Thursday, 6 March 2014

Ayatollah Rohullah Musavi Khomeini

Ayatollah Khomeini
Ayatollah Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini (Imam Khomeini)


Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini (center)
Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini was born on 24 September 1902 (20 Jamadi al-Akhir 1320), the anniversary of the birth of Hazrat Fatima, in the small town of Khomein, some 160 kilometres to the southwest of Qom. He was the child of a family with a long tradition of religious scholarship. His ancestors, descendants of Imam Mousa al-Kazim, the seventh Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt, had migrated towards the end of the eighteenth century from their original home in Neishapour (in Khorasan province of Iran) to the Lucknow region of northern India. There they settled and began devoting themselves to the religious instruction and guidance of the region's predominantly Shi'i population. 

Khomeini's grandfather, Seyed Ahmad, left Lucknow (according to a statement of Khomeini's elder brother, Seyed Morteza Pasandideh, his point of departure was Kashmir, not Lucknow) some time in the middle of the nineteenth century on pilgrimage to the tomb of Hazrat 'Ali in Najaf. While in Najaf, Seyed Ahmad met Yousef Khan, a prominent citizen of Khomein. Accepting his invitation, he decided to settle in Khomein to assume responsibility for the religious needs of its citizens and also took Yousef Khan's daughter in marriage. 

Seyed Ahmad, by the time of death, the date of which is unknown, had two children: a daughter by the name of Sahiba, and Seyed Moustafa Hindi, born in 1885, the father of Khomeini. Seyed Moustafa began his religious education in Esfahan and continued his advanced studies in Najaf and Samarra (this corresponded to a pattern of preliminary study in Iran followed by advanced study in the "Atabat", the shrine cities of Iraq; Ayatollah Khomeini was in fact the first religious leader of prominence whose formation took place entirely in Iran). After accomplishing his advanced studies he returned to Khomein, and then married with Hajar (mother of Rouhollah Khomeini). 

In March 1903, Khomeini when was just 5 months old lost his father. And in 1918, Khomeini lost both his aunt, Sahiba, who had played a great role in his early upbringing, and his mother, Hajar. Responsibility for the family then devolved on his eldest brother, Seyed Mourteza (later to be known as Ayatollah Pasandideh). 

Khomeini began his education by memorizing the Qoran at a maktab (traditional religious school). In 1920-21, Seyed Mourteza sent the Rouhollah Khomeini to the city of Arak (or Sultanabad, as it was then known) in order for him to benefit from the more ample educational resources available there. 

Young Rouhollah Khomeini
In 1923, Khomeini arrived in Qom and devoted himself to completing the preliminary stage of madreseh (school or academy) education. 

Khomeini did not engage in any political activities during the 1930's. He believed that the leadership of political activities should be in the hands of the foremost religious scholars, and he was therefore obliged to accept the decision of Ayatollah Haeri to remain relatively passive toward the measures taken by Reza Shah against the traditions and culture of Islam in Iran. In any event, as a still junior figure in the religious institution in Qom, he would have been in no position to mobilize popular opinion on a national scale. 

In 1955, a nationwide campaign against the Baha'i sect was launched, for which the Khomeini sought to recruit Ayatollah Boroujerdi's (he was the most prominent religious leader in Qom after the death of Ayatollah Haeri) support, but he had little success. 

Ayatollah Khomeini therefore concentrated during the years of Ayatollah Boroujerdi's leadership in Qom on giving instruction in fiqh (Islamic science) and gathering round him students who later became his associates in the movement that led to the overthrow of the Pahlavi Dynasty, not only Ayatollah Mutahhari and Ayatollah Muntaziri, but younger men such as Hojatolislam Muhammad Javad Bahonar and Hojatolislam Ali Akbar Hashimi-Rafsanjani. 

The emphases of the Ayatollah Khomeini's activity began to change with the death of Ayatollah Boroujerdi on March 31, 1961, for he now emerged as one of the successors to Boroujerdi's position of leadership. This emergence was signaled by the publication of some of his writings on fiqh, most importantly the basic handbook of religious practice entitled, like others of its genre, Tozih al-Masael. He was soon accepted as Marja-e Taqlid by a large number of Iranian Shi'is. 

In the autumn of 1962, the government promulgated new laws governing elections to local and provincial councils, which deleted the former requirement that those elected be sworn into office on the Qoran. Seeing in this a plan to permit the infiltration of public life by the Baha'is, Imam Khomeini telegraphed both the Mohammad Reza Shah and the prime minister of the day, warning them to desist from violating both the law of Islam and the Iranian Constitution of 1907, failing which the 'ulama' (religious scholars) would engage in a sustained campaign of protest. 

In January 1963, the Shah announced a six-point program of reform called the White Revolution, an American-inspired package of measures designed to give his regime a liberal and progressive facade. Ayatollah Khomeini summoned a meeting of his colleagues in Qom to press upon them the necessity of opposing the Shah's plans. They sent Ayatollah Kamalvand, to see the Shah and gauge his intentions. Although the Shah showed no inclination to retreat or compromise, it took further pressure by Ayatollah Khomeini on the other senior 'ulama' of Qom to persuade them to decree a boycott of the referendum that the Shah had planned to obtain the appearance of popular approval for his White Revolution. Ayatollah Khomeini issued on January 22, 1963 a strongly worded declaration denouncing the Shah and his plans. Two days later Shah took armored column to Qom, and he delivered a speech harshly attacking the 'ulama' as a class. 

Ayatollah Khomeini continued his denunciation of the Shah's programs, issuing a manifesto that also bore the signatures of eight other senior scholars. In it he listed the various ways in which the Shah had violated the constitution, condemned the spread of moral corruption in the country, and accused the Shah of comprehensive submission to America and Israel. He also decreed that the Norooz celebrations for the Iranian year 1342 (which fell on March 21, 1963) be cancelled as a sign of protest against government policies. 

