Shaykh Hurr Ameli
BIRTH AND FAMILY BACKGROUND:
Sheikh Horr Ameli is accounted a great narrator of Hadiths and an outstanding Islamic Jurisprudent who has compiled precious works; he is titled as "Sheikh of Islam" and "Leader of Shiah". His full name is Muhammad son of Hasan son of Ali son of Muhammad son of Hussein.
He was born on Rajab 8th, 1033 A.H. in a village in the “Jabal Amel” region in Lebanon.
The people of Jabal Amel had initially converted to Shiism through guidance of the great Islamic luminary, Abuzar Ghifarie, an outstanding disciple of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a). Since then, the Muslims of Jabal Amel have constantly been deeply committed and devoted Shiite followers of the Ahl-ul-Bayt i.e. the Infallible Household of the Holy Prophet (s.a.).
Sheikh Horr Ameli was given his first name "Muhammad" by his father Sheikh Hasan, as a sign of Horr family’s allegiance to the Ahl-ul-Bayt (a.s.).
Sheikh Horr Ameli is a descendant of "Horr son of Yazid Riyahi", who joined the forces of Imam Hussein (a.s.) in the event of Ashura in the land of Karbala in 61 A.H. and was martyred as a devoted disciple of the Holy Imam.
Horr son of Yazid Riyahi earned Imam Hussein's invocative blessing: “You are given the auspicious name of Horr [noble freeman]; and you will remain Horr in this world and in the Hereafter, too.”
The family of Horr is a family of noble origin, among whom there are numerous Islamic scholars and Jurisprudents.
The father of Sheikh Horr was an upright, trustworthy, and highly learned scholar on Jurisprudence as well as a literary figure, well versed in Arabic language. He passed away in the year 1062 A.H. while on a journey towards the holy city of Mashhad, where he was buried.
His paternal uncle, Sheikh Muhammad son of Ali son of Muhammad Horr Ameli, the author of the valuable book entitled “Al-Rahleh”, was a competent writer of explanations/marginal commentaries and useful compilations. He was a renowned poet as well.
His cousin, Hasan son of Muhammad son of Ali was a learned literary personality.
Sheikh Horr Ameli's grandfather, Sheikh Ali son of Muhammad, too, was a renowned scholar in Intellectual Sciences.
Sheikh Horr Ameli’s great grandfather, Sheikh Muhammad son of Hussein Horr Ameli was a prominent figure of his time and reputed for his knowledge of Islamic precepts and tenets.
Sheikh Horr Ameli was brought up in such a distinguished family that produced Ulema and Jurisprudents with distinctive originality of intellectual endeavors.
SHEIKH HORR AMELI’S PERSONALITY:
He is considered to be one of the most distinguished Ulema of the eleventh century A.H. who has left legacy of valuable writings, and his exemplary personality is held in great esteem by the Shiite Ulema. He enriched Shiite knowledge with authentic sayings and narrations of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (a.s.), and his works are commendable indeed.
In Shiah sect, he is taken into account as one of the most credible links in the chain of narrators; that is, narrations quoted by him mark the authenticity of a Hadith or Narration with regard to its connection with the Ahl-ul-Bayt (a.s.) or the Holy Prophet (s.a.).
TRIBUTES PAID BY SHIITE ULEMA:
Sayyed Ali Khan Madani, the writer of commentary on Imam Sajjad's collection of supplications entitled "Sahifah al-Sajjadiyah", has paid tributes to Sheikh Horr Ameli as follows: “Sheikh Muhammad son of Hasan son of Ali son of Muhammad, Horr Ameli, was an eminent savant of high intellectual standing, whose personality could hardly be described through string of words. His valuable writings have become widespread and have brought forth vivifying showers on the parched lands all over the world. His pearl-like ideas have brightened the sky of history, sparkling as they are between lines of words …”
The author of “Maqābis al-Anwar” prayed for the soul of Sheikh Horr Ameli: “May Allah in His Infinite Sanctity bless the highly learned litterateur and Jurisprudent, who was a thorough collector and compiler of the enlightening traditions and narrations, Sheikh Muhammad son of Hasan Horr Ameli…”
Allameh Amini in his valuable book “al-Ghadir” eulogizes Sheikh Horr Ameli: “He was a pearl in the crown of his time and a bright star on the forehead of excellence. Anytime one seeks to know more about the Sheikh, he is likely to find him competent in every field of knowledge. Words are not enough to praise him. Indeed, he is the very personification of knowledge and literature, and the epitome of excellence and perfect virtues. His writings, which have made him immortal, include the subject matters for promotion of virtues in the society, collection of Islamic decrees, wise sayings, eulogizing excellences, and sayings of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (a.s.) on affirmation of Imamate…”
Muhaddis Qommi praises the Sheikh by saying: “Muhammad son of Hasan son of Ali, the Sheikh of Narrators, is to be accounted as one of the most excellent and skillful learned men of the world, a very alert Shiite Jurisprudent, a devout narrator of Hadiths, a trustworthy personage deserving of high esteem, a source of greatness and excellence, and a writer of much useful books.”
