Taking a look at the book "Memoirs of the Time"

Memoirs of Hujjat al-Islam Seyyed Hadi Khamenei

Fereydoun Heydari Molkumian
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: The book "Memoirs of the Time" (Hujjat al-Islam Seyyed Hadi Khamenei), researched and written by Mohammad Ghobadi for the literature office of the Islamic Revolution, was published in the spring of 2021 by Surah Mehr Publications in 680 pages and 1250 copies.


About the book

The "Memoirs of the Times" has a beautiful cover design and a decent page layout, and in addition to the author's brief introduction, his memoirs are narrated in six chapters about why and how the book was written and the yearbook of Seyyed Hadi Khamenei's life, as mentioned on the back cover: "It reminds him of some past days. These memories refer to his attendance in Qasr Prison with details. For expressing the states and stories of the people, his narration is interesting, and his narration of the interaction with groups, parties, and factions within the palace, between the years 1974 to 1976, is important and cannot be easily ignored; his direct account for clerics’ protests at the University of Tehran and the Imam's speech in Behesht Zahra cannot be ignored, and all this shows the importance of the memoirs that had to be recorded, compiled and published."

At the beginning of the book, the text of the note, which begins with a handwritten adornment of the pages, Seyyed Hadi Khamenei himself points out that he is asked by the Oral History Unit of literature office of the Islamic Revolution to recount a part of his memoirs, which focuses mainly on political struggles. It is related to the Islamic Revolution and has been directly or partially present and active in them to be available to readers and those interested in the revolution and contemporary history.

She also emphasizes in this note: "If we assume the history of the revolution to be a puzzle, the memories of the fighters and witnesses of the events, provided they are real and far from being exaggerated or possibly fabricated (in the expression of memories, some, unfortunately, replace themselves by others at the center of events), It can be a complement to the puzzle, and make it easier to analyze and draw historical conclusions." (Pp. 5 and 6)

However, he went on to make another point: "Without a doubt, it is the responsibility of those who have taken responsibility for compiling the history of the Islamic Revolution to gather the pieces of this puzzle. "Although it is clear that history has never been written without the intervention of the historian's perspective and worldview, and those who claim that historians are neutral have never been able to prove this claim!" (P. 6)

Mohammad Ghobadi - to whom Hujjat al-Islam Seyyed Hadi Khamenei refers to his care and patience at the end of his note in arranging the text and writing of this book - writes in his introduction:

The author also acknowledges: "It was hard work, serious and sensitive from one point of view, and I had to put all my commitment and experience into research and writing.  I tried to ignore some and even many analyses with the coordination of Seyyed [Hadi Khamenei], but I brought the narrated memoirs completely and I added notes and also referred to the sources used for better understanding and more connection of the reader with the text.  In writing the biographies, I used the archive files of contemporary non-believers in the literature office of the Islamic Revolution, so we will omit references to various sources." (Pp. 13 and 14)

He adds: "After editing and compiling of the text, and then the initial correction and edition, Seyyed Hadi also read the edited text twice and presented his opinions, and finally the work was published in the book preparation section and handed over to Surah Mehr Publications." (P. 14)


A brief overview of the memoirs’ text

The text of the book "Memoirs of Time" is narrated in the first person singularly by Seyyed Hadi Khamenei, who openly and unequivocally recounts some of his memories until the Islamic Revolution.

In the first chapter, he discusses his "background, birth, and education" and told in detail, as far as he remembers, about his paternal grandparents as well as his maternal grandparents. He then refers to his education, receiving a degree in the clergy, the traditional atmosphere of Mashhad city, and finally his acquaintance with Martyr Beheshti.

