Al-Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi Bahr al-'Ulum
|Well-Known As||Bahr al-'Ulum|
|Religious Affiliation||Shia Islam|
|Place of Birth||Karbala|
|Residence||Karbala, Najaf, Mashhad|
|Studied in||Karbala, Najaf, Mashhad|
|Burial Place||Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a), Najaf, Iraq|
|Professors||Al-Shaykh Yusuf al-Bahrani, al-Wahid al-Bihbahani|
|Students||Al-Shaykh Ja'far Kashif al-Ghita', Al-Sayyid Jawad al-'Amili, Mulla Ahmad Naraqi|
|Works||Al-Masabih, Al-Durrat al-Najafiyya, ...|
It is repeatedly stated that he had visited the Imam al-Mahdi (a). Not only his contemporary scientists accepted this event but also later scholars confirmed it.
Birth and Lineage
Al-Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi b. Murtada al-Burujirdi al-Tabataba'i Bahr al-'Ulum was born in Karbala in Eid al-Fitr (Shawwal 1) of 1155/November 29, 1742. His father and ancestors were well-known scholars. The mother of his father was a descendant of Muhammad Taqi al-Majlisi, therefor Bahr al-'Ulum called the First Majlisi as his ancestor and Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi as his uncle.
He went to Mashhad in 1186/1772 and lived there for seven years and attended the classes and participate in different scientific sessions as well as he learned philosophy from Mirza Muhammad Mahdi Khurasani. His teacher, because of his extensive knowledge, called him Bahr al-'Ulum (ocean of knowledge). This title was not awarded to anyone else other than him until that time and his family inherited this title from him and they are bearing it now.
Al-Wahid al-Bihbahani was old, therefor, his class dismissed. On the advice of his teachers, Bahr al-'Ulum came back to Najaf then held a class. Bahr al-'Ulum went to hajj in 1193/1779 and held a class there, he taught four schools of jurisprudence as well as other beneficial activities. Many students attended his class held there.
He had many students and gave permission to narrate hadith to many, including:
General Religious Leadership
His moral courage and spirit of reconciliation between Muslim was cause of his collaboration with the great contemporary scholars on the performing of the social duties. Some of his social activities are mentioned in the following:
- He guided people to follow al-Shaykh Jafar al-Najafi in the affairs regarding the fatwa.
- He introduced al-Shaykh Muhyi al-Din to perform the judgment.
- He announced the appointment of al-Shaykh Husayn Najaf, the pious scholar and the Imam of congregational prayer of Masjid al-Hindi as the leadership of the congregational prayer.
- He encouraged his student al-Sayyid Javad al-'Amili –the author of the Miftah al-kirama- to compile the books including the writing his own teachings which was based on the book of al-Wafi written by Fayd Kashani.
- Bahr al-'Ulum himself managed the people's affairs as well as teaching jurisprudence and hadith.
Bahr al-'Ulum was not severe in his daily life and his generosity and loftiness of purpose was proverbial, so some scholars said that he had mystic tendencies. The effect of this tendencies would not be denied in some of his students and the scholars after his death. All of the contemporary scholars accepted that he had a great knowledge and piety, so al-Wahid al-Bihbahani, as his teacher because of possibility of lacking the ability of ijtihad in the last years of his life, asked him to express his opinion in jurisprudential problems.
It is repeatedly stated that he had visited the Imam al-Mahdi (a). It is worth mentioning that not only contemporary scholars but also latter day religious scholars did not deny this event.
Some of his works are as follows:
- Al-Durrat al-Najafiyya, in which the two parts of prayer and tahara of jurisprudence are written in poetic form.
- Mishkat al-hidaya, tahara chapter of al-Durrat al-Najafiyya in prose form.
- Al-Fawa'id al-rijalliyya, about famous Shia narrators, scholars, and families.
- Tuhfat al-kiram fi tarikh Makka wa l-Bayt al-Haram, about the naming, extent, map, and about the building history of Ka'ba and Mecca
- Collection of poem, with more than 1000 verses mostly about Ahl al-Bayt (a)
- The material for this article is mainly taken from سید محمد مهدی بحرالعلوم in Farsi Wikishia.