The Death of Imam Khomeini in the Memoir of Hashemi Rafsanjani

Selected by Iranian Oral History Website
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


May 22

I went to office of Imam. I spoke with Dr. [Hasan] Arefi [cardiologist and Imam's physician] about condition of Imam. He said examining the photo created a doubt in our minds to do the operation, so that it would be consulted again.

May 23

At first, I wanted to call the office of Imam to find out the surgery time, but it was not possible. I went to the open meeting. Before the meeting, I told the representatives my opinion regarding approval of merging ministries of Defense and IRGC. I opened the meeting and handed it over to Mr. [Mehdi] Karroubi [Vice Speaker of the Majlis (Islamic Consultative Assembly, equals to parliament)].

I moved towards Beit [house] of Imam. I arrived at the hospital near Beit at 8:35 a.m. Mr. Khamenei had arrived before me. Imam had been anesthetized. He was on the operating bed. We watched the operation from CCTV. It took more than two hours. During the surgery, the news suggested satisfaction of the doctors.

Imam's family was also there. They were more patient than me. They were relaxed. Mr. Mousavi Ardabili also came. Imam was moved to another room. We thanked the doctors, especially Dr. [Iraj] Fazel. We had a meeting with the heads of three branches, Ahmad Agha {Khomeini’s son}, Dr. Arefi, Dr. Fazel, Dr. Motamed Kalantari, and Tabatabai. It was decided to announce the surgery operation and the doctors also explain. I came home. My family also had understood something from the gathering of doctors and us in Imam's house.

May 24

I went to the hospital to meet Imam at 9 o'clock. I visited him. He is getting better. We spoke a few words. He said he feels a little pain. The doctors expressed their satisfaction. I told Ahmad Agha to broadcast parts of the surgery scenes.

May 26

I used to study at home until half past ten in the morning. I visited [Jamaran Heart] Hospital and visited the Imam. He is getting better. He told say hello me to people and thank them. I was very impressed because it seemed a goodbye and I was wondering how to convey this message of Imam.

God helped. I presented this message in such a way that both people decide to pray and it does not have negative political consequences. Because any sign that indicates end of Imam's life will encourage the enemies who are lurking to plot. I went to University of Tehran for Friday Prayer. In the evening, Reza Amuzadeh came for environmental affairs and asked for help.

May 27

I went to Imam's house at half past eight in the morning. Imam was not in good situation. He had an extreme lethargy, his bladder was bleeding, and urine was stopped. His associates were worried. I talked to the doctors. They were less worried. They believed blood clotting in the bladder caused these symptoms and they were preparing for examination of the bladder.

May 28

I arrived at the parliament at 7:30 in the morning. I immediately went to the open meeting. I stayed in the meeting until a quarter past ten. Mr. [Abbas] Abbasi, representative of Bandar Abbas, came and said about the conflict with the governor and Imam of Friday Prayer. I decided to invite them to negotiate and find a solution. Mr. [Mohammad Javad] Iravani [Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance] came. He explained about the loan to India and purchase of iron ore, and asked for permission to take action. Mr. [Mostafa] Taherizadeh [representative of Falavarjan and member of Majlis Industries and Mines Commission] came. He spoke about the steel industry and emphasized necessity of expanding it and cooperation with Soviet Union.

I asked Imam's house about his condition; They said it is satisfactory.

May 29

Early in the morning, I went to Imam's house. I visited Imam in the hospital. He is well. Doctors took blood for testing. Ahmad Agha is still not relaxed. I spoke a few words with Imam. Policy of Imam's medical team is that in important cases, because of importance of the matter and the concern for accusations of negligence or wrongdoing in the future, inform the heads of branches and Ahmad Agha.

May 31

I went to Imam's house. The doctors and associates were satisfied, and Ahmad Agha was worried and insisted on speeding up the task of revising the constitution. I stood beside Imam's bed and put my hand on his hand. He took my thumb and said in interrupted words, “Speed up revision of the constitution” and then he opened his eyes and added distinctly in a weak voice, “If you will be united, the revolution progresses.” He paused and continued, “especially you and Mr. Khamenei, don't let evildoers to make mischief between you and him.”

June 2

In the morning, I went to Imam's house. Ahmad Agha was worried. I talked to the doctors. They have started a new treatment. It was decided to give medical announcement which include a little concern. We visited Imam. He has become very weak. He said he feels pain, have no appetite, and is not well. His voice is very low.

While I was kissing his forehead and my hand was on his hand, I felt gentle pressure of his hand. I managed to control myself with difficulty, but I could not stop shedding tears. I saw farewell look from Imam's half-opened eyes. I told him I want to go to Friday prayers, do you have any message for the people? He said, tell people to pray that God accepts me. There was a lump in my throat. In the Friday prayer, I said his message in a gentle way so that people would understand and pray and not cause a tumult. We talked with Ahmad Agha about leadership and issues of [constitutional] revision. We decided to speed up completion of the work.

