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Table of Contentss
From Childhood to Youth
Immigration to Qom
Accompanying the Revolution after its Victoryy
Continuous Attempts in Several Aspects
Views on Islamic Government
Leadership Succession and its Aftermath
Grand Ayatollah Montazeri in the Speech of the Notabless
In the Name of Allah,
the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful
Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Hussein Ali Montazeri, the great Islamic thinker, is among the most prominent scientific and revolutionary figures of the contemporary age, because of his leading role in the Islamic Revolution of Iran, and his outstanding scientific and political stances in the last fifty years.
This free-minded clergyman whose Islamic views a great number of Shi’a Muslims from Iran and all over the world follow in performing their deeds has been subject to the public judgment more than other mujtahids.
As an individual who played the second major role in the most important event of contemporary Iran, that is the establishment of Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Montazeri is now subject to unkindness of the Iranian officials. He was under house arrest for more than five years by his unthankful students, for his advice and benevolence. In the last sixteen years, he has been under so many pressures and limitations.
So many people in the world and especially in Islamic countries are interested in the life of this elderly revolutionist, so a brief account of his life, personality, and views is presented here.
From Childhood to Youth
Hussein Ali Montazeri was born in 1301 solar year (1340 A.H- 1992 A.D) in Najaf Abad –24 kilometers West of Isfahan-to a hard-working family.
His father, the late Hajj Ali, was an ordinary farmer, who was engaged in reading, and teaching Quran and Islamic ethics, beside his daily work. In spite of the life severity, he spent the final years of his valuable life with these two lofty assets (Quran and Islamic ethics), and did not quit teaching and learning until his demise in 1368 solar year.
Ayatollah Montazeri’s mother was a pious lady who attempted a lot in his religious training. She breastfed him after ablution, as a baby, and took him to Quranic and ethic ceremonies, as a child, in order to enhance her son’s religious disposition. She passed away in 1349, a little while after his son’s release from the Shah monarchal prison. May Allah bless them.
Ayatollah Montazeri started learning Persian literature and Arabic grammar at seven, and when he was twelve, he entered Isfahan theology school, choosing his path toward scientific progress. For seven years, he enthusiastically studied most of the jurisdictional, literary, and philosophical books by his own or with prominent professors, such as Hajj Aqa Rahim Arbab and Hajj Sheikh Muhammad Hassan Alem Najaf Abadi, and became a well-known teacher of these fields, as a youth.
At nineteen, while he was a hard-working and master student, he left Isfahan to continue his studies in Qom.
Immigration to Qom
The year 1320 (1941), when Ayatollah Montazeri immigrated to Qom, was the outset of considerable changes in his scientific life. First, he came to know the great scholar, Allameh Morteza Motahhari, and they began an all-out holy battle for reforming their own egos and the society. They also expanded their scientific activities continuously.
Concerning the way they got to know each other, Ayatollah Montazeri says:
“In 1320, when I was nineteen, I came from Isfahan to Qom, by the encouragement of some friends. I stayed at the theology school of the late Hajj Mullah Sadiq, and benefited from the lectures of Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Qa’ini for a short time. After a while, I participated in the lecture ‘Sath Kefayeh, Vol 1., Bab Awamer’ that was taught by the late Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Mohammad Mohaqqeq Yazdi, known as Damad. The students participating in this lesson, which was held in Feyziyyeh Seminary, were less than ten. After some days, one of the participants, who seemed a few years older than me, suggested that we discuss about the lessons… Gradually, we developed a more friendly relationship. We discussed not only about our own lessons, but various different Islamic, philosophical, and mystical issues. This clever, hard-working, and pious man was the late Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Morteza Motahhari, originally from Fariman in Khorasan; May Allah raise his position in His Eternal Paradise. He lived in Feyziyyeh School and persuaded me, too, to live there. We were close friends and accompanied each other in our finance, studies, discussions, excursion, and attendance in religious and ethical circles. Though financially we both had a harsh life, we were satisfied with our studying and engaging in scientific circles and gatherings, especially the Islamic ethics lectures of Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeini, which were held Thursday and Friday evenings in Feyziyyeh school. We participated in Rasa’el lecture of Ayatollah Baha’oddini for some months, and then benefited from Kharej lectures of the late Ayatollah Damad and Ayatollah Hojja Tabrizi. I took part in the teaching sessions of the late Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Sadr Al-Din Sadr for about a year. Moreover, both of us took interest in the lectures of the late Grand Ayatollah Hajj Hossein Borujerdi, who was in Borujerd then. Hence the late Ayatollah Motahhari went to Borujerd in the summer 1362 A.H and I went there in the summer 1363 A.H and got familiar with his teaching method and his personality. When the late Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi came to Qom in Muharram 1364 A.H at the invitation of Qom theology scholars, such as Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeini, we participated in his Osul and Fiqh lectures. We also studied the Hekmat poem collection and then Asfar of Mullah Sadra with Ayatollah Khomeini.
Later on, because the general teaching sessions of the late Ayatollah Borujerdi were too crowded and we needed a more private circle to be able to discuss about the lessons we started Osul Aqliah issue with Ayatollah Khomeini. This way, Ayatollah’s higher lessons were established in Qom theology school. In addition to Fiqh and Osul issues, the late Motahhari and I studied the first volume of Asfar and discussed it together. We also had separate teaching sessions. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, we attended Ayatollah Allameh Tabataba’i ’s philosophical discussion sessions, which set the foundation of his book Osul-e Falsafe. This process continued for nearly ten years.”
The teachers with whom Ayatollah Montazeri had lessons are listed here:
I. Sath professors:
1. The late Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Muhammad Hassan Alem Najafabadi in Isfahan taught him Sharh Lom’e and part of Rasa’el and Makaseb.
2.The late Ayatollah Seyyed Mehdi Hejazi in Isfahan taught him part of Rasa’el.
3.The late Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Qa’ini in Qom taught him parts of Makaseb.
4.The late Ayatollah Hajj Reza Baha’oddini in Qom taught him part of Rasa’el.
5.The late Grand Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Mohammad Mohaqqeq Damad in Qom taught him Sath of Kefayeh and part of Sath of Makaseb.
II. Professors of philosophy, logic, Hey’at, Nahj Al-Balaghah, and ethics:
1. The late Grand Ayatollah Khomeini: Hekmat poem collection, Asfar from Nafs to Ma’ad Jesmani chapters, and also ethics.
2.The late Ayatollah Allameh Tabataba’i: discussing the drafts of Osul Falsafe wa Rawesh Re’alism (Philosophy Principles and Realism Method).
3.The late Ayatollah Hajj Aqa Rahim Arbab: part of Manteg poem collection.
4.The late Hojjatul Islam Hajj Sheikh Jawad Faridani: part of Hekmat poem collection.
5.The late Ayatollah hajj Mirza Ali Shirazi: Nahj Al-Balaghah.
6.The late Ayatollah Majd Al-Ulama: Persian Hey’at and Tashrih Al-Aflak of Sheikh Baha’i.
7.The lat Grand Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Ahmad Khansari: Shawareq.
III.Professors of Kharej Fiqh wa Osul:
1. The late Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi: most parts of Fiqh wa Osul.
2.The late Grand Ayatollah Khomeini: Kharej Osul, and discussions of volume two of Kefayeh for seven years. The exposition of these Ayatollah Montazeri has taught, but they are not published yet.
3.The late Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Sadr Al-Din Sadr: Kharej Fiqh wa Osul.
4.The late Grand Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Mohammad Hojjat: Kharej Osul.
5.The late Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Abbas Ali Shahroudi: Kharej Osul.
From the very beginning, the grand Ayatollah Montazeri firmly joined the movement initiated by Imam Khomeini, while many of religious scholars and notables of Qom theology school were doubtful about the nature and outcome of this movement and even sometimes contradicted it. He began the campaign seriously, played a continuous and effective role, along with his son, martyr Mohammad Montazeri, and bore imprisonments, tortures, and exiles in this way. A brief account of these stages is mentioned here.
Stabilization of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Marja’iat
After the demise of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi (1340), most scholars of Qom theology school paid attention to Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, among whom were Ayatollah Montazeri and Ayatollah Motahhari, who knew him the most knowledgeable one to take the marja’iat position for the benefit of Islam and the Muslims. After the arrest of Imam Khomeini during the movement of 15th of Khordad 1342 (June 1963), SAVAK intended to execute Imam Khomeini, in order to suppress public movement. Hence Ayatollah Montazeri called for a public sit-in in support of Imam Khomeini and in opposition to his arrest, which was held in the Grand Mosque of Najafabad for a week. He actively participated in the oppositional immigration of religious scholars from various cities to Tehran, and organized their meetings. In one of those sessions, a telegram was written, in support of Imam Khomeini, to the government. Ayatollah Montazeri wisely persuaded all the present scholars to sign the telegram. This made SAVAK’s plan ineffectual and the regime angry. By recognizing Ayatollah Montazeri and because of his leading role in the event, the regime arrested him in Hazrat Abdul Azim shrine, but released him after a while. In spite of many security problems, contradictions of some of Qom scholars with Imam Khomeini, and inattentiveness of some others towards the Islamic movement, Ayatollah Montazeri announced his all-out support in all situations and bore so many troubles in this way.