On the afternoon of 'Ashoura (June 3, 1963), Imam Khomeini delivered a speech at the Feyziyeh madreseh in which he drew parallels between the Umayyad caliph Yazid and the Shah and warned the Shah that if he did not change his ways the day would come when the people would offer up thanks for his departure from the country. The immediate effect of the Imam's speech was, however, his arrest two days later at 3 o'clock in the morning by a group of commandos who hastily transferred him to the Qasr prison in Tehran. As dawn broke on June 3, the news of his arrest spread first through Qom and then to other cities. In Qom, Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad and Varamin, masses of angry demonstrators were confronted by tanks and paratroopers. It was not until six days later that order was fully restored. This uprising of 15 Khordad 1342 marked a turning point in Iranian history. 

Ayatollah Khomeini going to exile
After nineteen days in the Qasr prison, Ayatollah Khomeini was moved first to the 'Eshratabad' military base and then to a house in the 'Davoudiyeh' section of Tehran where he was kept under surveillance. 

He was released on April 7, 1964, and returned to Qom. 

The Shah's regime continued its pro-American policies and in the autumn of 1964, it concluded an agreement with the United States that provided immunity from prosecution for all American personnel in Iran and their dependents. This occasioned the Khomeini to deliver a speech against the Shah. He denounced the agreement as surrender of Iranian independence and sovereignty, made in exchange for a $200 million loan that would be of benefit only to the Shah and his associates, and described as traitors all those in the Majlis who voted in favor of it; the government lacked all legitimacy, he concluded. 

Shortly before dawn on November 4, 1964, again commandos surrounded the Ayatollah Khomeini house in Qom, arrested him, and this time took him directly to Mehrabad airport in Tehran for immediate exile to Turkey on the hope that in exile he would fade from popular memory. As Turkish law forbade Ayatollah Khomeini to wear the cloak and turban of the Muslim scholar, an identity which was integral to his being. However, On September 5, 1965, Ayatollah Khomeini left Turkey for Najaf in Iraq, where he was destined to spend thirteen years. 

Ayatollah Khomeini and his son Mostafa
in exile (Iraq)
Once settled in Najaf, Ayatollah Khomeini began teaching fiqh at the Sheikh Mourteza Ansari madreseh. At this madreseh he delivered, between January 21 and February 8, 1970, his lectures on Velayat-e faqeeh, the theory of governance and Islamic Leadership (the text of these lectures was published in Najaf, not long after their delivery, under the title Velayat-e faqeeh ya Hukumat-i Islami). The text of the lectures on Velayat-e faqeeh was smuggled back to Iran by visitors who came to see the Khomeini in Najaf. 

The most visible sign of the popularity of Ayatollah Khomeini in the pre-revolutionary years, above all at the heart of the religious institution in Qom, came in June 1975 on the anniversary of the uprising of 15 Khordad. Students at the Feyziyeh madreseh began holding a demonstration within the confines of the building, and a sympathetic crowd assembled outside. Both gatherings continued for three days until they were attacked military forces, with numerous deaths resulting. Ayatollah Khomeini reacted with a message in which he declared the events in Qom and similar disturbances elsewhere to be a sign of hope that "freedom and liberation from the bonds of imperialism" were at hand. The beginning of the revolution came indeed some two and a half years later. 

In January 7, 1978 when an article appeared in the semi-official newspaper Ittila'at attacking him in such terms as a traitor working together with foreign enemies of the country. The next day a furious mass protest took place in Qom; it was suppressed by the security forces with heavy loss of life. This was the first in a series of popular confrontations that, gathering momentum throughout 1978, soon turned into a vast revolutionary movement, demanding the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime and the installation of an Islamic government. 

Ayatollah Khomeini arrives in Tehran.
He is received by officers of Royal Air Force
Shah decided to seek the deportation of Ayatollah Khomeini from Iraq, the agreement of the Iraqi government was obtained at a meeting between the Iraqi and Iranian foreign ministers in New York, and on September 24, 1978, the Khomeini's house in Najaf was surrounded by troops. He was informed that his continued residence in Iraq was contingent on his abandoning political activity, a condition he rejected. On October 3, he left Iraq for Kuwait, but was refused entry at the border. After a period of hesitation in which Algeria, Lebanon and Syria were considered as possible destinations, Ayatollah Khomeini embarked for Paris. Once arrived in Paris, the Khomeini took up residence in the suburb of Neauphle-le-Chateau in a house that had been rented for him by Iranian exiles in France. From now on the journalists from across the world now made their way to France, and the image and the words of the Ayatollah Khomeini soon became a daily feature in the world's media. 

On January 3, 1979, Shapour Bakhtiar of the National Front (Jabhe-yi Melli) was appointed prime minister to replace General Azhari. And on January 16, Shah left Iran. 

The Ayatollah Khomeini embarked on a chartered airliner of Air France on the evening of January 31 and arrived in Tehran the following morning. He was welcomed by a very popular joy. On February 5, he introduced Mehdi Bazargan as interim prime minister (yet Bakhtiyar was appointed prime minister of Shah). 

Ayatollah Khomeini's
last years
On February 10, Ayatollah Khomeini ordered that the curfew should be defied. The next day the Supreme Military Council withdrew its support from Bakhtiyar, and on February 12, 1979, following the sporadic street gunfight all organs of the regime, political, administrative, and military, finally collapsed. The revolution had triumphed. 

On March 30 and 31, a nationwide referendum resulted in a massive vote in favor of the establishment of an Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khomeini proclaimed the next day, April 1, 1979, as the "first day of God's government". He obtained the title of "Imam" (highest religious rank in Shia). With the establishment of Islamic Republic of Iran he became Supreme Leader (Vali-e Faqeeh). 

He settled in Qom but on January 23, 1980, Ayatollah Khomeini was brought from Qom to Tehran to receive heart treatment. After thirty-nine days in hospital, he took up residence in the north Tehran suburb of Darband , and on April 22 he moved into a modest house in Jamaran, another suburb to the north of the capital. A closely guarded compound grew up around the house, and it was there that he spent the rest of his life as absolute ruler of Iran. 

