Al-Shaykh Murtada al-Ansari
The commemorative stamp depicting al-Shaykh al-Ansari
|Full Name||Murtada b. Muhammad Amin al-Ansari al-Dizfuli|
|Epithet||Khatam al-fuqaha wa l-mujtahidin|
|Well-Known As||Al-Shaykh al-Ansari, al-Shaykh al-A'zam|
|Lineage||A descendant of Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari|
|Place of Birth||Dezful|
|Studied in||Dezful, Najaf|
|Burial Place||Holy Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a), Najaf|
|Professors||Al-Shaykh Husayn al-Ansari, al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Mujahid, Mulla Ahmad Naraqi, ...|
|Students||Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi, Ja'far Shushtari, Habib Allah Rashti, al-Sayyid Husayn Kuhkamara'i, ...|
|Works||Fara'id al-usul, Al-Makasib al-Muharrama, ...|
|His innovations moved usul and fiqh to a new level|
Al-Shaykh Murtaḍā b. Muḥammad Amīn al-Anṣārī (Arabic: الشیخ مرتضی الأنصاري) (b. 1214/1800 - d. 1281/1864) known as al-Shaykh al-Ansārī and al-Shyakh al-Aʿzam was a notable Shi'a scholar in the 13th/19th century. After Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi he became the general marja' of Shi'as.
He was titled "Khatam al-fuqaha wa al-mujtahidin" (the seal of jurists and mujtahids). He was famous for being accurate and having profound thoughts. He moved usul and consequently fiqh, to a new phase by means of his new doctrines. His famous books, al-Rasa'il and al-Makasib, are taught to seminary students of usul and fiqh. Most of the scholars after him, are his followers. After al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, al-'Allama al-Hilli, and al-Shahid al-Awwal, al-Shaykh al-Ansari is the only one whose books were taken into considerations so highly that religious scholars wrote many commentaries and glosses on his books.
Birth and Lineage
Murtada, the son of Muhammad Amin, was born in Eid al-Ghadir, Dhu l-Hijja 18, 1214/May 13, 1800 in Dezful, Iran. Because the day of birth, his parents named him Murtada. His lineage goes back to Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari, who was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (s).
Muhammad Amin (d. 1248/1832), Murtada's father, was one of the pious scholars. His mother was the daughter of Shaykh Ya'qub, the son of Shaykh Ahmad b. Shams al-Din al-Ansari. She was well-known for her worship and piety; she continued her midnight prayer until her demise. When she became blind, al-Shaykh al-Ansari helped her, so she would be able to perform her prayers.
Before the birth of al-Shaykh al-Ansari, her mother had a dream in which Imam al-Sadiq (a) gave a gilded Qur'an to her. Oneirocritics told her about a pious and renowned child. It's said, she always tried to suckle him with wudu. She passed away in 1279/1862 in Najaf.
Al-Shaykh al-Ansari started learning theology and Qur'an in his childhood. After learning Arabic literature and Qur'an, he started learning fiqh and usul from his cousin, al-Shaykh Husayn al-Ansari; he became an expert in both in his young ages. When he was about 20 years old, al-Shaykh al-Ansari and his father traveled to Iraq. Al-'Allama al-Mujahid asked him to stay in Karbala, so he accepted it.
He attended classes of al-'Allama al-Mujahid and Sharif al-'Ulama' and learned a great deal of knowledge from them for four years. After the governor of Baghdad attacked Karbala, he immigrated to Iran. After a year, he came back to Karbala and continued learning from his teachers. Then he moved to Najaf and stayed there to learn from al-Shaykh Musa Kashif al-Ghita'. Later he moved to Iran.
In Iran, at first he went to Kashan to learn from Mulla Ahmad Naraqi for three or four years. In that time he visited Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Shafti in Isfahan. Finally, al-Shaykh al-Ansari went to Najaf to study under al-Shaykh 'Ali Kashif al-Ghita' in 1249/1833-4. He learned a great deal of knowledge from grand Muslim scholars in his lifetime.
Al-Shaykh al-Ansari learned from different teachers including:
- Shaykh Husayn Ansari Dizfuli, his cousin (until he was 17 years old).
- Al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Mujahid (student of al-Wahid al-Bihbahani) from 18 to 20 years old.
- Sharif al-'Ulama' al-Mazandarani
- Mulla Ahmad Naraqi (author of Mustanad al-Shi'a) four years in Kashan
- Al-Shaykh Musa Kashif al-Ghita' (one year)
- Al-Shaykh 'Ali Kashif al-Ghita' (for five years)
- Al-Shaykh Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi (author of Jawahir al-kalam) for a short time.
