Spiritual Disclosures (Mukashafat) and Perseverance and Hard Work of Allama Tabatabai
By: Ahmad Luqmani
Story n. 1
‘Allamah’s nights like his days were spent in studying, researching and writing. Only on the day of Ashura [the 10th of Muharram] would he take a break.
He stayed away from useless discussions, futile night gatherings and fruitless visitations, and grieved deeply for lost time.
Sometimes when in the process of researching a topic he would lock himself in a room and not meet anyone unless it was necessary. He considered every moment in a man’s life to be his capital. As a result when ‘Allamah was in Tabriz, he was away from nearly everyone, and spent one season of the year in a village near Tabriz by the name of Shadgan. Preparations for Tafsir al-Mizan, reading once through Biharul Anwar of the late Majlisi (r), and many other research projects in the subject of hadith and other intellectual problems were carried out during this time.
Ayatullah Ja’far Subhani
Story n. 2
Occasionally Agha Quddusi [Allamah Tabataba’i’s son-in-law] and I would discuss the cause of [my father’s] success, and the reason behind his progress. He would say, “Aptitude is a very important factor in the progress of an individual. However perseverance also plays a very important role”.
‘Allama had astounding perseverance. He spent many years working hard at his tafsir, but he never got tired of it. [During this time] he wouldn’t differentiate night from day. From early morning until noon he was occupied with researching and writing. Then after his prayers, a meal, and a short rest, he would once again busy himself with work and activity. This was despite the difficult conditions life dealt him - the spiritual and mental blows one upon the other, the unremitting emotional bereavements, and the family tragedies and difficulties on top of all this. At five years of age his mother, and at nine his father both passed away, and the dust of grief of being an orphan settled deep into his spirit and soul … [not to mention] the difficulties he faced in Najaf and in Tabriz…
Yet when a path is chosen and perseverance is there to help, a man’s weighty duties become easy and simple.
‘Allamah narrates: When I was in Najaf I found a math teacher who was only free to teach at 1 in the afternoon. I would walk from one side of the city to the other side in the exhausting afternoons of Najaf. When I arrived at his location my clothes would be so drenched in sweat that I would enter the fountain [to shower], and after some time I would go near the teacher and study math.
Truly heat and cold, fatigue and distress had no meaning for him. This is because he took his work very seriously and had strong determination.
Spiritual Disclosures (Mukashafat)
Story n. 1
‘Allamah Tabataba’i said to me one day “Agha every day that my attentive regard (muraqabah) is stronger, my ability to receive direct witnessing (mushahadah) at night is clearer. Every day that my concentration (tawajjuh) is greater, my spiritual disclosures (mukashafat) at night are clearer”.
Ayatullah Hasanzadeh Amuli
Story n. 2
After the tragedy of Haftumetir (the martyrdom of Ayatullah Beheshti and 72 top government officials), ‘Allamah’s friends and family did not want to inform him of the martyrdom of Ayatullah Beheshti, on account of ‘Allamah’s illness. During this time one of ‘Allamah’s neighbors went to his room and ‘Allamah said to him, “whether you tell me or you don’t tell me about Agha Beheshti I see him in a state of heavenly ascension and flight”.
Newspaper Jumhuriye Islami
Story n. 3
Narrated by ‘Allamah himself: My wife and I were among the close family members of the late Mirza Ali Agha Qadhi. In order to maintain family ties and inquire about our situation, he would visit us at home in Najaf. We [the two of us] had repeatedly had children, but all them of died in their childhood. One day the late Qadhi came to our home at a time when my wife was expecting but I was unaware of this. When it came time for him to bid us farewell, he said to my wife, “my cousin, this time this child of yours will live. The child is a boy, and no harm will reach him. His name is Abd ul-Baqi”.
Upon hearing his words I became happy. God did grace us with a son, and unlike our previous children he survived and no harm reached him, and we did name him Abd ul-Baqi.”
Story n. 4
Narrated by ‘Allamah himself: From among the amazing and strange incidents is this, that there was a time when a letter written by my brother arrived from Tabriz. In that letter the following was written: One of my students was able to communicate with the soul of our father and we asked him questions and he replied. During the conversation our father said that he has a complaint about you because you did not include him in your intention and Divine reward (thawab) of the tafsir that your wrote.
No one was aware of this matter except God and I, and even our brother was unaware of this, as it was a matter related to an intention of the heart.
When my brother’s letter arrived I was extremely ashamed. I said, “O my Lord, if this tafsir of ours has been accepted by you and has any reward, I give the reward as a gift to the soul of my father and my mother.”
I had not yet written about this in reply to my brother’s letter, when a few days later a letter arrived from him saying that this time when we spoke to father he was happy and said, “May God extend Sayyid Muhammad Husayn’s life and aid him, as he has sent us a gift.”