Being Arrested along with his Son in Noruz 1345 (March 1966)
In Noruz holiday (Iranian New Year holiday) of the year 1345, Hojjatul Islam Mohammad Montazeri was arrested for distributing declarations in the holy shrine of Hazrat Ma’sumeh (s.a). Immediately afterwards, SAVAK arrested Ayatollah Montazeri again. First, for forcing Mohammad to confess against the teachers and campaigner scholars of Qom Seminary SAVAK agents tortured him, using the most savage torturing methods of the Middle Ages. Exposing his body to oven heat, whipping him to faint, continuous slaps on his face that led to ear infection and then hearing and sever eye sight weakness, keeping him awake for long hours, keeping him standing on one foot for a long time, severe beating, etc. were the most common tortures given to Mohammad Montazeri. They even beat him in presence of his notable father, Ayatollah Montazeri, to force him to confess. Finally they boldly began torturing Ayatollah Montazeri himself. The heroic resistance of Ayatollah Montazeri and his son got a model for the resistance of other campaigners in monarchal prisons. At last, the opposition of scholars and clergymen of Qom seminary made SAVAK release him after seven months.
Being arrested in 1346 (1967)
Some months after his release from prison, for expanding the campaign, Ayatollah Montazeri secretly traveled to the holy shrines in Iraq to visit Imam Khomeini. However, the Shah regime that had been informed of this travel arrested Ayatollah Montazeri when he was returning from Iraq and imprisoned him. He was then released after five months of being bothered, again.
Exile in Masjed Soleiman in 1346 (1967) (a few days after his release from prison)
The regime closely observed Ayatollah Montazeri outside prison. During the Coronation Ceremony, they decided to exile him to Masjed Soleiman for the first time, which lasted three months. There, they informed Ayatollah Montazeri that he should not return to Qom. He came back to Qom, however, and in spite of SAVAK opposition, many scholars, teachers, and clergymen visited him. Therefore, the SAVAK took him to Najafabad and put him under direct scrutiny.
Being arrested in 1347 (1968)
Shortly after his transition from Masjed Soleiman exile to Najafabad, Ayatollah Montazeri was arrested again by SAVAK. This was for his continued campaign and illuminating activities against the Shah regime, especially in Friday Prayer Sermons he had established in Najafabad. They sentenced him to a three-year sentence in an ordered trial, and then to one and a half year jail in review court, and sent him to Qasr prison.
The Second Exile to Najafabad in 1349 (1970)
Having passed his prison period, Ayatollah Montazeri was released in Ordibehesht 1349 (May 1970), and went to Qom. But the Shah regime, frightened of his presence among the clergymen and scholars of Qom seminary, exiled him to his hometown again. He continued his previous activities in Najafabad and disclosed the regimes crimes in Friday Prayer sermons and speeches. People rushed to Isfahan from all over Iran on Fridays so massively that Isfahan was considered as the second revolutionary base of the country after Qom. The SAVAK center in Isfahan had reported about it: “The Friday Prayer of Montazeri is a political base for the campaign against the regime.” Ayatollah Montazeri was in exile in Najafabad for approximately three years.
Exile in the Desert City of Tabas in 1352 (1973)
Once again the regime could not stand Ayatollah Montazeri’s presence in his hometown and sentenced him to a three-year exile in Tabas. His presence in Tabas made other campaigners gather there. According to security officials of Tabas, in addition to the people of this city, nearly fifty thousand people from other cities came to visit Ayatollah Montazeri, during his exile in this town. This crowd of visitors frightened SAVAK and they moved Ayatollah Montazeri after one year.
Among Ayatollah Montazeri’s activities in Tabas was composing an open letter, addressing religious scholars and Iranian Muslims, about unity against imperialism and Zionism, which triggered the regime’s anger. According to the remnant documents of SAVAK, many people, including Hojjatul Islam Khamene’i, were arrested with the charge of distributing this letter.
Exile in Khalkhal in 1353 (1974)
Ayatollah Montazeri’s increasingly fruitful campaigns and his resistance made the regime exile him to Khalkhal in the mid-1353 (1974). Since the prominent dialect is Azerbaijani there, Ayatollah Montazeri’s attempts for awakening people was not effective enough, at first. But he did not quit his activities due to this problem, until one of the leading clergymen of Khalkhal gave his mosque to Ayatollah Montazeri. This newly built mosque, which was under the supervision of a trustee board, was a suitable place for expansion of reformist thoughts of Islam. Ayatollah Montazeri began praying with congregations of people in that mosque. He also held sessions of Quran exposition as usual, too. The number of prayers increased dramatically from day to day and the atmosphere became more prepared for publicity of Islamic movement. The regime’s agents got helpless at the exile’s unexpected brevity and tried to weaken his attempts in various ways. They finally moved Ayatollah Montazeri to Saqqez exile, after four months.
Saqqez; the Last Exile
Ayatollah Montazeri spent his last exile period in Saqqez, which had the least facilities in a harsh winter. Though there were none of his friends and students with him and the people had a different dialect and religious sect (Sunni), SAVAK was still worried about his meetings with people and implored the Center to decide about this issue. On the other hand, many of Ayatollah Montazeri’s students and friends had been arrested in the anniversary ceremony of 15th of Khordad movement in Qom Seminary. Also SAVAK had found the relationship between them and Ayatollah Montazeri. As a result, they decided to arrest and transfer him to Tehran.
Being arrested in Saqqez and transferred to Evin prison in 1354 (1975)
In Tir 1354 (1975), Ayatollah Montazeri was transferred from his exile in Saqqez to the prison. He was first taken in custody of the Joint Committee in Tehran and to Evin prison the next day. He was in solitary cell for six months, in which he faced the most sever mental and physical tortures. During these tortures, a cruel torturer called Azghandi had told him: “The reason we keep you away from the seminary and send you from one place to another is to avoid making another Khomeini.”
After six months of unreasonable arrest in Evin prison, Ayatollah Montazeri was put to trial in an ordered court and sentenced to a ten-year prison, for helping the Islamic movement and the establishment of Islamic government, and helping the political prisoners’ families. He continued his political and Islamic activities in prison too, along with other campaigners, such as Ayatollah Taleqani. Though he suffered from various illnesses he taught Kharej of Kums, Asfar, and Taharat to prisoner scholars. Also some notable prisoners such as Ayatollah Taleqani and Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani participated in his discussion sessions.
The political prisoners of the late Pahlavi monarchy remember Ayatollah Montazeri’s political piety well. He did not hide any facts, though he was careful about keeping others’ secrets. Once some human rights watchers had come from Belgium to inspect Iran’s prisons. SAVAK had taken them to Evin prison to visit a few prisoners, one of which was Ayatollah Montazeri. The prison officials had implored Ayatollah Montazeri to say nothing about the tortures to the foreigners, in order to maintain Iran’s international face. When the visiting group asked about any tortures in the prison, most Evin prisoners kept silent or denied any tortures. In response to this question, however, Ayatollah Montazeri said in English: “I cannot answer this question,” while an interpreter and SAVAK agents were present. By giving such a symbolic answer, he truly showed SAVAK’s real stance and its crimes.
Ayatollah Montazeri established the Friday Prayer in Evin prison too. All the Muslim political prisoners participated in the Friday Prayer, such as Taleqani, Mahdavi Kani, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Lahouti, and others. But SAVAK prohibited it after a while.
Finally at the same time as the increasing campaign of Iranian nation and the retreat of Shah regime, Ayatollah Montazeri, along with the late Ayatollah Taleqani, was released from prison after three and a half years, on the 8th of Aban 1357 (1978) and was greatly welcomed by people. Imam Khomeini in a message addressed to Grand Ayatollah Montazeri for his release from prison said: “It is no strange from the cruel unjust regime to deprive a valuable figure for Islam and the nation, like you, from freedom and the most rudimentary human rights and treat him with middle ages tortures. Those betraying the country and the nation are afraid of the shadow of liberalizing people like you. They aim at jailing the men of religion and politics in order to let the foreigners and their affiliates ransack the treasury and assets of the nation.”
Ayatollah Montazeri was so trustee in revolutionary campaigns that Imam Khomeini assigned him as his representative in Iran, when he was in exile, and in a letter asked Ayatollah Montazeri to be in charge of his office. Imam Khomeini always addressed Ayatollah Montazeri by titles such as ‘invaluable scholar’, ‘notable campaigner’, ‘the fruit of my lifetime’, ‘the asset of the revolution’, and ‘Islam’s high pillar’. He also knew it necessary to maintain Ayatollah Montazeri’s face.
