In the Presence of “Allamah M.T. Ja’fari”

Paper presented on the occasion of the thirteenth anniversary of Allamah Ja’fari’s demise.

First of all, let me thank the organizers of this August meeting for all their efforts to come up with such a gathering on the occasion of the thirteenth anniversary of demise of Allamah Ja’fari, peace be upon him.

In view of my long association with Allamah Ja’fari, I would like to share with you some of my impressions and experiences with him, as Mowlavi says:

For the sake of long communion               Recount some of your memories

But let me explain first that this is not the first time I am presenting my thoughts and recollections of Allamah Ja’fari’s life and way of living.

The list of my other presentations, articles, and interviews include:

  1. A Review of Allamah Ja’fari’s thoughts and works (Study Center for Islamic Culture and Thought, Feb. 2000).
  2. Civilization from the point of view of Allamah Ja’fari (Ettela’at Newspaper, Oct. 2000).
  3. Human Dignity from the point of view of Allamah Ja’fari (Third Seminar of the Islamic World and Japan, Tehran, Dec. 2004).
  4. Science and Religion from the point of view of three contemporary scholars: Allamah Ja’fari, Dr. Dinani, Dr. Golshani (Tehran, May 2005).
  5. Moral Conduct of Allamah Ja’fari, paper presented on the occasion of honoring Dr. Abbass Sharifi Tehrani (Iranian Academy of Sciences, Oct. 2010).
  6. Scholarly conduct of Allamah Ja’fari’s, paper presented on the occasion of honoring Dr. Mehdi Golshani (Iranian Academy of Sciences, Jan. 2011).
  7. Philosophical thoughts of Allamah Ja’fari, paper presented at the Congress of Islamic thought and Contemporary World, (Research Center for Culture and Humanitarian Sciences, June. 2011).

In most of these papers, I have not tried to discuss novel philosophical, Jurisprudential, scientific and other new ideas of lates Allamah Ja’fari, although those subjects deserve attention as well, but rather tried to demonstrate how Allamah Ja’fari became such a renowned clergy and scholar, and what we can learn from his social, ethical and moral conduct?

In our discussion about the scholarly conduct of Allamah Ja’fari, we touched upon such topics as addressing the young / university students generation, enjoying a highly academic-scientific spirit, establishing proper links between religious and academic seminaries, studying new (non-religious) disciplines, maintaining a balanced attitude vis-à-vis science and religion, being familiar with the Western thought and inspirations, liberal-mindedness, tolerating others’ views, academic-legal bravery, and other traits, and in discussing Allamah’s moral conduct we addressed some other issues such as sincerity in action, humbleness, refraining from unnecessary dispute and hostility, tolerance and moderation, living an ascetic life, inattention towards everything mundane and this-worldly, piety, working for God, untiring scholarly endeavour, paying attention to “rational life” or “Hayat-e ma’qul”, strong interest in the Holy Quran and Mathnawi, etc.

On this occasion, we would like to elaborate some other scholarly-moral characteristics of Allamah Ja’fari, traits which, along with his very high intelligence and excellent memory, and also being blessed by very renowned teachers and masters such as grand Ayatullah Khoei and Ayatullah Shaikh Morteza Taleghani, enabled him to enjoy such an unprecedented popularity and respect among Iranians at large.

Following is a short list of these characteristics:

  1. Balanced Personality

Human beings have two existential dimensions, corporeal and spiritual, one looking towards God the creator, and the other looking towards the fellow men created. Allamah Ja’fari’s pattern of life was such that he had managed to keep a balance between these two domains or dimensions of his existence. He paid as much attention to God as to the servants of God. He was as dedicated to piety, asceticism, and worship as to his family and social life and service to others. While living in this word, he was also caring about his destiny in the world after; and while caring about the other world, he was also careful about his worldly obligations and duties, not “neglecting his share of this world”[2].


  1. Evading Cruelty and Oppression

We all know that in the Holy Qur’an the main condition for attaining eternal salvation is said to be refraining from any cruelty and injustice[3]. Allamah Ja’fari was a person who lived among us long, both under Pahlavi and Islamic regimes, attended all sorts of classes, lectures, tribunes, and massive gatherings, yet never inclined towards any unjust or wrongful acts and deeds whatsoever:

“Those familiar with the path of Love, Diversed in this deep ocean, yet not touching any sins.”

  1. Love and Compassion

Allamah Ja’fari, like his grand master, the holy Prophet of Islam (P.b.u.h.), was full of “rahmat” (mercy)[4] and “mahabbat”[5] (compassion). To the best of my knowledge, he was kind and full of compassion towards all around him, especially young clergy and students who attended his classes or public lectures.


  1. True Pietism

Holy Qur’an asks all believers to heed God the way he should be heeded[6], so that God will provide them an easy way out of their day to day problems and difficulties[7].

In my judgment, Allamah Ja’fari was truly such a person, since neither in my close to forty years association with him nor after his passing away, I have not encountered any person attributing the slightest impiety or insincerity to him, though such a negative characteristic is noticed in many scholars and even clergies nowadays.


