: Biography of late Ayatollah Borujerdi

01-12-2009, 11:05 AM


Sayyid Hussain Tabatabaii Borujerdi, popularly known as Haaj Agha Hussain Borujerdi, son of Sayyid Ali, was born in the year 1292 A.H. (Lunar) in Borujerd, and passed away in the morning of Thursday, 12th Shawwal 1380 A.H./Lunar (10th Farvardin 1340 A.H./Solar) in Qum. He was a famous Faqeeh (Shiite Jurisprudent) and a great Marja (Chief Religious Authority) of the 14th century Hegira.


Ayatollah Borujerdi had his primary education in Borujerd. He then attended Noorbakhsh seminary in Borujerd where he completed his preliminary and intermediate Islamic education. From the year 1310 A.H. he pursued further the learning of Islamic sciences, including philosophy, in the city of Isfahan. In 1319 he attained the status of Ijtihad (competence for inference of Islamic decrees and precepts) at the age of 28 when he returned to his hometown, Borujerd. In 1320 A.H. he went to the holy city of Najaf, and completed his education by the year 1328.


He was taught religious sciences in Isfahan by great religious teachers like Sayyid Muhammad Baaqir Durcheyi, Mirza Abul-Maali Kalbasi, Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Mudarris and Sayyid Abul-Qasim Dehkordi. In Najaf, his teachers included Akhund Khorasani, Sayyid Muhammad Kazem Yazdi and Sheikh Shariat Isfahani. He was taught philosophy by renowned teachers such as Mullah Muhammad Kashi and Hakim Jahangir Khan Qashqaii in Isfahan as well

to be continued

01-12-2009, 11:11 AM
His Travels:
After completing his education in Najaf, Ayatollah Borujerdi returned to Borujerd in 1328 and took his residence there for several years. After years of residence in Borujerd, he traveled and lectured in different places. Wherever he went, he was graciously welcomed by local dignitaries and Ulema who requested him to hold teaching and discussion sessions. His travels are detailed below:

- Travel to Mashad in 1340, where he stayed for several months

- Travel to Qum on his way back from Mashad; his sojourn in these two cities lasted 1.5 years.

- Haj Pilgrimage in 1345; this travel was made through Iraq, where he stayed for four months in Najaf. There he was welcomed by distinguished Ulema including Grand Ayatollahs Mirzaye Naiini, Sayyid Abul-Hasan Isfahani, Agha Dhiyauddin Iraqi, and Sheikh Muhammad Hussain Isfahani. While returning from Haj and upon his arrival at the Iranian border with Iraq, he was arrested and taken to Tehran for the reason of participation in a gathering of Ulema in Najaf against Reza Shah (the incumbent king of Iran).

- After his release from detention he stayed in Tehran for nearly three months before proceeding to Mashad. After a stay of seven months in Mashad he returned to Borujerd.

- Towards the end of the year 1363 A.H./Lunar (1323 A.H./Solar) he traveled to Tehran for medical treatments. He was hospitalized in Firoozabadi Hospital in Shahre-Rey for nearly two months. After his discharge from the hospital in early 1364 A.H./Lunar (winter of 1323 A.H./Solar), he went to Qum and spent the rest of his life over there.

Travel to Mashad in the summer of 1324 (A.H./Solar) for a period of three months


In the winter of 1323 A.H./Solar, after leaving the hospital, Ayatollah Borujerdi arrived in Qum. Upon the request and insist of dignitaries and Ulema of Hawzah Ilmiyyah of Qum, Ayatullah Borujerdi agreed to undertake the overall responsibility for running the Qum Theological Center. At the same time many of the teachers and educators of Hawzah stopped their classes to pay respect to him as the prominent teacher of Hawzah.

Before long, his Muqallideen (followers of his decrees) increased in number. The demise of Ayatollah Sayyid Abul-Hasan Isfahani in 1325 A.H./Solar, and a few months later, demise of Ayatollah Haaj Agha Hussain Qummi, resulted in their Shiite followers turning to Ayatollah Borujerdi as their new Marjae Taqleed (Source of issuing Islamic Jurisprudential decrees). Thus, the chair of Marjaiyyat Aam (chief religious authority)
was taken by Ayatollah Borujerdi


to be continued

01-12-2009, 11:35 AM
Ayatollah Borujerdi had already become well known for his erudition, especially in the religious sciences, as evidenced by the acclaim he received in his travels to Mashad, Qum and Najaf.

