The 337th Session of ‘Night of Memorials’ - 1

“Closed Door Period”

Sepideh Kholousian
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


The 337th Session of ‘Night of Memorials’ was held on Thursday, July 28, 2022, titled ‘Closed Door Period’, in the Soureh Hall of the Hozeh Honari, performed by Davoud Salehi.  "Haj Seyed Ali Akbar Abutorabi" and witnesses of the Mersad operation attended this event.

Honoring the memory of martyr Abbas Babaei, who was martyred in August 1987, the host stated: “Two important events related to the front and the war in August are the focus of the 337th Session of Night Memorials. First, the operation of Mersad, which failed the most complicated plans of the enemy in the last days of the war, and was followed by many successes; and second, the return of the POW to the homeland.

He introduced the first narrator and said: The first narrator of this session, born in 1964, come from East Azerbaijan. He was 15 years old when the revolution won. But immediately after that, the imposed war started, and he was eager to go to the front. He tried hard to go to the front but did not succeed because of his young age. He found out that Shahid Chamran has formed an irregular war group that did not require what age you are. He participated in the war under the same pretext, was captured by the enemy at eighteen, and returned to his homeland after eight years.

Nasser Qareh Baqi, the first narrator, said: “The centre of my memories is Haj Agha Abutorabi. He was on his way to Mashhad in companion with his father and two POWs, when they passed away due to an accident. Someone told me that: ‘Arriving there, I saw that he has been thrown out of the car through the front windshield, and his head faced Mashhad. He had a very strange devotion to Hazrat Zahra (PBUH), and whenever he heard this name, burst into tears uncontrollably, so that his shoulders shook. He also had great devotion to Imam Reza. For this reason, when he returned from captivity, started 'walking from the shrine to the shrine', from the shrine of Imam (RA) in Tehran to the shrine of Hazrat Ali bin Musa al-Reza (AS) in Mashhad. Many do not know the main intention and philosophy of this walking. He didn't say anything unless he went back to his word. “The man should have such strength of faith,’ He had said in captivity, ‘that nothing is impossible for him; that is, he wills and then do it.’

The narrator continued: “I heard from someone who said that ‘I was with Haj Agha Abutorabi since before the revolution. I knew him as a man who will move the Damavand if he wants.’ Once he gave an example while giving a speech that if you want to go from Tehran to Mashhad, you should be able to go. I believe that one of the reasons why he started this walking was the issue of will. Even before that, he had told the late Haj Mustafa Khomeini in Iraq that he had walked from Najaf to Karbala more than a hundred times on Friday nights. So, he did not say anything except what he had already done or would do later.

The grave of the late Abutorabi is located next to his father and the late Sheikh Jafar Mojtahedi in the Azadi courtyard. He was very close with Sheikh Jafar before and after captivity. His son said: ‘Less than forty days after my father’s death, I had stand next to my father's grave when Ayatollah Behjat arrived. I was introduced to him. Mr. Behjat, who did not speak unless necessary, told me not to be sad about your father's death. Your father was one of God's saints, and his death was a voluntary death. With our general understanding, we know voluntary death in a different way. Sometimes the hardships are so much that we ask God for our death, which is not true. But no one can understand what this optional death of the late Abutorabi was.

The narrator added: “The late Abutorabi's view of captivity was different from ours. Mr. Mahmoud Hamidi, one of the POWs of the holy defense, who later was at the same camp he was in Tikrit, said: ‘I told him that we prisoners, who sometimes talk with each other, consider captivity as the result of a thing we have done before. Someone says, for example, I broke my mother's heart; the other one says I hurt a bird and the like. What have you done to be captured?’ He had said: ‘I was captured because of the prayer of an Arab-speaking old woman.’ This issue is unclear for many of us. We looked at captivity as a punishment and affliction, but the late Abutorabi saw captivity as a blessing from a prayer. He continued: ‘Iraq had attacked and was occupying the villages at the south of the country one after another. We were almost in Dobb-e Hardan. We witnessed everyone was running away and going somewhere else, except for an old woman, who had sat, did not leave, and was crying alone. I told her: ‘Please get up. The Iraqis arrived and took the village. You have to go.’ She answered: ‘No, I won't. I’ve left a small box in my house which is all my life. I’ll die without it.’ I understood that the old woman is very attached to that box. I got her address. It was in Dehdasht where was fell into the hands of the Iraqis. I went there and brought the box for her. She prayed for me from the bottom of her heart and said: ‘May God reward you for this.’ I am sure what that old woman said is my captivity.

The narrator continued and said: ‘On the morning he was captured and everyone thought he was martyred, Shahid Chamran made a statement, and the Imam in a statement condoled his honourable father and the people of Qazvin. The late Ayatollah Seyed Abbas Abutorabi met Sheikh Jafar Mojtahedi and said that he got martyred. But Sheikh Jafar refused and said: ‘He hasn’t been killed. Rather, he is a prisoner, and we see him in Baghdad.’ Just the next day, the voice of the late Abutorabi was broadcast on Baghdad Radio. One of the IRGC said: ‘During the days of his captivity, one day I saw Sheikh Jafar had a turn. He performed ablution and prayed. Then he went into a long prostration, and his state returned to normal. As I was recording all his behaviour and actions, I looked for the reason for his turn. I asked: ‘What happened?’ he said: ‘I observed they wanted to kill Abutorabi. I asked God to keep him alive. He is God's messenger among captives.’


To be continued...

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