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Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Bahjat

A Photographer Took 30 Photos of Ayatollah Bahjat, but it Was all White Print!

He did not like to be known as a mystic and avoided the use of mystical words. He even did not allow us to take pictures of him. Once, a photographer came with an expensive camera and told me, “let me take a photo of him.” Then he took 20, 30 pictures, but when he went to print them, all the photos were white!

May 17th is Anniversary of Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Behjat’s demise, a man who was a symbol of conduct, asceticism, spirituality, morality and any kind of good ethics. A great Marja’[1] that many still have not known him as he deserves.

In an interview with Haj Shaikh Ali, the son of Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Behjat, we tried to get a better understanding of him. Following, there is an interesting interview.

Before putting any question, we would like to know, in which character do you remember your father?

In response to you, I must say that the silent and laconic character which were existed in him from the beginning. Ayatollah Ala’i, who was in the same age of my Late father and was his classmate in Najaf, interviewed in 1996 and said, “During our time in seminary, sometimes we were going to Behjat’s room to visit him and gain advantage from his knowledge. He was always busy. We were talking to each other for half an hour, but he was not saying even a word that it was too heavy for us that were in the same age.”

Once we complained to Mr. Qazi that how much we talk about everything, he does not give us even a word. Mr. Qazi said, “He replies you with his silence that if you want to reach somewhere, you should learn to stay silent! … He was often silent on the trip too, thinking and reciting Dhikr[2]. In the way, although he was younger than all, everyone trusted and followed him.”

The family environment and atmosphere were certainly very influential in these trends. He was born and raised in a religious family in Fuman. It was quoted that when his mother wanted to go to the mosque, she used to recite Sura Yasin and finished it until he reached the mosque! His mother was a devout worshipper. She was Sayyida[3]. After the death of our grandmother, our grandfather married, but it was my aunt who took over most of my father’s affairs. He said, “Once I was asleep, I felt that someone was hitting on my feet! I got up and saw it was my father. I asked, “why do you hit me?” He replied, “your feet are toward the Qur’an!” my father was talking about his uncle, Mirza Mohammad Ali, who had a pure soul and sometimes was saying some words that there was a little possibility to happen, but they would have happened!

What was the reason that he chose to study in Karbala at first?

The first reason was that his uncle was a resident of Karbala. Moreover, apparently at the early levels of the Seminary, the Karbala’s professors were better. Furthermore, Karbala climate was better and more tolerable than Najaf. He said, “Karbala was good for the primary educational studies.” The late Ayatollah Sayyid Abolqasem Khoei was among his good professors in Karbala who had taught successive courses. My father said that I had a classmate in Karbala who was familiar with Occult sciences. Once Ayatollah Khoei told me: Ask your classmate that if I will have a child from my new marriage? I asked him then he went and came after a few days and said, “He will have a son in Ramadan!” I asked, “Who did you ask?” He said that he asked those who are serving the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (p.b.u.h). They knew Sayyid Abolqasem Khoi and they said, “He is the one who always wants permission to enter; he enters the shrine, recites Dua, and then goes to pray over the head place. They realize that many times everyone visits how.” I asked him about myself, “Ask them if I will become a mujtahid or not?” He replied, “If you go to Najaf, yes!”

Please mention his professors in Najaf too.

The late Ayatollah Shahroudi was his master in Rasa’el and some of Kefaya. He studied Makaseb in the presence of Ayatollah Millani and the rest of Kefaya in the presence of Ayatollah Khoei.[4]

When did he finally achieve the level of Ijtihad?

He himself did not talk about it and he never aimed for these things let alone say that he is a Marja’ or A’lam[5], but my father’s friends, including Mr. Fahri, quoted some stories of him. He said, “One day I asked him to teach me. I waited for him a long time, but he did not come out of his room! I went to his room, opened the door and asked him, “Why don’t you come out?” He said, “The Professor told me that since now, Taqlid is forbidden (Haram) to me. I am taking note of things that concerned me, to write my own opinion about them and to understand what should I do. That’s why I stopped other works.” I think in that time he was about 25 or 26 years old.

Did he learn the regular seminary lessons in the classes of the late Allama Qazi?