After the revolution, Imam Khomeini referred many political and jurisprudential issues in relation to the judiciary force and the ministries to Ayatollah Montazeri to decide about them. In the last letter attributed to him, Imam Khomeini has addressed Ayatollah Montazeri saying: “Everybody knows that you have been the fruit of my lifetime and I am greatly fond of you… I think it advisable for you and the revolution that you remain a jurisprudent from whose views the System and the people benefit.”
The Role of Ayatollah Montazeri in the Victory of the Islamic Revolution
The role Grand Ayatollah Montazeri played during the Islamic movement, which led to the victory of the Islamic revolution, can be discussed in several directions.
Political and Mental Aspect
Ayatollah Montazeri always attempted to deepen the culture of Jihad (holy war) and campaign with the monarchy among the people, especially the young students, while the idea of Jihad was abandoned in the society as well as the seminary. As a result, he had an especial attention to the educated group and religious intellectuals and their role in mental development and awakening of the masses. Ayatollah Montazeri always tried to eliminate the pessimism among university-educated people and the religious intellectuals, caused by the Shah regime. Moreover, he tried to fraternize these two groups and unite them as a single force against tyranny.
The establishment of Friday Prayers in Najafabad and then in Isfahan as well as in his exiles and prisons, and his presentation of Islamic government issues in prayer sermons in those despotic circumstances show his due attention to the religious and mental aspects of the Islamic movement.
From the political point of view, too, his support of the Islamic movement, under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, had a profound effect on the seminary scholars and the masses. When most clergymen, especially elderly ones and the founders of the seminary did not support the continuation of the movement, as a well-known scientific figure, his support had an unquestionable impression on the acceptance, favor, and development of the Islamic movement.
Supporting Marja’iat of Imam Khomeini
In the despotic atmosphere of the past regime, stabilization of Imam Khomeini’s marja’iat and leadership was one of the most important goals of Ayatollah Montazeri. At the same time as attending to the Islamic movement, Ayatollah Montazeri began attending to Imam Khomeini’s scientific and jurisprudential aspects and took Kharej of Osul lesson with Imam Khomeini in Qom seminary. As Imam Khomeini’s scientific and teaching stance stabilized in Qom seminary, Ayatollah Montazeri and Ayatollah Motahhari, along with the late Ayatollah Rabbani Shirazi, began concentrating on his marja’iat. By composing and signing a statement, they, together with a number of other acceptable scholars, took a big step in this regard, which led to their arrest and exile to harsh areas. Of course, the strong role of martyr Mohammad Montazeri should not be downgraded in this regard. In this stag, he took written confirmations of Ayatollah Montazeri’s marja’iat from the scholars of the seminary. He also had a strong and clear conflict with hindrances and conservatisms common to that time.
When the scholars and clergymen of other cities immigrated to Tehran, in opposition to Imam Khomeini’s arrest, Ayatollah Montazeri took important actions. He, along with Ayatollah Amini, helped arrange and send a telegraph on behalf of the immigrant scholars to Imam Khomeini addressing him as the Shi’a Marja’. This played a significant role in stabilizing the leadership and marja’iat of the late leader of the revolution.
Moreover, Ayatollah Montazeri’s attempt to avoid closing of Imam Khomeini’s fee for clergymen, during his exile should not be forgotten.
Arranging and Publishing Statements
The statements published against the monarchy of Shah regime had an undoubtedly vital role in the expansion of Jihad and Iranian nations’ campaigns. According to the documents discovered from SAVAK, Ayatollah Montazeri was the main supporter behind most of the published statements and surreptitious pamphlets by Qom seminary against dictator regime. Therefore, after publishing every statement, SAVAK increased its control over Ayatollah Montazeri.
The sincere attempts of the late Ayatollah Rabbani Shirazi, martyr Ayatollah Saduqi, martyr Ayatollah Sa’idi and also martyr Mohammad Montazeri and a number of other campaigner clergymen of then should not be understated.
Financial Support of the Islamic Movement and the Campaigners
The impact of continuous financial supports on every movement is quite clear. Ayatollah Montazeri considered his duty to financially help the Islamic movement, the campaigners, and the prisoners’ families. This was while the movement leader spent his exile abroad, his house in Qom was controlled by SAVAK, and the campaigners had virtually no relationship with their leader. SAVAK knew it too well and hence one of the charges against Ayatollah Montazeri in the court was his financial support of the Islamic movement and the political prisoners’ families.
With regard to the issues mentioned so far, it becomes clear that Grand Ayatollah Montazeri played the second most important role, after Imam Khomeini, in developing the Islamic movement. In other words, he can be called ‘the great establisher of the Islamic revolution’, after Imam Khomeini. This is well implied in the statements by scholars and the campaigning figures of the revolution. It is recommended to the readers to refer to the scripts of speeches and interviews of these figures in Volume 2 of the book ‘Faqih aliqadr’ for detailed information.
Accompanying the Revolution after its Victory
After the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1357 (1979), Ayatollah Montazeri was a source of reference for different people, the scholars, and the clergymen of the seminaries. A throng of foreign newsmen from international media often interviewed with him about the goals and future of the revolution. In those first days after the victory of the revolution, he paid attention to the official establishment of the Friday Prayers all over the country and in a meeting with Imam Khomeini, asked him to determine the Friday Prayer Imams of the provinces. Imam asked Ayatollah Montazeri to accept this responsibility himself. Then Imam Khomeini assigned the late Ayatollah Taleqani as the Friday Prayer leader of Tehran. The Friday Prayer leaders of other cities were also assigned and this great Islamic tradition was gradually revitalized in most parts f the country.
When the preliminary process of the Constitution Experts Council election began some of the original revolutionary figures and the seminary scholars insisted that Ayatollah Montazeri register as a candidate. He then became a candidate for Tehran. After being elected by a large vote, he was assigned as the chairman of the Constitution Experts Council.
At the same time as the initiation of this council Ayatollah Taleqani passed away and Ayatollah Montazeri was assigned as the leader of Tehran Friday Prayers. He remained in this position to the end of the first term of the Constitution Experts Council. Then, as he was returning to Qom seminary, Imam Khomeini implored him to introduce someone as the Friday Prayer leader. He introduced Hojjatul Islam Khamene’i and Imam Khomeini assigned him to the position.
After his return to Qom seminary, the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri accepted the Friday Prayer leadership of Qom, due to Imam Khomeini’s insistence. Then he left this position to Ayatollah Meshkini. Ayatollah Montazeri gave useful advice and recommendations to the government officials in all situations. Though he was fully engaged in teaching, researching, and writing in Qom seminary, his home and office were the reference center of government officials and various groups of people. He had turned out to be the trustworthiest mediator between people and Imam Khomeini, as well as the government. In his meetings and correspondences with Imam Khomeini and other officials, he reflected people’s views, needs, shortages, or probable mistakes.
He emphasized the participation of all people and political parties in making decision about the country, and using all the abilities and viewpoints- either pros or cons. He believed to absorb and guide even the anti-revolutionary and misguided forces, and stressed the importance of observing prisoners’ rights.
In contrast to the common method of government officials who attend little to opposition rights, and victimize it for surface expediency ad political exchanges, Ayatollah Montazeri considered protecting rights and basic freedoms as the most vital expediency. And while he was in office, he accepted no compromise in this regard. He nearly lost his position by supporting those whose belief and viewpoints he rejected.
At the beginning of Iraqi-imposed war against Iran, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri gave numerous help and support to the fronts. He continuously gave necessary advice, in general and private sessions, to the army commanders and officials. He also encouraged his own family members to go to war. His father, the late Hajj Ali Montazeri, his sons, and grandsons repeatedly took part in the war. Eventually, his son, Hojjatul Islam Sa’id Montazeri, lost sight of one eye and the hearing of one ear. Also Yaser Rostami, a grandson of Ayatollah Montazeri, was martyred in the war.
The presence of his immediate family members in the war and his own help did not prevent him from criticizing the war process. Nor it caused him to cover the mistakes and shortcomings. In 1361 (1982), after regaining Khorramshahr, Ayatollah Montazeri insisted that the war be ended. Imam Khomeini agreed with his viewpoint at first, but then changed his opinion, due to the wrong information given by some Sepah commanders. This led to losing many opportunities in the war and receiving great casualties. As a result, Imam Khomeini could not help accepting the U.N. Security Council’s 598 resolution in 1367 (1988).
The invaluable scholar, Ayatollah Montazeri, correlated with the nation, the revolution, universities, and the seminaries, and wisely gave guidelines and practical suggestions in various situations, which are recorded in the revolution history. Some of his viewpoints follow:
Setting out to Establish Management Council of Qom Seminary
This was done by the agreement of Imam Khomeini and the Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani. Three of the seminary scholars were selected by Ayatollah Montazeri, on behalf of Imam Khomeini, and three others were selected by Ayatollah Golpayegani, and the council began its work. He also gave necessary financial and intellectual support in case of probable problems in due situations.
