|Birth||Mihrjird, Yazd, 1276/1859-60|
|Studied in||Ardakan, Yazd, Karbala, Samarra, Najaf|
|Death||Dhu l-Qa'da 17, 1355/January 29, 1937 in Qom|
|Burial Place||Shrine of Lady Ma'suma (a)|
|Professors||Al-Akhund al-Khurasani, Mirza Husayn Nuri, Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi|
|Students||Sayyid Sadr al-Din al-Sadr, Mirza Hashim Amuli, Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini and ....|
|Foundation of Qom Seminary, Evolution of the learning methods in Shi'a Seminary|
Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Ḥāʾirī Yazdī (Persian: شیخ عبدالكریم حائری یزدی) (b. 1276/1859-60- d. 1355/1937) was a Shi'a marja' and the founder of the Islamic seminary of Qom which was under his leadership from 1340/1922 till his demise.
He studied for many years in the seminaries of Samarra, Karbala, and Najaf. In 1914-5, he returned to Iran and was in charge of the Seminary of Arak. Upon the invitation of scholars, he migrated to Qom in 1921-2, established the Qom seminary, and stayed in charge until his demise.
As the head of the seminary, he always looked for an organized program for having a more prominent advanced Shi'a Seminary. Evolution of the learning methods in Hawza, specialization of jurisprudence, widening the scope of students' knowledge, even learning other languages, and in short, training mujtahids and scholars were among his main plans.
He avoided taking the responsibility of marja'iyya. After the demise of Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi in 1337/1918-9, he rejected the invitation to travel to al-'Atabat al-Muqaddasa and become marja', claiming that his duty was staying in Iran. As his reputation grew, he was chosen as a marja' by a great deal of Iranians and non-Iranians.
He was reluctant to participate in political issues, and even in the disputes over Persian Constitutional Revolution, he did not take sides. But due to his social status, he was forced to play a more active role in politics. He objected to Kashf-e Hijab, and thus until his demise, tensions mounted between him and Reza Shah.
Some of his students, including Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini, Muhammad 'Ali Araki, Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpaygani, Sayyid Kazim Shari'atmadari, and Sayyid Ahmad Khwansari became marja's in the following years. He was always looking to provide comfort and convenience for people. He established Sahamiyya Hospital and supported the building of Fatimi Hospital in Qom to help the public services.
Birth and Lineage
Education in Iran
His aunt's husband, Mir Abu ja'far found 'Abd al-Karim highly talented and thus took him back to his hometown Ardakan when he was a child and placed him in a traditional religious school (Maktab). He soon lost his father and had to stay with his mother in Mihrjird for a while. He then moved Yazd and took up residence at Muhammad Taqi Khan seminary also known as Khan seminary. He started his formal Islamic studies by learning Arabic literature from scholars namely Sayyid Husayn Wamiq and Sayyid Yahya Buzurg known as Mujtahid-i Yazdi.
Migration to Iraq
To continue his studies, he migrated to Iraq with his mother in 1880-1. He first went to Karbala for about two years to gain the basic knowledge of jurisprudence and its principles under the supervision of Fadil Ardakani. Then he left Karbala for Samarra to gain knowledge from Mirza Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi.
His educational course in Samarra' lasted about 12 years (1882-3-1894-5). He spent the first two years finishing high-level studies of jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence under Shaykh Fadl Allah Nuri, Mirza Ibrahim Mahallati Shirazi and Mirza Mahdi Shirazi. Later on, he joined the classes of some leading contemporary teachers, such as Sayyid Muhammad Fisharaki and Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, and attended the classes of Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi for a period of time. He was granted ijaza (permission) for narrating hadith by Mirza Husayn Nuri.
Sayyid Muhammad Fisharaki and Ha'iri moved to Najaf some months after the demise of al-Sayyid Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi, where Ha'iri took part in the classes of Fisharaki and al-Akhund al-Khurasani. He also took care of his teacher, Fisharaki in the last years of his life.
Return to Iran
Travel to Iraq
He again attended al-Akhund al-Khurasani and al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi's classes. Within a short period, he traveled to Karbala to avoid disputes among the proponents and opponents of Mashruta.
Hai'iri stayed in Karbala for 8 years which gave him the title "Ha'iri" (Karbalaeis who live in al-Ha'ir al-Husayni). To indicate his neutrality in the Mashruta debate, he began teaching a book by Al-Akhund al-Khurasani (a pro-Mashruta figure) and a book by Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi (an anti–Mashruta figure).
Second return to Iran
Ha'iri received many invitations from Arak to return while he was in Karbala. Finally in 1914-5 he went back to Arak and spent 8 years teaching jurisprudence and its principles in addition to running the hawza.