Ayatollah Khomeini, on June 3, 1989, after eleven days in hospital for an operation to stop internal bleeding, lapsed into a critical condition and died. 

Ayatollah Khomeini in his 10 years of leadership established a theocratic rule over Iran. He did not fulfil his pre-revolution promises to the people of Iran but instead he started to marginalize and crash the opposition groups and those who opposed the clerical rules. He ordered establishment of many institutions to consolidate power and safeguard the cleric leadership. During his early years in power he launched the Cultural Revolution in order to Islamize the whole country. Many people were laid off, and lots of books were revised or burnt according to the new Islamic values. Newly established Islamic Judiciary system sentenced many Iranians to death and long-term imprisonment as they were in opposition to those radical changes. 


www.youtube.com/watch?v=frXDdGcLmfs

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

AYATOLLAH SYED ALI QAZI TABATABAI

Brief Biography:

               

Ayatullah Sayyid Mirza Ali Tabatabai, famously known as Qazi (1282 - 1366 AH) was born in Tabriz in Iran. He completed his basic seminary studies in his hometown, and then at the age of 28, migrated to Najaf (Iraq) to learn from the great masters who taught him in the shadow of the holy shrine of Imam Ali (A.S.).
In time, Sayyid Qazi excelled in jurisprudence, usul, hadith, exegesis and ethics and distinguished himself as one of the most sought-after instructors in Najaf, especially in the fields of ethics and Mysticism. He wrote several books, including a partially completedexegesis of the Glorious Qur’an, which is a commentary up to verse 91 of Chapter al-An’am. Several of the top ranking scholars of the recent generation were his students, including:
Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Amuli
Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Tabatabee
Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Bahjat
Ayatollah Sayyed Abbas Kashani
Ayatollah Sayyed Abdulkarim Kashmiri
Ayatollah Ali Akbar Marandi
Ayatollah Sayyed Hassan Mustafavi Tabrizi
Ayatollah Sayyed Abdulhossein Dastgheyb
Ayatollah Ali Muhammad Broujerdi
Ayatollah Nejabat Shirazi
Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Hosseini Hamedani
Ayatollah Sayyed Hassan Masqati
Ayatollah Sayyed Hashim Razavi Kashmiri
Haj Sayyed Hashim Haddad

A sample of his handwriting that says:
If you preserve your prayers, everything in your life will be preserved.
His teachers in Spiritualism were Ayatollah Sayyed Ahmed Karbalai and Sheikh Mohammad Bahari, who in turn were the students of Mirza Mulla Hussein Qulli Hamadani. Mulla Qulli was himself the student of Haj Sayyed Ali Shustari.
      Late Qazi was a scholar of the highest calibre in Najaf in the last century. He taught Ethics, Creeds and Mysticism, and was also well versed in Philosophy and Jurisprudence. Many great scholars of the recent generation were his students. He had a special status and piety, which enabled him to perform many miraculous acts.
After many years of teaching and worshiping God, Mirza Ali Aqa Qazi passed away in 1947 on Monday and was buried in Wadi-us-Salaam (a great famous cemetery in Najaf) next to his father’s grave. He aged 83 years and two months and 21 days.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

AYATOLLAH MOHAMMAD TAQI BEHJAT

Biography:

                            www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv9eV5yhOc8           
Muhammad Taqi Behjat was born in the Fouman province of Iran in 1334 AH (1916 CE) to a respected religious family. Upon completion of his early education in his hometown, he moved to Iraq at the age of 14 to study at the Islamic seminaries in Karbala and Najaf. In Najaf, he studied under such eminent scholars as Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfehani, Shaikh Muhammad Kadhim Shirazi, Mirza Muhammad Hussain Naeni, and Shaikh Muhammad Hussain al-Gharawi. He also studied spirituality and Gnosticism with Sayyid Ali Qadhi Tabatabai.
Upon completion of his education, Shaikh Behjat returned to Iran and began teaching in the seminary in Qom, where he also attended the lectures of Ayatollah Muhammad Hussain Burujardi. In Qom, Shaikh Behjat taught higher-level jurisprudence classes for over 40 years. Upon the demise of Ayatollah Ali Araki in 1415 AH (1994 CE), Ayatollah Behjat was one of seven scholars who were recognized as Maraja Taqleed by the scholars of the Islamic seminary of Qom.
In addition to his jurisprudential credentials, Ayatollah Behjat was considered one of the greatest Gnostics of our era. Indeed, not since the time of Imam Khomeini and Allama Tabatabai has the Shia world seen such an incredible fusion of the spiritual and the academic. His students narrate that "as soon as Agha Behjat begins his prayer, tears flow from his eyes; frequently he has to pause, because his voice is choked with emotion – such is his awe in God's presence. One day, after Maghrib prayers, he commented, 'If only the kings of this world realized how much pleasure a servant experiences in worship, they would never even glance at the worldly delights.'"
Yet despite this high spiritual position, he lived a life of utmost humbleness and austerity. Ayatollah Misbah Yazdi narrates, "Till our day, the mentor (Ayatollah Behjat) does not own a house big enough for a large number of visitors. There are no more than two or three small rooms in his house furnished with their floor covered with the same covering which he placed more than forty years ago. He did not change his house after he had become a Marja, although it cannot accommodate the visitors and those who used to see him frequently and whose number was daily on the rise; therefore, the mentor used to sit during the feast or commemoration occasions at the Fatimiyya Mosque to receive people."
Ayatollah Behjat was also well-known for his love and devotion to the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon him). Every morning, he began his routine by visiting the shrine of Lady Fatima Masooma (peace be upon her) and reciting Ziyarat Ashura. As well, he frequently encouraged others to recite Ziyarat Jamia and Ziyarat Ameenallah.
In regards to commemoration sessions for Imam Hussain (peace be upon him), Ayatollah Behjat once said, "The brethren who are busy lauding Ahlul Bayt, those who recount the virtues of the Imams and the tragedies that befell them, must know their station, what action they undertake, and why. They must know that they are practically implementing the commandment of being 'kind to the Prophet’s close ones' to which the Holy Qur'an refers. Whether they recount the virtues of Ahlul Bayt or their tragedies, they thus repay the wage of conveying the Message and keep people firm on the path of the Qur'an."Shaykh Behjat passed away on the 17th of May 2009 in Qum and is laid to rest in the vicinity of the shrine of Lady Fatima Masooma (peace be upon her).

