Mural of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Lebanon — Image by © David Turnley/CORBIS / 1996, Lebanon
Rouhullah Khomeini was born on the 24th of September 1902. His father was Agha Mustafa Mujtahid Kamareh’i. Rouhullah was the grandson of Sayyid Ahmad, and the great grandson of Deen Ali Shah.
Deen Ali Shah lived in the Khorassan area but due to the civil conflicts among the three tribes: Afshar, Zand and Qajar, he had to leave Khorassan for India. India at that time was a peaceful country, which attracted many immigrants. The main reason behind Ali Shah’s departure to India was the advantages Muslims enjoyed in India during that time. India was famous for being peaceful, and we can see this in Saeeb’s following saying, who was a famous Persian poet at that time, “All hearts like to go to India.”
Sayyid Ahmad, who was Ali Shah’s son, was born in India. After a short time, India underwent political turmoil. The Shia, who were in power at the time, lost their authority and the British forces ceased this opportunity and took over. Sayyid Ahmad left India for Iraq in order to free himself of the British rule.
In Iraq, where Shia Imams are buried and their holy shrines are located, Sayyid Ahmad met Yusuf Khan Kamareh’i, who was a pilgrim there. Yusuf Khan invited Sayyid Ahmad to join him in Khomein, and so Sayyid Ahmad entered Khomein before 1825 when Mozzafar al-Deen Shah was in power.
Sayyid Ahmad married Sakina in Khomein. She was the daughter of Mohammad Hassan Baik, also known as Yusuf Khan’s sister. They had four children, three daughters and one son. Their daughters were called Sultan, Agha Banoo, and Sahib .Their son’s name was Mustafa. Sayyid Ahmad was known to be strict in religious affairs and to defend the weak. His daughter Sahib Khanom, in the words of Ayatollah Passandideh, “inherited the braveness of her father”. She took care of her brothers and sisters after losing their father.
Sayyid Ahmad passed away in 1869 in Khomein. His life was full of struggles and hardships. He was buried in Karbala.
Agha Mustafa Mujtahid Kamareh’i –Imam Khomeini’s father…
The last child of Sayyid Ahmad and Sakina was born on Thursday evening in Rajab, in 1862 and in the Razi district of Khomein. Agha Mustafa lost his father when he was less than eight years old. He went to a school called maktabkhaneh, which taught Islamic studies. After finishing his education in this school he went to Isfahan to pursue further education. In Isfahan he attended the lectures of great scholars such as Agha Najafi and Agha Fesharaki. After staying in Isfahan for some time, he left for Najaf in 1888. The following scholars are among the many who lectured him in Najaf: Akhond Khorassani, Mirzaye Shirazi, Shaikh Abdullah Mazandarani and Mirzaye Naeen. Agha Mustafa studied there for eight years and gained a degree in ‘discretion in passing judgments’. He used his time in Najaf productively and left for Khomein in 1894.
When he returned to Khomein, he was 33 years old. He was young and energetic. Living in Najaf created a suitable opportunity for Mustafa to become familiar with political affairs and different social problems. Thus he used his political experiences when he returned to his hometown. Like other leading figures, he gathered a group to defend and protect his family and people who were with him. After the year 1896, namely after the assassination of Nasser- e-dean Shah, Iran underwent chaos and insecurity, thus Agha Mustafa’s role became more distinguished. Due to his good reputation among the people, they gathered round him and saw his territory as a secure and safe shelter, “It was the place to take sanctuary”.
Marriage and the children
Agha Mustafa married Hajar, the daughter of his teacher, Haj Mirza Ahmad. This couple had six children and among them was Rouhullah (aka Imam Khomeini), who was born in 1902. All their children, except for their first daughter, were born in Khomein.
Assassination of Agha Mustafa
Agha Mustafa had a shorter life compared to his contemporaries. His enmity against Braham Khan, one of Khomein’s powerful figures had grave consequences. Mustafa opposed the Khan’s oppressive character and so conflicts arose and this resulted in the loss of Mustafa’s life. Charged with many crimes, the authorities arrested Braham Khan and kept him in prison, where he died. The Khan’s brothers, who were unable to protest against the local authority, pretended to be obedient. They devised a plan to kill Mustafa on a cold winter day. Their plans were successful as they finally killed Mustafa on the 13th of February 1903.On that day Agha Mustafa was on his way to Sultan Abad, when the brothers of Braham Khan, who went by the name of Reza Qoli and Ja’far Khan, hid in a bush and shot him. The news of Mustafa’s assassination soon reached Iraq. People attacked the killers’ residence and burnt it down. In addition a large number of people gathered to grieve the loss of this great man and give their condolences to Mustafa’s family.
The daily newspaper ‘IRAN’, reported this tragic event in detail. Azadol Sultan, who was in charge of this case, did his utmost to catch the men in charge of this murder. Sultan Reza Qoli, who was one of the murderers died before he was arrested. Nevertheless the family of Mustafa did not give up and insisted on getting justice. In the meantime Ja’far Qoli Khan, who also took part in the murder, was arrested. Due to Mustafa’s family’s insistence Mozzafar Al-Deen Shah ordered the execution of Ja’far Qoli, and so he was executed on the 10th of May 1904 in Tehran.
A writer described this event in detail. He wrote: “While the King was on his way to Europe such an incident took place.” ‘Adab’ another newspaper also mentioned this and wrote that “the people of the capital city of Tehran were glad of the outcome of the case”.
Imam Khomeini’s mother was called Hajar and she was the daughter of Mirza Ahmad Mujtahid. Mirza Ahmad went by the title Akhond and was the son of Mullah Hussein Khansari, who was one of the offspring of Mullah Hayder Khansari. Mullah Haydar was a great scholar and lived at the time of Shah Abbas the 1st. He wrote two books entitled; Mazyaaayan and Zandol Tassanif.
Mirza Ahmad was born around the middle of the nineteenth century in Khomein. His father led the congregational prayers and gave lectures in the Mosque in Khomein. One of Mirza Ahmad’s pupils was Agha Mustafa, who later became his son-in-law. Mirza Ahmad was famous for his honesty and had a good reputation among the people. Akhond died 7 years before the birth of his grandson, Rouhullah.
Hajar (Imam Khomeini’s mother)
Hajar was the eldest daughter of Mirza Ahmad and was born between the years 1868 and 1872 in Khomein. Her father was a famous scholar and the leader of the congregational prayers of the central Mosque in that city.
Agha Mustafa was the student of Mirza Ahmad. He married Hajar in 1882. After two years they left Khomein for Najaf. Mustafa continued his studies in Najaf and returned home after 8 years, where he had six children. The last one was Rouhullah (aka Khomeini). Rouhullah was about four months old when he lost his father. Hajar did not let Agha Mustafa’s murderers get away easily and fought for justice to be carried out. Although Hajar was young and could marry again, she preferred to spend her life bringing up her children. Her sister-in- law Sahib Khanoom helped her bring up the children. Two of Agha Mustafa’s sons chose to be clergymen, so their mother sent them to Isfahan. Morteza and Noor-e-Deen went to howza (university of Jurisprudence and Islamic studies), but Rouhullah was kept in Khomein. Hajar sent Rouhullah to school too so that he would not miss out. Hajjar was quite popular among the people. She died at the age of fifty and was buried in Qom.