passing on, it is appropriate to examine some of the achievements of this remarkable personality in history. I choose to speak on the spiritual life of Imam, hopping that it will illuminate my heart and praying to Allah to raise us on the Day of Judgment in the company of His beloved ones.
It is the ontological worth of life; making sense of life situations; deriving purpose in existence. It involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than any, something more to being hominoid than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature, going by this definition, the life of Imam Khomeini (QS) describes the exact meaning of spirituality.
Imam Khomeini (QS) emerged from a unique background and tradition in Iran. He was not a political leader in the conventional sense. For him worldly power was not an end but the means to something higher and nobler. The Imam’s approach to politics was shaped by his deep spirituality and attachment to Allah. It was his unshakeable faith in Allah that gave him the strength to stand firm at those crucial moments when others would compromise or give in.
Imam Khomeini (QS) studied and learnt from many scholars, most prominent being his spiritual teacher and mentor Grand Ayatollah Mirza Sheikh Muhammad Ali Shah-Abadi ,(one of the great Shia mystics of the 20th century) for a period of about 6 years. The late Ayatollah Shah-Abadi without doubt had a key and defining impact on the mystical and spiritual personality of Imam Khomeini (QS) who he has repeatedly quoted from in his books, referring to him as “The Perfect Arif Sheikh Shah-Abadi.”
The blessings of the Almighty Allah upon Imam Khomeini (QS) are indisputably the most significant of all Muslim scholars in the history of Islam. The Islamic Revolution in Iran and the establishment of an Islamic state under the full authority of Muslim jurists only, is a favor that the Almighty Allah did not bestow upon any other scholar throughout the history of Islam.
In the entire blessed life of Imam Khomeini (QS), two decades are the most significant of all. The first is the decade during which he studied Irfan under Ayatollah Shah-Abadi (r.a) commencing from 1928, and the other was the last decade of his life commencing from February 1979, during which he established the Islamic government in Iran. Experts assert that the first decade was a causing factor for the latter.
Imam Khomeini (QS) emerged as the “pole” (qutb) of the Shi’ite community at the most critical period in modern history of Muslim peoples, leaving behind his legacy to the Muslims around the world: “Heed to the message of the Qur’an! Don’t let the Book of God complain against Muslims that they did not read it the way it was supposed to be read!”
Spirituality in the Qur’an is intertwined with moral vision of Islam calling upon humanity to witness God by standing for justice and against the evil that exists among the powerful and arrogant sectors of humanity.
This invitation to witnessing the divine is essentially preparing human beings for an active participation in creating the ideal polity where people can live in peace and in cooperation with one another in all matters affecting a good life on earth. Imam Khomeini (QS), who was dedicated to the Qur’an as revealed truth from God, shows throughout his lived life his total dedication to spirituality-cum-morality.
From the beginning of his career — both as a student and teacher of Islamic sciences, Imam committed himself to a life of simplicity, of spiritual discipline to discover and understand the essential aspect of his life, namely, his struggle against those who abuse God’s trust by falsely assuming the responsibility of working towards a just and equitable society while failing to uphold justice and corruption-free everyday life. He took up the challenge of standing true to the Prophet’s mission of actively engaging the world to reform it and advance it towards a better future.
A study of Imam’s work in Forty Hadith (Arbaun Hadith) depicts the depth and inner vision of human soul Imam Khomeini (QS) had. The book remains a source of guide and map for those seeking to embark on spiritual journeys. Imam did not only deal with sayings on the evil factors militating against man’s spiritual journey, he also proposed practical steps to be taken to systematically cleanse the heart and make harmony with the inner self. This great treatise of human soul manual was written by Imam Khomeini (QS) at the age of about 33years when the mind of normal persons is inclined to the world and lofty material things. One can wonder what state of spiritual elevation Imam would have achieved at the age of 93 years when he returned to his creator.
In an era when political leaders are packaged and promoted, the personality of Imam Khomeini stands out. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures of contemporary history who even western commentators have been forced to admit as much but this still does not adequately reflect his total personality, whose influence extends far beyond the borders of Iran. The spiritual life of Imam Khomeini can be summarized in the following:
Personal life of Imam Khomeini (QS)
The personal life and conduct of this powerful ruler of a vast and affluent country was like that of a poor man. He ate only the food of the common man and his costume selection was minimal. He avoided all luxuries. He advised his contemporaries, colleagues and politicians to live a simple life and be example to people in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
There were a number of castles built by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Imam could have lived a pompous life in one of them, but he did not like it. His house was modest and simple. His way of life was like that of a poor, humble man. That was the time when he was engaged in carrying the massive responsibility of a great nation and meeting world leaders.
His social conduct, administration of justice and liking and hatred were all seeking divine satisfaction. Any mind would really wonder why he should live such a life when he was at the helm of such magnificence and power.
The devotion of the late Imam, his personal conduct and the life he lived when he was powerful, he was humble and the worship he performed was unique. This illustrates his spiritual maturity. The spiritual states of the Imam, his monotheistic understanding, his act of worship, his intimacy with God and his purity were, in fact, the peak unattainable by ordinary persons. All the great scholars – including Shiite and Sunni scholars and non-Muslim scholars – have said that it is difficult for them to understand this part of the personality of the late Imam. Although this part of the life of the late Imam and his exalted, enlightened activities caught everyone’s eye, they could not easily comprehend the various dimensions of his life.
Administration of justice
It is clear from all events that he has always been committed to upholding justice, and in the face of the difficult trials of his life – the imposed war and economic sanction on the nation – he faced all these with patience and courage.
The late Imam focused more on certain things in his eventful life. He always considered justice and unity to be the highest, and these were the most important of the things he focused on because he was convinced that many ills that the Muslim world faces today are due to these. The Muslim world has great lessons to learn from this great leader. He is an example for the rulers of Muslim countries today.
The present period is full of lessons for Islamic nations around the world. If the leaders of the Islamic world follow these lessons of the Imam, they will certainly move towards the path of prosperity, self-respect, and security. Imam was firm on non-reliance on the East or the West. We must learn lessons from the life of the Imam if we are to regain the dignity that we have lost.