June 3

After the morning prayer, I visited [Jamaran Heart] Hospital and went to the Majlis from there. In the reports, there is no news that foreigners informed about the bad situation {of Khomeini}. I did office works.

I went to my office. Ahmad Agha informed me by phone at 3 p.m. that Imam's condition has worsened and he wanted us to go to Jamaran with the other heads of branches. As a result, the meeting was not actually held and we rushed to Jamaran.

It was the last moments of normal breathing. Imam was breathing hard. He opened and closed his eyes only once and that was his last look. Doctors hurriedly activated the heart with massage and electric shock and battery, and lungs with artificial respiration. They kept him in this way until 10:20 p.m., but his brain was no longer working. They informed only once that breathing became normal, but this situation ended soon.

In the meantime, there was a consultation about quality of news announcements and plans of administrating the country, selection of leadership, etc. We contacted Mr. [Mohsen] Rezaei at the front and I ordered full preparation. He asked for helicopters and aircrafts. We issued the order to send them.

We summoned members of [Assembly] of Experts by telephone to reach Tehran by tomorrow morning. We decided to postpone the death announcement until the day after tomorrow; That is, after election of the leader and when representatives of the expert will have returned to the cities. When we announced funeral ceremony of Imam, there was a grief burst from inside the house and the hospital and then outside the house. I invited the audience to be patient and explained the schedule to them. They accepted and calmed down, and it was decided to cry as Tawassul Prayer. The patience of Beit ladies was interesting for us.

June 4

After the prayer, I went to the assembly. Members of presidium of Assembly of Experts had slept in the assembly last night. We had breakfast together and discussed plan of the expert meeting. Last night until this morning, the experts had arrived from around the country in Tehran.

We were informed the session of the Islamic Consultative Parliament is ready. I went there. The meeting was closed. The representatives were aware of the death of Imam. When I arrived, the representatives and I cried a lot. I talked to them a little about the death of Imam. The meeting was informal. We prolonged the term of office of the presiding board by one week, because it will have ended in two or three days and next week after the holidays when the parliament starts working, the term of the presiding board will have expired. With this extension, the problem was solved.

We prepared a statement for Assembly of Experts and gave it to be published. At around eight thirty in the morning, the meeting of the assembly of experts was prepared and we announced the meeting is formal under chairmanship of Ayatollah Meshkini. He spoke briefly.

Imam’s will was in the safe deposit box in my office. We took it out and the seal was broken in the official meeting. We took out the will from the envelope. It had been written in 1982 and revised last year. At the end of the will, it was written to be read to the people by Ahmad Agha, the President, the Speaker of the Parliament, the President of the Supreme Court, or a member of the Guardian Council, respectively. Mr. Ahmad informed that he was not ready. It was the turn of the president [Ayatollah Khamenei]. He read the will to the audience. Audience of the meeting of the experts were MPs, members of the government, the Guardian Council, the Supreme Judicial Council, and others. Reading the will took about two and a half hours. The meeting ended around noon.

June 5

I read the reports and telexes related to the death of Imam, the election of Ayatollah Khamenei, and other issues. I monitored the farewell ceremony of people with corpse of Imam in Tehran Musalla on radio and television. It is very magnificent. At half past ten in the morning, I flew by helicopter over Tehran and Musalla and the surrounding streets.

It appears from the reports that Westerners are happy with the election of Ayatollah Khamenei and hope moderation will prevail and the radicals will be isolated. They are surprised by fast action of Iran in solving leadership issues. They thought this issue will cause conflicts and possibly civil war.

In the evening, I went to Tehran Musalla. I cried for a moment near corpse of Imam. People expressed their emotions a lot. Yasser and Effat also had come with me to the ceremony. I had an interview. I also spoke a little for people.

I came to Jamaran. I went to Imam's house to offer condolences. I came home at night. I saw part of the ceremony on TV. People's emotions are intense. Many confirmations were broadcast on TV for leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei; it is good.

June 6

They reported that crowd of people prevented burial of Imam. They asked me for help. I went over the burial area by helicopter. I ordered the helicopter to land next to the grave. The sound, wind, and dust caused by the helicopter landing caused people to retreat and a place was left for the helicopter.

People shouted their condolences when they saw me. I had a chance to say my last farewell to Imam. Seeing the burial, I burst into tears. I thanked the people and expressed my condolences to the nation, and left the scene with great sadness.


Source: Lahooti, Ali (2013). Reconstruction and Construction; Record and Memoir of Hashemi Rafsanjani, 1989; Tehran: Daftar Nashr Maaref Enqelab, p. 131.

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