Akhund Khorasani saw in a dream that he had reached a house. When the door of the house was opened, he entered it and saw the Prophet (s.a) and the Imams (a.s) seated in a group. After he greeted them, the Imam e Zamana (a.s) asked him softly to be seated near him. After a while Mohammed Taqi Majlisi arrived there carrying a bottle of rose water in his hand. He first sprinkled the rose water on the hand of the Prophet (s.a) and the Imams (a.s). Then he also sprinkled the rose water on the hands of Akhund Khorasani. Then Mohammed Taqi Majlisi walked out of the room. After some moments he returned back to the room carrying a new-born babe in his arms. He sat in front of the Prophet (s.a) and said, “O Prophet (s.a)! Please pray for this child that he propagates the Faith among the people!” The Prophet (s.a) held the cloth covering the babe and offered a prayer. Then he handed the baby to Hazrat Amir al Momineen (a.s) and asked him to pray for him. Then all the Imams (a.s) took hold of the babe, in turn, and prayed for him. When the Imam e Zamana (a.s) prayed for the baby, he handed him over to Akhund Khorasani and asked him to offer a prayer for the baby.
Akhund Khorasani was in the process of praying when he awoke from his dream! The fragrance of the rose water still lingered in his nostrils and the prayers of the Infallibles (a.s) were echoing in his ears and his eyes still had their holy images in them! The love for his dear friend, Mulla Mohammed Taqi Majlisi, enhanced in his heart that Allah had bestowed on him the invaluable pearl that had been blessed by the Prophet (s.a) and the Imams (a.s). Akhund Khorasani was on his way home after the Ziarats in Iraq. He wanted first to visit Mashad Muqadddas and then go to Isfahan where lived Majlisi. He wanted to meet him and see for himself the new arrival in his friend’s.family. The little caravan in which Akhund Khorasani traveled reached the environs of Isfahan City. He saw on the horizon the minarets of the mosques, the gardens, the bridges one after the other. Even now lingered the fragrance of the essences applied on his apparel during his visits to the mausolia of the Imams (a.s). He was now in the city which was famous those days for its elegance and architectural excellence and places of learning! No sooner he reached the threshold of Taqi Majlisi’s house, he came out with open arms to welcome his dear friend!
Taqi Majlisi took him to the guest room respectfully, exchanged pleasantries for some time, went out for a while and returned with a bottle of rose-water in his hands! He sprinkled the rose water on Akhund Khorasani’s hand, went out of the room and returned with a babe in his arms! He put the baby in the lap of Akhund Khorasani and told him that it was born the same day and requested him to pray to Allah that the new arrival earned a name as a propagater of the Faith of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s)! After offering a prayer for the baby, Akhund Khorasani related his dream to Taqi Majlisi. He asked him to give the child the best of upbringing and education. He said that the child had arrived with the blessings of the Prophet (s.a) and the Imams (a.s). Taqi Majlisi’s affection for the baby increased manifold after hearing of the dream and told him that he had brought this gift from the mausolia of the great Imams (a.s)!
The first sound that the child heard was the Adhaan-the Muslim Call for Prayer! Then he was under the direct tutelage of his mother who herself came from a learned family. His father had great love for the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) and he named the child as Mohammed Baqir! He asked the mother to feed her milk to the child with great care of purity. In an environment of the meetings of the mourning of the Martyrs of Karbala, Mohammed Baqir grew on the lap of his loving mother. He got the company of his mother who was a lady of high piety and the instruction from his erudite father.
Mohammed Baqir grew in the laps of ladies who were learned in the norms of the Faith. His elder sister, Amina Begum, was so erudite in religious learning that her husband, Mulla Saleh Mazandarani, himself a scholar of repute, used to take her advice on matters of Fiqh! Mohammed Baqir’s grand mother was known for her contentment, simplicity and piety!