Establishing Society of Representatives of Seminary Students
This was actualized when Ayatollah Montazeri felt that the views of seminary students in other cities should be considered, regarding their own issues.
Establishing Society of Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s)
It was felt that Islamic Republic needs competent individuals in the science and live languages of the world to be able to announce its goals throughout the world. Ayatollah Montazeri assigned Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani as the head of this university. Ayatollah Meshkini, Nouri Hamedani, Amini, Khamene’i, Imami Kashani, and some other trustworthy clerics were also assigned as its trust board. The constitution of this university clearly stipulates that the high management of the university is Ayatollah Montazeri, though the related issues of it are now arranged without informing him.
Establishing Qods Department in Imam Sadiq University
Being implored by the officials of Palestine embassy in Tehran to absorb Palestinian youth and enhance their religious and scientific information, Ayatollah Montazeri asked Imam Sadiq University to generate a faculty for this purpose. The fundamental steps were prepared, but unfortunately it could not be accomplished, due to the change in situation.
Establishing International Center for Islamic Sciences in Qom
This was established at the time the friends of the Islamic revolution from various countries came to Qom seminary to acquire Islamic sciences and the seminary could not support and host them.
Establishing Four Seminary Schools within Qom Seminary
These schools were Rasoul Akram, Imam Baqer, Imam Sadeq, and Be’that schools. They were founded when the Islamic revolution and the seminary attracted thousands of eager youngsters from different cities to come to Qom for learning Islamic theology. The seminary and the Management Council did not have capacity and capability to absorb and manage this mass of students then.
Establishing Specialized Higher School
This was established when Ayatollah Montazeri remind the necessity of specializing the expanded fields of Shi’a jurisprudence. It took useful steps, but was then stopped due to the changing conditions.
Establishing Seminary Schools Abroad
Seminary schools abroad were founded for training students in their own countries. Ayatollah Montazeri attended to the fact that building seminary schools in students’ own countries and sending teachers there may be more useful. In this regard, some schools were established in Sierra Leone and Kenya.
Assigning Representative for the Students’ Islamic Society Abroad
This followed repeated requests of these societies. Ayatollah Montazeri’s representative attended all their meetings and seminars broad, and also gave Ayatollah Montazeri’s political and intellectual guidelines, as well as financial support.
Renewing and Developing Dar Al-Shafa’ School in Qom
The expense for the renewal of the building was granted by one of the
alms givers, under Ayatollah Montazeri’s supervision. In this project, various houses surrounding the school were bought and affixed to it. The school itself was renewed in a modern way and equipped with several sections for general teachings. Also separate well-equipped sections were considered for the management center, meetings, and conferences. It has been used for these purposes for many years now.
Establishing Islamic Center in Kurdistan
Because of Sunni clergymen’s repeated requests of Ayatollah Montazeri for making a center of Islamic theology in this region, he established the center after consulting with Imam Khomeini. The center served the region’s people a lot, especially during the Iraqi-imposed war when this region had many crises. Establishing this center eliminated the need for the Sunni clerics to go to countries like Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Similar actions were taken in Zahedan, Torbat Jam, and Torkaman Sahra by these region’s clerics under Ayatollah Montazeri’s supervision. Yet, none of them were as important and as stabilized as the Islamic Center in Kurdistan.
Sending Boards to Different Countries
Various boards were sent to foreign countries to declare the goals of
Islamic revolution. This was done after Imam Khomeini announced the last
Friday of Ramadan as the International Qods Day. It was the first step
taken by Islamic revolution with such motivation and message.
Setting the First Seminar of Friday Prayer Leaders
This seminar was formed in Iran and abroad after Ayatollah Montazeri’s attempt to revitalize the Islamic tradition of Friday Prayer in the country. The seminar was held in Feyziyyeh School. It began its work with Ayatollah Montazeri’s message to the seminar and was attended by political and clerical figures.
Setting Wahdat (Union) week
This was done because of the need of the Islamic world for unity and a united Islamic front, regardless of racial and religious sect differences. The Sunni historians has cited the birthday of Prophet of Islam on 12th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, while most of the Shi’a historians believe it to be on 17th of the same month. For this reason, Ayatollah Montazeri suggested to celebrate from 12th to 17th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal as ‘Wahdat weak’. This was greatly welcome both in Iran and abroad, by the jurisprudents then, the late Ayatollah Montazeri, revolutionary organizations, and religious and political figures.
Announcing Welayat wa Imamate Weak
In 1364 (1985), Ayatollah Montazeri announced the week of 188th to 25th of Zihajjeh (the last lunar month) as Imamate weak. Iranian Muslims, who are the fonds of Prophet Mohammad’s Household, received this warmly. 18th of Zihajjeh is Eid-e Ghadir, a Muslim holiday. On this day, Mohammad, the Messenger of Allah introduced Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb as his successor, by Allah’s permission. On 24th, some important events have occurred throughout history. One is the Prophet’s Mobahele (curse) before the Christians of Najran region and the revelation of Mobahele verse of the Holy Quran. Another occurrence of this day is that Imam Ali (a.s) granted his ring to a poor man, while he was genuflecting in his prayer. Also on the 25th of Zihajjeh Imam Ali (a.s), Fatima Al-Zahra, and their sons, Imam Hassan and Imam Hossein (a.s), who were fasting, granted their food to a slave for the third consecutive day; after giving away their food to a poor and a hungry man on the first and second days. When they broke their fasting with water on the third day, the chapter Dahr chapter of Quran was revealed about them.
Announcing International Day of the Oppressed
The 15th of Sha’ban, the birth anniversary of the 12th Shi’a Imam was announced, by Ayatollah Montazeri, as the International Day of the Oppressed.
Creating Unity between the Seminary and University
From the very first days of the revolution, Ayatollah Montazeri thought of fraternizing the students of the seminary and university. Ayatollah Montazeri held various meetings for this reason and participated in them. Finally the day Ayatollah Doctor Mofatteh was martyred was announced as Unity between Seminary and University. Every year, ceremonies are held in both the seminaries and universities on this day.
Sending Board to Afghanistan
In the years 1363 and 1364 (1985) Shi’a groups in Afghanistan were harshly fighting. More than a thousand people were killed in these battles. Ayatollah Montazeri sent a delegation there by cooperation of Sepah (an army branch) and the foreign ministry. They had to make ceasefire, and create judiciary councils in released areas. They also organized the seminaries and clergies of that country.
Assigning Religious Judges Abroad
Following repeated requests from Afghanistan and Lebanon, Imam Khomeini asked Ayatollah Montazeri to assign judges and prayer Leaders for other countries. Following this responsibility, he began assigning judges for revolutionary courts as well as Prayer leaders for Afghanistan’s released areas. However, the judges were assigned for only one year. If they had a reasonable during their term in office, their order diktat would have been repeated.
Establishing an Islamic Teacher Training Center
When some of Ayatollah Montazeri’s representatives went to universities for teaching Islamic teachings, they felt the necessity for training powerful professors who fit the milieu of universities. To this end, Ayatollah Montazeri created a center in Qom Dar Al-Shafa’ School, in which a group of clergymen began learning. Having been graduated, they are now among the best Islamic teachings professors in universities.
Establishing the Committee for Dividing Uncultivated Lands
Imam Khomeini ordered Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Beheshti, and Ayatollah Meshkini to make a comprehensive plan for dividing the uncultivated lands among non-owner farmers. The agriculture ministry and seven other related organizations were responsible for practicing the plan. For closely scrutinizing the execution of land distribution, se judges were selected by Ayatollah Montazeri. He also supervised the work of central committee, selected its managers, and paid for the supervising judges in other cities. The committee divided thousands of hectares of disowned lands among poor farmers, who had no capital and not enough land. It also investigated major owners’ lands with Imam Khomeini’s permission.
Sending Delegation to Lebanon
When a severe civil war broke out between Amal and Hezbollah Shi’a groups, it led to hundreds of casualties. Following this, Ayatollah Montazeri sent an especial group there to make ceasefire between the two groups.
Establishment of an Institute for Helping the Fighters
During the eight year Iraqi imposed war, one of the centers for helping the armed forces was Ayatollah Montazeri’s office. Many people sent in their monetary helps to a certain account under Ayatollah Montazeri’s name. He set a committee composed of representatives from the army, Sepah, Basij, and Jahad to identify their respective forces’ needs and arrange people’s help accordingly.
Ayatollah Montazeri had representatives himself in this committee who went to the front line regularly, and identified and provided the fighters’ non-arm needs.
Establishment of Higher evolutionary Court
This important organization was established in Qom at the time when various reports were received about incongruity among revolutionary courts’ performance, which was felt to weaken these courts’ public face. By establishing the higher revolutionary court, Ayatollah Montazeri who had authority from Imam Khomeini, suggested the Higher Judiciary Council to issue a circular to all revolutionary courts. According to this circular, all cases of capital punishment and confiscation of more than five hundred thousand Tomans should have been sent to the higher court to revise the verdict. Thanks to the higher revolutionary court, thousands of lives were saved. These people continued their ordinary life after being released from prison.