While learning at Najaf, he himself taught the book Al-Fosul as well. In the branch of science known as Usule Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) he followed the views of Akhund Khorasani; and in his lectures on this subject, he tried to be brief and to make discussions easy and simplified. He was careful about proper understanding of the viewpoints of the past Shiite Jurisprudents whose decrees he collected and examined thoroughly and held in esteem, especially those of Hassan Ibne Abi Aquil Ummani and Muhammad Ibne Junaid Iskafi.

He believed that Traditions, Sayings, and Narrations of Shiite infallible Imams (A.S.) were best understood by referring to the narrations and decrees issued by Sunnite contemporaries of the Imams (A.S.), for in those days Sunnite decrees were prevailing, and even the disciples of the Holy Imams (A.S.) used to ask them their questions according to the decrees of Sunnite people, and the Imams also replied on the same basis. For this very reason, Ayatollah Borujerdi considered that reference to the Sunnite decrees, constituted a part of the prerequisite studies pertaining to Fiqh. He said: The earlier Shiite Jurisprudents were aware of the opposing views on problems. He added: The ancient scholars quoted Sunnite decrees in their books or in their lessons and subjected them to their critical evaluation. For this reason he initiated printing of Sheikh Tusis book entitled Al-Khilaf for the first time.

To infer Islamic precepts and decrees, Ayatollah Borujerdi relied more on a careful scrutiny to the Traditions/Narrations than on practicalities. With regard to different narrations which were all cited by a single narrator, Ayatollah Borujerdi juxtaposed them altogether, and most often this juxtaposition resulted in his conclusion that all of them were related to the same original Tradition or source, which had come to be interpreted and assimilated in various ways later by the succeeding narrators.


In addition to some monographs written by his students, writings of Ayatollah Borujerdi himself included the following:

1) Jame' Ahadith Ul-Shia (The Comprehensive Book of Shiite Traditions/Narrations)

2) An Encyclopedia that includes an index of narrators, as well as a bibliography
of writings on the subjects of Rijal and Hadith(Traditions) along with their documentations

3) Hashiah (Annotations) on the book Urwatul-Wuthqa

4) Hashiah (Annotations) on Sheikh Tusis Khilaf

5) Sharh (Explanatory Monograph) on the
book Kifayatul-Usul

to be continued

01-12-2009, 12:08 PM

During the days of Reza Shah, the Hawzah Ilmiyyah of Qum was weakened. After Ayatollah Borujerdi undertook the administration and management of the seminary, its power was restored.

The institution became self-supporting after the public increasingly reposed their confidence in and allegiance to him as Marjae Taqleed (their Jurisprudential advisor).

The administrative and educational improvements became evident. For instance, with regard to the matter of collection of Islamic taxes, all cases of appointments of individuals as proxies for this purpose were duly registered. Also all correspondence was recorded.

The number of students, which totaled some two thousand (2000) when Ayatollah Borujerdi took over, had trebled by the time of his death.

Specific improvements in the teaching system were also noticeable. Ayatollah Borujerdi was successful to set up a systematic curriculum in the Hawzah Ilmiyyah. Some teachers were appointed or nominated to be responsible for students tests. The students were requested to take the examinations, and their stipend payment was made conditional upon their participation in the exams. This requirement met with some formidable opposition, inasmuch as in Najaf, Ayatollah Istahbanati banned participation in such exams. Although a senior Ayatollah, Sayyid Abdul-Hadi Shirazi, supported the exams required by Ayatollah Borujerdi, due to the intension of oppositions, Ayatollah Borujerdi himself ordered the examination schedule in Najaf to be cancelled.

Ayatollah Borujerdi was interested in good handwriting and correct syntax in writing, to the extent that he wanted to include them in the syllabi for the purpose of the tests.

He encouraged diligent students, and thereby contributed to the growth of learning level at the seminary.

By publishing magazines like Lessons From The Islamic School, he provided opportunity for the accomplished individuals at Hawzah to express their own views and make them known inside the country or beyond the borders of Iran.

Among Ayatollah Borujerdis commendable initiatives is that of dispatching missionaries abroad in connection with Islamic propagation and educational activities. One of his envoys was Sheikh Muhaqqiq Rashti who went to Germany and was able to establish a grand, magnificent mosque in Hamburg