  1. Renouncing the World

Who is not aware of the fact that “حب الدنيا راس كل خطيئة” (loving the world is the prime cause of all wrongdoings)? On the other hand, who is so brave and insighted that can renounce the world completely? It required such great personalities like Imam Ali who publicly says “ما لعلی و لنعیم یفنی و لذۀ لا یبقی” (what Ali has to do with a pleasure which will end and is not sustainable)[8]. Allamah Ja’fari, like his beloved leader Imam Ali, quite bravely and honouredly, paved this path and left the world and its material attractions to those attached to it, and led himself and his pupils a life of devotion and sacrifice for continual perfection and exaltation towards God.


  1. Self-Possession and Dignity

In my life-long association with Allamah Ja’fari, I do not recall a single example of him criticizing the others unjustly or improperly, let alone insulting or condemning them. He was absolutely self-possessed and quite honest and unbiased in all his judgments and assessments of others, a point also noticed by Dr. Reza Davari Ardakani, President of the Iranian Academy of Sciences, who once told me that, all over his life, he had encountered only two persons who never ill-spooked of the others, one of them was Allamah Ja’fari and the other Allamah Tabatabaie, the author of Al-Mizan.


  1. Evading Popularity

But is requires a very special personality that one really evades or eludes popularity and tries to live a life of relative anonymity and obscurity. The love for popularity and chairmanship is inherent in everybody’s mind and heart. But Allamah Ja’fari had extinguished such a passion in his heart and tried to live a life totally dedicated to the cause of God and service to fellow men.

Certainly, seeking popularity leads to hypocrisy and pseudo-austerity, thus spoiling one’s intention and action,  Allamah Ja’fari was totally devoid of such negative attributes.


  1. Teaching and Learning

Allamah Ja’fari’s scholarly enthusiasm saw no limit or barrier. He was never tired of so much teaching and learning, so much reading, writing, and educating the others. All over the year, at home and in journey, in sorrow and happiness, on the occasion of feasts & holidays, he was always busy with some sort of scholarly activity, as if he had learned from his sheikh and sage.

  1. Pursuing Divine Straight Path

Allamah Ja’fari was a straightforward man never engaging in any flatteries activities. He was so full of need towards God that never felt any need towards anybody else. That is why he never joined any social, political, and even religious party or gathering, to the extent that he even refrained from joining Theological Faculty of Tehran University, in spite of Shahid Motahhari’s advice to do so. It is worth mentioning that, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, late Imam Khomeini offered him the job of head of judiciary system, but he asked the permission of Imam not to accept Imam’s gracious offer and continue his then academic activities.


  1. Prefect Wisdom

According to a Prophetic tradition: “من اخلص لله اربعين صباحاً جرت ينابيع الحكمه من قلبه علي لسانه” (whoever purifies himself for God for forty days, springs of wisdom will flow from his heart to his tongue)[9]. Allamah Ja’fari was undoubtedly one of these persons. A close friend once asked me if I have researched Allamah Ja’fari’s noble ideas in his Nahj ul-Balaqa and Mathnavi commentaries. My answer was that, from the point of view of being true advice and guidelines, all of Ja’faris’ comments and commentaries are always noble to me.


  1. Mystical conduct

Those familiar with the seminary background of Allamah Ja’fari know that he, except for a year and half discipleship near Shaikh Morteza Taleghani, had not engaged himself in any long-term mystical / ascetic practices under the supervision of a grand master or Pir, a task pursued by Imam Khomeini under the guidance of Ayatullah Mirza Javad Agha Maleki Tabrizi and Ayatullah Shahabadi, by Allamah Tabatabaie under the supervision of Seyyed Ali Agha Ghasi, and by Ayatullah Motahhari under the guidance of Imam Khomeini and Allamah Tabatabaie. Yet, in view of his sincere efforts in the path of Shari’ah, he had enjoyed some high spiritual gifts including close familiarity with, and devotion to, some renounced men of God, the details of which I leave for some other occasion.


  1. Producing two master works

The list of Allamah Ja’fari’s publications includes about fifty titles and hundred volumes. Apart from his glossary on Mathnawi which was first publishes about forty years ago when there was not such a widespread utilization of computers, his commentaries on Nahj ul-Balaqa (28 volumes) and Mathnawi (16 thick volumes) each look like a vast ocean of philosophical, social, legal, jurisprudential and mystical materials worth a life-long effort to review and fully comprehend.

Also, writing volumes commentaries on two seemingly opposite books, one on the zenith of Shari’ah and the other on the peak of Tariqah, seems quite astonishing.

Let us hope that God will help us all to pursue his exemplary way of life and to benefit, to the best of our ability, his scholarly heritage.


[2]. Holy Qur’an 28/77.

[3]. Holy Qur’an 6/82.

[4]. Holy Qur’an 21/107.

[5]. Referring to Imam Baqir’s saying “هل الدين الاّ الحب”, Khisal-e Shaikh Sadug, p. 42.

[6]. Holy Qur’an 3/102.

[7]. Holy Qur’an 65/2-4.

[8]. Nahj ul-Balaqa 215/7.

[9]. Behar ul-Anwar 67/249.

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