Sayyid 'Abd al-A'la Sabziwari

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Sayyid 'Abd al-A'la Sabziwari
Personal Information
Full NameSayyid 'Abd al-A'la Musawi Sabziwari
BirthDhu l-Hijja 18, 1328/December 21, 1910
ResidenceSabzevar, Mashhad, Najaf
DeathSafar 27, 1414/August 16, 1993
Burial PlaceNajaf
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsMuhammad Husayn Na'iniAqa Diya' 'IraqiMuhammad Husayn Gharawi IsfahaniSayyid Abu l-Hasan IsfahaniShaykh 'Abbas Qummi'Abd Allah Mamaqani

Sayyid ʿAbd al-Aʿla Mūsawī Sabziwārī (Persian:سید عبدالأعلی موسوی سبزواری) (b. 1328/1910 - d. 1414/1993) was the Shi'a Marja' and exegete of 15th/20th century. After the demise of Ayatollah Khoei he became the head of the seminary of Najaf for a short period. The book Mawahib al-Rahman fi tafsir al-Qur'an in Qur'anic exegesis and Muhadhdhab al-ahkam fi bayan al-halal wa al-haram in fiqh are among his prominent works. Some believe that he was poisoned and martyred by Ba'ath regime.

His Childhood

Sayyid 'Abd al-A'la was born in Sabzevar on Dhu l-Hijja 18, 1328/December 21, 1910, coincided with Eid al-Ghadir. Until the age of 14, he continued his primary education in Islamic studies and Arabic and learned basics in Arabic literature, fiqh, Usul, etc. under his father and also his uncle, Ayatollah Sayyid 'Abd Allah Burhan (d. 1384/1964-5).

His Education

In 1342/1923-4, he went to Mashhad and there he benefited from great scholars such as 'Abd al-Jawad Adib Nayshaburi (d. 1344/1926), Mirza 'Askar Shahidi, known as Aqa Buzurg Hakim (d. 1354/1935-6), Sayyid Muhammad 'Assar Lawasani (d. 1356/1937) and Ali Akbar Nahawandi (d. 1369/1950).

After eight years staying in Mashhad, Sabziwari went to Najaf to complete his lessons in jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, philosophy, exegesis and other Islamic sciences and there he attended the classes of great Ayatollahs such as Na'ini (d. 1355/1936), Aqa Diya' 'Iraqi (d. 1361/1942), Muhammad Husayn Gharawi Isfahani (d. 1361/1942), Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani (d. 1365/1946) and Aqa Sayyid Husayn Badkube'i (d. 1358/1939) and others.

He learned exegesis of the Qur'an, way of debating and theology through participating in exegesis sessions of Muhammad Jawad al-Balaghi. He also received permission for hadith transmission and accreditation for Ijtihad from 'Allama Mamaqani (d. 1351/1933), Shaykh 'Abbas Qumi (d. 1359/1941) and his other teachers and while he was only 36 year old, he began teaching advanced level of jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence in 1365/1945-6.


After the demise of Ayatollah Khoei in 1413/1992, Ayatollah Sabziwari became the Marja' of Shi'as, and also the head of the seminary of Najaf. But his Marja'iyya period was short and he passed away in safar 27 of 1414/ August 16, 1993.

His Personality and Political Characteristics

About personality and characteristics of Ayatollah Sabziwari, they have said that he was humble, patient, a man of few words, and constantly saying Dhikr. He had memorized the Qur'an. He had a role in political and social activities of Iran and Iraq and supported the Islamic revolution of Iran and its leader, Imam Khomeini. He was beside Imam Khomeini when he was in Najaf. For different times, he closed his class for attracting attention of the seminary of Najaf to the events of the Islamic revolution and at the time of the Iranian Islamic Republic referendum, in April 1979, he issued a message about it.

He was also a supporter of the people of Iraq and issued a fatwa in support of the 1991 uprisings. He never compromised with Ba'ath regime of Iraq. His house was besieged several times and Ba'ath regime made some restrictions for him.

He also lead socail and propatation activities such as sendig expert deligations into Euroup, North America, and Asian and Arabic counteries, and his vast plan for reconstructing Sahla Mosque and great mosque of Kufa.


Sayyid 'Abd al-A'la Sabziwari passed away in Najaf on Monday, Safar 27, 1414/August 16, 1993, in the eve of the demise of the Prophet (s) and the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (a). Some believe that he was poisoned and martyred by Ba'ath regime.

Because of the restrictions imposed by Ba'th regime, his funeral was held only by five people of his family and he was buried in the mosque he taught in and was held congregational prayer.

His Works

The following are among his works:

  • Mawahib al-Rahman fi tafsir al-Qur'an: the author organized the book in 30 volumes and so far 12 volumes of it have been published, however the rest of the volumes have not been published. This commentary is in Arabic.
  • Muhadhdhab al-ahkam fi bayan al-halal wa al-haram this book is on Twelver Shi'a fiqh and consists of a complete course of demonstrative jurisprudence in 30 volumes and has been published by Matba'at al-Adab in Najaf in 1982.
  • Tahdhib al-usul: a course on Usul al-fiqh in compact form but fluent which is published in two volumes.
  • Lubab al-ma'arif: On theology and defending Shi'a beliefs and among the first works of Ayatollah Sabziwari which has been compiled in two volumes in Arabic.
  • Ifadat al-bari fi naqd ma allafah al-Hakim al-Sabziwari: this book is a criticism of the philosophical works of Hakim Mulla Hadi Sabziwari (d. 1289/1872).
  • Rafd al-fudul 'an 'ilm al-usul
  • Minhaj al-salihin which is a book on fiqh.
  • Manasik al-hajj
  • Risala Tawdih al-masa'il which is written in Persian.