The number of students who learned from al-Shaykh al-Ansari is uncertain; it's said they were between 500 to 3000 students, including:
- Mirza Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi (who issued a fatwa on disallowing tobacco)
- Shaykh Ja'far Shushtari
- Mirza Habib Allah Rashti
- Sayyid Husayn Kuhkamara'i
- Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Mamaqani
- Sayyid 'Abd al-Karim Lahiji
- Muhammad Baqir Najafi
- Shaykh Muhammad Kazim Khurasani (author of Kifayat al-usul)
- Mulla Husayn Quli Hamadani
- Mirza Husayn Khalili Tihrani
- Fadil Sharbiyani
- Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi
- Mirza Abu Talib Zanjani
- Sayyid Abu l-Qasim Khwansari
- Sayyid Muhammad Ibrahim Bihbahani
- Mulla Qurban 'Ali Zanjani
- Mirza Muhammad Ashtiyani
- Rida Hamadani
After al-Shaykh 'Ali Kashif al-Ghita', al-Shaykh Hasan Kashif al-Ghita', and al-Shaykh Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi, al-Shaykh Murtada al-Ansari became the head of Najaf seminary from 1266/1849 to 1281/1864.
Al-Shaykh Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi was the general marja' (religious authority) of Shi'a from 1262/1845. In 1266/1849, in the last days of his life in a gathering of Shi'a scholars, while pointing at al-Shaykh al-Ansari, he said: "He is your marja' after me".
Ethical Characteristics and God-Wariness
It's said, after al-Sayyid Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi named him his successor in marja'iyya, he refused to accept it and said Sa'id al-'Ulama' is currently superior to me. Thus, al-Shaykh al-Ansari wrote a letter to him and informed him about his marja'iyya. Sa'id al-'Ulama' replied and mentioned al-Shaykh al-Ansari's activities in the domain of knowledge and his superiority. Finally, al-Shaykh al-Ansari accepted marja'iyya.
Reverence to Mother
When al-Shaykh al-Ansari returned to Iran from Iraq, he decided to travel to different cities in order to learn from other scholars. But because his mother had missed him, she did not allow al-Shaykh al-Ansari to continue his travels. Therefore, al-Shaykh al-Ansari delayed his travels to honor his mother's request. His mother decided to do istikhara from Qur'an; here is the verse:
- We revealed to Moses' mother, [saying], 'Nurse him; then, when you fear for him, cast him into the river, and do not fear or grieve, for We will restore him to you and make him one of the apostles.' (Quran 28:7)
Afterward, her heart found rest and she let her son go on his travels.
Although al-Shaykh al-Ansari was the general marja' of Shi'a Muslims and around 40 million people paid their khums and zakat to him, he had a simple, ascetic and humble life, he spent all of the money for Islamic seminary and helping the poor. Many stories are narrated about his austere life.
He did not leave any bequest to his family, so his relatives were unable to pay for his funeral ceremonies expenses. At last, an affluent person accepted to pay for the funeral ceremonies.
- Fara'id al-usul (known as al-Rasa'il)
- Al-Makasib al-Muharrama (knwon as al-Makasib)
- Kitab al-salat (book of prayer)
- Kitab al-tahara
- A treatise on taqiyya
- A treatise on rida'
- A treatise on qada for the dead
- A treatise on righteousness
- A treatise on musahira
- A treaties on the principle of la darar wa la dirar (not to harm and not to be harmed)
- A treaties on khums
- A treaties on zakat
- A treaties on the interruption of prayer
- A treaties on heritage (irth)
- A treaties on tayammum
- A treaties on the principle of tolerance
- A treaties on the authority of hadith
- A treaties on qur'a
- A treaties on taqlid
- A treaties on certainty
- A treaties on doubt
- A treaties on hajj Rituals
- A treaties on asalat al-bara'a
- A treaties on istishab
- A gloss on Najat al-'ibad (the manual of Islamic law)
- A gloss on 'Awa'id al-ayyam for Mulla Ahmad Naraqi
- A gloss on Bughyat al-talib
- Ithbat al-tasamuh fi adillat al-sunan (The proof for the tolerance in the hadiths regarding the supererogatory deeds)
- Al-Ta'adul wa al-tarajih
- The material for this article is mainly taken from شیخ مرتضی انصاری in Farsi WikiShia.