THE PIETY OF ALLAMA MAJLISI’S PARENTS
Mulla Mohammed Baqir Majlisi’s grand-father, Mulla Maqsood Ali, had once to travel out of Isfahan. Before he set out on his journey he took Baqir Majlisi’s father and uncle to the Grand-Cleric Mulla Abd Allah Shustari that in his absence the children took instructions from him. During the stay with Ustad Shustari the time for the Idd arrived. The mentor gave 3 Toomans to Majlisi’s father to meet the expenses for the Idd. He returned the money, thanking him, and said, “I cannot accept any money and spend it without the permission of my mother!” When he reached home and sought his mother’s permission, she said, “Your father’s total income is 14 Ghazbegi (the currency in use those days).and we make the ends meet with what he earns! If we change this habit, we may have to spread our hand in front of your mentor and others for our needs! This I wouldn’t like to do!” When Mulla Mohammed Taqi told the reason for returning the money to his mentor, he appreciated the spirit of contentment of his mother and offered a prayer for her.
Mohammed Baqir’s father was a man of high piety. He experienced spiritual dreams many a time and he thought that it was Ilham (Inspiration). He himself has said that one night, after Tahajjud Prayers, he felt that whatever he wished for at that time, Allah would bestow it on him! He also started pondering whether he should wish for any worldly favor or for spiritual advancement in the hereafter! At that moment he heard the cries of Mohammed Baqir from the cradle and he prayed:“O Allah!For the sake of Mohammed (s.a) andAle Mohammed (a.s),make this child the propagater of the Faith and bestow him with all Your Blessings!”
The humility of Mohammed Baqir’s father and the open doors of his abode for the people encouraged everyone to visit him for resolution of their problems. Mohammed Baqir used to be on the side of his father most of the times. Besides receiving instruction in Religion, he used to listen intently to the discussions his father had with the visitors on their problems. He retained in his strong memory the learned solutions for the problems that his father suggested to his visitors. He is on record saying:
“One day a person came panting with fear written large on his face. He said that the previous night he saw a white tiger in his dream which had a black cobra entwining its neck. Both the beasts wanted to attack and kill him. Mohammed Baqir’s father asked him if he had eaten cheese with the juice of pomegranate the previous night. When the man replied in the affirmative, he told him that it was the effect of those things that he had a bad dream!”
Mohammed Baqir’s father spent all his life in intensive prayer, battling with his psyche, propagation of the Hadit (the Sayings of the Infallibles) and resolving the problems of the needy. With his efforts awareness of the traditions of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) was created in the Shia populace. He wasn’t adopting the life of a recluse limiting himself to the Mosque and the library. He mingled with the people and spoke with them with great humility and affection. He gave a patient ear to people of different schools of thought. He defended the Shia beliefs and guided the people. The little Mohammed Baqir was a constant companion of his father and at that tender age learnt the art of dealing with the people.
MULLA MOHAMMED TAQI ‘S INVITATION FOR VIRTUE- AN INCIDENT
Allama Majlisi is himself on record saying that a friend came to complain that a neighbor was having carousals of drinking and merry making with a group of persons the whole night. Mulla Mohammed Taqi Majlisi asked the complainant to invite that person and his group for a dinner that night. He said that he too would join the party. The person went and met the leader of the group who accepted the invitation. The man expressed surprise why he was joining their group? The host didn’t say anything further, went home and started preparations for the party.
In the evening Mulla Mohammed Taqi Majlisi arrived ahead of the guests and took his seat. When the guests came in, saw the Mulla, they were surprised. The chief of the group was taken aback seeing the spiritual person there. He wanted to make effort to send him out as soon as possible. Therefore he told to Mulla Taqi, “Tell me! Your habits are good or what we do is good?!” Mulla Mohammed Taqi replied in a very soft tone, “It will be good if everyone of us talks about his personal habits! Then we shall arrive at a decision whose habits are better!” The chief was surprised at the soft approach of Mulla Taqi because he was expecting a terse rebuff from him. He just said, “It will be nice!” After a few moments of silence he added, “One of our habits is that when we eat someone’s salt, we never betray the person nor do we cheat him!” Making good use of the opportunity Mulla Mohammed Taqi said, “What you have said now I don’t accept!” The chief reiterated, “This is one of the cardinal principles of our group!” Mulla Taqi stared at him with his spiritual eyes, kept quiet for a while, and said, “You have been eating Allah’s salt all your life!” These words of Mulla Taqi were like throwing cold water on the group’s pride and rebellious nature. Their heads were bent down in remorse. Quiet descended on the entire gathering. One person after the other went out quietly. The host saw all the proceedings and he experienced a shiver in his spine! He went near Mulla Taqi and said, “What happened isn’t good!” Mulla Taqi asked him to be patient and see what happens next. After a while Mulla Taqi too returned home. Early morning, the next day, someone knocked at the door of Mulla Taqi’s home. When he opened the door he found the chief of the group in front of him. The person greeted him and said that what the Mulla told him in the evening made him think! He said that he went home, took a bath of cleanliness, and expressed repentance for his past sins! He said that he was now with the Mulla to take instructions on the norms of the Faith. Mulla Mohammed Taqi smiled, welcomed him and suitably entertained him!
