Martyred professor, Allameh Morteza Motahhari, was born on February 2, 1919 in the town of Fariman, 75 kilometers from the holy city of Mashhad. At the age of twelve, he set off for Mashhad seminary to embark on learning the basics of Islamic sciences. In 1937, despite Reza Khan’s intense... Show More >>Martyred professor, Allameh Morteza Motahhari, was born on February 2, 1919 in the town of Fariman, 75 kilometers from the holy city of Mashhad. At the age of twelve, he set off for Mashhad seminary to embark on learning the basics of Islamic sciences. In 1937, despite Reza Khan’s intense confrontation with clergymen and also opposition by some of his friends and relatives, he left for Qom seminary to complete his studies.
During 15 years of his stay in Qom, he benefited from the presence of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi (in jurisprudence and the principles of jurisprudence), Imam Khomeini (12 years in the philosophy of Molla Sadra, gnosis, ethics and principles of jurisprudence) and Allameh Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Tabatabaiee (in philosophy). He had also benefited from the presence of the late Ayatollah Haj Mirza Ali Aqa Shirazi in ethics and gnosis. Among other teachers of professor Motahhari mention can be made of the late Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hojjat (in principles of jurisprudence) and the late Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Mohaqqeqdamad (in jurisprudence). While he was in Qom, in addition to education, he participated in socio-political affairs as well and he was in contact with Fadaiyan-e-Eslam group.
In 1952, he migrated to Tehran though he was one of the renowned teachers and among the future hopes of the seminary. In Tehran, he taught at Marvi School and delivered well-researched speeches. In 1955, the first session of the exegesis of the holy Qur’an in the Students\\\' Islamic Association was held by professor Motahhari. In the same year, he began teaching at the faculty of divinity and Islamic teachings of Tehran University. In 1958-59 concurrent with the establishment of the Physicians\\\' Islamic Association, professor Motahhari was one of the main speakers of the Association and during 1961-1971 he was the only speaker of the Association leaving behind a number of important deliberations.
In 1962, with the start of Imam Khomeini’s uprising, professor Motahhari accompanied him to the extent that one can consider the organizing of the June 5th uprising in Tehran and its coordination with Imam Khomeini’s leadership as being indebted to him and his companions. Having given an enlightening speech against the Shah on Wednesday, 5th of June 1963, Ayatollah Motahhari was detained by the police at 1 a.m. and sent to the interim police headquarters and was imprisoned with a number of Tehrani clergymen. 43 days later, following the migration of Ulema from other provinces to Tehran and public pressure, he was freed together with other clergymen.
After the formation of groups called “Mo’talefe Eslami”, which was among the combatant groups of the time, Imam Khomeini called on martyr Motahhari to lead these groups along with a number of clergymen.
Following Imam Khomeini\\\'s exile, professor Motahhari and his companions shouldered a heavier responsibility. At that time, he wrote books covering social requirements and delivering speeches at universities, the Physicians\\\' Islamic Association and mosques. Professor Motahhari made a lot of ideological efforts to Islamicize the content of the movement and strongly fought against diversions and falsehoods. In 1967, he established Hosseinieh Ershad with the help of some friends.
In 1969, after releasing an announcement signed by him, Allameh Tabatabai and Ayatollah Haj Seyyed Abolfazl Mojtahed Zanjani calling for collection of aid for the displaced Palestinians and because of publicizing it during a speech in Hosseinieh Ershad, he was detained and held in solitary confinement for a short while. From 1970-72 he supervised publicity works by Al-jawad mosque where he was the main speaker until the mosque and the Hosseinieh were closed and professor Motahhari was detained for a while. Later, Ayatollah Motahhari gave speeches at Javid, Ark and a number of other mosques. After a while Javid mosque was also closed. Around the year 1974 he was forbidden to speak which lasted till the triumph of the Islamic revolution.