Unity of the Islamic Ummah
He always insisted on justice and he followed it decisively. He gave up his own rights for the sake of God, the religion of Islam and the unity of Muslims. He did not want to engage in any conflict. He always valued the Islamic Ummah and Islamic unity. Opponents of Islam are trying to provoke dissent among various Muslim groups, they spend millions of dollars for this. These are facts that the Muslim world should be aware of.
Imam Khomeini (QS) declared the days between 12th and 17 of Rabiʽ al-Awwal the third month in the Islamic calendar as Islamic unity week. During these days scholars from all over the world and from all schools of thought in Islam are invited to not only share their ideas but also to ponder over the current situation of the Islamic world and seek solutions.
The Islamic community has been subjected to injustice for the last several centuries. It is true that this is caused by disunity, conflict and disputes among Muslims. The Islamic world is still plagued by these, it is a bitter truth. The more you refer to the history of Islam – especially the history of Islam in recent centuries, the clearer you can realize these facts. The late Imam always emphasized unity in the Islamic world as a focal point. The need of the hour in the Islamic world today is nothing but unity.
Imam Khomeini (QS) did not only studied and teach mysticism and spirituality, he practically lived a spiritual life. Many stories have been narrated about this great Islamic Scholar. I will give a few examples of such. Not because they are few but I don’t want my paper to be unnecessarily long.
Drown Daughter
His detachment from the world was apparent early in the Imam’s life when his young daughter drowned in a pond. His wife was naturally greatly distressed. Upon hearing the news, the Imam first offered two rakah nafal prayers. Then he went to console his wife by reciting the Qur’anic verse to her: ‘We are from Allah and to Him is our return’ (2:156). Only a man of deep spirituality would react in this way.
60 years of living together and not one request for a glass of water
This is a nrration form one kf Imam’s daughter.
“Imam had extraordinary respect for his wife. For example, I am not lying if I say that in the period of 60 years of living together, he did not even reach for food (on the dinner table) before his wife, nor did he have even the smallest expectation from her. I can even say that in the period of 60 years of living together, at no time did he even ask for a glass of water, but would always get it himself. If he was in such a position that he could not, he would say: ‘Is the water not here?’ He would never say: ‘Get up and bring me water.’ He behaved this way not only with his wife but also with all of us who were his daughters. If he ever wanted water we would all enthusiastically run to get it, but he never wanted us to bring and give him a glass of water in his hand”.

