Allamah Sharaf al-Din 'Ameli
Birth and Evolution:
Sayyid Abdul Hussein Sharaf al-Din 'Ameli was born in the city of Kazemain in 1290 A.H. He was treated by his kind and chaste mother “Zahra Sadr” and under supervision of his learned and pious father “Sayyid Yousef Sharaf al-Din”. When he was only two years old, his father decided to migrate to Najaf Ashraf to pass the high levels of education and so Sayyid Abdul Hussein departed for there with his parents.
He went to the school of “Maktab” in Najaf at the age of six years of old to acquire the Holy Qur'an from the learned and religious scholars and at the age of eight years of old, when the family returned to Jabal 'Amel, he began to learn the Arabic literature in presence of his learned father. He spend years and years to learn grammar, syntax, etymology, semantics, rhetoric, figures of speech, poem, composition, history, and calligraphy and he completed his knowledge in these fields by practice.
After acquiring enough knowledge in the fields of literature, logic and principles of figh, he set about for learning Fiqh in presence of his father and precisely studied the books “Nijat al-'Ebad”, “Al-Mokhtasar an-Nafe' Fi Fiqh al-Imamiyah Wa Sharay'e al-Islam”. In addition to these books, he also deeply studied in the fields of literature, history, commentary, Fiqh, Usoul, logic, ethics and beliefs and so he trained his brilliant talent and achieved enormous knowledge.
At the same years with the suggestion of his parents, he married his cousin.
In 1310 A.H, he set out for Iraq along with his mother, wife and brother and, as his grandfather Ayatullah Sayyid Hadi Sadr and other relatives had recommended, they went to Samara. Consulting with his learned and wise uncle Ayatullah Sayyid Hassan Sadr, he began to learn Fiqh and Usoul studies near two great and famous scholars of the Islamic Seminary of Samara Shaykh Hassan Karbala'ei (dead in 1322 A.H) and Shaykh Baqir Heidar (dead in 1333 A.H). Every morning in Fridays, he went to the lecture of Ayatullah Shaykh Fathali Sultanabadi very eagerly to learn the theologian ethics and satisfied his thirsty soul from that source of truth.
After one year and when the grand Marja' of the Shia Muslims Ayatullah Mirzaie Shirazi left Samara for Najaf by some specific reasons, Sharaf al- Din, along with other scholars and professorss of the Islamic Seminary of Samara, went to Najaf, the field of love and center of those who seek for science. To learn the high levels of Jurisprudence (Fiqh), Principles (Usoul), tradition (Hadith), theology (Kalam), he attended in the lectures presented by the great scholars of the Islamic Seminary of Najaf such as:
Aqa Reza Isfahani (Dead in 1322 A.H)
Shaykh Mohammad Taha Najaf (Dead in 1323 A.H)
Akhond Khorasani (Dead in 1329 A. H)
Shaykh al-Shariah Isfahani (Dead in 1303 A. H)
Sayyid Mohammad Kazim Tabataba'ei Yazdi (Dead in 1337 A.H)
Mirza Hossein Noori (Dead in 1320 A.H)
After twelve years of education, research and scientific discussions and great interest and effort specific for a clergyman, Sharaf al-Din got the high rank of jurisprudence and achieved the permission and approval of jurisprudence by the high-ranking jurisprudents. When he was thirty- two years old, his full jurisprudence was accepted and approved by all great jurisprudents of the Islamic Seminary of Najaf, Kazemain, and Samara. At the same time and beside his scientific and religious studies, he seriously turned to learn literature in order to completely acquir the secrets of eloquence, literary works and different methods of speech and he could succeed in this regard too.
In ninth of Rabi al-Awwal in 1322 A.H, he left Najaf for Jabal 'Amel passing through Damascus along with his family and stepped in his hometown among the pure feelings and eagerness of his countrymen.
At first, he resided in “Shohour” and began to guide and instruct the people and especially the youth along with his honorable father. After three years, he went to the city “Sour” by the invitation of its people. He established “hussainiyah of Sour” and made it as a center of setting up different religious and social ceremonies.