After the demise of al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi, Ha'iri received a letter from Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi in which he was asked to come back to Najaf to be the grand marja' but he refused, replying that it's his duty to stay in Iran. He showed concern over Iran's circumstances and Iranian intellectual degeneration in the same letter.
Establishing the Seminary of Qom
On his way to Mashhad in 1918-9, he stayed in the city of Qom for a few days where he got familiar with the conditions of the hawza over there. Following the invitation from some of the scholars in Qom as well as visiting Lady Ma'suma's shrine he again traveled to Qom in 1921. Scholars and people of Qom embraced him with their warm hospitality, asking him to take residence there. He seemed hesitant at first but eventually with the insistence of Muhammad Taqi Bafqi and after performing an istikhara (seeking guidance from God) he decided to settle in the holy city of Qom. The decision led to the formation of the hawza of Qom which is why he was later called "Ayatollah-i Mu'assis" (the founder Ayatollah).
Many of Ha'iri's students such as Sayyid Ahmad Khwansari, Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini, Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpayigani, and Muhammad 'Ali Araki transferred to the hawza of Qom along with Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Khwansari who already accompanied him.
Following the popularity of Qom Seminary, many teachers and students from different parts came to Qom and hence the number of students reached 1000.
Ha'iri not only didn't show interest in becoming the marja', but also, he escaped it by leaving Iraq, however many people who looked for a marja' after the demise of Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi and Shaykh al-Shari'a al-Isfahani and Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi emulated him within 1918-9-1920-1 while he was in Arak.
Ha'iri was inspired by Mirza Shirazi in teaching and used Samarra School's methods. In this approach, students are asked to come up with opinions after introducing the topic, different views, and arguments. In the end, the teacher comes to a conclusion considering all the opinions around the issue. Finally, he would instead let the students challenge the decision.
Ha'iri would also bring up the next day's topic beforehand so the students could study the lesson before the class. He believed discussions of the principles of jurisprudence should become both brief and practical. Thus he tried to keep in mind the idea while authoring his book Durar al-usul. He also managed to teach a complete course of usul in only 4 years.
Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim al-Ha'iri benefited from many famous scholars, some of whom are as follows:
There were many scholars under Ha'iri, some of whom later reached Marja'iyya. The following are some of his students:
- 'Ali Akbar Kashani
- Mustafa Kishmiri
- Ahmad Mazandarani
- Sayyid Sadr al-Din al-Sadr
- Mirza Hashim Amuli
- Muhammad 'Ali Araki
- Sayyid Ahmad Husayni Zanjani
- Sayyid Ruhullah Khomeini
- Sayyid Ahmad Khwansari
- Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Khwansari
- Sayyid Muhammad Damad
- Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Rafi'i Qazwini
- Sayyid Kazim Shari'atmadari
- Sayyid Kazim Gulpaygani
- Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpaygani
- Mulla 'Ali Ma'sumi Hamadani
- Sayyid Shahab al-Din Mar'ashi Najafi
Evolution of the Methods in Hawza
The main responsibility of Ha'iri was running the newly established Hawza in Qom, and he would see it as his most primal duty. This attitude had an impact on his social and political life. Given that he was familiar with the great Hawza in Najaf, Samarra, and Karbala, he knew the advantages and drawbacks of the leadership of each Hawza. With the help of his experience in Hawza of Arak, he always looked for an organized program for having more prominent and advanced Hawza. The evolution of the learning methods in Hawza, specializing in different sections of jurisprudence, widening the scope of students' knowledge and even learning other languages, and training mujtahids and scholars were among his main plans.
There are many examples in Ha'iri's life to prove his disinterest in politics. His resignation from political activities, shocking to some and drawing solid reactions, arose from his temperament rather than his expediency.
He did not involve in a political scene before coming to Qom either. For instance, a number of scholars left Najaf and Karbala for Kazimayn in 1912 (which coincided with Ha'iri's arrival in Karbala) and stayed there for about three months to protest against foreign invaders. Historical sources mentioned the names of great scholars who participated in the event, such as Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, Shaykh al-Shari'a al-Isfahani, al-Na'ini, Sayyid Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani, and Aqa Diya' al-Iraqi. However, there needs to be proof of Ha'iri's participation. Therefore Ha'iri and his teacher Fisharaki can be considered among the scholars who were not only active in political affairs but rather escaped political controversies.
Due to his social position, he had to deal with political affairs in the last years of his life . The most crucial challenge in those years was his relationship with Reza Shah (founder of the Pahlavi dynasty). They had a relatively positive relationship when Reza Shah was a brigadier general. When Rida Khan came to power, their relationship was not negative nor positive. But when Reza Shah began the controversial policy of Kashf-i Hijab (strictly enforced the ban on observation of the Hijab by women) in 1936 to the end of Ha'iri's life (1937), tensions mounted between him and Reza Shah.