His Character and Qualities
1. Piety and Self-Building
From his youth, Agha Behjat was constantly engaged in self-purification and self-building. In his ethical instructions, he always insists that one should work hard at this task and forego and abandon many luxuries in order to make headway against the endless demands of the soul.
He is of the opinion that in order to succeed in this jihad al-akbar, ethical purity (akhlaq) and knowledge (‘ilm) go hand in hand. In fact he considers knowledge without self-purification, to be the more damaging than anything else. His famous advice to youths is ‘to read and practise one hadith daily from the Chapter of Jihad al-nafs in Wasail al-Shi’a of Shaykh Hurr al-Amili.[1]
By his deeds and words, this great scholar has always directed himself to God alone. A great mujtahid has said about Agha Behjat, “It cannot be just said about him that he is a man of piety; in fact he is the true essence and a manifestation of taqwa.”
From his youth, Agha Behjat was constantly engaged in self-purification and self-building. In his ethical instructions, he always insisted that one should work hard at this task and forego and abandon many luxuries in order to make headway against the endless demands of the soul. Ayatullah Shaykh Javad Kerbalayi says about him, “One of his close students (in Najaf) reports that every night, or in fact at most times, Agha Behjat sits alone, deep in thought and contemplation. He never wastes a moment of his time, and does not participate in vain gatherings. When the time comes for his class, or his ziyarat of Amirul Mu’mineen (A), he gets up abruptly, puts on his cloak and leaves the house without interfering in the activities of others. He is extremely reserved and does not like to reveal anything about himself, especially about the special favours and extraordinary spiritual powers that God has granted him.”
2. His Asceticism (Zuhd) and Simple Lifestyle
The close servants of God always look at the reality of this world, contrary to other human beings whose eyes are fixed on its pleasures and luxuries. By foregoing material comforts, they attain spiritual strength, and while the rest of the people stumble in this dark world, these awliya soar in the illuminated heights in proximity to God.
Agha Behjat was one of the most glowing examples of these awliya in contemporary times. He was a mystic and scholar who had always lived a simple life, without the remotest material attachments. He had understood the reality of this world and the worthlessness of its pleasures.
He lived in a simple house and had resisted the many offers from relatives and well-wishers to move to more comfortable accommodation. Ayatullah Misbah says, “For many years, he has lived in a rented house with two rooms. One of the rooms has a curtain, which he would draw when we would visit him. On the other side of the curtain his family would carry on with their household chores. We would sit on one side of this curtain and benefit greatly from his wisdom. Although simple, the atmosphere was always full of a special nur (light) and spirituality…”
Ayatullah Mas’udi says, “Many times people would sincerely offer to purchase a better house for him, but he would not agree. I myself told him, “Agha! This house is damaged, I doubt if even the sharia allows for a man to live in this sort of accommodation!”, but he would not pay any attention.”.
3. His Worship
Agha Behjat’s students report that he had a special closeness to God, that is immediately evident in his manner of worship. Those who have prayed behind him have described it ‘as a spiritually uplifting and unique experience’. In fact, the Fatimiyyah mosque at the end of the Guzarkhan market, where he had led prayers three times a day for over 40 years, was always full at prayer time. High ranking scholars made a special effort to come and pray behind him. Allamah Tabataba’i would also visit the mosque to pray. Almost as soon as Agha Behjat used to begin his prayer, tears flowed from his eyes – frequently he has to pause because his voice is choked with emotion – such is his awe in God’s presence.
One of the scholars remarks, “In the early days, Agha Behjat would go to the undeveloped part of Qum, past some farms, and recite his evening prayers with some companions in that remote location. One day, after the maghribain prayers, he commented, “If only the kings of this world realised how much pleasure a servant experiences in worship, they would never even glance at the worldly delights…”
Ayatullah Shaykh Javad Kerbalayi says, “Agha Behjat never misses his late night prayers (salaat al-layl) and spends a long time weeping in the middle of the night, especially on the night preceding Friday.”
A scholar reports, “I came upon him one Thurday night in Madressa al-Sayyid in Najaf. I saw him weeping and crying in prostration. He was repeating in a broken voice over and over, “Ilahi! Man li ghayruk, asaluhu kashfa dhurri, wan-nadhara fi amri?! (My Lord! Who have I got besides You, Who I can ask for relief and support and to look at my matters?)”.
4. His Ziyarat and Tawassul (Saluting the Ahlul Bayt (A.S.)
Despite his advanced years, the daily routine of Agha Behjat remained unchanged. Early every morning, he would present himself at the shrine of Lady Fatima Masuma (A.S.) to pay his respects and send salutations. With the greatest of humility, he stood near her shrine, and recited the Ziyarat of Ashura of Imam Husain (A.S.).
Sayyid Muhammad Husein Tehrani, in his book, Anwar al-Malakut, quotes Ayatullah Shaykh Abbas Quchani, the great scholar and spiritual successor of the famous Mirza Ali Qadhi Tabataba’i, as narrating: “While he was in Najaf, Agha Behjat would often go to Masjid al-Sahlah and spend whole nights alone there in worship and contemplation. On one very dark night, when the lights in the mosque were not lit either, he needed to go out to refresh his wudhu.
He went out of the mosque towards the wudhu area to the east of the mosque. Suddenly he experienced some anxiety and fear, perhaps due to the total darkness. Immediately, a light appeared next to him, by which he could clearly see his way. This light accompanied him while he went out, made wudhu and returned to his place in the mosque. Then it disappeared.”.
5. His Humbleness
One of his noticeable traits was his humbleness and simplicity, despite his fame and status as a leading contemporary scholar and jurist. For many years he had refused to print his religious edicts (tawdhih al-masail) and he only agreed after much pressure. When he was scheduled to lecture he would request that his name not be mentioned as the lecturer.
A scholar reports, “Once I went with my guest, Shaykh Nasrullah Lahuthi, to visit Agha Behjat. Agha Lahuthi said to his teacher, “Agha! I was in Mashhad and someone was criticising you, and I became very annoyed.” Agha Behjat responded, “We have reports in the ahadith, that if a scholar pays too much attention to worldly matters, then he will be criticized by others.” I remember thinking, “If the way Agha Behjat lives is called “paying too much attention to worldly matters”, then what about us!”