Sending Representatives to Prisons
Ayatollah Montazeri sent representatives to Prisons to investigate prisoners’ issues. This was done after receiving various complainant letters from prisoners and their families.
Establishment of Board for Amnesty of Prisoners
The board for amnesty of prisoners was established when Ayatollah Montazeri’s representative in prisons informed him of some prisoner’s regretful ness or their interest in the Islamic system. Ayatollah Montazeri insisted that such people not remain in prison anymore. The members of this board were Ayatollah Mohammadi Gilani, Ayatollah Abtahi Kashani, Ayatollah Musavi Bojnurdi, and Ayatollah Qazi Khorram Abadi. It is noteworthy that the board members prepared the list of people deserving amnesty to be confirmed by the Intelligent Ministry. And then Ayatollah Montazeri pardoned them, on behalf of Imam Khomeini.
Continuous Attempt in Several Aspects
A cursory glance at the life of Ayatollah Montazeri and his activities before the victory of the Islamic revolution and after it reveals that he has been active in several aspects. During the campaign against the Shah monarchy, he never quitted scientific and jurisprudential attempts, teaching, and research in seminary. He always turned his prisons and exiles into centers for scientific and jurisprudential research, to the extent possible. For instance, he began the discussion of Kharej Khoms with some of his knowledgeable friends and scholar inmates in Evin prison, as well as teaching Taharat and Asfar.
Ayatollah Montazeri believed that a life without Jihad (holy war) and Ijtihad (attempt in deducing rules) would be meaningless. So he has considered these two principles since he was young. After the victory of the Islamic revolution, too, his continuous meetings with the people, attending to the goals of the revolution, and giving creative suggestions did not impede his principal responsibilities of scientific works, teaching and training students and authoring jurisprudential books. Likewise, scientific activities did not kept him away from supporting the government and the revolution.
Views on Islamic Government
A brief review of Ayatollah Montazeri’s views during the ten years after the victory of Islamic revolution reveals his useful thoughts about the issues related to the seminary, the revolution, the system, and the government. Here are some other viewpoints of him, which were mostly published in the media during his term as leadership locumtenens.
Emphasis on Congruity of Various Parts of the System
After the establishment of the Friday Prayer tradition and assignation of Friday leaders in all cities by Imam Khomeini, who had popular support and influence among the public, naturally there appeared contrasts between them and the governors and provincial officials. These conflicts were usually solved by direct intervention of Imam Khomeini, Ayatollah Montazeri, or other revolutionary figures. In these situations Ayatollah Montazeri emphasized the importance of unity and said: “The country cannot be governed by two opposing systems. In the early Islamic age, that Islamic government was established, there was a single system. This contradiction, which is observed in different parts of the country, should be finally resolved and replaced with a unity in the government.”
Friday Leaders’ Endurance
In his meetings with Friday Prayer leaders, Ayatollah Montazeri always stressed the fact that they had been assigned by Imam Khomeini and were his spiritual and intellectual representatives. As a result, he reminded the necessity of their patience toward various people and political parties. Of importance to him was also their avoiding inclination toward a certain party or individual, as Imam Khomeini did himself.
Avoiding Partisanship toward Certain Groups
In his meetings with officials, Ayatollah Montazeri always recommended that choosing and assigning people for positions should be based on their capability, prior knowledge, and piety, not based on friendship or partisanship. Some time in the past, he had felt that the original revolutionary forces were being omitted; therefore he mentioned a crawling coup against revolutionary forces, in his guidelines to the masses.
Avoiding Useless Luxuries
Ayatollah Montazeri always recommended the clerics, officials, and the ordinary people to have a simple life. And if life conditions necessitate possessing some things, he recommended having the minimum needed. He also warned about wrong consumption common in some circles and families, and said: “Excessive consumption of anything not only effects people’s minds negatively, but also leaves the country dependent upon foreigners, forces us to borrow from them, and import goods.”
Changing the Face of War
After Iran’s regaining control over the strategic Khorramshahr port and the exit of Ba’th occupying army from Iran’s borderline, Ayatollah Montazeri suggested the high government officials to terminate the war, but they did not accept it. He then proposed to change the face of the war into the war of Muslim Iraqi nation with the Ba’th government, saying: “It is better to have Iraqi prisoners of war and Iraqi forces opposing Saddam government continue the war, with Islamic republic government supporting them. This way there is no ground for Saddam’s propagandizing the war between Arabs and non-Arabs. Moreover, the Muslim Iraqi nation would have the motivation to join the war against Saddam.”
Dispatching Guerilla Bands to Iraq
Ayatollah Montazeri suggested the officials in charge of war affairs to create guerilla bands and dispatch them to Iraq, at the time when Iranian forces had not only no gains in various operations, but also many casualties.
Underlining Freedom of Mass Media
Ayatollah Montazeri constantly stressed the freedom of mass media- television, radio, and the press- and equal use of all political and intellectual parties from mass media. In his meetings with relevant officials, he repeatedly emphasized on freedom of speech and writing, saying: “Without freedom of speech and its resulting challenge of ideas, our nation would not reach political and mental independence, which are among the goals of the revolution.”
Emphasis on Freedom of Parties
After the ratification of parties’ law, Ayatollah Montazeri emphasized its execution, apart from political considerations. In response to those who were doubtful of congruity of freedom of parties with Wilayat-e Faqih (leadership of jurisprudent), he stated: “The authority of Wali-e Faqih is demonstrated in the constitution, and national parties can exchange ideas about the country and revolution issues.” He also stated: “If political parties are not free in our society according to the law, they would certainly take an unlawful, hidden, and partisan nature. The clergymen would be harmfully affected then. As a result, the unity in the society and the divinity of the Islamic scholars would be endangered.”
Emphasis on Practicing City and Village Councils Law
Ayatollah Montazeri believed that if we want people to know themselves as the owners of the government, and have a strong relationship with the officials, we should give them choice in selecting their city officials, on the basis of the law.
Paying Special Attention to Agriculture Improvement
Ayatollah Montazeri repeatedly warned about increasing immigration wave of the farmers to large cities, especially Tehran. He considered the main reason behind it lack of attention to agriculture in rural areas. He stated: “If the farmers do not benefit from agriculture and staying in the village, they cannot help immigrating to the cities. On the other hand, city attractions like facilities and cheaper foodstuff, too, cause villagers to immigrate. As a result, agriculture is affected and the country would become dependent on foreign countries for its food. We should provide all these facilities for the villagers to prevent their immigration to cities. Furthermore, our economy should not depend on oil revenues, since this source may terminate one day, and then we may face problems. We should make our economy independent from oil industry by attending to agriculture and other economic sources and industries.”
Emphasis on Eliminating Unnecessary Organizations
Ayatollah Montazeri designed a plan for the contraction of armed forces, and presented it to the high officials of the country. Based on this plan, only two armed forces are needed; a military force for maintaining borders of the country, and a law enforcement force for maintaining inner security, irrespective of the name each possesses. Naturally, Committee and Gendarmery would contract and make a unified law enforcement force. Basij would have to be under Imam Khomeini’s control to act as a supportive force for both the military and enforcement forces, in necessary conditions. Later on, this plan was mostly ratified and practiced, as well. Ayatollah Montazeri presented the same viewpoint about other unnecessary institutes of the government, like Military Industries of the Army and Sepah, or Dissemination Office and Dissemination Organization, as well as some of the ministries.
Insistence on Practicing Constitution by all Organizations
He always reminded that if the present generation that is the establisher of the revolution does not remain loyal to the constitution, the major achievement of the Islamic revolution, what the future generations is expected to do.
Manipulation and Completion of Constitution
Ayatollah Montazeri was the head of the experts in charge of compilation of the constitution. He acknowledged some faults and ambiguities in the constitution. However, he did not agree with the especial post-war milieu for its completion, due to political and social conditions. He also had some viewpoints on the issues to be manipulated and wrote to Imam Khomeini about them.
Emphasis on Absorbing the Educated Abroad
Ayatollah Montazeri recommended his deputies abroad as well as relevant officials to identify patriot Iranians in other countries and encourage them to return to Iran. Finally after the officials felt this necessity, too, some state delegations were sent to foreign countries for this purpose.
Avoidance of Clerics from Taking State Positions
Ayatollah Montazeri was informed of popular pessimism toward the clergymen, because of their taking significant positions, like presidency, and parliament representativeness. He reminded this pessimism and its consequences in every possible situation, and believed that if there are knowledgeable and competent non-clerics to take official positions, there would be no need to assign clerics to them.