Story n. 5
Narrated by ‘Allamah himself: When I was studying in Najaf, I used to earn my living by receiving a monthly wage from Tabriz. Once, as a result of a conflict between the two countries [Iran and Iraq], my monthly salary was stopped and my savings were dwindling. One day I was sitting at the table studying when suddenly my train of thought was disrupted by the worry that until when will the strained relations between Iraq and Iran continue as we don’t have any money, and we are strangers in this land. As soon as this though entered my mind I realized that someone was knocking loudly on the door. I went and opened the door and saw that there was a man at the door. He was tall, his beard was dyed with henna, his turban (amama) was tied in a special manner on his head, and he was wearing a distinctive outfit. As soon as the door opened he said, “Salamun Alaykum”.
I replied his salam, and he said, “I am Shah Husayn Wali! God says [to you] “in these 18 years when have I ever let you go hungry that you have now abandoned your studies and fallen into the thought that until when will the relations between Iraq and Iran remained strained and when will they send us money!” Farewell to you!” I also bid him farewell and closed the door.
I sat at the table. At that time I lifted my head from my hands, and then a number of questions arose for me – that did I actually walk to the door, or did I witness this scholar sitting here with my head in my hands?! Had I been asleep or awake?! Had the man called himself Shaykh Husayn Wali or Shah Husayn Wali. His appearance was not appropriate with the title Shah, nor was I sure that he was a Shaykh!
Some time passed and these questions remained unanswered, until a letter arrived from Tabriz that I should go there.
In the morning, according to my regular schedule, I went to Najaf’s Wadius Salam [graveyard] between dawn and sunrise, and walked between the graves reciting Sura Fatiha. Suddenly I saw a grave that was obviously an important one. I read the gravestone and saw that after many inscriptions in praise of the deceased it was written: the late Shah Husayn Wali! I realized that it was the same individual that had visited my home in Najaf. I looked at the date of his death and saw that it was nearly 300 years earlier.
I was surprised at his sentence “in 18 years when have we ever let you go hungry”, because I had spent 9 years in Najaf, and I was 35 years old. So why 18 years?! After some thought I understood that it was exactly 18 years that I had put on the turban (amama) and the clothes of a soldier of Imam Zaman (aj)!”
Story n. 1
‘Allamah Tabataba’i had completed the various levels of Gnosis (‘Irfan) and wayfaring towards God and spiritual perfection. He was continuously occupied with remembrance of the Almighty (dhikr), supplication (du’a), and intimate supplication (munajat). When I would see him walking he would usually be reciting dhikr of Allah. When we were together during our sessions and the audience fell silent, it was apparent that his lips were moving with the dhikr of Allah.
During the last few months of his life, ‘Allamah paid little attention to the matters of this world. He was unaware of worldly necessities and was wandering in another world. He had the remembrance of God on his tongue, and was removed from this world but attached to the next. In the last days of his life he even stopped paying attention to water and food. A few days before he passed away he informed one of his friends that “I no longer have any desire to drink tea and I have told them to light the tea kettle for me in the hereafter. Nor do I have any desire for food and I don’t want to eat any more.”
Afterwards he neither ate nor talked to anyone, but stared at the corner of the room with a look of astonishment.
Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini
Story n. 2
During one of his last nights [before ‘Allamah left this world] I was at his service. He was sitting in his bed, and staring at the corner of the room with penetrating eyes, but had no ability to speak. I wanted to hear some words and some instruction from him so that I might have a final memory of him, so I said, “do you have any advice for increasing one’s concentration on God and presence of heart in prayer?”
He turned his attention towards me. His lips moved and with a barely audible whisper that could only be heard with difficulty, he said “attention in your relations with others (murawadah), attention in attentive regard (muraqabah), attention in murawadah”. He repeated this sentence more than ten times.
‘Allamah related this sentence at a time when he was unaware of worldly matters but had great attention towards spiritual matters and the remembrance of God. He considered prayers, attentive regard, controlling his soul and purifying it a way to increase presence of heart and continuous attention towards the Almighty.
Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini
Story n. 3
During the last days of ‘Allamah’s life I used to go to his house in the afternoons to see if he needed anything, and to make him walk a little in his backyard. One day I said to him, “do you need anything?” He said to me a number of times, “I need…I need”.
I realized that perhaps ‘Allamah’s intention is something else, and that he was traveling on a different horizon. Then I entered the living room. ‘Allamah also entered the room, and in a state whereby his eyes were continually closed, he became occupied with remembrance of the Almighty (dhikr). I wasn’t able to distinguish which dhikr it was. The time of Maghrib arrived. I saw that ‘Allamah, in that same state where his eyes were closed and without looking at the sky, became occupied with reciting the call to prayers (adhan) and afterwards he read his Maghrib prayers.
Days passed and his health worsened, and they moved ‘Allamah to the Qum hospital. As he was leaving the house he said to his dear wife, “I will no longer return”.
One of the scholars of Qum
Story n. 4
I was in Allama’s presence on the last night before which they took ‘Allamah to the hospital. For some time he was unconscious. After an hour he came to consciousness and sat on his bed for approximately 45 minutes. In the same state as he was in before, he stared at the corner of the room and then fell asleep. After some time when he became woke up he moved from his position as if he wanted to get up. We asked him do you want to get up? He said “Those two individuals that I was waiting for have come”, and stared at the corner dazzled and astonished.