A Review of Memories of Masoumeh Khansari Bozorgi -1

Memories of Jahād-e Sāzandegī, Relief, and Cultural Activities in School

Faezeh Sassanikhah
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Masoumeh Khansari Bozorgi is one of the most active women in the post-Islamic Revolution and the holy defense era. She began her activities in Jihad of Construction (Jahād-e Sāzandegī) and after starting the imposed war she attended the war support headquarters and then went to south of the country for relief, but her main activity in those years was to carry out cultural activities in schools. Jihadi activities in deprived areas of Tehran, Varamin and Shahriar, activities in war support headquarters, presence in war zones, and cultural activities in schools led the reporter of Iranian Oral History Website to go to her and interview her abut memories from those days. She was born in 1963/12/22, continued her studies in the seminary to level three in the major of family counseling and taught from 1988 to 2020.

Where were you when the war was started?

Before I answer your question, I need to say something as an introduction. Our family always supported the revolution and imitated Imam Khomeini. His Resalah Amaliyah [(treatise on practical law in Shia)] was available to us and his photo had decorated niche of our house. Since I was 9 years old, my mother gave me the treatise of Imam Khomeini. At that time, having Imam's treatise was a crime and punishable. Anyway, since 1977, when I was 14 years, I started revolutionary activities. At my brother suggestion, who was active in Golshan Mosque (Haj Aqa Sayyid Mohammad Reza Gharavi was its chaplain), I went to the mosque for cultural activities. In the first day of my presence, I had the blessing of getting familiar with martyr Mahboobeh Danesh, a martyr of the September 8, 1978 event. For a few months, we worked there together alongside other friends in different cultural activities. Martyr Fayyazbakhsh, who was a member of the Revolutionary Physicians Group and secret organization of 1977 and 1978, began secretly training medical first aid at Salman Farsi Clinic in early summer 1978 (before Black Friday) to help fighters who were injured during revolutionary activities. The trained workers were among the trusted medical staff when Imam Khomeini returned home, and I also had the honor of being among them. In addition to me, Mahboobeh Danesh and Zahra Ayatollahi also participated in these courses. After the morning prayers before dawn, she held training course in her office located on Hedayat Street, Shemiran Gate, and we, a few men and women, went there. The reason for the training was that if armed struggle against the Pahlavi regime happened, we would know how to help injured people. Dr. Jalali and martyr Dr. Fayyazbakhsh taught in these classes. Of course, I also was passing practical courses at the health clinic located at Sarcheshmeh Crossroads.

Shahid Fayyazbakhsh had told secretly head of the clinic that these people would come to pass injection training so that they would not be sensitive to us. After that, Shahid Fayyazbakhsh held a practical course in Mahallati Hussainiya, before Shohada Square, to learn more specialized aid work and teach others, and the plan was centralized there later.

On the day that the war was started, because there had already been a battle in Kurdistan, and my friends like Ms. Zahra Ayatollahi had gone to Kurdistan and told me how much these services were needed and our guys were martyred there oppressively, I decided to complete my course so that if the battle became more serious, I would go there for professional relief. In the meantime, through the Ministry of Health, I think they had made an announcement for the supplementary course of relief that I participated in it. Anyway, I had to take a two-month course in the emergency room of Sina Hospital; I was Physician Assistant Number 150. I have still that card. Beginning of the war coincides with the day I really started to work in Sina Hospital. On the last day of September, I was working at the hospital when I saw the aircrafts suddenly come and get so close to the ground that we felt they were struck the hospital building, despite this fact that the emergency room of Sina Hospital was not a high building at the time. The patients came down from beds with volume expander in their hand, and the patients' companions, nurses, doctors all were running away and no one knew what to do. Those moments I saw terrible scenes that reminded me of verses of Last Judgement. No one knew why there was bombardment? For example, I thought, like a few months ago in Nojeh coup plot, there would be a coup d’état, but it was later announced that Saddam had invaded Iran and so the war began.

How was your activity for the war started?

Our first activity took place at the War Support Headquarters and in our neighborhood’s mosque, Imam Reza Mosque located in Khorasan Square. At the mosque, Ms. Musavi was in charge of the headquarters. Everything that was needed was announced by Malik Ashtar Base, which was located on Khavaran Street and was one of the active bases in Tehran. The women there performed any work from sewing to cooking wherever they were needed. They prepared a variety of jams, Torshi, pickled cucumber, etc. or packed nuts and bread, even did clothing repair to the warriors. Everyone was responsible proportioned to her circumstances and abilities. I had a sewing diploma and I cooperated in this field.

I even remember women worked round the clock. Many women couldn't come for help in days because of caring their kids, and they came to sew at night. Sewing machines were applied at night until morning. Mothers sometimes sent their kids to sleep in a corner. For example, my little sister was always with my mother, and later, when she grew up, she was active in Basij. People didn't hesitate to do anything, everyone on their own terms, financially or physically.