Emphasis on Political Modification of System Structure
Ayatollah Montazeri always emphasized on the modification of our political structure, removing inconsistencies and contradictions, and improving it. In his view, there is no balance between responsibility and power in assigning duty to people and organizations. This imbalance is especially observed in the leadership and presidency positions. On one hand, so much authority is given to the leader, without defining his responsibilities toward people or their representatives. On the other hand, so many responsibilities are defined for the president, while his authority is not in accord with such a heavy responsibility. About Welayat-e Faqih (leadership of a jurisprudent), Ayatollah Montazeri presented the Entekhab (selection) theory in his Kharej lesson, while he was leader locum. According to this theory, a Faqih (jurisprudent), however fully qualified he may be, would not be a legal leader without popular vote, and that government is basically a necessary contraction between the people and the governors. Also any legal and logical requirement would be acceptable in this contraction. Therefore, if people wish, they can make their governors’ authority limited, temporary, or segregated, when contracting with them. The structure of Islamic government and its political system could hence be modified in any time, according to the conditions and necessities of the time and based on experts’ views as well as people’s ratification.
Attention to Popular Organizations
Ayatollah Montazeri’s political ideas are based on giving due attention to the role of people in all sections of the Islamic system; a role which is not only necessary in actualization of the system, but also in its legalization. As a result, he stressed this point since he was leader locum. He also underlined the role of organizations derived from people’s vote, especially the parliament. Therefore, he opposed any organization parallel to the parliament that interfered with law making of people’s representatives. He considered such parallel organizations as opposing the essence and goals of the constitution.
Insistence on Removing Illegal Organizations
From the outset of Islamic revolution victory, Ayatollah Montazeri urged dissolution of some institutes that were established based on the preliminary necessities of the revolution and did not fit legal frameworks anymore. Organizations like Revolutionary Court, Especial Clerical Court, or High Cultural Revolution Council are, in his views, in contrast to the constitution and its purpose.
Emphasis on Honoring Human Personality
Grand Ayatollah Montazeri emphasizes honoring humans, with every
belief and viewpoint. To him, the basic rights of all the people should be respected and supported in an Islamic government. In so doing, people’s beliefs should not be the criterion.
Insistence on Maintaining Opposition Rights
An outstanding feature of Ayatollah Montazeri’s political thought and behavior is maintaining the rights of religious or political opponents, especially the prisoners’ rights. In his view, first, there is no record of political prisoners in Islam. Second, if political charge is supposedly accepted, this charge should be proved in a court of justice that observes the rights of the accused person, such as the right of having a lawyer. The court’s unpartisanship is guaranteed only if it is not a governmental court, since the government is one part of the political trial. And if the court is related to the government, it should issue verdict based on the opinion of a jury composed of people from all political parties; not attributed to the government.
Leadership Succession and its Aftermath
From the very beginning of the Islamic revolution victory, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was supposed as the locum of Imam Khomeini among the revolutionary figures and Iranian Muslims. Even most of those who opposed the inclusion of Welayat-e Faqih (leadership of a jurisprudent) article in the constitution, accepted the capability of Ayatollah Montazeri and his popularity among the masses. Hajj Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini, Imam Khomeini’s son, in his ranjnameh, acknowledged the fact that Ayatollah Montazeri has been proposed as the leader locum since 1358 (1979), though he claimed he had suggested it himself.
Ayatollah Montazeri’s succession of the leader of Islamic revolution was accepted by people, while outstanding figures like Ayatollah Motahhari and Ayatollah Beheshti were alive and confirmed it too. In his letter to Imam Khomeini, Ayatollah Beheshti listed his reasons for opposing some political groups after the revolution, among which was their opposition to Ayatollah Montazeri’s future leadership. In the same vein, when the first Leadership Experts Council officially announced him as leader locum, it clearly stipulated in its statement: “Ayatollah Montazeri is the unique instance of the first part of article 107 of the constitution for the time being. He is accepted by the nation for the future leadership of the country; the Experts Council confirms this opinion of people’s.”
Consequently, acceptance of Ayatollah Montazeri as future leader-just like acceptance of Imam Khomeini’s leadership- was not a matter of assigning, rather a matter of consensus on the part of Iranian nation. The statement of Experts Council was only an issue of official announcement and confirmation.
As Ayatollah Montazeri had campaigned against the previous regime honestly and wholeheartedly, for Allah and Islam, and believed in human freedom, he continued the same belief and manner after the revolution victory. Power and official position could not keep him away from his beliefs. Hence he strongly opposed faults and deviations of some officials, especially inhumane behaviors toward political prisoners and excessive executions. He could not sacrifice Islamic and revolutionary values for the position of leadership succession.
Those officials who considered the revolution as a means for reaching their worldly ambitions- wealth and power- could not stand Ayatollah Montazeri’s clear criticisms and oppositions. As a result, they strongly attempted to remove him completely from all the political and social scenes of the country. This was implemented through tale telling for Imam Khomeini against Ayatollah Montazeri. Then after two years of polluting the minds, this process began its second phase by sending a letter from Imam Khomeini’s house to Ayatollah Montazeri. This letter, which was completely different from Imam Khomeini’s literature, was written on Farvardin 6th of 1368 (March 1989). In his Farvardin 7th response, Ayatollah Montazeri left it to the Experts Council to decide about the leadership. Finally, the media announced Ayatollah Montazeri’s dismissal from leadership secession as his resigning from it, at the same time as publishing Imam Khomeini’s letter of 8th of Farvardin.
Afterwards, other destructive processes began, such as dismantling the walls around his house, removing his name and picture from all academic books, government offices, and public places and streets, and collecting all his books and written works. They charged and prosecuted many of his friends and students. In addition to these physical activities, the process of disgracing Ayatollah Montazeri was followed by writing Ranjnameh and political diaries, obscene articles in the newspapers, and belittling speeches and statements in the radio, television, and Friday Prayer sermons. All these actions were taken while the least attempt for defending Ayatollah Montazeri was suppressed. No periodical dared write a single sentence in support of Ayatollah Montazeri.
In the late 1368 (1989), when the issue of foreign borrowing was presented, Ayatollah Montazeri gave an opposing speech, saying that foreign loans are harmful for the country and harm our political and social independence. Following this criticism, some rabbles attacked his house, and after chanting obscene slogans and breaking the sign of his office, left the place.
On Bahman 21st 1371 (February 1982), the victory anniversary of Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Montazeri gave a 15-minute speech. In this speech, he opposed the atmosphere of intimidation that was set for some honest revolutionary forces and the arrest and imprisonment of some of them, like martyr Hajj Dawud Karimi. Two days later, some people gathered in front of Ayatollah Montazeri’s house and clamored by chanting and stone throwing. The next morning, they attacked his teaching assembly, beat, and arrested some of his students. Then at 10 P.M., nearly one thousand law enforcement forces surrounded the district completely, broke the doors by crane, and also the windows of his house and Husseyniyyeh. After this wild attack, they ransacked many properties and also the archived files in the place.
In 1373 (1984), after Ayatollah Araki ’s demise, some seminary scholars represented Ayatollah Montazeri’s marja’iat. After the leader’s speech in reaction to this issue, however, pressure groups attacked Ayatollah Montazeri’s house again, chanting and throwing stone to the windows. The next day, they attacked his teaching session again, broke the equipment, and threatened the students.
On Aban 23rd 1376 (1997)- equal with Rajab 13th - Ayatollah Montazeri who felt the danger of governmentalizing Shi’a jurisprudence and interference of state organizations with it, gave an important speech. In his speech, he talked about complete independence of three powers, responsibility of all people before the law, denouncing ultra legality of the leader, leader’s limited power according to the constitution, freedom in choosing Shi’a jurisprudence, and freedom of political and national parties. This time the opposition group showed a complete array of power, by dispatching forces of Sepah, Basij, and information ministry from various cities- pretending they are ordinary people- who attacked Huseyniyyeh, destructed it completely, and occupied it. They also rushed to Ayatollah Montazeri’s office and house, broke, tore, and ransacked anything they found. In attacking his house, some Sepah officials insisted on transferring Ayatollah Montazeri to an unidentified place, for saving his life. But their plan failed by Ayatollah Montazeri’s opposition. Huseyniyyeh was under the control of the occupying forces for some days, which was then left as a ruin. Then the Especial Clerical Court sealed the place, which has remained so to the present day. Some days after this occurrence, all the doors to Ayatollah Montazeri’s house were closed and welded, by Clerical Court’s verdict; the attorney general of which was Rey Shahri then. Only the front door to his house was left open. A prefabricated room was placed in front of this entrance with guards inside it all day long.
For over five years, no one could meet Ayatollah Montazeri but his daughters and sons, brothers, sisters, and his grandchildren. He was under house arrest with the charge of advising and benevolence. What a strange consequence! During this period, many people opposed this situation by writing letters, statements, and signing scrolls, among which were great jurisprudents, seminary and university teachers, and Ayatollah Montazeri’s fond and followers. Political activists and parties and parliament representatives continuously requested Ayatollah Montazeri’s release from house arrest. The government not only did not respond to their requests, but also sued some of them. In 1377 (1998), people of Isfahan decided to hold an opposition gathering in the Friday Prayer of this city. This public activity faced the leader’s fierce reaction, and pressure groups coming from different cities suppressed it.