The second chapter follows the discussion of "The beginning of the movement in Mashhad" in which some issues are discussed,  such as "the death of Ayatollah Boroujerdi", "the role of clerics in Mashhad", "the arrival of the Shah in Mashhad", "the parliament and the pulpit in Mashhad", "the conflict in Goharshad Mosque", "threats and actions of the Pahlavi’s regime", The incident of the Elephant Mosque, the soldiers of the students and the siege of Imam Khomeini, etc. in the formation of the Islamic Movement in Mashhad is mentioned and specifically mentioned: The Islamic Movement began in 1962 with the approval for the bill of state and provincial associations in the government, and the first announcement that was issued was signed by Ruhollah  Khomeini. My acquaintance with the movement, which was initiated by the Imam, originated from these announcements; although I was already familiar with the name of Imam or Ruhollah; Both during the conversations that took place at home and I heard his name, and when we went to Qom in 1959 and visited the Imam in the Salmasi Mosque, where he taught. So when the issue of state and provincial associations arose and the news and reactions appeared in Mashhad, I had a background and acquaintance with the Imam." (P. 85). It is worth mentioning that the final sections of this chapter also cover the subject of capitulation and the rumor of an attempt to kill the Imam in exile. It is worth mentioning that the final sections of this chapter also cover the subject of capitulation and the rumor of an attempt to kill the Imam in exile.

The third chapter is called "Tawassul prayer, the first arrest", which includes this event in the summer of 1965 in Goharshad Mosque: The prayer of Tawassul had reached its end and someone had to go and recite the final stage, Apparently there was no one to go forward ... there was no room for reflection. At that moment, I decided to recite the final part of prayer myself and started. I said out loud from there: "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful ..." And I stated the introductory phrases and also mentioned the main points and purpose of the prayer, which is the Imam, and end it. Of course, I didn't end the prayer ceremony completely; it was the beginning of an adventure. In that commotion of prayers and amenities and the coming of the people, two people grabbed my wrists from behind and very slowly and said me that I had to walk quietly ... "(pp. 185-186)

The fourth chapter deals with the "third arrest, Mashhad prison": "In late September or early October 1971, at the same time that I had to go to university to register and choose a field, I was busy copying and distributing leaflets. I did not extend my activities to universities and colleges, except for Qur'an interpretation classes, private and secret classes that I had at one of the students' houses to explain the pamphlet of the Islamic government or Velayat-e-Faqih, but every activates was important for SAVAK[1] organization. This organization was sensitive to me and my classes, perhaps due to some of the arrests and events that were taking place in the political atmosphere of Mashhad and the country in those days, and it was monitoring everything ... "(p. 257)

Chapter five "The Third Arrest, Joint Anti-Sabotage Committee, Qasr Prison" is mainly devoted to the presence of Seyyed Hadi Khamenei in the Joint Committee and Qasr Prison, and finally to Evin and the description of various situations and issues inside the prisons.

The sixth chapter, entitled "The Victory of the Revolution", begins with the release from prison, and after describing the marriage, it deals with issues that quickly lead to public protests and the bloody days of January, the Shah's departure, and a sit-in at the University of Tehran. , The committee for welcoming the Imam, the ceremony of Behesht Zahra, and the moment of the Imam's speech in Behesht Zahra arrives: "... They walked towards the station [where imam wants to make a speech in] and I walked behind them. They were wearing shoes. As we approached the station, I said to myself: "Now, if the Imam wants to be in the station, how can he go up?" I wanted to kiss his hands, but I felt tired; I respectfully kissed his shoulders. The crowd was so excited. There was too crowded, the people looked at the Imam's face to great extent. So we sat on the ground with a friend a few meters from the station, right in front of the Imam. I just cried out of joy until the Imam wanted to start giving a speech." (Pp. 578 - 579)


Last words

There is no doubt that "Memories of the Time"  is an important and noteworthy work that has a separate and independent identity in itself; But as mentioned in the final sentence of the book: "I hope to recount the rest of the issues that are very important at another time ..." (p. 601), There is another new expectation in the persistent and enthusiastic reader, which, of course, can be both a justification and a preparation for the immediate release of memories, and a view to a more general coherence that may be accomplished in another book in the future. There is another new expectation for the persistent and enthusiastic reader, which, of course, can be both a justification and a preparation for the immediate release of memories, and a view to a more general coherence that may be accomplished in another book in the future.


[1] It was the secret police, domestic security, and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty. 

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