At an early age, he attained the degree of ijtihad i.e. the process of arriving at judgements on points of religious law using reason and the principles of jurisprudence. This achievement normally warrants the title of ‘Ayatullah’.
He taught in Najaf for over 70 years. For 50 years, he specialized in supervising post-graduate studies, most advanced among which is ‘Bahth-al-Kharij’ – Graduation Classes – equivalent to a Doctoral thesis.
Successful candidates are qualified to practice ‘Ijtihad’ He is considered as the architect of a distinct school of thought in the principles of jurisprudence and Islamic law, and one of the leading exponents of ‘kalam’-scholastic theology- and ‘rijal’- study of the biographies of transmitters of ahadith, the Prophetic traditions, ‘fiqh’- jurisprudence ‘tafseer’- exegesis of The Holy Qur’an. His interests included astronomy, maths, and philosophy.
Ayatullah Al-Ardabili, former Chief Justice of Iran , As-Sayyid Mohammad Ali Makki (Syria), As-Sayyid Mohammad Ali Bahrul ‘Uloom (UK), Poet Mustafa Jamaluddin ( Syria ) .
After the death of As-Sayyid Mohsin Al- Hakim in 1972, Imam Al-Khoei succeeded him as The Grand Ayatullah ( Al-Marja’a Al-a’alam) as he was the most knowledgeable of the 3 living Grand Ayatullahs. He had the greatest following among the Shias worldwide.
He was fervently dedicated to establishing welfare, social, cultural, and educational institutions for Muslims worldwide. The following are some of the institutions he established:
• Darul Hikmah ( House of Theosophy)
• Madinatul Ilm (City of Knowledge) in Qom, Iran, considered one of the biggest theology centres in the Shia world. The complex comprises the school building and living quarters capable of accommodating 500 families.
• As-Sayyid Al-Khoei Center in Bangkok, Thailand.
• As-Sayyid Al-Khoei Center in Dhakkah, Bangladesh.
• Ahlul-Bayt University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
• Imam Al-Khoei Orphanage Beirut, Lebanon
• Imam As-Sadiq Education Institute for Boys, London, U.K.
• Imam As-Sadiq Education Institute for Girls, London, U.K.
• Al-Iman School, New York, U.S.A.
He was also the patron of about 1,000 grant-maintained students of theology from Iraq and other countries like Lebanon, Syria, Gulf States, India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, South East Asia. He provided financial support for maintaining the schools including boarding expenses,
teachers’ salaries and lodging costs.
• Publishing House – Translation, printing and distribution of books worldwide, Karachi, Pakistan.
• Cultural Complex, Bombay , India. Considered among the biggest Shi’ ite Muslims cultural centre-under construction.
• Representative Offices catering for the religious, social, educational, and cultural needs of Muslims all over the world,with the Headquarters in London, U. K. and branches in the United States, Canada, India, Pakistan, U.A. E., Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, North Africa, Syria, Lebanon, Malaysia.
Imam Al-Khoei was a man of peace dialogue and understanding. He advocated non-violence and promoted tolerance,the values which mirror the human and universal principles of Islam.
In the aftermath of the violent crushing of the popular uprising in Iraq after the Gulf War by Saddam’s troops, he was arrested with all members of his family, and many ulama, taken to Baghdad, and under duress was made to appear with Saddam on TV. Under mounting pressure,
Saddam returned him, without his family, to Najaf, where he was placed under house arrest on the 20th of March, l99l. Mass genocide, destruction, arrests, and displacement of civilians in Najaf,
as well as in other cities and towns in the South of Iraq and North perpetrated by the brutal Iraqi regime, left many cities virtually deserted and normal life came to a halt. All classes in Najaf came to a especially after the grave restrictions and constraints on the freedom of the Spiritual Leader. After his death a year later, Saddam’s regime closed down the institute and deported, arrested and harrassed over 1000 students who had been registered with the institute.
Remembering Late Ayatullah al-Uzma Abul-Qasim al-Khoei standstill especially after the grave restrictions and constraints on the freedom of the Spiritual Leader. After his death a year later, Saddam’s regime closed down the institute and deported, arrested and harassed over 1000 students who had been registered with the institute.
MENTORS OF AL-KHOEI
If we were to research the fountainheads that nurtured the intellect of the late al-Khoei, we will come across a list of the finest among all contemporary scholars such as Shaikh Fath-Allah who is better known as Shaikh al-Sharee’a al-Isfahani, Shaikh Mahdi al-Mazandarani, Shaikh Diyaud-Deen al-Iraqi, Shaikh Muhammad Hussain al-Kampani al-Isfahani, Shaikh Muhammad Hussain al-Naeeni, Shaikh Muhammad Jawad al-Balaghi, and others.