He would never pass on his work to anyone else

As far as possible, Imam was particular that he should not impose his work on others, but rather carry it out himself. In Najaf, it sometimes happened that from the roof, Imam would notice that the kitchen or bathroom light was left on. In these cases, he would not tell his wife or anybody else who was also on the roof to go and switch off the light. Rather, he would himself make his way down three flights of stairs in the darkness, switch off the light and return. Occasionally, he would also want a pen or paper that was upstairs. In this circumstance too, he would not tell anyone, not even his loved ones the children of Martyr Marhum Hajj Sayyid Mustafa (Imam’s son), to bring them for him. He would himself get up and go up the stairs to get what he needed and return.

I was scared that I would cry for other than Allah

On the night of the martyrdom of Marhum Hajj Agha Mustafa, a Fatiha majlis (a service of prayer and condolence) took place in the Hindi Mosque in Najaf, and Agha Sayyid Jawad Shabbar recited from the pulpit. He narrates: In that majlis in which Imam was also present, I narrated the masaib of Hazrat Ali Akbar (as), and also mentioned it 7 times from the pulpit, connecting it to my lecture. Imam sat throughout the majlis with complete calm. Agha Sayyid Jawad Shabbar had wanted to make the Imam cry with these narrations so that his heart
would become light, but he wasn’t successful despite the fact that it (the death of his son) was a major calamity. A number of people who witnessed the Imam’s state thought that Imam was not crying because he was in a state of shock from the heavy calamity. Therefore, after the majlis they went to the Imam who had returned home and asked: “Agha, you didn’t cry at the masaib today?” He replied: “When he was reciting the masaib he was looking at me, and I was scared that if I cry it would be for other than Allah, i.e. it would be for the tragedy of my son, and not for the pleasure of Allah.”

No study of the Imam would be complete without first observing the numerous similarities between the life of the Prophet, (peace be upon him), and the Imam’s. The Imam became an orphan young and had to go into exile. The Prophet lived for 10 years after the establishment of the Islamic State; so did the Imam 1400 years later. But what is even more striking is that, following the example of the Prophet, the Imam also spent much time in prayer, especially at night, in whose stillness the human spirit achieves much greater closeness to Allah. Human action sanctified by Allah’s pleasure is the only route to success. Action devoid of such legitimacy proves ephemeral. When the Imam returned from exile in January 1979 he was welcomed by an estimated three million people in Tehran; more than 10 million people joined his funeral procession in June 1989. The authorities had to urge people from outlying areas not to come to Tehran because the city’s services could not cope with such numbers. How many examples of such profound affection for a leader can one find in the world?
With this background in mind, it becomes clear how the Imam achieved what many considered to be an impossible task: the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, leading to the establishment of the Islamic State in Iran, in such a short period of time and living behind a solid foundation upon which lies the feature of the Muslim Ummah. The spirituality in Imam Khomeini helped and assisted him in establishing a prelude to the emergence of the great and final Imam of Ahlul Bayt (AS) and reviving the hope of the down trodden masses for eternal emancipation from the clutches of the world oppressors. May Allah have mercy on his departed soul and may he be given a place in Paradise among His chosen servants.

1] The spiritual, intellectual and charismatic qualities of Imam Khomeini that transcended mere ‘politics’, (1420) Zafar Bangash, Crescent International, Newamagazine of the Islamic Movement, Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT), London

2] Retrieved on 31/5/2023

3] simplicity_spiritual_discipline Retrieved on 1/6/3023

4] Retrieved on 1/6/2023
5] Margulies, H. (2017). On Three Types of Spiritualties and on the Ways of Spiritual Errors. In: Will and Grace. Transgressions: Cultural Studies and Education. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.

6] Retrieved on 31/5/2023

7] Rays of the Sun, 83 Stories from the Life of Imam Khomeini, Foundation of the Represantative of the Office of Spiritual Leadership in Universities, Translated by Abbas Merali, Shaheen Merali.

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