Ayatullah Al-Uzma Al-Hajj Ash-Shaykh ‘Al- Arak was born in the early 1890’s, but the exact date is not known due to the lack of appropriate birth records at the time, in the Iranian city of Arak.Education
Following his preliminary religious studies, he demonstrated an aptitude to further his Islamic studies, and commented on the scholarly book, ‘Urwatul Wuthqa some 48 years ago (1952). This is a book upon which all Mujtahidin comment as soon as they are recognized as an expert in independent theological studies, according to their views. At the time of his review of ‘Urwatul Wuthqa, he was in the company of such great leaders as Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma Khunsari, and others. Although he was learned and a declared Mujtahid, following the demise of Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Khusani and Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Mu¦ammad Hussein al-Burujerdi, he did not openly declare his Marja’iyyah. He was one of Imam Khomeini’s teachers, having taught the Founder of the Islamic Republic the initial course of the Hawza entitled Jami’atul Muqaddamat. In other classes, he was a contemporary of the late Imam.Ayatullah Araki began his Hawza studies in Arak, and was the student of many prominent scholars during this time, including Syed Jaffer Sheeshi. For many years, he attended the lessons of Ayatullah Al-Uzama Nurudin Araki and Ayatullah Haeri and gained a tremendous amount from them.
Ayatullah Haeri had a great fondness for Ayatullah Araki; it was the aptitude and the genius of Ayatullah Araki that caught the late Ayatullah’s attention. It was at the recommendation of Ayatullah Haeri that Ayatullah Araki became a Ruhani (this is when someone qualifies to wear the turban and the robe) and married someone from his own family.
His migration to Qom
After studying for a number of years in the Hawza in Yazd, Ayatullah Araki followed Ayatullah Haeri to Qom, and continued his Hawza studies under Ayatullah Haeri’s guidance and supervision. It was also during this very period that Ayatullah Araki got to know Ayatullah Khomeini, and had intense love for him.
After Imam Khomeini’s exile in the Iranian year 1341 (approx. 1962 AD), Ayatullah Araki always used to support him and stuck picture upon picture of Imam Khomeini on Khiyaban Iram (a main road in Qom passing the haram). When Ayatullah Araki was returning from Madressa Faiziya, and his eyes used to fall on the picture of the Imam, he used tosay: “I swear that if the person on this picture was in Kerbala,he would have become a martyr on the lap of Imam Hussein Β. When he used to go home and news of Imam Khomeiniused to be given to him, he used to cry a great deal. His tears were tears of love for the late Imam Khomeini.’
Ayatullah Araki used to teach and put forth the most complex of subjects for over 35 years in the Hawza of Qom. He was known for not being repetitive and used to carefully choose his words that would be full of meaning.
After the death of Ayatullah Mohammed Taqi Khonsari, Ayatullah Araki received numerous requests from his (Ayatullah Khonsari’s) students to teach them Fiqh and Usul at the Dars-e-Kharij level to which he obliged to. Many of the outstanding and prominent teachers in the Hawza of Qom and those in charge of the movement of the Islamic Revolution were students of Ayatullah Araki for many years. During his blessed life, Ayatullah Araki was also a Marja-e-Taqleed of the Shias and wrote many books in the field of Fiqh and Usul.
He was also an Imam of the Friday Prayers.
Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj ash-Shaykh ‘Ali Araki was a strong encouragement to the Islamic Republic, and requently guided the government whenever requested. Upon the demise of Ayatullah Khomeini, many of his Muqalladin followed Ayatullah Araki. At the demise of the Grand Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj ash-Sayyid Abu al-Qasim al-Khoe’i (May Allah raise his rank), the Jamiatul Mudarrasin (Council of the Theological Schools) in Qum declared in a communiqué, the top most Marja’ to be either Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj ash-Shaykh ‘Ali Araki orAyatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Mu¦ammad Ri¤a al- Gulpaygani, preferring the later, and on December 10, 1993, following the departure of Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Mu¦ammad Ri¤a al-Gulpaygani fromthis mortal world, the Council declared the grand Ayatullah Araki to be the Marja’ for the Shi’a world.
Ayatullah Araki, up until his death used to lead students of the Hawza Faiziyah in the congregational Salat. His teaching was active right up to his hospitalization. The President of the Council, Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini, in his Friday sermon on December 10, 1993, said that the Shaykh was “since the time of the late Shaikh ‘Abdul Karim Ha’iri (founder of the Qum Theological Center), one of the most brilliant personalities in the field of theology and religious sciences, and a friend amoung the Ulama…”
Ayatullah Yousuf Sana’i also of Qum said that the Grand Ayatullah has “a high expertise in fiqh and its different topics and also is skillful in manipulating the principle maxims of jurisprudence.” As for his piety, Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli mentioned in a statement that the Ayatullah protected his “soul from wordly desires and his obedience to the Sacred Existence of the Master of the Seen and Unseen…”
The grand Ayatullah died on the 25th of Jumadi al-Akhar, 1994, one year to the day of the demise of Ayatullah al-‘U¨ma al-Hajj as-Sayyid Mu¦ammad Riza al Gulpaygani, and was buried in Qum on Thursday the 27th of Jumadi al-Akhar.