Ayatullah Sayyid Mirza Ali Tabatabai
Ayatullah Sayyid Mirza Ali Tabatabai, famously known as Qadhi (1285 - 1366 AH) was born in Tabriz in Iran. He completed his basic hawza studies in his hometown, and then at the age of 28, migrated to Najaf to learn from the great masters who taught him in the shadow of the haram of Imam Ali (A.S.).
In time, Sayyid Qadhi excelled in fiqh, usul, hadith, tafsir and akhlaq and distinguished himself as one of the most sought-after instructors in Najaf, especially in the fields of akhlaq and ‘irfan. He wrote several books, including a partially completed tafsir of the Qur’an, which is a commentary up to verse 91 of Surah al-An’am. Several of the top ranking ‘ulama and maraje of the last generation were his students, including: Grand Ayatullah Behjat (may Allah prolong his life), Grand Ayatullah Zanjani (may Allah prolong his life), Grand Ayatullah Khui (R.A.), Grand Ayatullah Najafi Mar’ashi (R.A.), Grand Ayatullah Hadi Milani (R.A.), Allamah Tabatabai (R.A.), Shahide Mehrab Ayatullah Dasteghayb (R.A.), Sayyid Hashim Haddad (R.A.) and many others.
His Extraordinary Abilities
Marhum Qadhi was a man of exceptional abilities - many times his illustrious students would describe their memories of the wondrous acts they witnessed in his blessed presence. The contemporary scholar and student of Ayatullah Khui, Ustad Fatimi Niya, relates the following incident:
In the days when Ayatullah Qadhi was in Najaf, Ayatullah Khui came to him and requested, “I would like you to instruct me in some matters.” He (Ayt. Khui) probably meant ‘irfan and Divine gnosis and Spiritual Exercises. Agha Qadhi gave him some special spiritual instructions which Ayatullah Khui faithfully followed.
Then one night in the blessed Month of Ramadhan, Ayt. Khui visited his illustrious teacher, Ayt. Qadhi, who showed him (Ayt. Khui) a vision of his future. Suddenly, Ayt. Khui saw a man who resembled himself, appear in front of him; the man slowly began to age until his beard turned white. He saw the man teaching students of hawza at the highest level in the Masjid-e Hindi in Najaf. He saw him beginning to issue edicts (fatawa) and then saw that his treatise of fiqh (risalaye amaliyyah) was printed. After a long time he heard the loudspeakers in the mosque of Kufa announce, “The grand Ayatullah al-Khui has passed away”. When the vision was over, Ayt. Qadhi turned to Ayt. Khui and said, “This was your life, from now till your death. You have a good future; now you may go.”
Ayatullah Nasiri Dawlat Abadi  relates that his teacher, Marhum Ayatullah Shaykh Abbas Quchani narrated the following incident to him:
In Najaf al-Ashraf, we used to have special sittings with Marhum Qadhi. Usually the participants would inform each other about the gatherings and we all used to know one another. In one such gathering, I suddenly saw a young Sayyid enter the room. Marhum Qadhi interrupted his discussion with us and showed great respect to the young Sayyid who had just entered and then said to him, “Agha Sayyid Ruhullah! Do not hesitate to stand firm against the tyrant rulers and unjust governments. You must resist them, you must oppose their ignorance!”
This was a time when there was not even a whisper about any revolution in Iran. Marhum Quchani used to say, “We were all very surprised that day at this conversation, but after many years, when the Islamic revolution happened, we understood what Marhum Qadhi had been referring to on that day and why he had shown such great respect to Ayatullah Khumayni.”
Ayatullah Khumayni would often remember this great scholar. He once said, “When it came to (understanding) the deep and lofty meanings of tawhid, Qadhi was a mountain.”
Source: “Karamaat-e Ma’nawi” - “Spiritual Miracles” p9 &10. Translated AJ/071205.