HIS PILGRIMAGES AND TRAVELS:
Sheikh Horr Ameli lived in his ancestral “Jabal Amel” region up until he was forty years old. During this period, he performed Hajj twice. In the year 1073 A.H. he went on a pilgrimage to Iraq to visit the holy shrines of the Infallible Imams (AS) there. Then he decided to go on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mashhad to visit the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS), where he settled down for the rest of his life.
Furthermore, in the years 1087 and 1088 A.H. again he performed Hajj and pilgrimages to the shrines of the Infallible Imams (AS) in Iraq. Before returning to Mashhad and residing there till the time of his death, he visited Isfahan where he called on the local Ulema, especially Allameh Majlesi (R.A.). Sheikh Horr Ameli gave the Late Allameh an authorization for narrating Hadiths of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (a.s.), and, at the same time, he himself received the Allameh Majlesi’s authorization to quote Hadiths.
THE TRAGEDY AT MECCA:
While performing his last Hajj in the year 1088 A.H. he witnessed massacre of some Iranians by the Ottoman Turks for their alleged sacrilege of the holy Kaaba. The Iranians were forewarned by the Sheikh not to leave the precincts of the Kaaba lest the Turks would kill them on the pretext of sacrilege. It was actually a pretext to kill the Shiite followers of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (A.S). The Sheikh himself was saved from the event by the help of a local nobleman, Sayyed Musa son of Suleiman, and traveled to Iraq via Yemen.
AT THE IRANIAN COURT
As mentioned above, Sheikh Horr, on his return journey to Mashhad, arrived in Isfahan where he was highly respected and welcomed by the local Ulema, particularly the Late Allameh Majlesi. The Ulema there arranged for him to visit the court of Suleiman Shah, the Saffavid King. Here, a story is related about the meeting between Sheikh Horr and Shah Suleiman as follows: when the Sheikh entered the court of the king, he was seated on the side of the audience hall where the king used to sit down with the backrest of a long cushion. When the king entered he was surprised to see his space occupied. The king enquired as to who the person sitting in his usual place was. One of the local Ulema replied that he was Sheikh “Horr” Ameli, a great Arab sage. In order to scorn and humiliate Sheikh Horr, the king made a pun of the word “Horr” with “Kharr” [both of the words are written in the same manner in Persian script with a difference of a single “dot” (“Kharr” in Persian means a “donkey”)]; the Shah asked: “How much distance is there between Horr and Kharr?” To Shah’s further surprise, Sheikh Horr retorted in Persian language: “As much distance as the space engaged by the long cushion between me (Horr) and you!! [Thus, the Sheikh implied cunningly that he (the Shah) himself was the donkey!]. This episode shows the influence of the Shiite Ulema in the court of the Saffavid kings, and their dignified status that allowed for their daring remarks.
THE SHEIKH’S RETURN TO MASHHAD:
On his return to Mashhad, the Shah of Iran appointed him as the “Qazi al-Quzat” (Chief Justice) and he soon became one of the distinguished Ulema there. He held teaching sessions in the holy city of Mashhad and organized debates. Thus he taught and trained a large number of industrious scholars, especially those who sincerely strived to learn the sciences derived from the Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS). He proved to be a benign teacher. He also wrote valuable books while residing in Mashhad.
HIS POETIC TALENT:
Sheikh Horr Ameli had a remarkable poetic talent. One special feature of his poetry is the lengthiness of the poems.
He has composed many poems on the merits and praise of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (a.s.). The total number of such eulogistic couplets in his complete poetical works is around 20,000.
He has eulogized the Holy Prophet (s.a.) in a poem comprising more than one hundred couplets. He has also composed another poem on the miraculous deeds and moral excellence of the holy Prophet and the Ahl-ul-Bayt (a.s.) consisting of four hundred verses.
