Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic, was so interested in the classes of one of his teachers that he turned down an offer by top British officials to go to the UK and teach philosophy classes there.
Ayatollah Haj Sheikh Azizollah Khosravi Zanjani, a student of the late Leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini, had shared a memory prior to his death in 1995, in which Imam had declined an offer by two British governors to go to the UK and lead philosophy classes there.
Ayatollah Khosravi Zanjani said Imam Khomeini would not exchange an hour of attending classes taught by Ayatollah Hossein Tabatabaei Boroujerdi, one of his teachers and colleagues, with the entire British government.
Ayatollah Khosravi Zanjani’s memory is recounted here to mark the 28th anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s demise (June 4, 1989):
“[Up until that day], I had never had the chance of attending Imam Khomeini’s Islamic jurisprudence classes. At that time, we used to live in the central Iranian province of Qom. He taught Islamic wisdom. At first, he used to teach in a classroom in Faydiyya Seminary – one of the important schools of the Seminary of Qom and a major place for teaching Shiite teachings in Iran. I was among the 10 to 15 students who attended this class.
Imam Khomeini said he would not exchange an hour of attending Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s classes with the entire British government.
Imam was very dear to Ayatollah Boroujerdi and was greatly respected by him. One day, two British governors had gone to visit Ayatollah Boroujerdi at his home and raise a few philosophical questions. Ayatollah Boroujerdi had referred them to Imam Khomeini, who was known as ‘Haj-Aqa Rouhollah’ in those days.
Imam Khomeini, who was then present in Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s house, received them in another room and answered their questions.
By chance, I was also there […] and found the opportunity to attend Imam Khomeini’s session with the British governors, which was very interesting.
Someone translated the questions and answers for Imam Khomeini and the British. On hearing the answers, they nodded their head as a sign of approval.
At the end of the discussion, one of them told the translator [to tell Imam] that they had discussed the questions with different philosophers in non-Muslim and Muslim countries, even in [the Iranian capital of] Tehran and none of whom could have convinced them to the extent that Imam had done.
They said in case Imam Khomeini was willing to, they would very much like him to go to the UK to teach European philosophers there. They added they knew Imam would be more useful in their country.
At that time, I had been attending Imam Khomeini’s classes for quite a few while and enormously enjoyed them. While the interpreter was translating their offer for Imam Khomeini, I got worried by the thought that Imam Khomeini would accept their offer and deprive me of the chance and honour of attending his classes.
Those thoughts were running through my mind when Imam told the translator to tell the gentlemen he would not exchange an hour of attending Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s classes with the entire British government.
Those days, Imam used to attend Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s classes every day after teaching his own courses.”