Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Qazi Tabtabaee
Sayyid al-Qadi was one of the most respected of the students of al-Hajj Mirza al-Khalili. He also studied in his presence the cultivation of manners. Sayyid al-Qadi was a Gnostic, a faqih, and a man of a great stature. He also had some miracles and revelations. Allama Sheikh Agha Buzurg al-Tehran wrote the following lines in his book Tabaqat A’lam al-Shi’a in his biography: “Sayyid Ali Agha Tabatabai Tabrizi al-Qadi, son of Mirza Husayn son of Mirza Ahmad son of Mirza Raheem, is a scholar, a mujtahid, a man of piety and asceticism. I befriended him and kept him company for scores of years, and I found stability in his style, youth in his nature and attributes, generosity in his own self and in his nature. He wrote an exegesis of the Qur’an which starts from the beginning of the Qur’an and ends with the ninety-second verse of Surat al-An’am: ‘Say: Allah, then leave them in their wading sporting'”.
Several of the top ranking ‘ulama and maraje of the last generation were his students, including: Grand Ayatullah Behjat (may Allah prolong his life), Grand Ayatullah Zanjani (may Allah prolong his life), Grand Ayatullah Khui (R.A.), Grand Ayatullah Najafi Mar’ashi (R.A.), Grand Ayatullah Hadi Milani (R.A.), Allamah Tabatabai (R.A.), Shahide Mehrab Ayatullah Dasteghayb (R.A.), Sayyid Hashim Haddad (R.A.) and many others.
Ayatullah Qadhi was a man of exceptional abilities – many times his illustrious students would describe their memories of the wondrous acts they witnessed in his blessed presence. The contemporary scholar and student of Ayatullah Khui, Ustad Fatimi Niya, relates the following incident:
In the days when Ayatullah Qadhi was in Najaf, Ayatullah Khui came to him and requested, “I would like you to instruct me in some matters.” He (Aytullah Khui) probably meant ‘irfan and Divine gnosis and Spiritual Exercises. Agha Qadhi gave him some special spiritual instructions which Ayatullah Khui faithfully followed. Then one night in the blessed Month of Ramadhan, Aytullah Khui visited his illustrious teacher, Aytullah Qadhi, who showed him (Aytullah Khui) a vision of his future. Suddenly, Aytullah Khui saw a man who resembled himself, appear in front of him; the man slowly began to age until his beard turned white. He saw the man teaching students of hawza at the highest level in the Masjid-e Hindi in Najaf. He saw him beginning to issue edicts (fatawa) and then saw that his treatise of fiqh (risalaye amaliyyah) was printed. After a long time he heard the loudspeakers in the mosque of Kufa announce, “The grand Ayatullah al-Khui has passed away”. When the vision was over, Aytullah Qadhi turned to Aytullah Khui and said, “This was your life, from now till your death. You have a good future; now you may go.”
‘Allama Hasan Zadeh al-Amuli says the following in his regard: “Ayatullah Sayyid al-Qadi was one of the wonders of time.” Then he says, “One of the powerful statements of the late al-Hajj Sayyid Ali al-Qadi is this: ‘If one spends half his life looking for a perfect teacher, he does not make much of an achievement.” Allama Hasan Zadeh quotes `allama Tabatabai saying the following while detailing the biography of Sayyid Ali al-Qadi: “The Sayyid was an amazing man. He nurtured many students and was tutored by many professors. He had very strong revelations, let alone histestimonial and Gnostic perfections, conduct and moral behavior.”
As for his father, he, too, wrote an exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, and their household was since antiquity a house of knowledge, virtue and piety.