Furthermore, the rhyming of his poetry follows a style of his own. For instance, he has composed 29 odes that exalt the Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS); on the other hand, there are 29 letters in Arabic alphabet; and the rhyming of couplets in each ode is allocated to one of the Arabic letters! Also in a lyrical poem, the quatrains are marked by the fourfold repetition of the same word. In another elegy, the first Arabic alphabet (Alif) is avoided in all its couplets!
Among his couplets the two noted below are exemplary:
1) “Although I am named free (Horr), I am a slave of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS); even if they ennoble and free me, I shall revert to their bondage.”
2) “If it is sweet and pleasurable to remember friends, for me it is all the more so to extol the Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS)”.
Sheikh Horr Ameli in his native Jabal Amel regional village named Meshgharah took much benefit from distinguished teachers who taught him the sciences derived from the Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS). His education there was of basic importance for his personality development to the extent of becoming a great scholar and “Mujtahid” (an authorized Islamic Jurisprudent to issue religious decrees) of good repute. His teachers at Meshgharah included the following:
1) His father, Hasan son of Ali (d. 1062 A.H.),
2) His paternal uncle, Sheikh Muhammad son of Ali Horr (d. 1081 A.H.)
3) His maternal grandfather, Sheikh Abdul Salam son of Muhammad Horr,
4) His father’s maternal uncle, Sheikh Ali son of Mahmud Ameli;
In the neighboring village called Jaba’, too, his teachers included:
5) Sheikh Zainuddin, Sahib Ma'alim (the son of Shahid Thani), and
6) Sheikh Hussain Zuhayri;
Other teachers who had contributed to his education are:
7) Sayyed Hasan Husseini Ameli,
8) Sheikh Abdullah Harfushi,
9) Mowla Muhammad Tahir son of Muhammad Hussain Shirazi Najafi Qommi,
10)Sayyed Mirza Jazayeri Najafi,
11)Sheikh Ali, grandson of Shahid Thani,
12)Ostad Mohaqqiq Aqa Hussain Khansari,
13)Sayyed Hashem Tobli Bahrani, and
14)Mowla Muhammad Kashi.
His students included many of Ulema, including:
1) Sheikh Mustafa son of Abdul Wahed son of Sayyar Hobez,
2) Sheikh Muhammad Reza, son of Sheikh Mustafa,
3) Sheikh Hasan, another son of Sheikh Mustafa,
4) Sayyed Muhammad son of Muhammad Baqer Husseini A’raji Mukhtari Na’ini,
5) Sayyed Muhammad son of Muhammad Badee’ Razavi Mashhadi,
6) Mowla Muhammad Fazel son of Muhammad Mahdi Mashhadi,
7) Sayyed Muhammad son of Ali son of Mohiyeddin Musawi Ameli,
8) Mowla Muhammad Saleh son of Muhammad Baqer Ghazvini, alias Roghani,
9) Mowla Muhammad Taqi son of Abdul Wahhab Astarabadi Mashhadi,
10)Mowla Muhammad Taqi Dehkharqani Ghazvini and
11)Sayyed Muhammad son of Ahmed Husseini Guilani
Sheikh Horr Ameli has written or compiled many valuable books. He dedicated his entire life to serving the holy religion of Islam and the Ahl-ul-Bayt’s school of thought.
Despite his official engagements as the Sheikh of Islam and his other teaching/training jobs, he has left many works for the posterity. One of the books he authored is entitled “Wasa’el al-Shiah”; from the time of its completion up until now it has always remained the focus of attention and consideration of Shiite Grand Jurisprudents and Scholars. Among his other works the following are notable:
1) “Al-Jawahir al-Saniyyah fil-Ahadith al-Qudsiyyah” [The Brilliant Jewel of the Almighty Allah’s Statements]: This book was the first of its kind, and no other writer had dealt with its subject matter up to that time.