Herald of Unity:
Sharaf al-Din was as a conscious and clear-sighted scholar who knew his time and was familiar with the true facts of the heavenly school of Islam.
From the time when he was young, he bothered from distressed and chaotic status of the Islamic societies and also unfortunate and useless distinctions and struggles of the Muslims. He not only thought about improving and constructing the Shiite societies but, from the beginning of his religious and social activities, he paid much attention to reforming and giving honor to all Islamic territories and making unity and brotherhood among different sects of Muslims. For half of century, he tried to unite the nation of Muhammad (S) with all his intellectual and scientific efforts by his writings, speeches and honest actions.
His first step in the way of uniting the Islamic nation was the compilation of the great book “Al-Fosoul al-Mohammah Fi Talif al-Ummah” which was published in Sour in 1327 A.H. From this date up to his death (in 1377 A.H), all his efforts was to fulfill this divine goal and, of course, he achieved brilliant and effective results in this regard.
At the end of 1329 A.H, he went to Egypt to be familiar with the religious scholars, scientists, thinkers and authors in order to prepare the way for the unity of the nation of Islam. He had realized that the best point of his movement is the university “Al-Ahzar”, the greatest scientific and religious center of the Sunnite Muslims.
It was destined that he became familiar with the great Mufti and famous scholar of Al-Ahzar university Shaykh Salim Beshri Maleki, which resulted in strange and sensational discussions and correspondences between them that can be considered as an excellent and brilliant example for the Muslim scholars and thinkers in the history of Islam in the way of uniting the Muslim nations and knowing the facts and events of history.
In 1355 A.H twenty-five years after that event, Sharaf al-Din published the set of his correspondences with Shaykh Salim, including 112 letters, in the book “Al- Muraja'at” with an illuminating introduction.
Among the characteristics of this book, some of them are the use of new and meaningful words and phrases, short and harmonious sentences, innovative and pleasant definitions, use of Arabic poem and samples between the texts and also the scientific and argumentative aspects, which has made the book a unique and unparalleled one.
In addition to corresponding with Shaykh Salim Beshri in Egypt, Sharaf al-Din met other Sunnite scholars and experts and he had scientific, religious and philosophical discussions with them among whom Shaykh Mohammad Najib, Shaykh Mohammad Salmouti, Shaykh Mohammad Abduh and Shaykh Abdul Karim al-Katani Edrisi granted scientific permissions and approvals for the intellectual and scientific status and honor of Sharaf al-Din.
Time of Jihad and Struggle:
At the end of 1330 A.H. and after fulfillment of his duty and conquering the hearts of opponents, Sharaf al-Din left Egypt for Lebanon where its people were seeking for freedom and independence of their country that was under dominance of the Ottoman Empire.
For the first time and by the confirmation of those parties seeking for independence, Sharaf al-Din entered in political and social struggles.
Sharaf al-Din was as a religious and political leader among the people and stayed with them at the time of independence wars of Lebanon and he accepted giving shelter to the refugees of Jabal 'Amel.
He invited the leaders and scholars of Jabal 'Amel to establish a public congress in the city “Wadi al-Hajir” in the border of Lebanon and Syria, in order to organize the general movement and anti-French insurrections all over the country. In the congress, he gave religious decree against the French.
When the French began to arrest Sharaf al-Din, he went to Jabal 'Amel at first and then Damascus and attended in political, scientific and religious meetings of Damascus. As he was famous in all Islamic countries for his political and scientific knowledge, he was honored wherever he went. He directed the scholars, scientists, politicians and fighters and showed them the right path of political struggles.
The French who could not find Sharaf al-Din, set his house and library on fire and burned most of his manuscripts.
In addition to political and social activities, Sharaf al-Din also paid a lot of attention to the affairs of the exiled Muslims from Lebanon and other countries.
He stayed in Damascus for a while along with other Lebanese fighters until the aggressive French extended their aggression domain and occupied Syria too. Sharaf al-Din went to Palestine along with his family and resided in “Hifa”. After some while and in 1338 A.H, he again went to Egypt in disguise for the second time. He not only attended in mosques and scientific, political and literary meetings but met and talked with different people and groups and most of his speeches were published in the press of that time in Egypt.
