The 327th Night of Memory - 2

Building an office for eulogizing in captivity

Adjusted by Iranian Oral History Website
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


The three hundred and twenty-seventh program of the Night of Memory was held on Thursday, 26th of August 2021, with the theme of "Muharram during the war" in Ayatollah Khamenei Mosque with Hossein Behzadifar as the host. In this program, Misters Hossein Estiri and Mohammad Reza Golshani shared their memories. This program was broadcast online on the social networks of Shab-e Khatereh (Night of Memory) and Hozeh Honari (Art Center).

At the beginning of his speech, the host read a part of Hassan Zipad's book, Oral Memoirs of Commando Hassan Soltani written by Mir Emadeddin Fayyazi. This book has been published by Nekoo Afarin Publications with the help of the Art Center of Gilan Province. The host said, “The first time that I ate rice was on the sixth day of the war. The people had brought rice for our lunch in Jame (grand) Mosque. There was no dish to pour the rice in. I saw that everyone was looking for a carton to pour their rice into and eat. I even could not get the same carton. I, a rice-eating Gilani, took off my helmet and poured rice inside it, sat down and ate. At that time, no one said "I". Everyone was saying, "We". The guys were one."

After introducing the book, the host started introducing the second narrator and said, “When we talk about the month of Muharram and mourning for the chief of the martyrs, part of our minds go to the days when our people were not allowed to mourn in the era of the Pahlavi suffocation. Perhaps in the present era and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, it is inconceivable for anyone that in another part of the world, young people who went to defend the country were not allowed to mourn in the month of Muharram. However, in the camps where the dear and proud captives of our country were present, at the height of the Ba'athist regime's repression, they also mourned for the chief of the martyrs, Imam Hussein (PBUH) in Muharram. Today, in the 327th program of the Night of Memory and during the mourning days of Imam Hussein (PBUH), we are the guests of the memories of Mohammad Reza Golshani with 10 years of captivity.

The second narrator of the show, after offering condolences on the occasion of Muharram, referred to the mourning in suffocation and said, "I think how beautiful it is that the mourning of Imam Hussein is launched, even if this mourning is accompanied by beatings and they even come and make fun of the mourners. I remember that in 1990, when I was captured, I was first in Ramadi.[1] An Iraqi commander accompanied by the representatives of the Red Cross came to talk to us, asking us to say our demands. I got up and said that we needed the holy Quran. This caused the commander to boil and started vituperating, “Quran is in Arabic, the Prophet is an Arab, you are the magi” and pointed to a soldier. The soldier came and punched me hard so that I fell down. But thank God a little later they brought the Quran and gave it to us. After a while, they gathered and took us to Mosul.[2] In the first Muharram that we were in Mosul, when we were mourning, the soldiers entered the sanatorium and told us in surprise, "What are you doing?" Why do you beat yourself up? We gave you clothes and blankets. We gave you slippers and tubs and hoses, but why are you still crying? We explained to them that our mourning is for Imam Hussein. We explained to them that our mourning is for Imam Hussein. In order to know that area, you should know that the Sunnis live mostly in the Mosul area. Their commander, who was also very evil, came and said, "What the hell are you doing? Why are you mourning? We made a revolution 1400 years ago and killed Hussein". When he said this, tears flowed down from the eyes of all of us. Did you make a revolution and kill Hussein?

The narrator continued, “After a while, their harassment gradually decreased. During the month of Ramadhan, we were told: Those who want to fast should register. After we registered, our sanatorium was separated and we became three sanatoriums. Camp Mosul 1, had a very suffocating situation and there were multilateral problems. The Iraqis were not the only ones there; the monarchists and lovers of the Shah, hypocrites (Mujahedin terrorists), the communists and Fedaians, all of whom had problems with religious guys were also imprisoned there. After the month of Ramadhan, the groups said that there were still religious people among us. They came and separated us again which in general, we became four sanatoriums. when the Muharram came again, we started mourning for the chief of the martyrs. When we were mourning on the day of Ashura, the Iraqis came and closed the door of our sanatorium. First we said so much the better; but a little later, the soldiers came with sticks and clubs and batons and iron. Just like the Yazidis, they raided into the slaughter pit and beat everyone. They said that you had no right to mourn. At that time, non-religious people were laughing at us. It was noon. When Azan (the call to prayer) sounded from the loudspeakers, the guys all over the camp got up and started saying the Azan. We all got up together and prayed in congregation after the Azan. Congregational prayers were forbidden there. If You now pray on the streets in Europe, everyone will be surprised. The same thing happened there. Their evil boss said, "Open the door so that they can go to the sanatorium and do whatever damn thing they want". Finally, this case was established there. We were there for a year and then they came and separated and took us to Mosul's Camp 4.

Golshani went on to say, "The Iraqis called the Mosul's Camp 4 as the camp of saboteurs. In any camp where a religious movement took place, some people were separated and brought to this camp. This made Mosul 4 a pure and first-class camp where we were all united. For this reason, we had no spy there, and there was only one cadre of the hypocrites there who could not do anything. One year later, when the Red Cross representatives entered the camp, the hypocrite ran and groveled to one of the Red Cross members, begging him to take him away. He said, "They have nothing to do with me, but they are plotting to kill me!"