6. His Mystical Wayfaring (sayr wa suluk) and His Spiritual Station
Ayatullah Behjat has many decades of experience in mystical wayfaring, the special journey through established stations that the soul undertakes to attain proximity to God. He is one of the outstanding pupils of the great master, Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Qadhi Tabataba’i and had received special instructions from his teacher. Even as a youth, he had passed many stations of the spiritual path.
His elevated rank in these matters is well known by others who travel this path; immediately after the revolution, one of the first scholars that Ayatullah Khomeini visited was Ayatullah Behjat in Qum. Similarly, when Ayatullah Khamene’i assumed the position of Rahbar, he first came to Agha Behjat in Qum for spiritual instructions.
7. His Awareness of the Unseen (Ghayb) and his Wondrous Acts (Karamat)
Unlike the majority of men, who have no idea of the existence or happenings of the unseen world, Ayatullah Behjat has reached a station, by the grace of God, where he frequently witnesses the events that occur in that world.
In fact, a reminder of this ability is his constant repetition of the Divine name “al-Sattaar” – the Concealer. This dhikr and tasbih is constantly on Agha Behjat’s lips, whether he is walking or sitting. Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi says in this regard, “It seems that he is at the level where he witnesses many things from ghayb. Often he is aware of the real nature and inner secrets of those who sit around him, and he invokes God, who is the Concealer of defects – al-Sattaar al-‘Uyub, so that the secrets of the people around him may be concealed from him.”
This is usually the way of these close servants of God. Their humbleness is such that they would not like to display anything, or do anything, that will bring about even a trace of pride in themselves. And in return for their utter humility, God grants them even greater insight and status.
There is no doubt in the minds of those who know Agha Behjat well, that he is one of those for whom many secrets are revealed. Ayatullah Misbah says in this regard, “Those who have been around him for many years have seen things that he has done or said that are truly extraordinary. He sometimes says something that seems quite normal, but on later contemplation, one realises that it was due to some special knowledge that he possessed.
For example, when Imam Khomeini was in exile in Turkey, many of his students would make statements in his defence and get into trouble with the government. They would be imprisoned and frequently tortured. I remember distinctly when Agha Jannati was captured and no one knew where he had been taken. I mentioned it to Agha Behjat, who said, “Inshallah, you will soon inform me of his release.” Of course, some might say this was just a prayer, but in fact, he did not make such statements about every prisoner. Many times we would say, “pray for so and so,” but he would remain silent. Just as he had promised, Agha Jannati was released soon without having been hurt.”
One of his students says, “My wife was expecting a child. It was the month of Ramadhan, and I wanted to go on a journey, so I came to Agha Behjat to say goodbye. He turned to me and said, “In this month, you will be blessed with a baby boy, name him Muhammad Hasan.” This is exactly what transpired.” There are many such episodes that people have related about their encounters with Agha Behjat.
Agha Behjat himself dislikes a lot of fuss made about these episodes but his students occasionally narrate them so the mu’mineen may realise that there exist in our times certain individuals, to whom God has granted special favours.
Certainly, for the one who sincerely strives in God’s way, then He Himself becomes their guide, “And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways. (Ankabut, 29/69)”
Drinking from the Fountain of the Wisdom of Ayatullah Behjat
In this section we will examine several examples of the advice and replies of Agha Behjat to questions about different matters.
1. How to counter and cure riya (showing off or trying to impress others while engaged in acts of worship)
A student in the Hawza of Qum relates that Agha Behjat was once asked, “Sometimes a person decides to perform a virtuous act sincerely for God, but Shaytan converts his intention and the person starts to think instead about how people will be impressed, how he will become popular, etc., when he performs the act. Are these thoughts counted as riya, and do they nullify his virtuous act and make it worthless?”
Agha Behjat stated in reply, “Riya is only relevant in acts of worship (‘ibadat). And any act of worship that has riya associated with it is a sin, and it makes the act null and void.
However, riya itself can become a counter and cure for riya, by simply changing the focus of who one is trying to impress! If a man can approach a president to sort out his problem directly, would he waste time in trying to convince the president’s servants? In the same manner, if a man has sense, he would raise his sights from the people, and attempt to impress and perfect his actions for God, who is the Creator of man – this attitude would itself become the cure for his riya.”
At another time, he said, “About riya, there is a hadith that says, “Whoever tries to impress the people by his manner of prayers (salat), will be resurrected in the form of a donkey.” And this is quite true because what can be more donkey-like than a man trying to impress the slaves of God instead of directing his attention to God Himself?! Now, if someone calls us a donkey, we feel insulted, but why should we feel insulted, if night and day our acts resemble those of a donkey?”
2. The conditions necessary to obtain presence of heart and pleasure from acts of worship, especially salat
One of his students says that Agha Behjat was asked, “Our lives have passed away and we still have not experienced pleasure (halaawa, lazzat) from our worship, especially salat. What is your advice so that we can taste some of the pleasures that our infallible leaders (A) have described?”
The esteemed master replied, “This is something that we would all like to experience!” The student replied, “Please, Agha, you have a high status in these matters, while we are empty-handed. What should we do?” Agha Behjat again gave a modest reply, saying, “Perhaps your own status is one that I envy…”.
However, the student was insistent, and so Agha Behjat replied, “This pleasure that you seek in worship has two prerequisites; one outside salat, and one within salat itself. What is necessary before salat and outside of it is that a person abstains totally from sin, and does not blacken his heart with the disgrace of disobedience, because sin will rob his heart of light. As for the second requirement, within the salat itself a man must create a barrier around himself so that no thought other than the remembrance of God can enter. He must not allow his thoughts to stray away from God even for an instant. [In this manner, you will achieve what you seek.]”
