Muhammad Taqi Bahjat

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Muhammad Taqi Bahjat (Persian: محمدتقی بهجت) (1334-1430 A.H./ 1295-1388 S.H./ 1916-2009) was a Shiite authority (marja') and a contemporary mystic. He was born in 1295 S.H. (1916). He went to Karbala to study Islamic disciplines in 1348 A.H. (1929), and then in 1352 A.H. (1933) he went to Najaf. After a while he went back to Iran in 1363 A.H. (1943) and started teaching in the Islamic Seminary of Qum. Ayatollah Bahjat was a pupil of Sayyid 'Ali Qadi and was known among people and scholars for his piety. In 2009 he died in the Wali 'Asr (a) Hospital in Qum and was buried inside the Holy Shrine of Fatima al-Ma'suma (a).

Biography

Muhammad Taqi Bahjat was born in 1916 in a religious family in Fuman in Gilan province of Iran. He later turned the house in which he was born into an Islamic seminary school. When he was 16 months, Bahjat lost his mother and was brought up by his father. His father, Mahmud, made a living by making a sort of traditional cookie in Fuman.

Immigration to Iraq

After his preliminary studies in Fuman, Ayatollah Bahjat emigrated from his birthplace in 1348 A.H. (1929) and moved to Islamic seminaries in Iraq in order to study Islamic disciplines. He first resided in Karbala for four years.

In 1352 A.H. (1933) he migrated to Najaf to finish his intermediate studies of Islamic disciplines with prominent scholars there such as Ayatollah Shaykh Murtada Taliqani. After this, he started his advanced studies in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and usul al-fiqh as well as ethics and mysticism with prominent scholars and mystics in Najaf.

Return to Iran

After receiving permissions of ijtihad from his masters, Bahjat returned to Iran and stayed in Fuman for a few months in order to visit his family and relatives in 1363 A.H. (1943). During his sojourn in Gilan province, he travelled to different cities of the province to visit scholars. He then went to Qum in order to visit the Holy Shrine of Fatima al-Ma'suma (a) and learn about the Islamic seminary of Qum. He stayed in Qum for some months during which he heard about the death of his masters in Najaf one after one. Thus he decided to permanently stay in Qum where he became a marja' (a Shiite authority) years later.

Scholarly life

Teachers

Teachers at the seminary school of Najaf:

Teachers at the Islamic seminary of Qum:

Style of teaching

Ayatollah Bahjat's style of teaching was different from that of his contemporary scholars. According to 'Ali Akbar Mas'udi Khumayni, unlike other scholars who mentioned other scholars and then defended or criticized them, Bahjat never mentioned other scholars; he just mentioned their views. Thus a pupil needed to already know the views in the literature so that he could understand the scholar to whose view Ayatollah Bahjat was referring.

Pupils

  • Sadiq Ihsanbakhsh
  • Muhammad Ali Fayd Gilani
  • Ali Akbar Mas'udi Khumayni
  • Mahmud Amjad Kermanshahi
  • Muhammad Hadi Fiqhi
  • Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani

Writings

Ayatollah Bahjat wrote some works in fiqh and usul al-fiqh that have not yet been published. Some people suggested to Bahjat that they would fund for the publication of his works, but he replied: "there are still many manuscripts by early scholars that have not been published yet; you had rather fund for their publication. It is not too late for the publication of my works".

Bahjat started writing when he was young; he helped Shaykh 'Abbas al-Qumi in the writing of Safinat al-bihar. Much of the manuscript of this book is written by Ayatollah Bahjat.

Some published works:

  • Risala tawdih al-masa'il (the essay on the clarification of the questions—the collection of his fatwas in different parts of fiqh)
  • An essay on hajj rituals

Unpublished works:

  • Annotations on Shaykh Murtada Ansari's al-Makasib
  • Lectures of his masters in fiqh and usul al-fiqh.

