An Overview of Imam Musa Sadr Oral History Plan

“Days of Homesickness” as narrated by two ladies

Mohammad Ali Fatemi
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2019-09-11


The book “Days of Homesickness: Memories of Fereshteh A’rabi and Fatemeh Tabatabaee” is the 54th book from the collection “Memories” and the 5th book of the collection “Oral History” in the Research Institute of Imam Musa Sadr. The first edition of the book was published by the institute and the Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works in 2019 in 360 pages. The book has been shaped with the attempt of Mahdieh Palizban.  

In the book’s introduction, she explains, “When I heard the interviews of oral history projects of the Research Institute of Imam Musa Sadr, I started to compile them…two interviewees [book] had similarities together; both were related to the members of the two families of Sadr and Khomeini and had common memories in Lebanon… [these] memories … are the first special narration of two Iranian ladies from Imam Musa Sadr; a narration which is both within the family and has shaped in the Lebanon’s atmosphere…the book’s memories is the result of four interviews with Fereshteh A’rabi in the years 2011, 2013 and 2016 and five interviews with Fatemeh Tabatabaee in the years 2011, 2013 and 2015. The book’s footnotes have been added to illustrate the story, and are the main source of historical explanations on the conversations of Imam Musa Sadr and Dr. [Mustafa] Chamran, who are the primary source for the developments in Lebanon in the narrated period… At the time of writing and completing the book what came to my mind was Imam Musa Sadr's support was for all those who were abroad for various reasons; from close relatives to Iranian fighters … concurrent with the supports … he was in the midst of lots of pressures and crises and attacks on every side, and many people who were expected to accompany his efforts were dissident and critical. These memories have happened in “Days of Homesickness” of the book’s narrators and main subject and the name of the book derives from all these relationships and situations.”

The book’s preface begins with an explanation of oral history, “The science of history has used newer methods for collecting and processing data. One of these methods is oral history, which collects oral memories and narrations of historical events. This new method may also be regarded as one of the oldest methods of historiography. But no doubt, the main difference is to be found in methodology… the content of oral history provided through active and targeted interviews the historical observations and experiences of the persons or their quotations from other actors of the history scene. In oral history, the interviewer helps the narrator express his or her feelings and opinions on those topics in addition to describing historical events. In fact, oral history is the product of the joint efforts by the interviewer and interviewee and the quality of the obtained data has close relation with efficiency and domination of the interviewer over the discussed topic and power of memory as well as significance of the interviewee’s observations. It is obvious that the passage of time reduces to a large extent the narrator’s expediency and causes him or her to express memories with more confidence. Perhaps, many memories - though few – which have remained in the chest of the historical witness is the only available information about a person or an incident which is of great importance. What is obtained from this kind of historiography is a documented narration which alongside other information solves part of historical mysteries –especially in the area of contemporary history – to a large extent. Such method provides the ground for the researcher to view and retrieve the incidents not just from a window which regards it as an experience.” The preface is continued by writing about the oral history plan of Imam Musa Sadr and that the Oral History Group of the Research Institute of Imam Musa Sadr had been set up since May 2010 and started studying written works and sources precisely in order to make us more familiar with various angles of the life of Imam Musa Sadr and his viewpoints. It is aimed at first, determining the main outlines of the project, secondly identifying the questions and ambiguities, and thirdly recognizing the owners of the memories and places and geographies associated with them so that the interviews can be more targeted and coherent. The next step is to contact the individuals and to record their memories … the current book [Days of Homesickness] is the result of the same plan.”

After these introductions, “Interview with Mrs. Fereshteh A’rabi” has come from page 19 to 141. She is an offspring of the second daughter of Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) and in the interviews, she states that in her words she sometimes uses the title "Imam Musa Sadr", sometimes "Daeejan" or dear uncle because of his family relation and sometimes "Mr. Musa" and of course, the word Daeejan is sweeter for her. Interview with her has been conducted in the same format namely in the form of questions and answers and such titles as the family of spouse and Sadr Family, Mrs. Sediqeh Sadr, Dr. Sadeq Tabatabaee, Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Baqer Sadr, Bent al-Hoda Sadr, Imam Musa Sadr, the opponents of Imam Musa Sadr, Mrs. Parvin (the wife of Imam Musa Sadr), Dr. Mustafa Chamran, Mrs. Robab Sadr, Iranian Islamic Revolution, Haj Agha Mustafa Khomeini, Dr. Shariati, the kidnapping of Imam Musa Sadr have shown its topics.

Most of these titles are individuals and famous, and the narrator has been able to express their own view of them. Her memories have become readable with this feature. Regarding the wife of Imam Musa Sadr, she remembers, “Mr. Sadr, coming from outside, first went to Mrs. Parvin. Since she was often involved in the kitchen, when Mr. Sadr came home, he first went to the kitchen. The elevator was inside a hallway to the left of the kitchen. As soon as he came out of the elevator, he went to the kitchen, because Mrs. Parvin was usually there. This was interesting for me who had just married. Even when we were guests ... he first paid attention to Mrs. Parvin. After the meal he also usually complimented the meal and thanked his wife.”

“Interview with Mrs. Fatemeh Tabatabaee” starts from page 143, continuing till page 246. She was the only daughter of Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Baqer Sultani and Seyedeh Sediqeh Sadr. She married Hojjatoleslam Seyed Ahmad Khomeini in 1969. Topical and pivotal titles brought up in the form of questions and answers are the family of Ayatollah Sadr, Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Baqer Sultani Tabatabaee, Dr. Sadeq Tabatabaee, Haj Aqa Reza Sadr, Iraqi relatives, Bent al-Hoda Sadr, Seyed Esmaeel Sadr, Seyed Hossain Sadr, Imam Musa Sadr, Khaleh Robab, Dr. Chamran, the kidnapping of Imam Musa Sadr, and Imam Khomeini.

The narrator has answered the questions comprehensively and for this reason, she has brought up more details about the days and events she had witnessed. Her memories have become more readable with this feature, leaving much to the reader to remember about the people he spoke about.  She has talked about the significance of the fate of Imam Musa Sadr for Imam Khomeini, “The fate of Imam Musa Sadr was very important for him. He followed it very much. Imam Khomeini admired him a lot both religiously and administratively. He loved him very much. When this happened (the kidnapping of Imam Musa Sadr), Qaddafi [the then Libyan leader] liked a lot to come to Iran and visit Imam Khomeini. The Imam said frankly that as long as the issue of Mr. Musa was not solved, I did not accept and did not visit. At that time, some considered the Imam’s view as improper. They believed that it was war now and the necessities of the war, and that we should not split up the relationship for the sake of one person. They thought it was just a matter of personal interest, and it would not be right to miss all of the opportunities available to Iran for the sake of one person. While the Imam said that this was the defense of an oppressed and that he was not an ordinary one ...”

The book is dedicated to footnotes, images and profiles from page 247 to the end. Most part of the footnotes is dedicated to biographies of the people mentioned in the book and about whom have been spoken. One of the biographies that are interesting for the readers is related to Parvin Khalili, the wife of Imam Musa Sadr. The section of images includes photos related to memories, the image of Imam Musa Sadr’e letter to Ayatollah Sultani Tabatabaee and the image of the reports of SAVAK (Shah’s secret police) about the trips of Hojjatoleslam Seyed Ahmad Khomeini to Lebanon and his relation with Imam Musa Sadr. The indexes are the same as the declared list that begins with this guide, “This index is based on the numbers inside the text.”     

 



 
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