To another scholar who asked a similar question, he responded, “In order to achieve absolute control of one’s thoughts in salat, and to acquire presence of heart, the groundwork must begin outside and prior to salat. One must control one’s fives senses during the day and be careful about what he allows himself to observe, hear, eat etc. This will enable him to achieve presence of mind and heart in salat.”
To a young student, he said in reply to the same question, “Never knowingly let you thoughts drift away from God in salat.”
3. Sincere intention and harmony between knowledge and action
He was asked by a scholar:
“Agha, what should we bear in mind so that our intention in wearing the amamah (turban) is sincere?”
He replied:
“Your criterion in your acts must be Allah swt’s religion. Always ask yourself whether your words and deeds conform with the shari’a or not. You should make the niyyat that the knowledge (‘ilm) that you possess and will gain in the future, will always be translated into actions. In other words, there should be perfect harmony between what you know and what you do. The greatest misfortune is when scholars act without proper knowledge or possess knowledge but do not act upon it. So make a firm resolve that your knowledge and actions will be harmonious.”
Another student reports that Agha said to him about the same matter:
“An ‘alim who does not act on his knowledge is like the candle that illuminates the path for others but itself burns away.”
4. Trust and reliance on Allah swt
Ayatullah Misbah narrates that Agha Behjat once said to him:
“One day I was sitting in my room and could hear the voices in the street outside. I went out and saw that my neighbour’s son was playing in the street when a beggar approached him saying, “I am a needy person. Can you please go into your house and get something for me?”
The boy replied, “Why don’t you ask your mother if you want something?” The beggar said, “I don’t have a mother. You go and ask your mother to give me something.”
Agha Behjat remarked, “I was struck by this conversation and the innocence of the child who had so much trust and faith in his mother that he felt that she could solve any problem. And then he said, ‘If only we could develop the same absolute trust and reliance on Allah swt that this child had in his mother. Indeed all our problems would be solved if only we sincerely turned to Him for all our needs!”
5. If we constantly think of Imam-eZamana (A.S.),would he not think of us?
Agha Quddus recalls that he once asked Agha Behjat:
“My presence in the village where I have gone for tableegh was very productive. The people have responded positively, treated me with respect and heeded my religious advice.
However, they are very poor and the money that they give me in the months of Muharram and Ramadhan is very little. In other places where I can go, the public is not so receptive, but they pay more.”
Agha Behjat replied, “If you make an intention to enter into the employment of Imam Mahdi (A.S.), do you imagine that he will not look after you?”
6. Care in narrating traditions
Agha Quddus narrates that once he was recounting his program and tableeghi activities performed during the month of Ramadhan to Agha Behjat and he said:
“I do not go on the pulpit in the day time in the month of Ramadhan and only deliver my talks and lectures at night.”
Agha Behjat asked him why, and he replied, “Because I have some doubts about certain ahadith that I recite and I am afraid that if they are incorrect [then my fasts will become invalid].”
Agha Behjat stated: “Then at night are you certain about these traditions that you feel confident in repeating them?”
Agha Quddus says: “I realised that he disapproved of my actions and was advising me to be certain of the facts before I repeated them to others.”
7. Tabligh by Action (and not only words)
Hujjatu’l Islam Lutfi says: “One day, after the morning prayers I approached Ayatullah Behjat and requested him to give me some advice”.
He said, “kunu du’atan nasi ilallahi bighayri alsinatikum”[2][1] “Call people to Allah swt with something other than your speech.”
I understood that although as a scholar, my responsibility was to engage in tabligh (propagating the faith), Agha wanted to draw my attention that the best tabligh was not that which was delivered from pulpits, but that which was demonstrated by conduct.
8. Staying away from Sin
Ayatullah Shaykh Jawad Kerbalai, the great scholar of akhlaq remarks:
“I had a great benefit from the many years that I studied under Ayatullah Behjat. In that time I also witnessed first-hand many of the wondrous gifts that he has been granted. Among his words of wisdom I recall:
He always insisted that no progress could be made without abandoning sin. He used to say, “The great and special bounties of Allah are available freely to all His true servants, the only requirement is that a person has to qualify for these gifts. The only way to qualify for these special favours is by abandoning the disobedience of Allah swt.
Of course, there must be some commitment to attain proximity to Allah swt as well. The more a person knows the station of God (attains ma’rifat) and the more he loves Him, the more important it is to avoid every sin, even minor ones and even loss of concentration in His presence in worship.
It is because some servants reach this stage of proximity that it is said, “hasanaatu’l abrar, sayyiatu’l muqarrabeen”, or “the virtuous acts of the righteous people are (only) ordinary acts for the close servants”.”
Once a student who had only recently joined the hawza asked Ayat Behjat:
“I have come to the hawza to attain knowledge. What should I do so that I can become a proper scholar?”
Ayatullah Behjat lowered his head and remained silent for a while, then he said, “There is no difference between a hawza student and anybody else. What is important is that he does not commit a sin.”
On another occasion he was asked:“What is the best dhikr (invocation)?” He replied, “In the opinion of this simple servant, the best dhikr is the dhikr of action! What I mean is refraining from sinful beliefs (aqida) and sinful conduct (‘amal). Goodness and true success will only come from this way.”
In a letter, he was asked how one could attain proximity to God and also gain closeness to His khalifah, the Imam of our time (AF).
He replied: “Bismihi ta’ala. Refrain from sin and pray the salat at the exact time.”
9. The Secret of Salaat
Ayat Behjat has said:
“Namaz (Salaat) symbolizes the Ka’ba. The Takbirarut’l Ihram stands for casting aside everything other than Allah swt and entering His haram (sanctuary). The Qiyam represents a conversation between two friends. The Ruku’ symbolizes the bowing of a slave in front of his master and the Sajdah is the ultimate display of lowliness, humility and helplessness in front of the Master. And when the slave returns from such a Namaz, the souvenir he brings back is the greeting of peace (salaam) from his Lord…”
10. Staying Awake at Dawn (Sahr) and in the Night
Ayatullah Ahmadi says:
“Ayat Behjat always advised us to stay awake in worship between dawn and sunrise and to rise in the night for prayer, (Namaz-e-Tahajjud/Salaatul Layl). He even said, “I actually believe that it was through these very two acts that the Prophet (S) acquired his perfect gnosis (ma’rifat) of Allah swt.”
Once I asked him about the hadith of the Imams (A.S.) that “We eagerly await Thursday nights so that the gates of Allah’s mercy are opened. We, the family of the Prophet (SAWW), are blessed with an increase in our knowledge on every Thursday night and every night of Qadr.”
Ayatullah Behjat replied: “Indeed, these are special times when the mercy of Allah swt is especially available. And one of the best of times is the sahr (dawn). And he repeated these words “sahr, sahr” several times.”
Ayatullah Behjat relates from his teachers that whenever they desired to receive greater favour and understanding from Allah swt, they would take advantage of the solitude, peace and abundant blessings that is available in the depths of the night and at dawn. At these times, one can form a connection with God that is not easily possible at other times.
11. The First Steps in the Journey to God (Sayr Ilallah)
Ayat Behjat has said:
“The first step in the journey towards God and in attaining His proximity is for a servant to realise that he has allowed a gulf to form between himself and his Master. He must ensure at all costs that he does not allow this gulf to widen and this must be his first goal. When he has put that control in place, then he may begin the practices that will gradually draw him closer and closer to his Lord.”
12. The Value of Contemplation and Thought
Agha Shahi remarks:
“Ayat Behjat is constantly stressing the importance of controlling one’s tongue and maintaining silence. He would say, “We must control our speech. We should spend 23 hours of the day in contemplation and thought, and only one hour in speech; in fact, often even that is too much.
13. Being in a State of Constant Dhikr
Ayatullah Behjat often advises his students to inculcate the habit of being da’im al-dhikr, i.e. remaining in constant remembrance of Allah swt. He has said, “Someone who is constantly in dhikr, will always perceive himself in the presence of Allah swt and will be continuously communicating with Him.”
For those who want to combat waswasa, (constant suspicion of the motives of others), he recommends highly to continually recite the “tahlil”, which is the dhikr, “La Ilaha Illallah”.
Another great contemporary scholar, Ayatullah Hasan Hasanzadeh Amuli has remarked that tahlil is al-dhikr-al-khafi (secret dhikr); i.e. it can be constantly repeated without anyone else being aware of what you are doing, because this dhikr can be pronounced without even moving the lips, unlike other dhikrs like “Subhanallah” or Alhamdulillah”!
14. Not Considering one’s own Virtuous Deeds as ‘Significant’
Ustad Khusrushahi relates: Ayatullah Behjat always considers the virtuous deeds and the worship that he performs as insufficient.
He often says, “How good it would be that when a person performs virtuous deeds and acts of worship, he says to himself, “I have done nothing great”, but when he sees the virtuous acts of others, he admires them, thinking, “what a noble deed they have performed.”
The Ustad concludes, “In other words, his advice is to consider one’s own virtuous acts as insignificant, while regarding highly the good deeds of others.”
15. Getting the Seal of Approval of Imam al-Asr (AF)
Ayt Behjat once advised the students of hawza: “We students should constantly be thinking about how we can earn the seal of approval of our master, the Wali al-Asr (AF).
All students, whether junior or graduates or preachers, should be concerned about how they learn their lessons, what should their attitude be and how they should conduct themselves.
They should continually ask themselves if their attitude, conduct, speech and actions would please their master when they are presented to him and would he approve of them.
Ayatullah Behjat says that: “If this thought is always at the back of our minds, we will never stray in our conduct, speech or deeds.”
16. The Purpose of Higher Islamic Studies
Ayatullah Behjat greatly encourages students who are pursuing higher Islamic studies and frequently advises junior students also by saying, “Whenever you learn something new, immediately apply this knowledge to improve your wajib acts and to help you in staying away from sinful acts. He would remind them of the hadith, “man ‘amila bima ‘alima, warrathahu’llahu ‘ilma ma la ya’lam”, whoever acts on what he knows, Allah swt will teach him what he does not know.[3]
17. It is the Proximity to Allah swt that matter in the end
To senior students, his words are more thought provoking. One of his students recalls, “I remember once when I was accompanying him from his house to the mosque where he led the prayers. Ayt Behjat turned to me and asked: “A student starts with “muqaddamat” (introductory lessons) and then studies the “ma’alim” and “mughni” and then where does he go next?” I said, “lum’ah”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “makasib”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “kifayah”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “Dars al-kharij”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “He attains ijtihad”. Once again, he asked, “then what?”
The student continues, “This was a great lesson to me. I realised that knowledge itself was not the goal; it was only the means (to achieve the goal) i.e. to gain the proximity of Allah swt. If at every one of these successive stages, the student did not achieve even a little more proximity to Allah swt, then he has not progressed much at all.”
18. How to Train one’s Soul (Tahdhib al-Nafs)
Once, some hawza students from Lebanon requested Ayatullah Behjat for spiritual and akhlaqi (moral) advice. He replied: “One of the most beneficial actions in these matters is to sit with your fellow students every day and study one hadith from the chapter jihad al-nafs of the book Wasail al-Shi’a of Shaykh Hurr al-Amili.[4] Of course, the hadith must be discussed properly, pondered over carefully and then transformed into action. This will be a spiritual tonic that within one year, will transform an individual in a way that he will himself see the change.”
19. The Status of Supplication (Du’a)
Ayatullah Behjat believes that du’a has a very great status and insists that du’a governs the outcome of every stage of our lives.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