2) “Al-Sahifah al-Thaniyah min Ad’iyyate Ali ibne al-Hussein (a.s.)” [A Second Collection of Imam Sajjad’s Supplications]: This book contains supplications not included in the famous book: “Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah”
3) “Tafsil Wasa’el al-Shiah ila Tahsile Masa’el al-Shari’a” [A More Detailed Version of Wasa’el al-Shiah for Learning the Islamic Rules and Decrees]: This book contains all the Hadiths and Narrations pertaining to the Islamic decrees, precepts, and laws, which are available in the texts of the four authentic reference books of Shiah [known as Kutub-e Arba’ah] and other outstanding sources of Shiah Jurisprudence, totaling 180 titles. It gives references to the Traditions and the relevant books in a concise and nice manner. It treats each topic under one chapter as far as possible;
4) “Hidayatul Ummah ila Ahkam al-A’immah (A.S.)” [Leading the Muslim Community to the Teachings of the Holy Imams A.S.]: This book, in three short volumes, contains selections from “Wasa’el al-Shiah”. It is an abridged version that omits references and repetitions;
5) “Man la Yahzarahul-Imam” [For Those Who Do Not Have Access to Imam]: It is an index of “Wasa’el a-Shiah”, topics of its chapters, number of Hadiths in each chapter, and the subject matter of each Hadith, all in one volume;
6) “Al-Fawa’id al-Tussiyyah” (in one volume): It gives a hundred useful excerpts of merit on various subjects;
7) “Ithbat al-Hodat bil-Nosoos wal-Mu’jizat” [Demonstration of the Infallible Leaders Through Recorded Texts and Miracles], in two volumes that contain twenty thousand Hadiths and seventy thousand documents quoted from 439 Shiite and Sunnite books in an elegant manner of preparation that avoids repetition, concerning miracles performed by the Holy Prophet of Islam (SA) and the Infallible Imams (AS);
8) “Amal al-Āmel”: This book contains names of the Ulema who belonged to Jabal Amel region and other recent ones;
9) “Al-Eiqaz min al-Hij’ah bil-Borhan Ala al-Raj’ah” [Awakening of the People Through Cogent Reasoning On the Concept of Raj’at or “Return to Life”]: This is a treatise on “Raj’at”, which contains 600 Hadiths and 64 verses of the Holy Koran. It gives numerous reasons and sayings of the ancients and contemporaries, by way of clarifying doubts with regard to the subject matter;
10) “Risalah fi al-Radd alal Sufiyyah” [A Monograph on Refutation of Sufism]. It deals with a thousand Hadiths on refutation of Sufis;
11) “Tawator al-Koran”;
12) “Bidayatul-Hidayah” [The Starting Point of Guidance]: It focuses on the religious obligations [Wajibat] and prohibitions [Muharramaat] according to the documented religious texts, covering the entire range of Shiite Jurisprudential issues and topics from A to Z. In this book, Sheikh Horr believes that there are 1535 cases of obligations and 1448 instances of prohibitions;
13) “Al-Fosul al-Muhimmah fi Usul al-A’immah (AS)” [Significant Subject Matters as Prescribed by the Infallible Imams A.S.]: This work contains the overall Islamic Principles, the Principles of Jurisprudence and the Secondary Rules, and also the Principles of Medical Science;
14) “Al-Arabiyyatul-Alawiyyah wa al-Lughatul-Marwiyyah”.
15) “Complete Poetical Works” [known as DIVAN], which consists of twenty thousand couplets and four other poetical works on different subjects;
16) “Divan al-Imam Zainul Abedin (AS)”;
17) “Tahrir Wasa’el al-Shiah wa Tahbir Masa’el al-Shari’a”, which includes a commentary on his “Wasa’el al-Shiah”
18) “Al-Akhlaque” [Ethics or Moral Principles]:
19) “Maqtal al-Imam Hussein (AS)” [The Detailed Story of Imam Hussein’s (a.s.) Martyrdom]; and
20) Some “Hashiyah” (Marginal Writings) on “Kutub Arba’ah” and other significant books.
DEATH OF SHEIKH HORR AMELI:
A brother of Sheikh Horr Ameli in his book entitled “Al-Dorr al-Masluk,” gives an account of the demise of the Sheikh, as follows:
“On the twenty-first day of Ramadan, 1104 A.H., the death of a symbol of human excellence occurred: setting of a sun of knowledge and wisdom and a bright moon of science, practice, and devoutness: the Sheikh of Islam and Muslims, a worthy successor of Shiite Jurisprudents and Narrators, a reliable spokesman to guide the Muslim community towards a salutary life conforming to Islamic teachings, a man who truthfully recounted the Islamic Traditions and depicted the divine miracles in his book entitled “Wasa’el al-Shiah”, a preacher and a prayer–leader, a poet and a man of letters, a real servant of the Almighty God, Sheikh Abu Ja’far Muhammad son of Hasan, Horr Ameli.
His soul has returned to the Merciful Creator, in the vicinity of the Holy Shrine of the Eighth Imam, His Holiness Ali son of Mussa al-Reza (A.S.).
He was my elder brother. I offered the burial prayer at his body near the pulpit in the big mosque. We buried him in the verandah of a chamber at the courtyard of the Holy Shrine, near the “Mirza Ja’far School”.
At the time of his death, his age was seventy-two. May his soul rest in peace!”