All of these men were considered as pioneers in the fields of their specialization. The impact of these men on shaping the mind of the late al-Khoei is best described by al-Khoei himself who has said: “I have learned from each one of them a complete course in the science of usool, and digested a number of books in the science of fiqh, for many years. I used to provide a critique of the research relevant of each one of them before a number of scholars who specialized in that branch of knowledge, and my audience included a good number of very highly respected scholars. Al-Naeeni, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was the last mentor I used to accompany more frequently than anyone else.”
Al-Khoei had his own style in teaching and tutoring. Those who graduated from his courses describe his method of teaching as immaculately minute, stunningly easy and clear, amazingly logical. They say that there is neither undue complexity nor ambiguity in his style, and this can be said about all the courses he taught. How was his style in discussing and debating? The answer to this question is provided by one of his students: the struggling scientist, the pioneer and the shining star Shaikh Muhammad Jawad Maghniyyah who has said the following in this regard:
“He [al-Khoei] was like the sun that sends its rays everywhere, all the time. He was my professor and the professor of all other scholars at al-Najaf al-Ashraf, and the pivot round which the motion of scholarship revolved, and to whom the hawza is indebted for appreciation and loyalty…
His was the golden age during which stars such as al-Shaikh al-Ansari and al-Shaikh al-Khurasani and their disciples shone… He remained [at the hawza] for more than seventy years learning, teaching, writing, helping scholars graduate, debating newcomers as well as
Died at 3.13 pm on 8th August 1992 (8th Safar 1413)
The Muslim world lost one of its brightest stars when Grand Ayatullah, Abul-Qasim al-Khoei died at his Kufa home of heart failure.
After the failure of the Intifada of March 1991, the Grand Ayatullah was briefly imprisoned then forced to appear on television with the Butcher of Baghdad Saddam Hussein who always kept pressuring him to issue fatawa, religious verdicts, supportive of Saddam and his government, something which he never did despite all the persecution to which he, his representatives and family members were subjected.
Because of refusing to cooperate with the dictatorial government of Saddam Hussein, he was put under house arrest till his death. Saddam also exiled, jailed, or assassinated many of the gifted students, representatives and distinguished followers of al-Khoei and ordered the destruction
of their mosques and libraries particularly those in Najaf and Kerbala.
As if the Iraqi government predicted the death of al-Khoei, it cut off all telephone connections with his Kufa residence in the morning of Saturday, August 8, 1992 and with the houses of those who were close to him. Having performed the afternoon prayers that day, the health of his late holiness suddenly deteriorated and a severe chest swelling was visible.
Doctors in the medical team charged with supervising his health conditions was called in, but they could not tend to him early enough. He informed his family and those in his presence that last night he felt that it was the last night he was spending with his family. He asked for water to perform his ablution, and as soon as he finished his ablution his soul passed away to its Maker exactly at 3:13 pm.
A three-day mourning period was announced by the government which prohibited the family of the deceased dignitary from holding the traditional Fatiha majlis, Baghdad’s official newspaper Al-Jumhuriyyah called him “the martyr of Islam and the nation,” publishing his photograph on its front page. International news agencies, on the other hand, published photographs of his coffin escorted by no more than six persons.
He was a prolific writer in the aforesaid disciplines. He wrote 37 books and treatises, most of which have been published. His works include:
• Lectures in the Principles of Jurisprudence – 10 volumes
• Biographies of Narrators of Tradition – 24 volumes.
• Islamic Law – 18 volumes.
• Al-Bayan fi tafsir al-Qur’an ( The Elucidation of the Exegesis of The Qur’an)
• Minhaju-us-Saliheen (The Path of the Righteous) – 2 volumes, reprinted 78 times ( guide book on religious practice and law ) .
• Anthology of Religious Questions – Concise version of the Path of the Righteous – in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, English, Turkish, Thai, Malay, Indonesian, and Gujarati.
• Mabani al-Istinbat ( Edifices of Deduction) Principles of Jurisprudence.
• Ajwad-at-Taqrirat (The Best of Regulations) Principles of Jurisprudence.
• Sharh-el-Urwatul-Wuthqa (Commentary on The Steadfast Handle) – Jurisprudence.
• Treatise on Suspected Attire – Risala fil Libas Al-Mashkok, Evidential Jurisprudence.
• Nafahat-ul Ijaz ( the Fragrance of Miracles ), indefence of The Noble Qur’an.