ALLAMA MUHAMMAD HUSSAIN TABATABAI

Biography:

He was born Sayyid Muhammad Hussain 
Tabatabai in a small village near Tabriz, Iran, in 1321 AH. Upon completing his initial education in the seminary of Tabriz, he traveled to the holy city of Najaf for his higher education. In Najaf, he studied under such eminent scholars as Sheikh Muhammad Hussain al-Gharawi, Mirza Hussain Naini, Sayyid Abul Hassan al-Isfehani, Sayyid Muhammad Hujjat Kohkamri, and Sayyid Ali Qadi Tabatabai. Although he was by all means a competent and qualified jurisprudent, Allama Tabatabai's main areas of interest were philosophy, spirituality, and Gnosis. He was also quite knowledgeable in astronomy, mathematics, engineering, and several occult sciences (i.e. numerology, Ilm Jafr, etc.).
Upon completing his education in Najaf, he returned to Tabriz. However, due to political instability in the region caused by the star of World War II, he shortly thereafter moved to the seminary of Qom, where he spent the rest of his life teaching and researching. In an age of new political ideologies, Allama Tabatabai stood as the bulwark of traditional Islamic thought. Much to the chagrin of other teachers in Qom, he took up the study of materialist philosophy and wrote several refutations to it. When he was challenged by some Marxists, he immediately responded to their challenges and once even traveled from Qom to Tehran to hold an eight-hour debate with a Marxist.
Instead of large classes of jurisprudence, Allama preferred to hold small philosophy and Gnostic discussions with a close circle of students, which included such notables as Martyr Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Beheshti, Martyr Shaikh Murtaza Mutahhari, Martyr Shaikh Ali Quddusi (his son-in-law), Shaikh Muhammad Fadil Lankarani, Shaikh Nasir Makarem Shirazi, Shaikh Ibrahim Amini, and Shaikh Ja'far Subhani.
Allama Tabatabai's arguably greatest contribution to Shia academia came in the form of his exegesis of the Qur'an. When he arrived in the Qom seminary, he found that teaching Tafsir was viewed as a sign of incompetence. Therefore, he took it upon himself to revive that field. After several years of devoted scholarship, he completed his acclaimed Tafsir al-Mizan, considered the greatest commentary on the Qur'an written in the last few centuries. Whereas previous commentators, such as Shaikh Tabarsi and Shaikh Qummi, had used narrations of the Infallibles (peace be upon them) as the primary mode of interpreting the Qur'an, Allama Tabatabai used the unique method of exegesis by using one verse of the Qur'an to explain the other or, as he called it, "permitting the Qur'an to speak for itself". The 20-volume Arabic work has since been translated into many languages, and a partial English translation is also available online.
In addition to Al-Mizan, Allama Tabatabai authored a series of books on Shia Islam, which made him an internationally-recognized authority on the Shia faith. The trilogy of books was translated by Sayyid Hossein Nasr and Professor William C. Chittick and consists of Shi'ite IslamA Shi'ite Anthology, and The Qur'an in Islam.
Allama Tabatabai was well-aware of the political situation in Iran and the rest of the world as evidenced by his academic activities. He strongly criticized Western hegemony, colonialism, and the post-colonial imperialism. He found Marxism to have discredited itself by failing to create revolutions in the industrialized world, as Marx had predicted.  In contrast, Western democracies had also failed to uphold their ideals by exploiting and enslaving people in other parts of the world. Nearly all the top leaders of the Islamic Revolution were direct or indirect students of him. Although he was too physically frail to participate in the activities of the Islamic Revolution, his contribution can be summed up by a statement from Martyr Mutahhari, who said that there was not a single political predicament he faced whose answer could not be found in Tafsir al-Mizan.
Allama Tabatabai was an extremely humble and pious individual. His students narrate that during the month of Ramadan, the Allama would walk to the shrine of Lady Masooma (peace be upon her) every day before breaking his fast. Despite being an eminent and well-respected scholar, Allama Tabatabai would often stand in the last rows when praying at the mosque. His student Sayyid Tehrani notes that for 40 years, they asked Allama to lead them in prayers, but he always refused. When his students referred to him as Ustadh(teacher), he would insist that they treat him as a colleague rather than an instructor and would sit on the ground along with them instead of higher up on a chair. When discussing weak or questionable narrations in jurisprudence lectures, he was particularly careful with his words so as not to show disrespect towards what might potentially be a true narration from the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them).
Despite his numerous academic activities, Allama attached great value to his home life and fulfilling the rights of his family members. He always performed all his chores himself, and even in times of illness, he did not bother his wife or children. Once when his daughter visited him and saw Allama pour tea for himself, she asked him why he didn't have her do it. He replied, "You are a guest. As well, you are a descendent of Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her), so I cannot give you any such orders!" During his wife's last days, he left all his academic activities and spent nearly a month by her bedside, attending to all her needs and concerns. When she passed away, he wept profusely and remarked, "It was this woman who allowed me to reach this position. She has been my partner, and whatever books I have written, half [of the credit] belongs to her."
Because of his intense spiritual exercises and nearly ascetic lifestyle, Allama had reached an extremely high spiritual station. He relates that while praying in the mosque of Kufa as a student, he once had a vision of a Hoor (angelic being) offering him a goblet filled with a heavenly beverage. But he was so intent in his prayer that he brushed the Hoor aside, causing her to retreat with an offended look on her face! During his last days, he was said to have stopped paying attention to food and drink and used to continuously stare at one corner of the room with amazement and bewilderment.
     Due to cardiac problems, Allama Tabatabai was eventually admitted to the hospital in 1401 AH. During the last moments of his life in Muharram 1402 AH, he was said to have remarked, "Those whom I have been waiting for are finally here!" With a dazed look of astonishment, he then returned to his Lord. His funeral prayers were led by Ayatollah Gulpaygani, and he was laid to rest near Shaikh Abdul Karim Hairi in the shrine of Lady Masooma (peace be upon her).