As Ayatollah Montazeri’s house arrest continued, public interest and attention of international media to him increased. Finally, because of his growing illness and the pressure of national scholars and international circles, as well as an open letter signed by more than a hundred and ten parliament representatives, plus Ayatollah Taheri Isfahani’s statement, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was released from his five-year house arrest on Bahman 10th 1381 (January 2002), and the scholars and people could meet him again. But his Huseyniyyeh in which teaching sessions were held is still closed. His students benefit from his teaching in a small office, which bothers them.
During Ayatollah Montazeri’s years of house arrest, his children, relatives, and students were prosecuted and arrested. After a limited publication of his diary book, his son-in-laws and his son, who was injured in the war, were arrested and imprisoned. Also his friends and students were continuously threatened, and about two hundred of them were arrested.
Ayatollah Montazeri’s Scientific Stance
Borujerdi and Imam Khomeini.
Imam Khomeini has referred his followers to Ayatollah Montazeri’s verdict for many of his precautionary issues, which are mentioned in detail in Ayatollah Montazeri’s Diary Book. These jurisprudential issues include ta’zirat (Islamic punishments) in response to the Guardian Council, the issue of mofsed-e fil arz (mischief maker on the earth) in response to Ayatollah Musavi Ardebili, the ihtikar (hoarding) issue, the diyeh (blood money) for cutting leg, some Hajj issues, hezanat (right of fostering) of a mother, determining the hodud (limits) of music, determining the religious verdict of escaping from the war frontline, and the issues related to the army.
It is noteworthy that if a jurisprudent refers his followers to another jurisprudent in some precautionary issues, it denotes to the seminary scholars that he knows that jurisprudent as the most qualified one to be followed, after himself. It was through the same method that Ayatollah Borujerdi was known as the major jurisprudent after the demise of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Abul Hassan Isfahani. In other words, he had referred his followers to Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi for precautionary issues.
In this case, too, Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeini has referred his followers to Ayatollah Montazeri for many of the issues of precaution, as well as some issues in which he had strong opinion. This is of great importance in knowing the most knowledgeable jurisprudent of the time. Also this latter case, that is reference for certain verdicts is very rare in Shi’a history, if not unique.
Ayatollah Montazeri in the Speech of Great Scholars
Here, we briefly review great scholars’ and the notables’ opinions only about Ayatollah Montazeri’s scientific character.
Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi
“Try not to miss young jurisprudents!” He was asked: “Who do you mean?” He answered: “People like Montazeri,” and continued: “… I want Montazeri to be the scholar of all the Muslims…”
Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeini
“I’ve known him for many years. He is now one of the greatest scholars in Iran and is respected by the Muslims.” “… He is a scholar who have attempted for fifty years, he is more knowledgeable in Fiqh than many of the present scholars.” “… He is a valuable, knowledgeable, and abiding person. He has suffered a lot in prison and is experienced in these issues.” “He would get a great jurisprudent. He is very useful, because he has the ability to teach. Therefore, he should be kept for marja’iat.”
Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khansari
“Go to Qom and besides teaching write down your studies to remain for the future generation.”
Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Morteza Motahhari
“Ayatollah Montazeri is scientifically more powerful than many of Ayatollahs and jurisprudents.”
Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini Beheshti
“Imam Khomeini considered him (Motahhari) and Ayatollah Montazeri as two of the best educated persons in his ethics lessons, and Imam Khomeini naturally loved his scientific progenies a lot.”
“… Those who do not have a creative mind have the same opinion throughout their lives. When they are asked about an issue they would refer you to their writings. But those who have creative and dynamic minds change their understanding of an issue even over a year, like our dear friend, the knowledgeable campaigner who says: ‘That was yesterday and this is today!’ In other words, he is not a biased person. He has thought and studied since yesterday and reached a new conclusion.”
Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Mohammad Saduqi
“By Allah that Ayatollah Montazeri is undoubtedly a qualified jurisprudent. He has been so for thirty years now.”
Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Mohammad Fazel Lankarani
“Ayatollah Montazeri was among the first group of Imam Khomeini’s best students. He and the late Ayatollah Motahhari had acknowledged Ayatollah Montazeri’s greatness before others. In Imam Khomeini’s Kharej of Fiqh wa Osul teaching circle, Ayatollah Montazeri and the late Motahhari were among the few students. I remember he participated in Imam Khomeini’s teaching and usually discussed the issues with Imam Khomeini afterwards.”
Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Abdul Karim Musawi Ardebili
“Apart from Ayatollah Montazeri’s high scientific status, his piety and his campaigns have added to his greatness. He is among rare individuals the more we get to know them, the more we get their perfection.”
Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Yusof Sane’i
“…When I first came to the seminary as a young student, Ayatollah Montazeri was already a pious scholar who was attended to by the late Ayatollah Borujerdi.”
“The invaluable book Derasat fi Wilayat Al-Faqih has a significant place in Shi’a jurisprudence. This work resembles a wavy ocean that has taken deduction method, research, and wonderful patience to be authored. The seminary people should attend to these methods and follow them in their works to find better revolutionary ways in working out jurisprudential problems… The expanded attempt of the notable author in using various sources and reasons is a method he has inherited from his teacher the late Ayatollah Borujerdi, and he has adopted pondering in the Holy Book and traditions for recognizing religious issues among irreligious ones, from Imam Khomeini. This book is a reminder of the method used in Jawaher of Sheikh and his excellent jurisprudential method. Briefly speaking, he has used Shi’s instruments (Wasa’il Al-Shi’a) in making the issues of Wilayat-e Faqih extended (Mabsut). By pondering in the oceans (Bihar) of sciences of the Prophet’s Household, he has made the facets of this issue refined (Muhazzab). He has adorned the discussions by methods of refinement (Tahzib) and expurgation (Tanqih), which is sufficient (Kafi) for the jurisprudents, and a comprehensible source (Jame’ Al-Shetat) even for those who learn with no teacher (man la Yahzarohol Faqih). The invaluable jurisprudent by writing about the means (Tahrir-e Wasileh), collecting documents (Madarek), and crossing the ways (Masalek), has assembled lights (Lom’e) and jewels (Jawaher). He has ignored no logical or narrative means (Mustamsak) for making the issues documentary (Mustanad). Hence he has taught approaches (Sharaye’) of religion with such a short and to the point (Mukhtasar wa Nafe’) tone, and valid (Mu’tabar) arguments that it is the key to perfection (Meftah-e Keramat) for the seminaries, and eloquent speech (Zobdat Al-Bayan) and conclusion of verdicts (Nahayat Al-Ahkam) for guiding the minds (Ershad-e Azhan) to the Fiqh of Quran (Fiqh-e Qor’an) and the works of Prophet’s Household…”
Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Ruh Allah Khatami
“… We should say he is a prodigy… he is now an example of the past and present jurisprudents…” “… Now we can find several certain jurisprudents, who have been Ayatollah Montazeri’s students…”
Ayatollah Hajj Aqa Hossein Khademi
“Ayatollah Montazeri spent his life in revitalizing Qom Seminary, teaching, and training scholars and clerics for the society, and his scientific position is manifest to everyone…”
Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Hassan Hassan Zadeh Amoli
(Addressing Montazeri) “… Some days ago, I nearly experienced death and made myself ready for it. Therefore, what I say now is not for gaining worldly positions. I have met many professors, the late Mirza Ahmad Ashtiani, the late Sha’rani, the late Rafi’i Qazwini, the late Fazel Touni, and the late Elahi Qomshe’i. But I have seen no one like you; I’ve seen your humbleness, your honesty, your piety, and your present mind in no one else…”
Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Abul Hassan Shirazi
“To me, Ayatollah Montazeri has a good scientific stance in Qom Seminary… in terms of knowledge, which is very essential for a jurisprudent. He is the first one, after Imam Khomeini, and no one is his counterpart.”
Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Mohammad Mu’men
“… If you want to judge someone’s knowledge, you should study carefully one of his works on whose topic you have mastery, by reviewing the related issues and traditions. I studied the book Ayatollah Montazeri has written about Hodud, because I had discussions about the same issue…I also studied other works on the issue and only found two more books, which were as complete as his book; by Ayatollah Khou’i and the late Ayatollah Khansari. In comparison, I found his book so much stronger than these two other sources. Fairly speaking, I cannot say Ayatollah Khou’i is more informed than Ayatollah Montazeri…”
Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Mohammad Musavi Bojnurdi
“I was very close to Ayatollah Mustafa Khomeini, Imam Khomeini’s son. We were always together in Imam Khomeini’s teaching sessions and on travels. The late Mustafa Khomeini admired Ayatollah Montazeri’s jurisprudence a lot, and described him as very precise in Ma’qul sciences, even more precise than the late Ayatollah Motahhari...I think he is the best scholar among the present Shi’a scholars, after Imam Khomeini. I have been the student of those who are in Najaf and Qom, and studied their books, so I believe in what I say.”