The narrator continued, "Our mourning was very good in that camp. The occasions were in place, and the recitation of the Qur'an was in place. Many Quran reciters were trained there. We also had a brief mourning at the sanatorium at night. On the days of Tasua and Ashura, we in three sanatoriums gathered together and mourned for Imam Hussein at the bottom of our hearts. It was an example of this famous poem: Who is this Hussein about whom the entire world is crazed, what kind of a candle he is that souls are all his butterflies.” We all burned like butterflies and when the name of Imam Hussein (AS) was mentioned, tears flowed from our eyes. The eulogists sang mostly old laments during the mourning month. I remember that pen and paper were banned there for a while. For a while, the Red Cross pressed for the booklet to be released. But later, they came again and took them away. If you remember, the old eulogists made their own booklets manually, in a way that they were leafed from above. I made the same thing in captivity. I nailed the papers and sprung the thin wires, making a wire-bound notebook. On one side, this notebook had a list of eulogies, and on the other side, poems had been written for special occasions. I had become the source of this work, and I took it from anyone who had mournful songs and took notes in my notebook.

Golshani went on to say, “My main name in the ID is Mohammad Reza; but I am called Hussein at home. On special days, everyone would come and say, "Do you have mournful songs, Hussein?" Once, we had an able eulogist named Haj Agha Taghavi, who was originally from Kashan. The name of another of our eulogists was Mehdi Alaghehmandan. When he spoke, the stone started crying. One of the days of Muharram is in the name of Ali Akbar. On that year, it was on Friday and I went to Mr. Taghavi, asking him to tell me a mournful song about Hazrat Ali Akbar (PBUH). Because he had caught a cold, he spoke very hard and his voice was very weak. Incidentally, on the same day, the Nodbeh supplication was held in all three sanatoriums, and it was Mr. Taghavi's turn. I saw that he recited the supplication in a pleasant voice as if he had no problem. I told this story to Mehdi Alaghehmandan and asked him what was going on that his voice had lots of problem when I talked to Mr. Taghavi in the morning, but now he recited the supplication so beautifully? He said that he was favoured by Fatemeh Zahra (PBUH). He served in the military before the revolution and the head of the outpost of their village was a religious man. One night, he dreamed of Hazrat Fatemeh Zahra who told him that someone with this name and signs would come to serve in the military; don’t send him to military service; say my hello to him and tell him not to stop serving us. Two days later when Mr. Taghavi went for military service, the head of the outpost told him why you were late; it was two days that I was waiting for you. First, he made him promise to come and eulogize in the first ten-day of Muharram. He gave its money and then told the story. When he said yes, the outpost commander told him that I don’t want a military yes, Fatmeh Zahra has become your guarantor, don’t go to military service, I’ll fix your task. In continuation, the narrator recounted a memory about the POWs who went to Karbala, and said, “When the UN resolution was accepted, we were taken to Karbala for pilgrimage. We were taken in groups of 200, like the captives of Karbala, just a little more modern. First, we were taken to Mosul, then to Baghdad by train and bus, and finally to Karbala. The guys who had gone earlier were told to fill the serum containers with water on the way so that they could perform ablutions on the train and not be thirsty in the shrine of Imam Hussein where there was no water. I remember when we arrived in Karbala, we entered through the gate of Bab al-Qiblah. When the guys got off, they were crawling to reach the shrine. It was not as prosperous then as it is now. When we arrived and stood in front of the shoes-keeping room, if I am not mistaken, Abbas Keshvani was standing there. The footages are available. He came to recite Ezn-e Dokhool (permission to enter the shrine) for us. The guys hustled him and said this permission is for you, we do not need Ezn-e Dokhool. Our master has told us to get up and come. You do not know with what state the guys went inside the shrine, I remember very well. Everyone had become a eulogist for himself. Nobody had anything to do with anyone. We 200 people were given ten minutes to make a pilgrimage. Everyone was lamenting. A group was taken out. When they wanted to take out the next group, they said one Ya Hussein. Everyone was armed and they were asked to close the entrance doors. They brought the guys to Bein al-Haramain. This story happened in 1988 or 1989. The Bein al-Haramain route was dirt and the shops were muddy. It was not like now at all”. 

Golshani continued, “The people of Karbala are very good and a scene affected me very much. A mother gave a scarf to her daughter and said, "Go and bless this scarf with these captives and come back. Do not put it under their feet, these are blessings. This is how we became pilgrims. They blessed us with cloth. When we were going toward the shrine of Hazrat Abolfazl, we turned around and looked at the dome of the Imam Hussein's shrine and were crying continuously. The minaret above the shrine of Hazrat abolfazl had been broken and destroyed. This was my memory from Karbala. May God share all of us a pilgrimage along with knowledge and I hope that one day we will mourn for Imam Hussein in front of Imam Zaman.

At the end of the program, the host ended the program with a sentence from Martyr Morteza Avini and said: "Anyone who wants to know us should read the story of Karbala; not out of emotion, but out of cognition from the depths of the combatants' existence and the resemblance of Karbala and the war fronts".


[1] Ramadi is the capital of the Iraqi Anbar Province, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad.

[2] A city in northern Iraq, the capital of the Ninawa Province and the most populous city in Iraq after Baghdad, which is the economic center of the north of the country.

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