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Mullah Mahdi Naraqi

In 1128 A.H he was born in to a religious middle class family in Narauq, a village near Kashan. His parents named him Mohammad Mahdee. From the early years of his childhood, it became evident that he was a genius. He was registered in the hawza in Kashan when he was a young teenager, for he was really interested in education. In that hawza he benefited a lot from his knowledgeable teacher Molla Ja'far Beegdelee. He completed the levels of moqaddamaut[1] sat-h[2] and some of khauredg[3] in the fields of Jurisprudence and Osool[4] in Kashan.
About the year 1143, at the age of sixteen he traveled to Esfahan to continue his studies. There he benefited from the great jurisprudents and philosophers who resided there. Some of his teachers were Mawla Ismau'eel Khaujoo'ee,[5] Mohammad Harandee[6] and Auqau Mirza Nausair Esfahanee[7]. But Mawla Ismau'eel Khaujoo'ee had the highest status in the eyes of Molla Mahdee. The latter studied around thirty years with the former teacher in the various fields of Jurisprudence, Osool, Theology, Philosophy, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Astronomy.
Mohammad ibne Mohammad Zamaun Kaushaunee was another of Molla Mahdee's very influential teachers. The former was one of the experts in the field of Rejaul[8] and Hadith[9]. He was one of those experts who possessed the authority of narrating the traditions. Molla Mahdee benefited a great deal from him in the relative fields.
Of course, the very crucial task of studying Islamic studies in Esfahan did not stop him from his main duty as a clergy. At the same time, he put a lot of energy into preaching Islam for the people and spreading the word of God. For this purpose, he took all measures needed. He even learned Hebrew and Latin in order to discuss matters of religion with the scholars of Judaism and other minority religions in Iran, using their own holy texts to prove the rightfulness of Islam and Prophet Mohammad.
After thirty years of residence in Esfahan, he finally returned to his hometown, Kashan; but he did not stay there for long. He left Kashan to go to Karbala and Najaf (two cities in Iraqwhich were the main centers of Islamic studies in the Shia world). He stayed in Iraq for eight years (1175 a.h. - 1183 a.h.)[10]. There, he took advantage of teachers such as: Sheikh Yoosof Bahraunee[11], Sheikh Mohammad[12] and Vaheed Behbahaunee[13].
Finally after many painstaking years of studying in Najaf and Karbala he returned to Kashan again; this time to stay. With his return, Kashan, which had been vacant of such great scholars for many years, became one of the centers of hawza studies. The schools of Islamic studies regained the appropriate scholarly spirit in Kashan. Molla Mahdee became the head of this Shia intellectual center. Many of the Shia scholars of the next generation, such as Mohammad Bauqair Dashtee[14], Hauj Mohammad Kalbausee[15], and his own great son Molla Ahmad, were his pupils.
Molla Mahdee had three sons who all became celebrated scholars: Molla Ahmad[16], Abolqausem[17], and Mohammad Mahdee[18], known as "Auqau Bozorg". Molla Ahmad was the oldest. The latter was born in 1185 a.h. in Kashan and became the most esteemed scholar in that region after his father. He wrote many books in various fields.
It has been recorded that Molla Mahdee took his oldest son with him on his last trip before Vaheed Behbahaunee died, and so Molla Ahmad had the pleasure of his acquaintance as well.
In Narauq in the Mirror of History, it is claimed that Molla Mahdee had two other sons by the names of Mohammad Bauqair and Molla Abolhasan. But, there is no mention of them in any other book.

Molla Mohammad Mahdee had [a great deal of] self-respect. He struggled with poverty ever since he began his way into the Islamic seminary [and even though he was in great need of money, he never asked anyone for help]. Poverty never absorbed his enthusiasm. He continued his studies with a heart full of hope and joy. In his Jaum-e-ossa'audaut, he states that self-respect is one of the very important human values; he writes, "It is better if the poor hides his/her poverty from others [as much as possible] and builds the spirits of austerity and self-respect in him/her than to ask people for help. He/she must not honor the wealthy for the sake of their wealth, which will lead to belittling him/herself. Instead, he/she should feel greater than them [and thus keep up his/her self-respect]. So, the poor should be indifferent to their wealth and should not expect anything from them."
One of his other very outstanding characteristics was his endurance: he had patience in the face of all hardships that befell him. An example of his endurance is how he studied at nighttime. Because he could not afford buying a candle or some oil for a lamp, he would go to the public restrooms and study under the lamps there until midnight.
Even though Molla Mohammad Mahdee was very tolerant of life's hardships, he did not have any tolerance for misleading ideas, beliefs and actions. Following in the footsteps of his great teacher, Vaheed Behbahaunee, he struggled against the Akhbauree [19] in the fields of Jurisprudence and Osool. Moreover, in his Jaum-o-ssa'audaut he denounces Sufism and firmly affirms that the RIGHT PATH is that which the AHL-AL BAYT have shown us.
He believed that the source of social and ethical injustice in a society is the unjust notions and actions of the rulers. Thus he concluded that any real reform must begin from the upper hierarchy in the society. In this regard, he writes, "The most important and crucial justice is that of the rulers, for peoples doing justice depends on the rulers [people look up to their rulers in this regard]. If a ruler acts justly, then his subjects will also be able to interact justly. Otherwise, implementing justice in a society would be really difficult; it would be almost impossible."
Another of Molla Mahdee's characteristics was his very delicate and poetic spirit. He had completed the highest mystical and ethical levels. He translated his spiritual feelings into poetry. The poems in his Tau'er-e-qodsee [his book of poetry] and his other illustrate this fact.

After many years of hard intellectual and spiritual work in promoting the values preached by Islam, he finally passed away on the 18th of Sha'baun, 1209 a.h. His death resulted in an outburst of mourning by the people of Kashan. His body was transferred to Najaf with great esteem; he was buried beside the shrine of Ameer-ol-mo'meneen.
[1] The beginner's level of hawza;
[2] The intermediate level of hawza;
[3] The advanced level of hawza;
[4] The study of the main rules applied in the field of jurisprudence;
[5] Demise: 1173 a.h.
[6] Demise: 1186 a.h.
[7] Demise: 1191 a.h.
[8] The study of the narrators of traditions;
[9] The study of the traditions narrated from the Prophet or one of the Imams;
[10] Of course, this is if his stay in Kashan prior to going to Iraq was around two years.
[11] Demise: 1186 a.h.
[12] Demise: 1183 a.h.
[13] Demise: 1205 a.h.
[14] Demise: 1260 a.h.
[15] Demise: 1262 a.h.
[16] Demise: 1249 a.h.
[17] Demise: 1256 a.h.
[18] Demise: 1268 a.h.
[19] This school prohibits any rational scrutiny in the study of traditions and thus promotes a very strict literal understanding of the Islamic texts.

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