The Eminent Scholar of Islam:
Ayatullah al-Uzma Naser Makarem Shirazi
The eminent scholar, Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shirazi was born in the year 1345 AH (1924 CE) in the city of Shiraz, Iran into a religious family who were well known for their great level of spirituality and noble ethical traits. His eminence finished his elementary school studies in Shiraz and due to his eagerness to learn, his powerful memorizing capabilities and other great talents, he was regarded as one of the extraordinary students from amongst his fellow classmates and because of this, was able to complete two years of studies in one year!
The conditions that existed in Iran in those days obligated this young man - who possessed such a talent and great aptitude to choose the path of University studies to increase his knowledge and attain the higher (material) levels of secular studies. However through the hand of fate and the blessings of the Maintainer of the Universe and his own internal desires, this young man developed an attraction to becoming better acquainted and delve deep into the genuine teachings of Islam, especially since after the spring of 1348 AH (1937 CE) (just after he finished his primary school), the Islamic Seminaries went through a major transformation and had taken on a completely new form.
His Eminence started his formal Islamic studies at the age of 14 in Madressah Agha Babakhan Shirazi and within a short period of time, was able to complete the introductory studies such as Sarf, Nahw, Mantiq, Bayan, and Badie, which were all needed to advance to the next level of Islamic studies.
After completing these sciences, he turned his attention towards the fields of Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence) and again, due to the exceptional capabilities that he possessed, was able to finish studying the complete levels of introductory and both the levels of the intermediate Islamic studies in approximately four years (something that normally takes 12 to 15 years)! During this time, a group of students from the Islamic Seminary in Shiraz were also benefiting from the classes that he himself was teaching.
The positive criticisms and personal opinions of His Eminence on the classes being held in Qom and in relation to the need for including extra information within the books that were being taught in the various Theological Seminaries, definitely played a role in the bright future that awaited him. While in religious gatherings in this city, his capabilities, genius, meticulous and deep thought were witnessed by others and because of this, no one was able to deny his God-given talents.
Whereas this brilliant star was only a mere 18 years old, however through his deep penetrating knowledge and the flowing pen, he was able to write a commentary on the book Kifayatul Usul (one of the major books of Ilmul Usul that must be studied in the Theological Seminary), in which he was able to bring to light the ambiguous issues mentioned in this traditional book. At the age of 18, he formally entered into the Theological Seminary of Qom and for the next five years, was present in the religious gatherings and classes of some of the greatest teachers of those days, such as Ayatollah al-Uzma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Muhammad Hussein Burujerdi and other great personalities (may Allah be pleased with them all).
In order for His Eminence to become better acquainted with the great scholars, their ideas and thoughts who were studying and teaching in one of the greatest Theological Seminaries of the Shiâ, in the year 1369 AH (1950 CE), he made his way to the hawzatul âl-Ilmiyyah of Najaf al-Ashraf in Iraq. It was here that he was able to take part in the classes of some of the greatest teachers such as: Ayatollah al-Uzma al-ajj as-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim, Ayatullah al-Uzma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Abul Qasim al-Khui and Ayatollah al-Uzma al-Hajj Abdul Hadi ash-Shirazi and other great teachers (may Allah sanctify their spirits).
At the age of 24, His Eminence was granted complete Ijtihad from two of the great scholars of Najaf al-Ashraf. In addition, Ayatollah al-Uzma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim even wrote a short, but comprehensive letter of commendation for His Eminence’s notes on the lessons of Fiqh (The Book of Taharah).
His thirst for acquiring and gaining more knowledge continued with the great teachers in Najaf al-Ashraf. However, since he did not have the means to survive and continue his studies in this holy city, he was forced to return back to Iran in the year 1370 AH (1951 CE) and make his way back to the holy city of Qom which was now the center of gathering religious scholars. once again, he joined the circle of scholars who later on, had a profound impact on his life.
After returning to Iran, Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shirazi began teaching the intermediate and higher level of studies (Kharij) in Usul al-Fiqh and Fiqh. t is now close to 28 years that he has been teaching these classes in the Theological Seminary which have been warmly accepted and appreciated by a large number of students. In addition, after teaching a large number of the important books of Fiqh, he went on to write summaries and notes of these great works. At present the classes of Kharij of Usul of this great personality are one of the most popular classes in the hawzatul âl-Ilmiyyah of the Shiâ and there are close to 2,000 of the most dedicated and dynamic students who take part and benefit from his lectures!
From the beginning of his studies, he was habituated in writing books in various fields of Islamic studies such as Theology, Islamic Awareness and the issue of Wilayah (of the Ahlul Bait). Moving ahead, he started to write on the Exegesis of the Quran, Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh and is currently known and recognized as one of the greatest writers in the Muslim world.
His Eminence was also very active in the early days that culminated in the Islamic Revolution of Iran and it is because of this fact that he was thrown in the despotic ruler’s jail many times. In addition, he was even exiled on three separate occasions to three different cities to Chabahar, Mahabad and Anarak. However after the Revolution, he was appointed to the first council of Representatives and played a pivotal role in writing the first constitution.
The Religious Help and Support Offered
Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shirazi has been quite active in various fields of teaching and guiding the up-and-coming scholars in the Theological Seminary of Qom, and has embarked on various projects and endeavors, of which we mention just a few:
1. Religious Publications Centre for the Shiâ: From some time back, His Eminence felt the need for the hawzatul âl-Ilmiyyah of Qum to have a general publication organization which would be able to defend the Shiâ from the works that were being published, by those wishing to mislead the people and unfortunately whose number is great.
