Imam Khamenei's wife

Seven chapters from the revolutionary life of Imam Khamenei’s wife

In describing Imam Khamenei’s revolutionary activities against the Shah’s oppressive regime, the role of his honorable wife has not received due attention. is publishing seven historic chapters about the role of Mrs. Mansureh Khojasteh Baqirzadeh in the revolutionary activities of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution. The books “The Drop of Blood that Became a Ruby” and “A Description of Names” have been used as references.

1- The beginning of marital life

Mr. Khamenei and Mrs. Khojasteh’s married life had just begun. The first house where they resided belonged to the husband of Sayyid Ali Khamenei’s sister. They rented two rooms from Sheikh Ali Tehrani, “We stayed at my sister’s house for a few months. Mr. Sheikh Ali Aqa charged us 50 or 60 tomans for the monthly rent. Of course, I was not worried because he did not pressure us.”

The marriage of a poor clergyman and a wealthy woman who endured many difficulties with open arms strengthened the man of the family in the path that he believed in and fought for. “My wife has never expressed worry or discontent with me, and she has even encouraged me on many occasions. There were times when various individuals and secret groups from among important and high level personages visited our house, but she never complained and she even helped me.”

Mrs. Khojasteh said, “It was a difficult time, and God was testing me. I had prepared myself for all possible problems, and I never opened my mouth to complain about anything. I think my biggest role was to keep a calm environment at home so that he could comfortably continue his job. I tried to ease his mind about matters related to me and the children.”


2- Poverty

On the one hand, there were difficulties and hardships resulting from fighting against the ruling system, and on the other hand, there were the difficulties of poverty and indigence. After returning to Mashhad, Sayyid Ali Khamenei resumed his studies of jurisprudence with his father. In the morning, he would go to his old house. After finishing his scholarly meetings and classes in his father’s old room, he would go to Navvab Seminary to teach. It was the beginning of his marital life. When he was leaving the house in the morning, his wife told him, “We have nothing for lunch.” In the small alleys leading to Navvab Seminary, he remembered what his wife had told him, “I put my hands in my pockets. The upper pockets were empty and as for the lower one, there were about four rials, or four rials and 10 shahis! I involuntarily began to laugh and thought, “Praise God.” He went on to say, “I really had nothing. Moreover, I wasn’t able to go and borrow from this or that person or withdraw some money from the bank. I did not have one rial of savings. In these circumstances, there were many pressures on me.”


3- Preparedness for every possible bitter event

Only a few weeks had passed since the couple’s marriage when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was exiled to Turkey on the 13th of Aban, 1343 AH. The news of the Imam’s exile to Turkey broke in Mashhad a few days before the sentence was carried out and it spread among those gatherings where the people were interested in political matters – in particular among the clergy. This event led to a number of the clergy asking Ayatollah Milani to issue an announcement regarding the end of political immunity for American military advisors – known as “capitulation.” In the afternoon of the 13th of Aban, a security committee held a meeting to discuss possible actions against the clergy’s decision.

On the 14th of Aban – the day after the Imam’s exile – a very important meeting was going to be held in Ayatollah Sayyid Hassan Qomi’s house. Intelligence agents were aware of it, of course. A SAVAK agent wrote, “From 15:00, there was been a meeting going on organized by Mr. Qomi, Mr. Milani and other religious scholars in Mr. Qomi’s residence, and it ended at 20:00.”

One of the people invited to the meeting was Mr. Khamenei. On that day, he told his wife, “I have to go, and I may not come back. They may imprison or kill me.” He told her about the meeting, “I saw her to be calm and firm, ready to handle this challenge.”

Mrs. Mansureh Khojasteh related, “My husband relayed this to me on the exact day when Imam Khomeini was detained again. He was transferred from Qom to Tehran and exiled to Turkey. On that day, Mr. Khamenei and others were preparing themselves to protest against such conduct. That is when he asked me how I would react if he were sent to prison. Since that day, I have mentally prepared myself for encountering problems that might afflict my husband due to his revolutionary activities.”