Ayatollah Hajj Seyyed Ja’far Karimi
“… Truly we have jurisprudents that are older and more experienced than him, but he is the most knowledgeable of all in jurisprudential issues…”
In 1345 (1966), the clergymen and scholars of Qom Seminary wrote a letter to great jurisprudents of Iraq and Iran, in opposition to Ayatollah Montazeri’s arrest. This is an excerpt from the letter: “It is clear to everyone that Ayatollah Montazeri is one of the greatest professors of high levels. His Kharej teaching session has been the circle of some Qom Seminary scholars. Most clergymen who are preaching and guiding people throughout country have benefited from his teaching…” A closer look at the date and signatories of this letter makes Ayatollah Montazeri’s stance more obvious. Among them these scholars are discerned: Ayatollahs: Muhammad Fazel Lankarani, Muhammad Ali Gerami, Seyyed Mehdi Rohani, Hossein Nouri Hamedani, Hassan Zadeh Amoli, Mohammad Mu’men Qomi, Hossein Mazaheri, Mohammad Shah Abadi, Ansari Shirazi, Abdullah Jawadi Amoli, Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, Mohammadi Gilani, Abolqasem Khaz’ali, etc.
Two methods are common among Islamic jurisprudents for Ijtihad ; Abstract Fiqh Method and Comparative Fiqh Method.
Abstract Fiqh is reviewing Quranic verses, Prophet’s traditions, and Shi’a jurisprudents’ opinions on a certain issue. Comparative Fiqh is studying Quranic verses, Prophet’s traditions, and Shi’a jurisprudential verdicts, as well as the verdicts issued by Sunni jurisprudents and their documents.
Among the contemporary jurisprudents only the late Ayatollah Borujerdi had chosen the latter method. He considered this method better in getting a complete understanding of the precise as well as ambiguous points in the traditions of Shi’a infallible Imams. Ayatollah Montazeri explained Fiqh method of his teacher, Ayatollah Borujerdi, as follows:
The late Ayatollah Borujerdi used to say: ‘Most of the traditions of the Prophet’s Household (a.s) are regarded as the marginal points of the current Fiqh of their ages. Because the official and common Fiqh in the age of Imams (a.s) has been Sunni Fiqh and Imams’ traditions mostly refer to the common verdicts of that time, we should know their age’s Fiqh completely to be able to understand their point of reference well…’
Ayatollah Montazeri himself has adopted Fiqh method of the late Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi. For studying an issue, he thus reviewed the Sunni traditions and verdicts, as well as the opinions of the past and present Shi’a jurisprudents.
Another significant point about his Fiqh method is his especial attention to Osul-e Motallaqat (Adoption Principles). Fiqh issues are generally of two types. Some issues are secondary ones, and some are primary ones, which are directly collected from the words of Imams, though they are not based on traditions at hand. The late Ayatollah Borujerdi believed that if there are verdicts of Shi’s jurisprudents in old books, they have been adopted from Imams’ words, for sure, even if they are not found in tradition books. These books are derived from Osul-e Motallaqat. The late Ayatollah Borujerdi paid due attention to old books for issuing verdicts. Ayatollah Montazeri, too, followed the same method of his late professor.
The third characteristic of Ayatollah Montazeri’s jurisprudential method is his attention to the settings of traditions and the mental and social conditions of narrators. Likewise, the late Ayatollah Borujerdi attended to this fact and believed that knowing the tradition and its narrator’s conditions correctly might help in understanding the probable ambiguities of some of the traditions. Therefore, Ayatollah Montazeri raised his method in deducting from relevant traditions..
The invaluable scholar, Ayatollah Montazeri, has always attempted to state the exact phrases when he quotes the opinions of jurisprudents and the authors. The reason is that indirect quotation may cause fallacy in meaning. Moreover, the mere acquaintance of the scholars with the scientific texts and great scholars’ statements results in their mastery of the scientific points, as well as increasing their motivation and talent for research.
He also writes his teaching material before every session and adds any additional points he thinks of during his presentation. In recent years, these before-teaching drafts are copied and handed out to the students. Both the teachers and students in the Seminary now welcome this method, which facilitates referring to scientific sources and authors’ opinions. Another characteristic of his teaching method is his restating difficult phrases in a simple way. As stated by himself, he has learned this from his professor, the late Ayatollah Borujerdi.
Furthermore, he attends to the dates and processes of the issues in jurisprudential circles of the past and among old Shi’a scholars. He also pays attention to the past record of the issues among Sunni jurisprudents. If the dates of all the issues and the special conditions of Imams’ traditions are studied, as well as the verdicts of old jurisprudents, many of the ambiguities and uncertainties of secondary jurisprudential issues would undoubtedly be solved. Ayatollah Montazeri attends to this fact in his teaching, to a great extent.
The published scientific and research-based works of Ayatollah Montazeri, as well as some unpublished ones follow:
1. Nahayat Al-Osul (relating of Osul teaching of the late Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi)
2.Al-Badr Al-Zahir fi Salat Al-Jom’a wa Al-Musafir (relating of Fiqh teaching of the late Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi)
3.Dirasat fi Wilayat Al-Faqih wa Fiqh Al-Dowlat Al-Islamiyyah in four volumes (This collection is translated into Farsi by some of his students, under the title Fiqh Principles of Islamic Government. Two volumes of it are translated into and published in Urdu. Also a summary of it is published in a volume entitled Nizam Al-Fiqh in Islam.)
4.Kitab Al-Zakat in four volumes.
5.Kitab Al-Khums wa Al-Anfal
7.Dirasat fi Al-Makasib Al-Muharramah in three volumes.
8.Al-Ta’liqa Ala Al-‘Urwat Al-Wuthqa
9.Fiqh discussions on Al-Salat, Al-Ghasb, Al-Ijara, and Al-Wasiyya (relating of teachings of the late Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi)
10.Discussions of Istishab, Ta’adul, and Tarajih (relating of teachings of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini)
11.Lessons from Nahj Al-Balagha in ten volumes, three of which are already published.
12. Lessons from Osul-e Kafi.
13. Disputation between the Muslim and the Baha’i
14. Explanation of Fatima Al-Zahra’s Sermon in Farsi and Urdu
15.From the Beginning to the End; in conversation between two Students in Farsi and Arabic
16.Risala Tozih Al-Masa’il in Farsi, Arabic, and Urdu.
17.Risala Istifta’at in two volumes.
18. Istifta’at of Women Issues
19. Risala Hoquq (Law Book)
20. Ahkam Pezeshki (Medical Regulations)
21.Teachings and Rules for Adolescents
22. Teachings and Rules for Women
23. Rules of Hajj
24. Islam; Religion of Temperament
25. Diary Book in two volumes.
26. Viewpoints Book in two volumes.
27. Collection of Speeches, Messages, Interviews, Friday Prayer Sermons in Tehran and Qom.
28. Collection of Speeches in Meetings with People, in different situations.
It is over sixty years now that the invaluable scholar, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri is teaching different lessons in seminaries and has trained so many students for the Islamic society. As was affirmed in the letter of clerics and scholars of Qom Seminary in 1345, most of them have participated in his teaching sessions at that time and benefited from him.
Hujjatol Islam wal Muslimin Khamene’i said in this regard: “This place (Friday Prayer) had been the sermon of great people, like Ayatollah Montazeri, our professor, the valuable professor of the seminary… Ayatollah Montazeri returns to Qom Seminary to train jurisprudents, to train great individuals who remain alive and get the model for the nation throughout history…”
Also Hujjatol Islam Hashemi Rafsanjani says: “Generally, his role in the seminary is very powerful, because most of today’s great clerics have been his students. Once we figured out that all our efficient clerics throughout country, either preachers, writers, or university teachers have attended his teaching sessions.”
Though many clerics in various time spans have learned from him, we can divide Ayatollah Montazeri’s students into two groups, those who attended his teaching before the revolution, and those who came to his teaching circles after the victory of Islamic revolution.
It is noteworthy to name some of his distinguished students of Fiqh, Osul, Philosophy, or Sath, who are outstanding figures now.
Mohammad Khatami, Hajj Sheikh Ali Davani, Hajj Sheikh Murteza Fahim Kermani, Hajj Sheikh Abdullah Nouri, the late Hajj Sheikh Gholamreza Soltani, Hajj Sheikh Ahmad Ahmadi, Hajj Seyyed Hossein Musavi Tabrizi, Hajj Sheikh Abdul Majid Ma’adikhah, Hajj Sheikh Mohsen Qara’ati, the late Hajj Sheikh Mostafa Zamani, Hajj Aqa Kamal Faqih Imani, the late Hajj Sheikh Mohammad Baqer Zolqadri, as well as hundreds of other scholars.
Abann 1383- i>Ramadan 1425-October 2004