In one of his fervent speeches, he said a deep and meaningful sentence which showed the fact of Islamic unity. Sayyid Rashid Reza who was a famous author and scholar and was present in the meeting, published that sentence in his magazine “Al-Menar”. The sentence was as follows: “Shiite and Sunnite were separated by politics (and political desires) at the first day; and now the politics (and the political interests of Islam and Muslims) should bring them together and join them”.
Sharaf al-Din stayed in Egypt for a while and then decided to go to the nearest point of Lebanon and tried very closely to free the country and its nation.
While entering Beirut, the French intended to prepare the way for his departure to the city Sour but Sharaf al-Din stopped in Beirut to discuss with the rulers about the freedom of other exiled, escaped and migrated fighters and people. By the way, the freedom and return of them was accepted and Sharaf al-Din went to Sour much comfortably.
Sharaf al-Din turned against the west occupation very strongly and fought until their agents exited from Lebanon and its independence was officially recognized in 1945. When he was fighting against the dominance of France in Lebanon, Palestine was under dominance and occupation of England. At that time, Sharaf al-Din believed the migration of the Jewish to Palestine was dangerous for the future of this country. So he always notified the Palestinians about the danger of the Jewish.
The pilgrimage in 1340 A.H. was one of the most magnificent pilgrimages in the history. Sharaf al-Din's presence in this world grand congress of Muslims has made it manifest. By the request of the king Hossein, the prayer was fulfilled in “Masjid al-Haram” leading by Sharaf al-Din. Probably, this was the first prayer leading by a Shiite scholar in “Masjid al-Haram”.
After the end of pilgrimage, Sharaf al-Din along with his countrymen departed for Jabal 'Amel while accompanied and respected by the officials of Saudi Arabia.
At the end of 1355 A.H., he traveled to Iraq. At first he entered Baghdad and then went to Najaf, Kazemain, Samara and Karbala on pilgrimage to the shrines of the innocent Imams.
At the final days of 1355 A.H., Sharaf al-Din left Iran to go on pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Abul Hassan Ali Ibn Musa al-Reza.
He was welcomed by a lot of scholars, clergymen and scientific and religious personalities. The pious and religious people and scholars also went to visit him and respected him honorably.
Then Sharaf al-Din went to Qom on pilgrimage to the shrine of Hazrat Masoumah (S), daughter of Imam Kazim (A.S). He also wanted to be familiar with the Islamic seminary of Qom and its scholars and jurisprudents who were under the suffocation pressure and dictatorship of the king Reza (khan). After pilgrimage and visitation, he traveled to the holy city of Mashhad and achieved his old wish. His travel to Iran lasted for a month and he returned to his hometown at the beginning of 1356 A.H.
Sources of Guidance:
To encounter against the distressed and chaotic status of culture and education in Lebanon, that was caused by the dominance of the west colonizers, Sharaf al-Din decided to reform the education departments of the society . He began to establish a school in Sour. In this regard, he invited all those who could help financially for cooperation.
At first, he established an elementary school called “Al-Madrasat al-Jafariyah” for educating Muslim students. The school was managed freely and the lessons of knowledge and Islamic ethics were taught in addition to the new lessons.
As a conscious and compassionate reformer, Sharaf al-Din established a beautiful and glorious club of “Nadi al-Imam al-Sadiq” to prevent the youth from attending in the meeting of enemies.
Furthermore, he established a mosque near the Jafariyah school and the Imam Sadiq club so that the students and those coming to club could perform their religious precepts in the mosque.
Sharaf al-Din knew well that the girls of today are the future mothers and have a great role in educating the Muslim children. Feeling such a need and after preparing the things, he established the school “Al-Zahra” for the girls in 1361 A.H. but, after a while, his political opponents who were the French's hirelings tried to close the school "Al-Zahra" resorting to the force and threat and by the help of the Lebanon government and state soldiers. Without any fear and despair, Sharaf al-Din held the classes in his house and kept it on up to end.
