Remembering Qassem Soleimani: He Was Always a Living Martyr!
Despite his important position, Qassem Soleimani did not change, and he continued to be a field man who spends his time among the fighters on the frontlines as one of them.
Qassem Soleimani wasn’t an ordinary soldier. He was not even a professional military officer in the technical sense of the word, as he did not graduate from a regular military college, nor did he spend years studying in military institutes that gave him ranks and certificates, nor was he delegated to receive long official military courses in “friendly” countries... none of that.
The young revolutionary
He was 20 years old when the public revolution broke out in Iran in the late 1970s. The young man, from Kerman Province, who was working as a construction worker, joined the revolutionaries and participated in organizing strikes and demonstrations against the Shah's regime. Immediately after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Soleimani voluntarily joined the Revolution's Guards brigades, which was founded by Ayatollah Khomeini with the aim of protecting the revolution and its cadres from the wave of sweeping assassinations targeting them.
In defense of Iran and the revolution
Soon after the revolution, Iran found itself under attack! In 1980و Iran was invaded by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and a fierce, long war started between the two countries. Qassem Soleimani moved with his comrades in the Revolution's Guards, like most of the youth of Iran, to the frontlines of war. And there he spent eight continuous years, during which he did not return to his home and family except for a few days. Soleimani’s years in the war with Iraq were filled with spilled blood, sweat, efforts, and tears.
This harsh war experience shaped the personality of the young Soleimani and taught him more valuable lessons than all what the West Point or Royal Sandhurst academies could possibly teach anyone. They were lessons in sacrifice, heroism, and redemption to defend the homeland during which he watched his brothers and comrades fall in minefields and under bombardment by planes and tanks, and even chemical weapons!
The young Qassem Soleimani showed unparalleled courage and valor, and in appreciation of his role and heroism, his superiors appointed him as the commander of the Lord’s Revenge Corps, which included the fighters coming from the Kerman Region at the front. Soleimani was involved in field military planning and in carrying out the most difficult and dangerous operations across the lines of fire. Whenever he returned from one of those operations, he would not believe that he was still alive, as if God’s destiny was saving him for bigger and more important roles in the future.
He never forgot them!
The eight-year war experience remained present in the mind and heart of Hajj Qassem. He often recalled a poem written by one of his old close comrades, Hussein Yusef Elahi, a martyr in the war fronts:
“The zealous are gone, the lovers are gone
Everyone left and I'm all alone
Alas for this rose full of thorns that everyone preceded
The Sheikh came and showed us the way
And I remained the one who did not learn and did not leave”
Read it and cry!
He won’t stop; a bigger role for Soleimani
After the war with Iraq ended, Qassem Soleimani continued his march. He could not stop. He has a message in life, and the flame of the revolution within him was driving him to give more. In the ranks of the Revolution's Guards, he maintained his course, this time outside the borders of Iran. Soleimani was involved in operations aimed at creating a wide front in the region capable of confronting “Israel” militarily, at a time when it seemed that the Arabs had raised the white flag and surrendered.
“Israel is a cancerous gland and it must be removed,” Khomeini said, which is what must happen and what Soleimani will seek with all his determination and strength until the last day of his life. The status of “Hajj Qassem”, as he was being called, began to rise in the ranks of the Revolution's Guards until he was appointed Commander of Al-Quds Force in 1998.
Always with the soldiers at the frontlines
Despite his high and important position, Qassem Soleimani did not change, and he continued to be, as he was during the eight-year war, a field man who spends his time among the fighters on the fronts as one of them, eats from their food, and hugs them one by one when they set out on their Jihad missions. “I am at your service,” he would say to them with all humility and love. They are his brothers and comrades, not minor soldiers under the command of a great leader! Military ranks were the last thing Hajj Qassem aspired to or sought. Until 2009, his official military rank in the Revolutionary Guards was a colonel, nothing more! He had no medals or badges attached to his chest.
Revolution or Jihad, whatever you call it, was Soleimani's life. In his revolution and Jihad, he was like a mystic! Like all revolutionary fighters throughout history, he had to be a believer, with deep faith within him. Just as Guevara believed in the message of defeating capitalism and achieving justice and socialism, Qassem Soleimani believed in the message of defeating injustice and supporting the oppressed on earth.
Soleimani's “Shiism” and his religious faith were not sectarian in any way, but rather they were like a torch illuminating his path and inspiring him the ability to distinguish between the “arrogant” oppressors and the people of right. In his view, the Imams of Ahl El-Bayt were the Imams of humanity, goodness, and justice, and they were the role model and the source of inspiration, determination, and steadfastness, and a source of tenderness as well! One day, he addressed the people of his hometown, Kerman, explaining to them the secret behind his steadfastness in the darkest and harshest of circumstances: It is Fatima Al-Zahra (Prophet Mohammad’s daughter) who inspired us and touched our heads with her hand in the midst of those tough times for our rescue!
It is “revolutionary Sufism”, no more, no less
O’ Allah! Seal our end with martyrdom
In 2009, more than 25 years after the martyrdom of his best comrades and brothers in the Jihad, Qassem Soleimani returned to the areas of operations on the banks of the Arvand River (Shatt Al-Arab) and recited this supplication in which he expressed his longing to catch up with them in their lofty heights :
“O Allah! We ask You, for the beat of those hearts
O Allah! We ask You, for these remnants
O Allah! For the prayers that were held beside these rivers
O Allah! For those young lovers who were martyred in those trenches and on the banks of these rivers
O Allah! For those bodies that never returned from the Arvand River
O Allah! With the longing of our hearts, we ask You, O God!
Seal our end with martyrdom
O Allah! With these waters in which the beloved fallen moved, we ask you
make us martyrs, O Allah."
... And God answered his prayers, though after a while.