Ayatollah Shaikh Morteza Ansari Dezfuli
Compiled by: Syed Ali Shahbaz
18th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 1281 AH, the great Islamic scholar, Ayatollah Shaikh Morteza Ansari Dezfuli, passed away in holy Najaf, at the age of 67 years. He was born in Dezful, southwestern Iran. At the age of twenty while on a pilgrimage to the holy cities in Iraq, he decided to stay in Karbala, where for four years, he studied Islamic sciences. When the holy city was besieged by the Ottoman Turkish forces of Dawoud Pasha, he along with the scholars of Karbala moved to Baghdad and the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS).
He then returned to Iran before going again to Iraq a year later to study for two years at the Najaf Seminary under Shaikh Kashef al-Gheta. He again returned to Iran for pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in Mashhad, where he encountered Ahmad al-Naraqi, an authority in “Fiqh” and “Irfan”, and decided to study with him for a further four years. After a few years of travelling, Shaikh Ansari went back to holy Najaf to complete his studies under Kashef al-Gheta and the famous Shaikh Mohammad Hassan Najafi, the author of the brilliant book, "Jawaher al-Kalaam".
He settled in Najaf, began teaching and was soon universally recognized as the most learned Mujtahid and Marja of the Shi’ite Muslim World. His classes became incredibly popular, attracting hundreds of students. In spite of the tremendous prestige attached to his position, Shaikh Ansari lived the life of an ascetic. The author of some thirty books and treatises, his works are noted for their clarity and readability. Most of his works centre on Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh. Of the former, his most important works are the “Rasa'el” and the “Makaseb”, of which the latter is a book of detailed Islamic Commercial Law, and is still taught today in the Hawza. Among his students was Mirza Mohammad Hassan Shirazi, who issued the famous “fatwa” against the British monopoly on tobacco that saved Iran from an elaborately hatched plan. Another prominent student was the pan-Islamist thinker, Seyyed Jamaleddin Asadabadi.