The 337th Session of Night of Memories - 2

“Closed Door Period”

By 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.

Nasser Qarabaghi continued to talk about how the late Abutorabi was taken prisoner: “He and one of his comrades had gone for reconnaissance at night, but the weather cleared, an Iraqi armored personnel carrier saw and chased them. Abutorabi ran in a direction and asked his comrade to run toward another way. In this way, he distracted the Iraqi armored personnel carrier not chasing him, and therefore he was captured.

The prisoners of war know that if the late Abutorabi had not been by our side during these ten years of captivity, it was not clear what fate we would have faced. Because there was no unity and consensus to know what to do. Some prisoners resisted the Iraqis, and because of this, we lost many of them. Some also compromised. If it was up to us or others, we would have made a wrong decision. It was the late Abutorabi who skillfully managed this ship in that turbulent sea of captivity, using his tact, spiritual connection, and experience from the past and going to prison, the way of struggle, etc. He was like God's messenger among the captives, and I believe that he is still unknown even today despite all these words and books, and this must his wish.”

Mr. Tajik said: “Once I decided to hold a celebration ceremony for him in Dehlawiyeh. At night I dreamed him that asked, ‘Who gave you permission to pay tribute to me?’ I replied: ‘What is happening?’ He said: ‘You have no right to do this.’ I woke up and ignored what I had dreamed. The next night passed in the same way. On the third day, a storm suddenly occurred in Dehlawiyeh, and all the banners were torn, and we couldn’t hold the ceremony. I know he willed to remain anonymous.

We opened the small Mosul first, stayed there for three months, and then returned. During those three months, when we were there with the late Abutorabi, he started teaching each part of the Nahj al-Balagha to five people at night. He taught sermons to five people, letters to another five people, and aphorisms to five people. We, who learned aphorisms, were obliged to pass on them to a person who came from each camp. They also pass on those aphorisms in their camp, and the cycle went on. Once we came across this hadith, " مَنْ ضَیَّعَهُ الْأَقْرَبُ أُتِیحَ لَهُ الْأَبْعَد عنی" which means, "He who is not appreciated by his relatives and loses him, God predestines that other will appreciate him". The late Abutorabi said: “The ultimate example of this hadith is the hereafter. On the Day of Judgment, the people of heaven will see that some of their deeds have different rewards than some other similar deeds. They have performed, for example, the twice night prayers sincerely, one of which has a much greater reward. So it was asked, ‘what’s wrong with this one?’ It was replied: ‘No one noticed that one, but this one was noticed, even though it was done sincerely.’ You performed sincerely, but to the extent that others noticed and encouraged you, your reward will be reduced. There, the people of heaven sigh and say: ‘I wish we had died in anonymity.’ Then he paused, looked down, and said two or three times: ‘My dears, striving for being anonymous, is also an example of anonymity.’

He always fasted. When we went for Tehran-Mashhad walks in August, in the heat of that sun, everyone would give us cold juice, water, and watermelon step by step. If there wasn’t, we all felt like were dying of thirst. It happened to me too. The long distance from Shahroud to Sabzevar, which is between the mountains, water was given several times, but I did not receive any. I was dying because of thirst. Try that route in the summer and see. But the late Abutorabi, who was always traveling, fasted that route. The athletes of the group, such as Mr. Daoud Miqani, who was an exemplary judo coach for several years, were not to be a patch on him. Mr. Miqani said: ‘During the Qom walk (the annual Mashhad-Qom walk was done on the day of Arafah), Abutorabi suggested: ‘Do you want to run together?’ I said: ‘I won't give up, let's run.’ He asked Mr. Amini, his driver, to drive in front of us. After running about 25 kilometers, I said: ‘I can't run anymore.” Abutorabi said without stopping: ‘No problem.’ We had already reached Mr. Amini, who was following us. He said to him: ‘Go ahead.’ Mr. Amini said later: “After 25 kilometers, Abutorabi ran about 13 to 15 kilometers and had said: ‘I can run more.’”

In a camp we were at the the small Mosul, I myself counted that Abutorabi exercised 300 push-ups. One of our friends said he had seen that Abutorabi has done that about 700 times. Once, when we had gone to the Tochal by car, Abutorabi had said: ‘Those who want to come on foot, may accompany me, and the rest can go by car.’ They headed to the Tochal from another way, and we left by car from Velanjak. When we reached up there by car, saw he sat down there. We greeted him and asked surprisingly how did he come all this way on foot? because his companions had not yet arrived. An hour and a half or two hours after our arrival, his companions just arrived. Then, when we wanted to go back, he suggested: ‘Who will come to run from here toward the bottom of the Tochal downhill?’

He took any opportunity to make an impact on others, whether the insiders or the enemy. In Tikrit5, Mr. Abdulmajid Rahmanian said: ‘There was a very evil officer there who used torture and beating very much. And we could not move at all despite his presence. One day the officer proudly said: ‘Who can play ping pong with me?’ he played ping pong very well. The tennis table was also there. No one dared to approach him. But the late Abutorabi went ahead and said: ‘I play.’ He played ping pong well like all sports. In some sports, he was very professional and in those that he was not professional, he played good enough. We didn't know, but Mr. Rahmanian told us that before the revolution, Abutorabi used to dive from the bridge located in Najaf by the Tigris or Euphrates River. The height of that bridge was very high. In short, he said: ‘We saw that the late Abutorabi was managing the game so that the Iraqi officer didn’t win. After the game, he established a friendly relation with this officer, and we saw the officer smile for the first time and asked: ‘What do you want from me?’ Abutorabi answered: ‘We’ll set a sufra, you come and be our guest.’ The officer agreed. We spread a sufra, and from that day on, the officer became a completely different person.

Also, in the prison cell, where the late Abutorabi was prisoned along with a bad-natured pilot officer (who happened to be an athlete as well), he repeated the same act. The pilot had commented that you are very weak people in terms of physical strength. Abutorabi had just said: ‘I’m ready to have a running competition with you in this ground.’ They both ran so much that the officer got tired and sat down. Abutorabi’s physical and mental strength had changed the atmosphere.

Dominating the others, even the enemy, was one of the other Abutorabi’s characteristics. I have made a promise to myself not to exaggerate about him, but rightfully so, he dominated the enemy. The fact that his presence calmed everyone down. He himself was like a safe and strong haven, let alone his speech. When he spoke, his every word was like a sedative. He had a strange voice. When he began to talk about the history of the struggles, it was like we were there and saw all the happenings. He said: ‘During the Feyziyya incident, Feyziyya was under siege for three days. The Imam wanted to move towards Feyziyya from the very first day, but his companions did not let him. But on the third day, the imam had surprised everyone and left. So the news spread among people that the imam was leaving, why you didn’t do anything?! It was a sensitive time and everyone who heard, came. We reached Imam. He had also arrived in front of Feyziyya. We were around 300 people. The imam was on the other side. The commando commander ordered, and the soldiers knelt down and aimed us. The Imam kept walking, and the commandos kept ordering to stop, but the Imam kept on and put the weapons aside. We followed him too. I don't know when the adhan was called, when a mason, whose hands were covered in mud up to his elbows, recited the adhan. After describing this memory, he said: ‘I’ll never forget the tone of the muezzin and that he was one of the Imam's special companions. He was told that the Imam was going to go toward Feyziyya. He understood the sensitivity of this matter. So he didn't wait long enough to wash his hands and ran with his muddy hands. This is the kind of friend you should be for the guardianship.’


To be continued...


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