Presenting genuine Islamic ideology through teaching, speech and writing books were among the valuable activities of professor Motahhari reaching its climax particularly during the years 1972-78; since in those years the leftists had increased their propaganda and groups of leftist Muslims and also those with a hotchpotch of ideas had emerged. After Imam Khomeini, professor Motahhari was the first figure who found out the ideological deviation of the heads of the so-called “Mojahedin-e-Khalq” organization and prevented others from cooperating with them and even foresaw their change of ideology. In those years, upon Imam Khomeini’s recommendation, professor Motahhari traveled to Qom twice a week to teach at its seminary where he taught important courses and at the same time he taught some courses at home in Tehran. In 1976, following an ideological dispute with a communist teacher of the faculty of divinity, he became retired prematurely. Furthermore; in those years Ayatollah Motahhari, in collaboration with some clergymen, established “Jameye Rohaniat-e-Mobarez” of Tehran hoping that such an institution would be gradually established in other cities as well.
Although professor Motahhari’s contact with Imam Khomeini continued after the Imam’s exile in France via letters and other means, in the year 1976 he managed to travel to the holy city of Najaf and consulted with Imam Khomeini on the important issues of the revolution and also seminaries. After the martyrdom of Ayatollah Seyyed Mostafa Khomeini and the start of the new phase of the Islamic revolution, professor Motahhari fully devoted himself to the revolution and hence played a fundamental role in all of its phases.
At the time of Imam Khomeini’s stay in Paris, Ayatollah Motahhari traveled to France where he spoke with the Imam on the important issues of the revolution and it was then that Imam Khomeini urged him to shape the Islamic Revolution Council. Upon Imam Khomeini’s return to Iran, he personally took the responsibility of the welcoming committee and till the victory of the revolution and after that he always acted as a supporter of the leader of the Islamic revolution and served as a kind and trusted advisor for him. But at 22:20 p.m. of Tuesday, 1st of May 1979 he was martyred by a grouplet called “Forqan” after leaving an ideological and political gathering. This caused profound sorrow and grief for Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Ummah who had a lot of hopes for this great man’s future.
There remain tens of works by Ayatollah Motahhari. These works deal with a variety of religious issues and offer responses to many of the important questions of religious society so much so that we can name his works as a reliable source concerning the Islamic ideology system.
Some of Imam Khomeini’s Words on Martyr Allameh Morteza Motahhari
[Motahhari] was rare in Islamology and different Islamic and Qur’anic sciences. I have lost a very dear child. I am mourning for him who was one of the figures who was considered the fruit of my life. Martyrdom of this righteous child and immortal clergyman created a vacuum in the dear Islam that cannot be filled by any means.
Motahhari, who was rare in purifying spirit, the strength of belief and the power of speech, flew to the ethereal world, but the ill-wishers should know that his Islamic, scientific and philosophical personality won’t perish with his departure.
Motahhari was a dear child for me and a firm stronghold for the religious and scientific seminaries and a useful servant for people and country.
I recommend the students and the committed intellectuals not to let this dear professor’s books be forgotten by non-Islamic schemes.
In his short life, [Motahhari] left behind immortal works which stemmed from a wakeful conscience and a spirit filled with the love for religion. He embarked on educating and training the society with an eloquent style and an able thought in analyzing Islamic subjects and explaining philosophical facts with a popular diction and without uncertainty. His oral and written works are unexceptionally instructive and inspiring; and his advice and admonitions, which sprang from a heart filled with faith and belief, are useful both for the Ulema and the laymen.
Late Motahhari was an individual who had different aspects of personality; and few people have done the service to the young generation and others as Motahhari has done. All his works are unexceptionally good and I don’t know anybody else whose works I could call unexceptionally good. His works are unexceptionally good and constructive for humans.
