Incomplete Minaret of the Mosque

Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


At the beginning of Khordad 1353 (May 1974), the students of Haqqani School were gradually preparing for the summer vacation. I talked to some of my religious student friends and said: "Let's go to Ardebil and Sar’ein together for a trip." Of course, I did not mention any problems that happened to me in that city.

We left Qom with friends for a ten-day trip at the beginning of the month of Tir (June). On the morning of the 7th of Tir (June 28), after we arrived in Ardabil, we went to Mr. Latif Nabati's shop to have breakfast. He welcomed us kindly. As we were eating breakfast in his shop, back to the street, someone called: "Mr. Ghaffari!"

When I turned my head towards the sound, someone beckoned, "Come here!"

I went to the door of the shop, he said: "Tell those gentlemen to come here too."

As soon as we all went to the door, they surrounded us and put us on an army truck and took us to SAVAK office in Ardebil. My only concern was about the tape I had with me. I had prepared that cassette with great effort in Qom. On that tape, I had recorded the Imam's speech about the "Velayat-e Faqih" or guardianship of Islamic jurist and brought it as a souvenir for my friends who were from Ardebil. If this tape fell into the hands of the Ardebil’s SAVAK, it would be a problem for me. But later it turned out that on the way, a friend wanted to listen to this tape with a tape recorder, and he had pressed the "record" button by mistake. Later, on the way, thinking that this tape was empty, he had recorded the voice of Mr. Javad Mohaddessi on it, when he had been preaching. As soon as they arrested us, they searched our pockets and our personal belongings and took this tape. When we arrived at SAVAK, they kept the men apart and took me to prison alone. They put me in solitary confinement. The cell was in the basement, and the atmosphere was very humid. It had straw and wet walls. They had spread a normal carpet there. Even though it was summer, I shivered from the cold in that basement till morning. In this prison, there was a strong dog as a guard for the prisoners.

As soon as I entered the prison, I panicked. It was the first time in my life that I was imprisoned. Before that, I had been summoned to SAVAK and the police station, but I had not been imprisoned. After some time, my eyes got used to the darkness of the room. I stared at the walls. On the wall someone had written with a nail: "Be brave!"

The prisoners usually write these encouraging words inside the prison. When I saw that word, I felt a strange relief. Having seen the word "Be brave!" I realized that a person can maintain his peace here as well. Upstairs, they were shouting and smashing chairs to create psychological warfare.

After twenty-four hours, they took me out of the cell for interrogation. During the interrogation, I found out that they wanted to arrest me as soon as my military service was over. However, they were surprised because I had gone to Tehran quickly without settlement. Then they looked for the proper opportunity to arrest me. Haj Alilu himself interrogated me and said: "You should be executed!" You messed up this whole city for two years. Did you think we didn't know what you were doing?"

Later, I found out that Mr. Badam Doost, a fifth-grade student of the high school where I taught, was an informant for SAVAK in exchange for, for example, one hundred tomans a month, due to the family's financial poverty, and I had been framed by SAVAK totally. "What did you have with you?" he asked.

I said: "A few books, two or three textbooks and a risala (practical treatise on religious matters)."

He asked: "Whose risala is this?"

I said: "Mr. Khoei."

In the city of Qom, with the help of our friends, we had printed about ten thousand volumes of Imam Khomeini's risala, but we had written "Fatwas of Grand Ayatollah Khoei" on it.

The first page of the risala was only related to that of Mr. Khoei and the rest of the pages were related to the risala of the Imam (may God bless his soul). By registering signs, for example, we had put another "kh" below the name of Khoei, so that the emulators would understand that this rislal is related to the Imam (may God bless his soul). He said: "This is Mr. Khoei's risala, who do you emulate?"

I said: "Mr. Khoei."

He said: "But you mentioned Khomeini on the pulpit and said you were his emulator, and you said the same thing in the barracks."

I said: "Yes, I emulate him." And finally they realized that I was the emulator of the Imam (may God bless his soul).

He said: "Then why have you brought Khoei’s risala with you?"

I said: "People here are emulators of Mr. Khoei and I had to explain this technology to them. I myself, know religious matters in Ayatollah Khomeini's risala, if someone asks, I will answer verbally".

His next question was: "What are these tapes with you about?"

While I was unaware to everything, I said: "I don't know what it is, maybe it's preaching."

I was constantly frightened about how the problem of this tape would be solved in the end, so I answered vaguely. They started beating me and then asked again, "What tapes do you have?"

I said: "I had several preaching tapes, I don't know which one I brought with me, which tape are you talking about?"

I saw that he threw the tape at me and said: "Come on, this tape is yours."

I still didn't understand what the problem was, then my friends told me the problem during the transfer to Tehran on the bus. After this interrogation, they took us to "Iran Transit" company in Ardebil to send us by bus to Tehran. In the garage, people noticed and started making noise. But the police intervened and put us on a bus and we went to Tehran. There were seven of us in the bus and the rest of the bus passengers were SAVAK agents. I behaved normally in the bus and gained their trust. They just told me: "Mr. Ghaffari, don't think of running away!" It doesn't matter to us, if you try to escape, we will kill you!"

The most important fear that I had throughout this period was that the agents might storm our house, because I had many books, pamphlets and tapes at home that could cause problems for me or cause my father to be arrested. There were also many leaflets at home, which were also very problematic.

When I was on the way, I wrote my phone number and name on a piece of paper and placed a fifty-toman bill on top of the paper and crumpled it. The bus stopped for gas in Hashtpar Tavalesh. I noticed that one of the gas station workers was watching me. I put my hand out of the window with this paper and dropped the paper on the ground, then pointed with my eyebrows and hand, "Sweep house." And with my hand pointing a gun to my brain, I gave him to understand that I had been arrested. He didn’t act unfairly either, and immediately called my house and delivered the message. My mother said: The phone rang at night and we picked it up in fear. Someone on the other end of the line said Mr. Hadi was arrested, sweep the house.

After the phone call, my father quickly took all my books to the half-built mosque of Sheikh Fazlollah Nouri and hid it in the incomplete minaret of the mosque. I went there after the revolution and got them all out safely.

Source: Memoirs of Hojjatoleslam Valmoslemin Hadi Ghaffari, The Bureau for the Islamic Revolution Literature, Art Center, 1374, 1st print, (1995), pp. 71-74

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