Again he established another school in the next year which started its work beside the Jafariyah school. Later on, he started the Jafariyah college.
According to his financial capabilities, Sharaf al-Din always tried to help the poor. His house in Sour was the shelter of the indigent people. Continuing his way of social reform and construction, he established the charity institute of “Association of Benefaction and Favor” in 1365 A.H. Establishment of such institute was one of his brilliant and basic works of Sharaf al- Din in his final years of life.
Jurisprudence versus Quotations:
An important research and scientific work that Sharaf al-Din could fulfill in his final years of life was compilation of the wonderful and famous book of “An- Nas Wa al-Ijtihad” which was one of his other works helping to unite the Muslims.
In this book, he has referred to about one hundred jurisprudences versus quotations (using personal opinion versus the explicit words of the Holy Prophet (S)) that were committed by the king and rulers and their relatives at the time of the holy prophet (S) or after his death. He referred to them according to valid books of the Sunnite and he explains his own scientific , research and critical opinions regarding each one.
At the End of the Way:
Sharaf al-Din never used his physical disabilities and illnesses in old age as an excuse and did not set aside his social and religious responsibilities.
When he was confined to bed in hospital in Beirut, most people came to visit him from all cities of Lebanon.
Days were passing in fear and hope until Sharaf al-Din passed away in the morning of Mondey, eighth of Jamadi al-Thani in 1372 A.H when he was 87 years old.
The news of his death had a sorrowful reaction in the Islamic world and the people of Sour were sad for not seeing that divine and brilliant personality for ever.
Finally, his body was buried in the south side of the holy shrine of Imam Ali (A.S) and adjacent to the grave his professor the grand jurisprudent Sayyid Mohammad Kazim Yazdi, of course, two days after his death and a splendid funeral procession in Beirut, Baghdad, Kazemain and Najaf.
As mentioned before, most of Sharaf al-Din's manuscripts were set on fire by the French during his struggles and migration. By the way, some of his unique and eternal works have remained that are included and considered among the scientific, literary, historical and religious masterpieces of not only the Shiite but the world of Islam.
Some of his works are introduced as follows:
1. Al-Fosoul al-Mohimmah: which has been translated and published in persian under the title of “Dar Rah-e Tafahom”
2. Al-Kalamat al-Qarra Fi Tafzil al-Zahra: regarding the grand lady Hazrat Fatima al-Zahra
3. Al- Murajaa't : this one was introduced before but it must be mentioned that it was translated in persian by the great author Allamah Heidar Qoli Sardar Kaboli in 1365 A.H , when Sharaf al-Din himself was alive.
4. An-Nas Wa al-Ijtihad : this was introduced before. It was translated in persian by Ali Dawani.
5. Abu Hurairah: a research book on Abu Hurairah
6. Al- Majales al-Fakherah Fi Ma'tam al-Taherah: an introduction to a book with the same title in four volumes that were burned by the French and this introduction has only remained.
7. Falsafah al-Mithaq Wa al-Wilayah: a discussion regarding the divine eternal promise
8. Ajwabah Masa'el Jarallah : a scientific response to twenty questions of Musa Jarallah, a Shiite scholar
9. Masa'el Fiqhiyah: issues on the base of jurisprudence of Islamic religions
10. Kalamah Hawl al-Ro'uyah: regarding the beliefs issues
11. Ila Al-Majma' Al-'Elmi Al-'Arabi Bi Dameshq: scientific responses to the accusations committed by the scientific assembly of Damascus about the Shiite
12. Thabut al-Athbab Fi Silsilah Ar-Rawa: a thesis including the professors and clergymen who were compiler and author, among the scholars of the Islamic religions
13. Moallaf al-Shi'a Fi Sadr al-Islam: regarding the Shi'a authors from the era of the Holy Prophet (S) to the era of Imam Hadi (A.S)
14. Zaynab al-Kobra
15. Boghyat Al-Raghebin Fi Ahwal Al-e-Sharaf al-Din : a literary and historical book on biography of the scholars of the families of Sadr and Sharaf al-Din