My father was a well-known religious scholar who was very pious and a bit of a recluse. We had a difficult life. I remember that sometimes, we didn’t have anything in the house for dinner at night.
Nevertheless, my mother would try to scrape something up, and that dinner would be nothing but bread and raisins.
The paternal house
My father’s house where I was born – and lived until I was four or five years old – was about sixty or seventy square meters in a poor part of Mashhad. It consisted of a single room and a dark, gloomy basement. When visitors came to see my father as the local cleric to consult about their problems, the family had to go into the basement until the visitors left… Some years later, a group of people who were very fond of my father bought the small, empty lot adjacent to our house so that he could build two more rooms. And so we ended up with a three room house.”
Imam Khamenei’s paternal house did not change a bit during forty years
One of my late parent’s characteristics was their reluctance to accumulate material possessions. This was truly something strange. Upon reflection, I have rarely seen this characteristic in others. We should all possess this characteristic.
The late martyr, Qazi Tabatabee – the Friday prayer leader in Tabriz – came to visit us in the year 1972. He told me he had traveled from Tabriz to Mashhad with his father 40 years ago to pay a visit to my father. He said, “Your father was living then in the same place as he is now, and I am sitting in the same place as my father was 40 years ago. This room and house have not changed a bit.”
A generation had passed, yet he had still managed to maintain the same lifestyle. When my brother, Hassan, was about to get married and we didn’t have any other space, they knocked that room down and built two smaller rooms. The house had a basement. They built a bathroom there. Before that, we did not have a bathroom in our house. By then of course, I had already left home. The big room became the living room.
As President of the country, I had certain authority and facilities at my disposal, but this humble, elderly man and woman [my elderly parents] did not have the least expectation from me. They did not expect their son, for instance, to repair their house or change it for a better one because he was the President. My father lived in this modest home up until 1986, and my mother continued living in it until the end of my presidency. But the house was not altered or improved one bit. This is a source of honor and pride for the Islamic Republic.
During my presidency, my parents used to live in their own house. It never crossed anyone’s mind – neither mine nor anyone else’s – to take advantage of my position as the President and renovate the house.
Of course, the nobleness of this act has nothing to do with me. It was these two magnanimous individuals who were indeed pious, in the real sense of the word, and had no interest in this world’s decorations and appearances.