In this well attended programme the first speaker Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour started his speech by mentioning, “It is with great sorrow and pleasure that we are commemorating the 28th year since the demise of Imam Khomeini. Sorrow for losing a great scholar and a great man, the likes of which the human race doesn’t produce very often. We don’t see people like him in every generation. It is also with pleasure that we commemorate his passing because he has left for us a legacy which we are following and he changed the meaning of many things for us.”
Mr Bahmanpour introduced Imam Khomeini as “truly a man of God”, “a man who truly believed”. He explained different levels of faith and said that the Imam’s characteristics can be seen in those verses of the Qur’an which describe the qualities of true worshippers and believers. He referred to verses 63 and 64 of chapter 25, Al Furqan, and mentioned that “the very charisma of Imam attracted the hearts of the young and the old, and this charisma was given to him by God and everyone was following him.”
Sheikh Bahmanpour continued by referring Imam’s characteristics to verse 37 of chapter 24 (An-Nur) explaining that the men of God are those who are not distracted from His remembrance by trade. He mentioned that “in the case of Imam Khomeini, I can firmly and honestly witness that politics did not distract him from remembrance of God. Politics for him was a means towards good. Imam Khomeini defined for us a politics which was based on honesty, integrity and benefit for the people. Imam Khomeini managed to enter politics (but) instead of being corrupted by politics (he could) rectify politics.” He explained how the Imam showed us that politics and religion cannot be separate and “we shouldn’t leave politics which is the most important and crucial aspect of society in dirty hands.” “We have to be in charge and take control but in a pure sense.”
Sheikn Bahmanpour described Imam Khomeini as “’a man of multi dimensions’. The Imam was a man of fiqh, hadith, usul and faith. A man of meticulous investigation in the sources of Islamic law and at the same time he was an aaref/mystic, philosopher, commentator of the Qur’an, a politician, and above all he was a great leader and because of these he could be a reformer and a reviver of the Islamic faith. He revived the Islamic faith in a context in which secularism and communism were the two main trends in the world.”
He then continued by mentioning Imam’s legacies as ‘revivalism in Islamic thought and faith’. Imam Khomeini changed the regime of Iran and the understanding of Muslim political thought about the legitimacy of political standing. He said: “… he defined a new political concept of ‘religious democracy’ and was the architect of modern Islamic political thought. He changed the trend of thought over the globe about faith, religion and the relation between faith and politics, and he exposed the belief of western powers”.
The second speaker, Sister Sayeda Umme Ferwa, a political activist and founder of Labaik Ya Zahra, called Imam Khomeini the “multidimensional, extraordinary, most influential, (and) greatest Islamic scholar/Ayatollah of the 20th century in the world of Islam.” She described the Imam as the greatest reformer and leader who realised that, “how from the 16th century, so called political powers and enemies of Islam, have been working to change the impression, vision and true face of Islam towards extremism and hate, through media and so-called preachers of Islam”.
Sister Ferwa continued by mentioning that Imam Khomeini understood and stood against these while his most difficult task was to defeat one of the great oppressors of his time, the Shah of Iran. She explained that the Imam wasn’t only a great reformer and founder of the Islamic revolution in Iran but he made a “revolution in knowledge in each field of human life”. The Imam was a great reformer of the ideas of ‘how should a woman be’ and ‘what Islam is’.
The conference continued by screening a short documentary on key moments of the life of Imam Khomeini, from birth to death, and highlighting the key moments of his movement leading to the Islamic revolution of Iran in 1979.
As the last speaker, Sheikh Shomali said that to know a person we can either focus on the person himself and understand his thoughts, manners and actions or we can look from outside and check his gains, products, effects and impacts on others. Sheikh Shomali mentioned Haq (truth) one of the main bases of Islam which has infinite results and impacts but unfortunately is rarely spoken about in Islamic lectures. By giving the example of verse 17 of chapter 13 (ar-Ra’ad) he explained that Haq cannot be hidden as the untruth is like a foam which will vanish and truth will remain on the earth and benefit people.
He continued: “if one’s character is shaped and made based on truth, his/her impacts will be beneficial for people and society. If we study Imam Khomeini’s personal character, we will find him incredible and if we study him based on his effect on others, then our finding will be the same. Imam’s manner, ethics, philosophy, books and the students such as Ayatulllah Motahari and Beheshti are fruits and products of Imam’s truthfulness.”
Sheikh Shomali explained that while Imam Khomeini’s students were engaged in political activities, they were also focusing on their learning, teaching and social engagements in society. He further explained that even the Imam’s children, who were also his students, were affected by the influence that Imam had on them. Dr Shomali reminded us of Ayatollah Seyyed Mostafa Khomeini as a great scholar as well as a great philosopher, mystic, commentator of the Qur’an, and a well-mannered person. Sheikh Shomali also examined Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini as a moon next to the sun who doesn’t receive the recognition he deserves but who was always next to Imam helping him attain his goals. Dr Shomali concluded that the most significant product of Imam Khomeini was the Islamic movement and revolution and the establishment of the idea of Wilayat al Faqih (The Guardianship of the Jurists).