Muhammad Mahdi ibn Abu Dhar was born to a religious middle class family in Narauq, a village near Kashan in 1128 A.H. His parents named him Mohammad Mahdee. From the early years of his childhood, it became evident that he was a genius.Education
After receiving his early education in Naraq, he moved to Isfehan, where he studied under Aqa Mirza Nasir Isfehani and Maula Ismail Khajuwi. Given the influx of Western preachers and missionary into the Middle East at the time, he also learned Latin and Hebrew in addition to theology and jurisprudence.
Emigration to Karbla
After a brief return to Kashan, he moved to Karbala, which was the center of Shia learning at the time. The most prominent Shia scholar in Karbala was Shaikh Yusuf Bahrani, an avowed Akhbari. (For a detailed discussion regarding Akhbari and Usuli schools of thought, see Martyr Murtadha Mutahhari’s Principle of Ijtihad in Islam.) Although Muhaqqiq al-Naraqi first studied under Shaikh Bahrani, he was soon captivated by the lectures of Waheed Behbahani, a small-town scholar who had recently arrived in Karbala. After many discussions and debates, the specter of Akhbarism was removed, and Usuli thought once again gained prominence in Shia academia. Muhaqqiq al-Naraqi joined Allama Behbahani in the struggle to eradicate Akhabism as well as continued in his tutelage for almost eight years.
Return to Kashan
In 1183 AH, he returned to Kashan and revived the Islamic seminary. Despite his prominence as a religious authority, he lived a very simple and austere life, often times going without meals for days. Under his leadership, Kashan produced several notable scholars and jurists, including his own son, Mullah Ahmad Naraqi, as well as Muhammad Baqir Dashti and Muhammad Kalbasi. In addition, he penned nearly a hundred different volumes on jurisprudence, narration, biography, philosophy, mysticism, and ethics. Most famous of these is the three-volume Jami al-Sa’adat (“Collection of Felicities”), a groundbreaking work on ethics and mysticism. A partial English translation of the book is available online. For his academic contributions, he was given the title Muhaqqiq (“researcher”).
Molla Mohammad Mahdee had [a great deal of] self-respect. He struggled with poverty ever since he began his way into the Islamic seminary [and even though he was in great need of money, he never asked anyone for help]. Poverty never absorbed his enthusiasm. He continued his studies with a heart full of hope and joy. In his , he states that self-respect is one of the very important human values; he writes, “It is better if the poor hides his/her poverty from others [as much as possible] and builds the spirits of austerity and self-respect in him/her than to ask people for help. He/she must not honor the wealthy for the sake of their wealth, which will lead to belittling him/herself. Instead, he/she should feel greater than them [and thus keep up his/her self-respect]. So, the poor should be indifferent to their wealth and should not expect anything from them.”
Jaum-e-ossa’audautOne of his other very outstanding characteristics was his endurance: he had patience in the face of all hardships that befell him. An example of his endurance is how he studied at nighttime. Because he could not afford buying a candle or some oil for a lamp, he would go to the public restrooms and study under the lamps there until midnight.
Even though Molla Mohammad Mahdee was very tolerant of life’s hardships, he did not have any tolerance for misleading ideas, beliefs and actions. Following in the footsteps of his great teacher, Vaheed Behbahaunee, he struggled against the School in the fields of Jurisprudence and Osool. Moreover, in his Jaum-o-ssa’audaut he denounces Sufism and firmly affirms that the RIGHT PATH is that which the AHL-O-LBAYT have shown us.
AkhbaureeHe believed that the source of social and ethical injustice in a society is the unjust notions and actions of the rulers. Thus he concluded that any real reform must begin from the upper hierarchy in the society. In this regard, he writes, “The most important and crucial justice is that of the rulers, for peoples doing justice depends on the rulers [people look up to their rulers in this regard]. If a ruler acts justly, then his subjects will also be able to interact justly. Otherwise, implementing justice in a society would be really difficult; it would be almost impossible.”
Another of Molla Mahdee’s characteristics was his very delicate and poetic spirit. He had completed the highest mystical and ethical levels. He translated his spiritual feelings into poetry. The poems in his [his book of poetry] and his other illustrate this fact.
His Heavenly Departure
After many years of hard intellectual and spiritual work in promoting the values preached by Islam, he finally passed away on the 18th of Sha’baun, 1209a.h. His death resulted in an outburst of mourning by the people of Kashan. His body was transferred to Najaf with great esteem; he was buried beside the shrine ofAmeer-ol-mo’meneen.
A. His books on Islamic law (jurisprudence):
1. Anees-o-ttojjar fee foroo’e-ttejarah le amalel moqalledeen, which is a collection of Islamic rulings in Farsi regarding business and commercial issues;
3. Attohfat-o-rrazaviyyah fel masa’ele-ddeeniyyah (a Farsi collection of some Islamic rulings);
4. Arresalat-ol-amaliyyah (a Farsi collection of Islamic rulings regarding issues of worship);
5. Resaleyeh namauze jom’eh;
6. Kanz-ol-omoor fee ba’z-el-audaub-e-sshar’iyyah;
7. Lawaume-ol-ahkam fee feqhe sharee’at-el-islam;
8. Mo’tamad-o-sshee’ah fee ahkaume-ssharee’ah, a brief book in the field of jurisprudence, which his son, Molla Ahmad, refers to a lot in the latter’s Mostanad;
9. Manausek-ol-hajj or almanausek-ol-makkiyyah;
B. His books in the field of osool-ol-fiqh (the field that studies the general rules regarding jurisprudence):
1. Anees-ol-mojtahedeen or anees-o-nnafees;
2. Attajreed fee osool-el-fiqh or tajreed-ol-osool—his son Molla Ahmad has written a commentary about the latter;
4. Resaulaton fel ejmau’;
3. Jaume’-ol-afkaur va naufez-ol-anzaur fee ithbaut-el-vaujeb ta’aulau—it has been asserted in Azzaree’ah that this book is the most extensive in proving the “necessary existence” and explaining its “positive” and “negative” attributes and no other book surpasses it (vol.5, pg.41);
4. Asshehaub-o-thauqeb fee radde mo’ausarat-e-nnauseb;
5. Sharh-o-sshifau—sharho elauhiyyat-e-sshifau;
6. Al’arshiyya fel hekmat-el-ilauhiyyah;
7. Qorrat-ol-oyoon fee ma’n-el-vojood-e-wal mauhiyyah;
8. Alkalemaut-ol-vajeezah fel hekmat-el-elauhiyyah;
1. Resaulaton fel okar;
2. Tawzeeh-ol-eshkaul, a Farsi commentary on the Euclidian astronomy;
4. Haushiyat-o-sharhe majestee;
5. ‘Oqoode angoshtaun or hesaub-o-oqood-el-anaumel;
6. Sharh-o-mohassel-el-hay’ah or almohassel fel hay’ah;
7. Almostaqsau fel hay’ah;
1. Jaume-o-ssa’audaut fee moojebaut-e-nnajauh, which, as asserted in Azzaree’ah, is the most comprehensive book in this field written by the more recent scholars (vol.5, pg. 85);
1. Tau’ere Qodsee, his book of “double-rhyme”—mathnavee—poetry;
2. Mohreq-ol-qoloob, “a book narrating the tragedy of Karbalau in Farsi with a very delicate style (Azzaree’ah, vol.20, pg.149);
4. Nokhbat-ol-bayaun fel este’aurat-e-wa-ttashbeeh;