4- Going into hiding

It was the last days of Shahrivar in 1349 AH. As usual, he went to his father’s house in order to visit him and to discuss jurisprudence. They were sitting together when the doorbell rang. Mrs. Khadijah – Imam Khamenei’s honorable mother – went to open the door. Moments later, she returned anxiously saying that two SAVAK agents were looking for him. He asked, “What did you say, mother?” His mother said, “I told them there is no one at home.” Mr. Khamenei said, “Why did you lie mother?” Mrs. Khadijah replied that the SAVAK agents are like mad dogs and one should get rid of them. Then, she began to curse them.

Angry and upset about what he had heard, Hajj Sayyid Javad asked his son what he had done to make them want to arrest him and take him to prison. Mr. Khamenei tried to calm them both. He answered that they were probably looking for the wrong person. Then, the thought crossed his mind that they would soon go to his own house; therefore, he needed to be with his wife and children before they came.

He rushed home. Things were normal there. He related what had happened to his wife, but Mrs. Khojasteh showed strength and courage, as she had during previous hardships. She helped him get ready, change his clothes, clip his nails, and trim his beard and moustache - all the things that were necessary before going to prison.

He had his lunch, said his noon and afternoon prayers and waited for the bell to ring so that he could open the door for the police officers who were coming to arrest him. Mrs. Khojasteh grew tired waiting for this bitter event and fell asleep. As for Mr. Khamenei, he went to his library to select some of the books that he could take to prison.

Suddenly, he began to think of going into hiding for a while so that he could finish a book he was translating. After that, come what may. He referred to the Holy Qur’an for guidance. All the verses encouraged him to go into hiding. So, he woke his wife up and told her about his decision. Mrs. Khojasteh became very happy and asked, “Where will you go?” He answered, “I don’t know yet. I only want to finish the translation of the book.” Then, he kissed his sons who were sleeping. He said goodbye and left.


5- Cooking for her husband while he was in prison

The auspicious month of Ramadan in the year 1390 AHL arrived. The 10th of Aban was the first day of the auspicious month of Ramadan.

“When I was in my cell – before being transferred to a big room – the month of Ramadan arrived. With the arrival of that month, my heart was filled with joy because I had loved this month since I was a boy. In that month, daily life changes enormously and fasters feel a special spiritual joy.”

The first day of the month of Ramadan was almost over. It was time for breaking the fast, but they did not bring me anything. That was because in the army environment and in army prisons, they did not care about the month of Ramadan. I said the daily prayers and began to think of my memories from the month of Ramadan – especially, the memories about the time of breaking the fast and the fasters’ joy over its arrival. These joyous and delightful moments when I used to sit at the table with my family while water was boiling in a samovar in front of us flashed through my mind. I also remembered the modest and light foods particular to breaking the fast. I thought of “Ma ghovat” – the popular food particular to the people of Mashhad. I liked that food more than all other foods for breaking the fast. Ma ghovat is made with water, starch and sugar, and they cook it in a special way. My wife is well skilled at making it, just like other foods. Suddenly, I pulled myself together and asked God for forgiveness. Perhaps it was the hunger that evoked these memories in my mind. And perhaps it was due to my solitude. In any case, I had to wait.”

“Half an hour after sunset, I obtained a cup of tea. After that, they brought us dinner, but no one would want to eat it due to its poor quality. However, I ate some of it and left the rest for sahari (the meal before starting a fast). For sahari, I ate the rest of it reluctantly since it was of poor quality, especially after having been kept for several hours. The first day passed in this way.”

“On the second day, the guard informed me that something had been sent for me. I took it and opened the package that had been sent for me. I saw that all kinds of my favorite foods had been sent for me. They were enough for several people. My wife had cooked and been able to send them to prison. Also, that same day, they sent me the things necessary for making tea. So, I had a delicious meal for breaking my fast and sent the rest for the other prisoners. This repeated every day.”


6- Agents charging into Imam Khamenei’s house at night

It was on the 23th of Azar, 1356 AH when the doorbell of Imam Khamenei’s house rang, but it was not just a simple ring. Rather, they were banging and hammering on the door too. It was about an hour before the morning call to prayer. Like always, he came out of his room to open the door without asking who it was. Everyone was asleep. When he opened the door, he saw armed men. Some of them were carrying pistols and some had machine guns. For a moment, he thought that they had come to assassinate him, “Mr. Beheshti had warned me that the communists had plans to assassinate active Muslims. Therefore, he had asked us to be cautious. Those days, communists had poured into Mr. Mousavi Qahdarijani’s house, tied his hands and feet and wanted to kill him. However, due to an unexpected event, he managed to escape and save his life.”