In addition, this is also something that the Muslims expected from such a great Islamic University such as the hawzatul âl-Ilmiyyah, and thus people from different strata of the community starting from the great Marja Taqlid of the hawza and others also put forward this request that without doubt, a magazine should be published that would be able to answer the religious enquiries of the youth and give them the answers that they were looking for. In addition, such a publication would be able to fight against the books and magazines that were coming out aiming to mislead the people.
Due to the fact that at that time, there were some minds (within the Theological Seminary) that were not ready to accept such a publication, thus, His Eminence sought out serious and original-writing scholars to place the heavy responsibility on their shoulders of producing such a publication. In this regard, His Eminence, along with a group of other scholars and the assistance of the leaders of the hawzatul âl-Ilmiyyah of Qom and the financial support of well-wishers, launched the magazine, âl-Maktab-e-Islamť. This magazine was definitely something which was unparalleled in the Shiâ world and maybe from the point of view of its range of circulation â€“ amongst the various religious magazines being published at that time it was the number one magazine across the entire Muslim world. This magazine brought a fresh new path of direction to the great students and thinkers of the hawzah.
At present, this publication has been going on strong for over 39 years - offering its valuable services to the Muslim world and the Shiâ communities and has found a special spot within the hearts of the youth, the university students, teachers and other noble personalities and it is through this publication that the light of Islam and Tashayyaâ has been spread from its focal point (Qom) to the entire world.
2. Organizing Gatherings to Offer Lessons in Theology and other Religious Teachings: His Eminence felt that the books that had been written in the field of Islamic Theology were not sufficient, nor were they, with the passing of time, able to answer the questions that were being raised. In addition, these books were also not adequate in addressing the needs of the current era. The traditional books of theology were written centuries ago where the questions that the materialists of today bring up were not mentioned. Also, the traditional books written in the past did not discuss the various world religions who were hoping to impose their values on the world. In addition, the older books brought up issues like those in relation to the Ashaâris and Muâtazili and others such as these which today discussions on beliefs such as these are no longer applicable as discussions since these were “seasonal”.
It is because of this fact that His Eminence, relying upon his literary talent and exceptional abilities, was able to present the Theological Islamic beliefs and the five Principles of Religion in an unparalleled way! It is through organizing the theological discussions that hundreds of people were attending that these gatherings were made aware of these issues at hand and through these gatherings, a compact and concise book was compiled and published.
3. Islamic Council to Protect the Youth: His Eminence gave unparalleled lessons on Theology and other lessons and discussions in which his students have been educated in eight different subjects from amongst the different schools of thought throughout the world. It is through these classes that those being trained would be able to discuss and have debates with others, who are busy propagating other beliefs and schools of thought and would also be able to write books concerning their beliefs. They would also be equipped to answer any questions or issues that they put forth.
Within a short period of time, these religious gatherings were able to produce students, each one of which was firmly grounded and specialized in a particular field of study and even today, a group of active youth who are well known authors within the hawzatul âl-Ilmiyyah, are busy studying with. As well, in order to save our dear youth from the clutches of corruption, His Eminence formed an organization called the Educational Assembly for Protection of the Younger Generation. one of the outcomes of this assembly is the publication of material that would be attractive to the youth, and his office made them available to the youth very promptly.
4. Struggles Against Deviant Thoughts: on one of his trips to the city of Shiraz, His Eminence came face to face with one of the Sufi groups in this city. A group of people in Shiraz requested him to write a book that would outline the principles of these Sufis, one that would explain their beliefs in a polite and respectful manner. His Eminence, by making use of the resources available to him, sat down to write this book in the year 1953 CE which outlined their beliefs and thoughts, and he named it “The Manifestation of Truthť”.
The method in which he wrote this book caught the attention of the late Ayatollah al-Uzma Burujerdi (may Allah be pleased with him) and after requesting His Eminence to see him, he congratulated the author for his valuable efforts. In relation to this book, Ayatollah al-Uzma Burujerdi (may Allah be pleased with him) wrote the following commendation, I have gone through this book in my spare time and did not find even the smallest of weak points in it. May Allah reward you for your troubles.ť?
5. Establishing Organizations and Centres of Learning: In these regards, His Eminence had made the intention of establishing such organizations in the same number of Maâsumin (peace be upon all of them) that we have (14) and with the praise of Allah up until now, he has been successful in establishing four such important schools within the Theological Seminary of Qom and two religious organizations for the welfare of the students who are living in the city of Mashad.
6. Writings: The number of publications of His Eminence currently lies at approximately 130 volumes of books which have all been printed â€“ some of which have been reprinted more than 30 times! Some of these have even been translated into more than 10 living languages of the world and have been published in various parts of the world.
The commentary of the Qur'an authored by him, Tafsir-e-Namuna (The Ideal Commentary) has been translated into many languages, including Arabic (al-Amthal Fi Tafsir al-Quran), and can be found in many homes. In addition to this commentary, he has also authored a thematic commentary of the Quran entitled Payam-e-Quran (The Message of the Quran) which has opened up a new chapter in the field of exegesis of the Noble Quran.
In addition, the books he has written on the theological beliefs have been a place where others can seek refuge from the assault of books written with false beliefs in them.
Of the books of Fiqh that he has written, we mention a few: Anwar al-Fuqahah, al-Qawaidul Fiqhiyyah, Anwar al-Usul and the notes and commentaries on the complete text of âl-Urwatul Wuthqa which has been printed many times over.
His practical guide for Muslims (Tawdhihul Masail) has also been printed many times and has also been translated into Arabic, Urdu, Turkish, Azari and English.
Amir al-Momenin Islamic Seminary