Muhammad Kadhim Tabatabi Yazdi. He then continued his learning in Usul under Ayatullah Naainee and Ayatullah Agha Dhaya Iraqi. Although he had reached the station of Ijtihad, he never actually made a point to formalize this achievement, and it was only when Ayatullah Khonsar returned to Iran that Ayatullah Iraqi sent him a formal letter of proof confirming that he had obtained the qualifications of Ijtihad. Ayatullah Iraqi used to many times comment on the status and worth of Ayatullah Khonsari.
It came very close to me but ended up doing nothing. It then went back to the foot of the door and then returned back towards me. It did this a number of times, but each time did nothing to me.’Ayatullah Khonsari spent 4 years in prison and was only released because of the efforts of the Raja from India, who tried for his release as soon as he himself was released from prison.
In the beginning of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was allied with Germany. In 1903, with the arrival of the British in Iraq and their conquest of Basra and the neighboring areas, it was a very sensitive time indeed. The Ottoman Empire sought help from the Shia Ulema, and although the spread of despotism around Iraq was because of the Ottoman Government, the Ulema could not just sit on the sidelines and observe the Holy City of Iraq being trampled over. Thus, many of the Maraje issued a fatwa of Jihad, but because of their old age, they sent their children to the war front as their representatives. Another group of Mujtahids themselves also chose the path of Jihad. It was during the period of Muharram that this sensational fatwa was issued. Ayatullah
Khonsari left his studies and with a vanguard of scholars including Ayatullah Syed Mustafa Kashani (his study partner), made his way to the warfront in the neighbourhood of Basra, via the River Euphrates in a ship. He shared a bunker in the frontline with Ayatullah Mustafa Kashani and Agha Baktiyari Zaade. He was a soldier always full of life, even when the going used to get tough or the enemy was on the offensive. What was more surprising was a time when the enemy had placed them under intense siege and were getting closer and closer; whilst most of the soldiers were preparing for the worst, Ayatullah Khonsari was getting more and more passionate and intense about his prayers, which he used to pray with a great amount of fervour.
During the war, a part of Ayatullah Khonsari’s foot became wounded and he got taken prisoner. The occupiers gathered the prisoners of war in the port of Basra, and from there they were gathered in ships and sent away into captivity to one of their colonies, the island of Singapore.
Ayatullah Khonsari was one of 400 people taken captive. The journey to Singapore took four months and the captives were then held in a prison in the middle of nowhere. During his time in prison, despite the very tough and severe environment, he continued and strived to teach Logic and Wisdom and also managed to teach himself English from an Indian Raja. When the head of the prison became aware that Ayatullah Khonsari was a scholar and knew English, he requested him to translate a book meant to mislead the people; however, Ayatullah Khonsari refused and maybe it was because of this refusal that the wardens wanted to kill him. Ayatullah himself mentions that: ‘One day all the prisoners had gone out, and I was behind alone. The warden brought a wild animal into the prison and let it loose at the foot of the door. He then hit the wild animal and thus the animal approached me with ferocity.
Ayatullah’s salaat used to be a wonderful event. Belief in Allah was so manifested in him that in salaam he used to cast aside the veils and his soul used to be in the remembrance of Heaven. He himself said: ‘When I stand for salaat, it is as if I am having a conversation with Allah and facing him.’ He also led salaat-e-jamaat at Faiziya Madressa, where the people who usually had many doubts about the adalat (justice) of the Imams of salaat-e-jamaat did not just follow anyone. However, they prayed behind him without any problems or objections.
One of the most important events to show the status of Ayatollah was the event of the salaat for rain. In the city of Qom in the Iranian year 1323 (approx. 1944 AD), the rains had not arrived and the food levels had reached critical levels.
The people saw the recital of ‘salaat-e-Istagasa’ (prayer for rain) as a solution to the drought. They approached the Ulema to lead the prayer and although a couple of the Ulema declined the offer to recite the prayer, Ayatullah Khonsari was unable to refuse the request of the people.
The news spread around the city of Qom that Ayatullah Khonsari was due to lead the prayer on the Friday. 20,000 people gathered together to recite the salaat at a location known as Khak-e-Faraj. On that day the prayer for rain was not responded to. Ayatullah Khonsari, who had perceived the beneficence of Allah many times before, knew very well that by begging from Allah, the dua would eventually be accepted. Therefore, he made a decision to go and say the prayer again; they decided to go to the garden behind the graveyard of ‘Nawabpaa’. When sunset arrived on the Sunday, the sky turned red and cloudy and rain fell with such intensity that it is said rain like that had not been seen until then. Someone narrates: ‘That day, as per normal, I went to the Faiziya Madressa to say my salaat-e-jamaat behind Ayatullah Khonsari. At the moment,
I cannot remember the reason why there was a lecture in the Faiziya Madressa after the evening salaat, but Marhum Hajji Muhammad Taki Ishraqi was giving a lecture when it began to rain…that evening it rained extensively.’