My Late father said that Allama Qazi had told him to take the jurisprudence course with him. He did it and he started his course by reading the Salaat book, but when he read the narrations about prayers, he was extremely distressed by reading them and he cried a lot. My father said, “I asked myself whether these lessons are Fiqh or Mysticism (Irfan)? And after I attended one session of his course, I didn’t attend the rest of the sessions anymore! However, I deeply regretted that why I didn’t attend the Fiqh course of Allama Qazi.”

Who were the classmates of the late Grand Ayatollah Bahjat at the spiritual sessions of Allama Qazi?

Allama Tabataba’i, Mirza Ali Akbar Marandi, Mr. Elahi, Ayatollah Khorasani, Sheikh Aboulfazl Najafi Khansari, Mirza Ibrahim Sharifi Sistani, Sheikh Ali Muhammad Borojerdi, and Mr. Quchani that my father introduced them to Ayatollah Qazi. Apparently, my father and Mr. Quchani accompanied Ayatollah Qazi to the places where he used to go for praying, including Sahla Mosque. Sometimes, the late Mr. Hakim was attending that sessions too.

Please mention some other of his professors.

The late Ayatollah Naini. My father said, “Before he started to preech and whenever he wanted to teach, he was reciting Dhikr! Apparently, most of the time he recited Sura Yasin. Also, he benefited morally from attending to Sheikh Morteza Taleqani’s classes. He always was saying regretfully, “The blessings were as much that we couldn’t even imagine we will reach where we are now that everyone denies the spiritual matters. It is like a storm that came and ruined everything!”

The late Ayatollah Bahjat never consider himself as the one who has Kerama[6], but others strongly believe that he had. Do you remember any story of him about this?

Yes. As you mentioned, my Late father extremely avoided that someone knows about these virtues and Karamat[7]. He couldn’t endeavor that others suffer a pain or any difficulty. He used to ask others to be patient and pray for everyone.

Sometimes others blamed being Sufi on him. What was his reaction?

My Late father was really suffering from this accusation, yet he did not react. It was one of the reasons that he denied his Karamat and his ability to foresee the future. Besides, the satirists never stopped spreading such lies!

Among the great scholars and masters, for whom did he regard more and why?

The late father used to remind his teachers and pray for them. The late Na’ini was renowned for his A’lamiat[8]. The Late father said that he was wonderful in spirituality too. He also said about the Late Shaykh Murtada Taleghani that he was honest and unassuming, and had extraordinary states. He admired the scientific accuracy of the late Gharavi Isfahani. In Literature, he owed himself to the late Khoei. Most of the time, he referred to the unusual worship of the late Shaykh Mohammad Hossein Gharavi and said that besides teaching, he did not leave reciting Surah Ghadr for a thousand times a day, Ziyara Ashura and also his night prayers. He trusted the Late Mr. Ghazi deeply. In the case of Mu’hi al-Din al-Arabi, he believed that he was very likely to be Shi’a. He suggested the books Ahya al-‘Ulum written by al-Ghazāli and Ahyah al-‘Ahya by Feyz to study. He said that it has not been carried out a foundamental work in the field of theoretical mysticism and one should comment himself; it requires that the individual himself reaches those authorities, because mysticism is a matter of perception not Taqlid and reading others’ opinion is useless. He did not like to be known as a mystic and avoided the use of mystical words. He even did not allow us to take pictures of him. Once, a photographer came with an expensive camera and told me, “let me take a photo of him.” Then he took 20, 30 pictures, but when he went to print them, all the photos were white!

Now do you dream about him?

No, but others dream about him and bring me messages that your father has told to do this and not to that! He conveys his messages accurately through others, even after his demise.

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Reference

[1]Marjaʿ (Arabic: المرجع; literally: authority to which one refers) is a jurist and religious scholar whose edicts (fatwas) about jurisprudential issues are followed and acted upon by a group of Shi’a and to whom his followers give their religious taxes and fines.

[2]Dhikr (Arabic: ذِكْر) is mentioning something or someone by the heart and by the tongue and in religious terminology, it refers to remembering God.

[3]Sayyida (سیّده) A female from prophet Mohamed descendants

[4]Rasa’el, Kefaya and Makaseb are names of some books which are taught in Seminary.

[5]A’lam, The supreme level of Marja’iat

[6]Kerama, the practice of rituals sometimes seen as magical in nature, by practicing religious deeds

[7]Karamat, pl. form of Karama

[8] The state of being A’lam

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