ALLAMA MAJLISI’S CHILDHOOD.
The call of the Muezzin from the minaret of the Mosque used to wake up the child early in the morning! He experienced an environment that had the fragrance of virtue and righteousness. He cultivated the habit of reading and held the pen with his delicate fingers at a very early age. He used to do some doodling with words as if at that tender age he was restless to do something great!
Allama Majlisi started taking lessons from his father at the early age of 4 years. At that age he had a clear understanding of Allah. He knew about the Heaven and the Hell. He started offering Namaz e Shab (The Late Night Prayers) and went to the congregation for the morning prayers to the mosque! He started advicing the children of his age group on the norms of the Faith that he learnt during his lessons. His efforts had the full support of his two elder siblings, Mulla Aziz and Mulla Abd Allah. He had, at his home, the erudite company of his sister’s spouse, Mulla Swaleh Mazandarani and his sister Amina Begum who was herself an erudite scholar! But the burden of imparting good education and upbringing to the brilliant child rested on the shoulders of his learned father.
Allama Majlisi’s father, Mulla Mohammed Taqi Majlisi was the first person who started the noble task of propagating the traditions of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) soon after the establishment of the Safavid Dynasty in Iran. He was collecting and compiling the traditions of the Infallibles (a.s). In such an environment Mohammed Baqir felt and continued with the urge to pursue this noble task! The time passed and the viccisitudes of time didn’t deter him from his determination. Very soon his name was well known in the scholastic circles. Having voluminous tomes in his hand he would go from one mentor to another in his search for knowledge. He got the blessings of the mentors who were themselves the ardent lovers of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s).
Within a short time he acquired a very high level of learning and his face radiated brilliance and erudition in early youth. Whoever saw him predicted a bright future for him. His erudition was of such a high caliber that at the tender age of 14 years he was awarded an Ijaza (certificate of Proficiency) by the great philosopher Mulla Sadra. Then he received instruction from the great scholars Allama Hassan Ali Shustari, Amr Mohammed Momin Astarabadi, Mirza e Jazairi, Sheik Hur al Amili, Mulla Mohsin Astarabadi, Mulla Mohsin Faiz Kashani and Mulla Saleh Mazandarani. The thrist for knowledge had made him restless. Wherever he found an erudite Mujtahid he would wholeheartedly become his disciple. He benefited from the instructions of more than 21 mentors. He was thus preparing himself to make a mark as a scholar of high caliber!
LEARNING AND TEACHING
In a very short time he acquired leraning in grammar, oratory, principles of Fiqh and other related disciplines. His thirst for knowledge was proverbial. In very early youth he was in the first echelon of the teachers in the Seminary (Hauza e Ilmia). Going to the pulpit, he would give his talks in a very pleasant style with effective examples and precepts. The students used to feel as if the teacher has experience of long years of teaching! His Ijtehad brought seekers of knowledge to the Hauza e Ilmia Isfahan. Isfahan, those days, was the center of Shia learning. The students who came to Isfahan desired to attach themselves to his class. Mohammed Baqir used to lead the prayer in the congregation at the Madrasa e Abd Allah. After his father passed away, Mohammed Baqir started leading the prayes at the Masjid e Jameh and also started giving lessons to the students at the same place. The number of his disciples used to touch a thousand many a time. Sayed Nemat Alla Jazairi too had come to Hauza e Ilmia Isfahan, along with his friends, in search of knowledge. He said that although Mohammed Baqir was a youth those days,he had acquired such leraning in different disciplines that no eminent scholar of the time had achieved his level of learning. His talks at the Masjid Jameh Isfahan used to be in such eloquent style that he, Al Jazairi, the matter studied by him with difficulty in the night, used to become crystal clear with the explanations given by Mohammed Baqir.