He immediately shut the door. They prevented him, but the door was finally closed. “They will probably come in from another way,” he was thinking this when one of the armed men shouted, “Open the door in the name of the law.” When he heard this, he realized that they were SAVAK agents and that at least this danger would not cost him his life. It was at this time that they broke the window on the door, “I went towards the door and opened it. Six people poured into the house and began to hit me there in the passageway savagely and violently. At that time, my son – Mustafa, who was 12 at the time – woke up and watched with unbelief from behind the window of his room how his father was being beaten. He was shouting and crying.”

The blows struck him everywhere, but mostly his ankles. They kicked his ankles with the tips of their shoes. One of them pulled out a pair of handcuffs and handcuffed Mr. Khamenei with them. They pushed him forward to enter the house and they followed him. He said, “I do not want my wife and my children to see me with handcuffs. Release me for now. This is not a humane action.” They accepted and opened his hands. They entered. His wife and his four sons, who had just woken up, were surprised and looking. Maysam, his fourth son, was just two months old. “I told them, ‘Don’t be afraid. They’re guests.’”

They began to search. It was clear that they would not leave any corner untouched. However, in a moment when even Mr. Khamenei did not notice, Mrs. Khojasteh went to the library and collected all the writings – including announcements, secret papers and all the writings that could be used to accuse her husband of political activities against the regime – and scattered them under the carpet ,“I don’t know how she knew that those written announcements existed in that room. And I had no idea how she managed to make it to that room without the SAVAK agents noticing. Later on, she told me how she did it.”

When it was time to search the library, they took every book and writing that could be used against him. Like his previous books and writings, they were never given back to him. In the agents’ report about what they had taken from Mr. Khamenei’s house it was written, “Thirteen books written by or about Dr. Ali Shariati, one book written by Morteza Motahhari, and a number of manuscripts and letters that could be further investigated.” When the sound of the morning call to prayer could be heard, they were still searching. “I told them, ‘I want to pray.’ One of them accompanied me to the bathroom. I performed the minor ablution, returned to the library and prayed the morning prayer. Only one of them prayed the morning prayer. The rest continued searching, and they did not leave any place untouched (except for under the carpet).”

He asked his wife to give him some food and to wake up Mujtaba and Masood who were sleeping so that he could say goodbye to them. The SAVAK agents told them that their father was going on vacation, “But I told them, ‘There is no need to lie.’ I told them the truth.”

He said goodbye and went out accompanied by those midnight intruders.


7- Living in hiding

Mr. Khamenei spent most of the month of Azar and all of Dey hiding in different houses. Every morning, he would go to the Keramat Mosque, which was packed with people. It was this crowd that ensured their safety. Spies did not dare to come there to gather information. The system for gathering and reporting news of the security apparatus had become dysfunctional due to the occurrence of many incidents, the fear of the intelligence agents, and the disorder that had engulfed the regime. The Keramat Mosque was actually the center for leading the Revolution in Mashhad. Mr. Khamenei managed affairs there with the help of his like-minded friends and enthusiastic, zealous youth. He would receive information about the events that were taking place and give direction and plans to the people and the religious scholars in accordance with the circumstances. Issuing announcements, listening to what the people who came to him had to say – and visitors were nonstop! – and answering their questions were some of his other duties. No day passed without soldiers who had deserted the army coming to see him. He would attend to these matters until noon.

After saying the daily prayers, he would continue the work until night, with or without lunch. When the people would leave and go in different directions, he would hide among them and go to one of the revolutionary’s homes. He did not go home for 50 days and only saw his family once during this time. As for his family, they did not stay in one place due to their fear of the agents. They constantly moved from house to house. However, with the arrival of the month of Bahman in the year 1357 AH, and the news of the revolutionaries’ victory, the bitter taste of difficulties changed to sweet moments.


  • Ayatollah Khamenei’s wife
  • Islamic Revolution
  • Mansoureh Khojasteh Bagherzadeh
  • Mojtaba Khamenei
  • Pahlavi regime


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