Following that policy, Ha'iri sent a telegram to Reza Shah in July 1935, declaring the present state of affairs against Shari'a and vigorously demanding the prevention of ongoing conditions. Hence, he broke his relations with Reza Shah and was placed under high surveillance.
Some believe Ha'iri's endeavor to protect the Hawza was the most important reason to avoid coming to the political scene and confronting the Iranian government in some political incidents. In their views, Ha'iri consciously and wisely didn't interfere in governmental affairs because he thought opposing Shah's decisions could only lead to the disbandment of the Hawza. Therefore, with the help of his wisdom, foresight, and patience, he managed to protect not only Hawza but Shi'ism in Iran.
Ha'iri only authored a few but invaluable books considering his positions during his residence in Qom. They are listed in five categories:
- Books: He authored five books; Durar al-Fawa'id, Kitab al-Nikah, Kitab al-Rida', Kitab al-Mawarith, and Kitab al-Salat
- Commentary on jurisprudential books: Commentary on al-'Urwat al-wuthqa by Al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi and Anis al-Tujjar by Muhammad Mahdi Naraqi
- Writing lectures of his teachers: He wrote note lectures of Fisharaki on usul
- Lectures: These books are written and revised by his students out of his speeches, such as Risalat al-ijtihad wa l-taqlid, Kitab al-bay' and Kitab al-tijara, all by Muhammad 'Ali Araki and also note lectures by Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpaygani and Mirza Mahmud Ashtiyani
- Manuals of Islamic law and Fatwas, such as Dhakhirat al-ma'ad, Majma' al-ahkam, Majma' al-masa'il, Muntakhab al-rasa'il, Wasilat al-najat, and Manasik-i Haj.
Al-Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri was friendly, pleasant, and reasonable without histrionic gestures or hypocrisy. He was meticulous about using the money given to him as Islamic tax ( e.g., Khums and Zakat). His asceticism and simplicity were exemplary throughout his life.
He had exceptional attention to the students of Hawza and resolved their problems. He would sometimes personally visit students in their dormitories and rooms to learn about their educational progress and encourage the dedicated ones.
He loved the Ahl al-Bayt (a), and he used to recite elegy in the mourning ceremonies of Muharram when he was young in Samarra. He established the tradition of mourning for Lady Fatima (a) from the 1st to the 3rd Jumada II in Iran. He promoted mourning sessions rather than Ta'ziya rituals and tried to stop the narration of illegitimate narrations in mourning ceremonies.
Ha'iri passed away on Dhu l-Qa'da 17, 1355 (January 29, 1937) after 15 years of residence in Qom. There was a superb turnout for his funeral despite the government restrictions. Ayatollah Sayyid Sadiq Qummi performed his funeral prayer, and he was buried in Balasar Mosque in the Holy Shrine of Lady al-Ma'suma (a).
- The position of being marja'
- Bāmdād, Sharḥ-i ḥāl-i rijāl-i Iran dar qarn-i 12 wa 13 wa 14 Hijrī, vol. 2, p. 275.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 13-14.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 20-21.
- Mursalwand, Zindigīnāma-yi rijāl wa mashāhir-i Iran, vol. 3, p. 59.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 23-24.
- Hāʾirī Yazdī, Sirr-i dilbarān, p. 80, 82.
- Hāʾirī Yazdī, Sirr-i dilbarān, p. 87-88; p. 93-94
- Muʿallim Habibābādī, Makārim al-āthār dar aḥwāl-i rijāl-i du qarn-i 13 wa 14 Hijrʿ, vol. 6, p. 2118.
- Sharīf Rāzī, Ganjīni-yi dānishmandān, vol. 1, p. 283-284.
- Ustādī, Yādnāmi-yi hazrat-i Ayatollāh al-ʿuzmā Arākī, p. 51.
- Hāʾirī Yazdī, Sirr-i dilbarān, p. 39; p. 87-88.
- Ustādī, Yādnāmi-yi hazrat-i Ayatollāh al-ʿuzmā Arākī, p. 44-51.
- Muḥaqqiq Dāmād, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, p. 43-44; Ṣadrāʾi Khoeʾī, Ayatollāh Arākī; yek qarn wārastigī, p. 17; Nīkūburish, Barrasī-yi ʿamalkard-i sīyāsī-yi Āyatullāh Ḥāj Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Hāʾirī, p. 46-47; Bāmdād, Sharḥ-i ḥāl-i rijāl-i Iran dar qarn-i 12 wa 13 wa 14 Hijrī, vol. 2, p. 275.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 55.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, pp. 55-56.
- Ṣafwat Tabrīzī, Zindigīnāmi-yi Āyatullāh Ḥāj Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Hāʾirī, p. 73.
- Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Ṭabaqāt aʿlām al-Shīʿa, part 3, p. 1164; Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 56; Ṣadrāʾi Khoeʾī, Ayatollāh Arākī; yek qarn wārastigī, pp.17-18
- Sharīf Rāzī, Ganjīna-yi dānishmandān, vol. 1, p. 286.
- Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Ṭabaqāt aʿlām al-Shīʿa, part 3, p. 1159; Fayd Qumi, Ganjini-yi athar-i Qom, vol.1, pp.331-334; Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 58-59.
- Ustādī, Yādnāmi-yi hazrat-i Ayatollāh al-ʿuzmā Arākī, p. 54-64.
- Interview with Ayatollah Tabasi, Hawza Magazine, Issue 34, 1368 SH.
- Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Ṭabaqāt aʿlām al-Shīʿa, part 3, p. p. 1160-1161; Ṣafwat Tabrīzī, Zindigīnāmi-yi Āyatullāh Ḥāj Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Hāʾirī, p. 77.
- Ustādī, Yādnāmi-yi hazrat-i Ayatollāh al-ʿuzmā Arākī, p. 77-78.
- Muṣṭawfī, Sharḥ-i zindigānī-yi man'', vol. 3, p. 601; Hāʾirī Yazdī, Sirr-i dilbarān, p. 18, 76.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 74-75; Muḥaqqiq Dāmād, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, p. 50-55.
- Hāʾirī Yazdī, Sirr-i dilbarān, p. 39, 80, 82, 87.
- Sharīf Rāzī, Ganjīni-yi dānishmandān, vol. 1, p. 59, 87, 88.
- Ḥusaynī Zanjānī, al-Kalām yajurr al-kalām, vol. 1, p. 124; Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 47; Muḥaqqiq Dāmād, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, p. 67, 68, 87, 88, 92.
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- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 103-105.
- Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 2, p. 453; vol. 20, p. 15; vol. 22, p. 405-406; vol. 25, p. 87.
- Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 4, p. 378.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 105.
- Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 2, p. 453; vol. 20, p. 15; vol. 22, p. 405-406; vol. 25, p. 87.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 52-54; Muḥaqqiq Dāmād, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, p. 47-48.
- Iṭṭilāʿāt newspaper, 1310 Sh, Farvardin 30-31.
- Muḥaqqiq Dāmād, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, p. 41-42.
- Karīmī Jahrumī, Ayatullāh-i Muʾassis, p. 48-50; Raḍawī, Āyatullāh Ḥāj Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Hāʾirī wa sāmān dādan bi tablīqāt-i dīnī p. 151-154.
- Fayyāḍī, Zindigīnāma wa shakhṣīyyat-i ijtimāʿī siyāsī-yi Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Hāʾirī, p. 114-115.
- Ḥusaynī Zanjānī, al-Kalām yajurr al-kalām, vol. 1, p. 107; Amīnī, Murūrī bar zindigī-yi Āyatullāh Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Hāʾirī, p. 20, 36-37.
- Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Muḥammad Muḥsin. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa. Edited by ʿAlī Naqī Munzawī and Aḥmad Munzawī. Beirut: 1403 AH.
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- Bāmdād, Mahdī. Sharḥ-i ḥāl-i rijāl-i Iran dar qarn-i 12 wa 13 wa 14 Hijrī. Tehran: Zawwār, 1347 SH.
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- Hāʾirī, ʿAbd al-Ḥusayn. Interview with ʿAbd al-Ḥusayn Hāʾirī. Ḥawzah, issue 125, 1383 Sh.
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- Iṭṭilāʿāt newspaper.
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- Muʿallim Habibābādī, Muḥammad ʿAlī. Makārim al-āthār dar aḥwāl-i rijāl-i du qarn-i 13 wa 14 Hijrʿ. volume 6. Isfahan: Anjuman-i kitābkhāna-hā-yi ʿumūmī-yi Isfahan, 1364 SH.
- Muḥaqqiq Dāmād, Muṣṭafā. Interview with Hawzah Magazine. issue 125, 1383 SH.
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- Nizām al-Dīn Zāda, Sayyid Ḥasan. Hujūm-i Rūs wa iqdāmdāt-i ruʾasā-yi dīn barāyi ḥifz-i Iran. Edited by Naṣr Allāh Ṣāliḥī, Tehran: 1377 SH.
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- Sharīf Rāzī, Muḥammad. Ganjīni-yi dānishmandān. Tehran: 1352-1354 SH.
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- Ṣadrāʾi Khoeʾī, ʿAlī. Ayatollāh Arākī; yek qarn wārastigī. Tehran: Amīr Kabīr, 1382 SH.
- Ṭabasī, Najm al-Dīn. Interview with Hawzah Magazine. issue 34, 1368 SH.
- Ustādī, Riḍā. Yādnāmi-yi hazrat-i Ayatollāh al-ʿuzmā Arākī. Arak: 1375 SH.