His hospitality and manners were so exemplary that many senior persons used to visit his classes to impress on the young students about his caliber of learning and instruction. Sheik Mohammed Fazil, who himself conducted classes, used to attend lessons with Allama Majlisi and give a practical demonstration of humility to the students. Allama Majlisi was so humble in his attitude that he used to tell him that he derived more benefit from the company of Mohammed Fazil than he could derive by attending his lessons!
Allama Majlisi had a keen sense of philosophy and his attitude in imparting lessons was that he discussed the beliefs of different schools of thought and negated their beliefs with strong proofs and arguments. His example was like a brilliant lamp on the pulpit and his students a group of glow worms! During one of the sessions, after praising the Prophet (s.a) Allama Majlisi discussed about the Firqa e Dahria (the Atheist Sect). He gave some arguments in support of the sect. There was a loud protest from the students saying that what he said was an endorsement of the veracity of the sect! The students got up and wanted to walk out of the class in protest. Everyone was in rapt attention to hear the reaction of the Allama. He said in a very quiet, affectionate tone, “Please be calm and listen to the refutation of the arguments that I enumerated in support of the sect! You may decide your course of action thereafter.” The students however were adamant. They left the class. Allama Majlisi was taken aback and called off the class!
This incident put the Allama under the shadow of worry and sadness. He was searching some light to come out of the gloom. He thought that he ventured into philosophical thoughts without quenching his thirst for the love of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s). The result was that he was forced out of the precincts of the mosque. This experiment he had done during his youth instead of narrating the traditions of the Prophet (s.a) and other Infallibles (a.s). He was warned about such things by his own father and Mulla Mohsin Faiz Kashani. But this personal experience opened his eyes.
From that day Allama Majlisi adopted the way of his mentor, Mulla Mohsin faiz Kashani. Instead of indulging in discussion of philosophy and logic he addressed his energies towards the traditions of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s). He took steps to include the Kutub e Arba (The Four Books) in his curriculum for teaching. He wrote commentary on “Usool e Kaafi” and since his father has done one on “Man laa Yahdar al Faqih”, he didn’t attempt a commentary on the book. For writing a commentary on “Istebsaar” he deputed one of his disciples for the work. Allama created the interest for studying the traditions and to preserve the four great books for the posterity he encouraged his students to study them and fully copy the four books. As an incentive he offered awards for them. The students, therefore, were very enthusiastically studying and writing the four books. The Allama used to write an Ijaza (Certificate) at the end of each copy written by his disciples. The spiritual people considered it a great honor to possess a copy with Allama’s certification. This practice resulted in people giving greater care in preserving the copies of the books for the posterity.
Allama thought that instruction in Kutub e Arba and other valuable books viz: Irshad e Mufeed, Qawaed Allama, Sahifa e Sajjadia was very important. He knew that reading these books and understanding them was the best way of conserving those treasures for the posterity. He knew that thousands of books on Shia learning had been consigned to the flames by the enemies and thousands of small booklets on the sayings of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) were lying in the nooks and corners of Arabia with the lovers of the Ahl al Bayt(a .s). On the other hand there was the animosity that the Sunnis had for the followers of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) that they were making all the efforts to destroy their invaluable literature. There was also the fear of the two strong Sunni Realms that were making skirmishes to destroy the Shia Safavid Dynasty of Iran. There was also the likelihood of the Sufi Cult gaining ascendancy in the Iranian court that would encourage Tahreef (Tampering) of the texts of the traditions of the Infallibles (a.s). Disinterest of the students in the study of the traditions too was an important negative factor. The Allama used to think that the widely scattered pearls of the wisdom of the Infallibles (a.s) must be put together. Thus came about his monumental work—“Bahar al Anwaar-The Oceans of Light” This is not only a great text book for the students of Shia Faith and history but it is of great benefit to other seekers of knowledge a
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