Moral and mystical character

Since his teens, Muhammad Taqi Bahjat was attentive of mystical and moral issues. His conception of pure mysticism was in terms of submission to God. Some great scholars, such as 'Allama Tabataba'i, Sayyid Rida Baha al-Dini, Ayatollah Ali Quddusi, Hasan Zada Amuli, and 'Abdullah Jawadi Amuli, used to attend his congregational prayers, especially at Thursday nights. He cried out of piety in his prayers.

Until his death, he lived in an old house near the Fatimiyya mosque in Guzar Khan in Qum. Every morning after his morning prayers and near the sunrise, Bahjat went to the Holy Shrine of Fatima al-Ma'suma (a) and worshiped in Shahid Mutahhari mosque in the shrine.

Ayatollah Bahjat published his essay of fatwas very late. He had asked his friends to wait until other scholars published their fatwas. After that, if there were still people who did not want to follow those scholars and just wanted to follow Bahjat, then he would publish his fatwas.

From the viewpoint of other scholars

  • Imam Khomeini: "Mr. Bahjat has very distinguished spiritual positions. He has the power to voluntarily die".
  • 'Allama Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari (after citing a hadith according to which meeting religious scholars is loved by God 70 times more than tawaf of the Ka'ba): "One exemplar of this is Ayatollah Bahjat. Merely visiting him is like hearing a preachment. Whenever I visit him, I am spiritually impressed for some days".

Ethical instructions

Ayatollah Bahjat has given many ethical instructions which are focused more than anything else on performing religious obligations, avoiding religious prohibitions, and behaving in accordance with Islamic maxims.

Here are some of his instructions:

People who ask for preaching should be asked whether they have practiced the preachments they have heard so far. Do you know that if a person acts upon what they know, God will reveal to them what they do not know? Should the call to the right path be through the tongue? Are we not told to call to the right path with our actions?
If the kings of the world knew the pleasures in saying prayers, they would never indulge themselves in material affairs.

Political views

The Islamic government during the Major Occultation

Ayatollah Bahjat had important positive views about politics. With regard to governments during the period of the Major Occultation, he says that it is an obligation to create an Islamic government and we have the ability to administer the country. He emphasized the formation of an Islamic government during the Major Occultation, provided that all divine laws are performed, and are never suspended on pragmatic grounds. Unlike scholars who held that before the appearance of Imam Mahdi (a), social and political responsibilities of the Infallibles (a) should postponed, Bahjat believed that during the Major Occultation, Shiites should be politically active. Thus he considered it as an obligation for some believers to carry out such political tasks. His argument was based on the assumption that there are rational and religious reasons to the effect that Islam should remain alive until the Dooms Day, and no religion except Islam is accepted by God.

Ayatollah Bahjat and the 1979 Revolution

Though there is no trace of Ayatollah Bahjat in the documents regarding the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979, he was always a supporter of the Revolution and was influential on some clergies who joined the Revolution. In the early 1960s, he emphasized that Pahlavi was destroying the religion. One day someone asked him: "Is it not probable that Ayatollah Khomeini is being too radical against the Shah?" Bahjat replied: "Is it not probable that he is being too modest?" Muhammad Hadi Fiqhi says, when Ayatollah Khomeini went on exile, he said in his lectures: "Is there no one to kill these governmental authorities?" Moreover, he always had friendly relations with Imam Khomeini and exhibited good will to him and the Revolution.

Further readings

For more about Ayatollah Bahjat, see the following books:

  • Faryadgar-i tawhid (Caller to tawhid), compiled and published by the Research and Cultural Institute of Ahl al-Bayt (a)
  • Bargi az daftar-i 'arifan, sharh-i hal-i shaykh al-salikin hazrat ayatollah al-'uzma Bahjat (a sheet from the book of mystics; a biography of the Grand Ayatollah Bahjat) by Rida Baqizada.
  • Dar mahdar-i Bahjat (In the presence of Bahjat), by Muhammad Husayn Rukhshad
  • Bahjat-i 'arifan by Rida Baqizada.

Death

Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Bahjat died of a heart attack on Sunday afternoon, May 17, 2009 in Wali 'Asr (a) Hospital in Qum, and he was buried inside the Holy Shrine of Fatima al-Ma'suma (a).