Lebanese writer and thinker Dr. Hasan AZ-Zain writes, “Imam Khomeini represents a great current in history. The name Khomeini is synonymous with Islamic movement and is something fresh and everlasting. It is impossible to separate the ideas of Imam Khomeini and the movement he generated in view of what is taking place all over the Islamic world and beyond. The Imam’s idea and path are alive and invigorating.”
Imam Khomeini embodied such noble characteristics, on the basis of which he generated the tidal wave of the Islamic revolution and revived in people the spirit of truth, justice, liberty, brotherhood, self sacrifice and defence of righteousness.
Even non-Muslims were greatly impressed by the dynamic personality of Imam Khomeini. French physician, Dr. Louie, who was in his teens in the closing months of 1978, when the Imam made the Paris suburb of Nofel Le Shato as his temporary residence prior to his historic return form exile to Tehran, says, “That day when my father returned home from work he angrily took off his coat, sat on the sofa and said, “This year I have been stalked by misfortune. On one hand the company is facing bankruptcy and on the other, our suburb has lost its peace.” My mother consoled him saying, “Don’t worry, it is said that Ayatollah Khomeini will leave within some days to Iran, so this place will become tranquil soon.”
Louie adds, “I was curious to see this great religious leader of Iran who was in our neighbourhood. I joined reporters who were daily converging on the area and went to the edge of the orchard where Imam Khomeini was staying. I saw an old but enlightened man in robes sitting cross-legged under a shady tree and talking in cool and calm voice. An aura of spirituality oozed from him. I did not realise how quickly that hour passed. I returned home in state of ecstasy and enthusiasm on having seen this divine person.”
Dr Louie continues, “I told my father that if he wanted to see a personality, who inspired the same feelings as Jesus (PBUH), than he should come and hear Ayatollah Khomeini.” My father was at first indifferent and said there was no difference since all priests have the same resemblance. I finally managed to convince my father and the next day we went together to see this great spiritual leader from Iran.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s punctuality very much impressed me. He came on time and sat at the usual place where he used to meet the press. All stood up as a sign of respect to this great Ayatollah. He soon started speaking. Translators were on hand to render his speech into French. Minutes later, I looked at my father’s face. He was listening carefully. There was a glint in his eyes and it was apparent that he was very much impressed by Ayatollah Khomeini.
A few days later it was Christmas. We sat for the celebrations, when the doorbell suddenly rang. My father went towards the door and I followed him. A man with a bouquet of flowers and package of confectionery was standing at the door. He greeted us cheerfully and handed to my father the bouquet and the confectionery, saying, “This is a present from Ayatollah Khomeini.” He congratulated us on the birthday of Jesus (PBUH) and asked forgiveness in a courteous manner if he had disturbed our Christmas celebration. My father thanked the man and stood amazed at all this love and affection from a Muslim divine.
This was a practical lesson from the Marja’ of the time for all of us as to how we should conduct ourselves during this festive season when more than half the world is celebrating the birthday of Nabi Isa (A.S.).
Should we just say, ‘this festival is not for me, or it does not relate to me or I am not interested in it, etc. or should we use this occasion for Tabligh work and portray to the world how beautifully Allah swt has described the sacred birth of Nabi Isa (A.S.) and the spiritual status of his mother, Janabe Maryam (A.S.) in Al-Qur’an?’
It is said that this one incident inspired not only Dr. Louie but also many others in France, to investigate and conduct research on Islam and specially shi’ism.