In mosques that chaplains were revolutionary, where the majority were in this way, war support headquarters had been set up. Of course, some mosques worked more seriously. I got married in 1980 and settled in the neighborhood of Golshan Bathroom, now called Shahid Balagar, and is located between Molavi and Sirus Crossroads. He had an active headquarters and chaplain of the mosque was late Mr. Gharavi. In the neighborhood where my husband’s mother – Street Iran –resided they also had extensive activities in a center names Ahmadiyya. Activity of every headquarters depended on type of commanding and financial supports; people and tradespeople of every neighborhood were financial supporters. People like my father who were shopkeeper cooperated financially. All revolutionary people helped to defend the holy defense as Imam (PBUH) commanded.

Did your father help the mosque's support headquarters in supplying raw materials?

In every way, both financially and because he was of old persons of the neighborhood and everyone knew him, he put his reputation into the neighborhood and advised others to help. Chaplain of Imam Reza (PBUH) Mosque, Hojjatoleslam Ja'fari, whose son was also died a martyr during the imposed war, was very active, and overall, all people gave hand to hand and supported and ran the support headquarters. When the headquarters car was loaded with the required equipment, it was sent for distribution in war zones. How enthusiasm the neighborhood people had! I wish these voluntary and pure grassroots activities had been filmed.

How many women were in the mosques you cooperated with?

There were about 70 people who worked without any expectation. Of course, there were some people who were present permanently and were very active; there were also people who because of their conditions did their work at home and delivered them. Ms. Mousavi was very active and worked to provide the necessary equipment; here I had to remember Ms. Noorsalehi, mother of martyrs Noorsalehi (PBUT). Her headquarters was also very active on 17 Shahrivar Street, and when I was in the war zone, I saw her come in person and address the needs.

Of course, I have to give you a point. Ther regular and coherent program during the war had a story and it was order of Imam. After the revolution, revolutionary guys almost did what they thought they could do. Guys who were eager to help the revolution began their activities in Jihad. When the revolution won, Imam ordered formation of the Construction Jihad. In the Construction Jihad, everyone was engaged in everything he could do. If necessary, they would go and help farmers on the farm or paint walls of schools. For example, we painted at a school in Harandi Square, we even painted the school's desk and ceiling. I was taller than the kids and painted the ceiling. It was very attractive and pleasant for the guys. Of course, we also had cultural activities and financial support alongside these works, because most of the areas we went were poor areas. We also went to villages around Tehran and had cultural activities. I also worked with friends in all these activities or different cultural fields, such as teaching Qur'an, narrating informative stories, and artistic works proportioned to the age of the audience that I had learned them since childhood.

People helped in all jihadist activities. When Jihad asked the mosque to help, everyone came from old to young people. I remember when it was announced to our mosque that Varamin farmers needed help for harvesting dry grains, we all went to help them. I was 14 at the time and my hands were very small and they were sore due to sharpness of the clusters and they were bleeding. I remember once again we went to Firuzkooh for harvesting peas. We started harvesting peas of a very large farm in the morning and finished it. The farmer was happy he didn't pay any money and people had helped him.

why did you go to help harvesting farmers' crops?

Because of the revolution, there was a recession, and if people didn’t help, these products would have been destroyed, and we, ordered by Imam, helped them.

Jihadist groups were all active, helped farmers not to lose their crops and get cheaper into the hands of the people. Our neighborhood Basij did the most minor works that were announced to the greatest ones. Even Kahrizak Charity Foundation had declared we needed people to help the elderly and take them to the bathroom. On behalf of the neighborhood mosque, they took women by car one day a week. My mother said I bathed old mothers.

Doing these things became a background for us to be more prepared during the war. So, when the war started, these people started their activities quickly and motivatedly, because the forces were already cohesive and prepared, and had been experienced and worked more hardly.

When the war started, where exactly did your activity begin and what were you doing?

I was a relief worker and had started a specialized course before the victory of the Revolution, so I was ready to be deployed to the front. I told my husband that I would love to go to war zones, and I begged him to provide me with the conditions to go. In the meantime, God gave us a child, but he got it from us after a short time. Of course, God is wise, finally there was a chance to go to the front and discharge my obligation. My husband told a friend who was commander of 8th district of the country that is Khuzestan that my wife wanted to come to the south for relief work. He also welcomed. I took a small bag with very few things that would not be cumbersome, as if I was going to visit Shah Abdul Azim! We went to Ghale Morghi Garrison. Because my husband was a member of IRGC, showed his card and easily boarded the C-130 and went to Ahvaz.

We went to IRGC. There, my husband spoke to his friends who were commanders and officials of IRGC. Mr. Fereydoon Morteza'i, commander of 8th district of the south, told me to fill out a form in order to issue a card. We filled out the Gozinesh form and two largehearted became my referees, and IRGC card- albeit as an honorary member- was issued in one hour. At that time, Ahvaz was under fire of cannons, mortars, and missiles, and was very quiet. Maybe the number of people you can see wasn't even 100.


To be continued...


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