Professor Motahhari from the Viewpoint of Ayatollah Khamenei
Interview with the Supreme Leader on Martyr Motahhari
‘I consider myself Mr. Motahhari’s pupil’
As you know late professor Motahhari was a philosopher; the science sought by him was mostly the philosophical science. Later on; however, he got to the subjects of theology, i.e. he dealt with Islamic issues with new argumentation method of modern philosophy. But he spent most of his time on philosophical matters. He was considered the philosophical student of Imam Khomeini and Allameh Tabatabaiee. Thus what he maintains in theology is Hekmat Mota’aliah, i.e. the Philosophy of Molla Sadra.
His behaviour was like that of the mystics who would set out to find a perfect instructor. Basically his spiritual and moral condition was in such a way. He would search to know for example if a perfect elderly instructor is somewhere in the world, and he would go to him to stay by him. Indeed, spiritually, such a situation was fitting him. Yet he had found such a perfect instructor in Iran. He was absorbed in Imam Khomeini and Allameh Tabatabaiee. He was captivated by their love and regarded their scientific and mystic status very high.
Morally, late Motahhari was a prominent man; and a pure-hearted, enlightened, just, self-possessed and mature person. In his personal bonds with God he was a mystic, a man of God’s remembrance, journey towards God and worship. He used to say: “I have learnt paying attention to and worship of God from my father.”
Professor Motahhari had a lot of historical information especially about the recent history, and particularly on the issues related to the Ulema, seminaries, scientific, spiritual, philosophical and mystic figures. These pieces of information were not registered in any book and are heard from the professors and great figures and kept in mind. Since he knew all professors and Ulema of Najaf, Samarra and Isfahan, he was well-informed about their events and he would talk of them in the gatherings and visits held on different occasions.
Supereme Leader’s Words on Professor Motahhari’s Personality and Works
“As time passes from his martyrdom, his spiritual and ideological works and bounties manifest more fresh dimensions. The ideological and scientific works of that grand clergyman become clearer in the scene of the country press and religious knowledge; and one understands that an intellectual clergyman with responsibilities could have so fruitful life.”
Martyr Motahhari with his strong and decent thought stepped in the fields of Islamic subjects that hitherto nobody had stepped; and considering the ideas that had prevailed or were going to prevail in the country---through translation and import from the west and east, he entered a profound, vast and interminable scientific challenge. He both embarked on a very clever struggle to confront with the Marxists and entered the scene to confront with the western and Liberalist thoughts. This role is very important; it needs both courage and self-confidence, it requires both thinking strength and Ijtihad (being well- qualified in jurisprudence and different theological fields), it both needs certainty and resolute belief. This great man had all these together; he was both a learned man and very faithful, he was firm in his belief and had self-confidence, too; these are all necessary.”
Leader’s Visit with Martyr Motahhari’s Family (1996)
He had three characteristics regarding ideological issues: First, he had a strong thought and he was a true thinker. Secondly, while presenting and spreading the ideological principles, he had no intention but God’s nearness, promotion of the truth and fighting against the false. There was sincerity in him and his personal actions which would naturally make the second characteristic tangible. For example think of some people who are thinkers, yet do not present their thought for God’s sake, but they present it to show that they are knowledgeable, to draw people’s attention and to say that they are philosophers. Martyr Motahhari was not such. He would present thought for God’s sake and for Islam. He would truly burn up [like a candle] and would gush forth [like a fountain] and would present [Islamic ideas]. The reason for his survival is his second characteristic. It means that sincerity will have its impact and the Almighty God will grace any deed done with sincerity. The third characteristic was his working hard and his inexhaustibility.
The truth is that he wouldn’t sit till he might be referred to; but rather he would himself go after activity. He had these three characteristics.”
Leader’s Visit with Martyr Motahhari’s Family (1998)
“We should introduce Mr. Motahhari to the world especially the Islamic world. And if we want to introduce him, which points should be highlighted? I think this is your most important job. Some aspects of a figure’s personality are either unique that must be highlighted or are very outstanding that should be stressed.
In the life of the late Martyr Ayatollah Motahhari, his personality and his scientific identity there are numerous examples of these. One point, that in my opinion has the prime importance, is the new interpretation of the Islamic teachings. This is apart from his philosophical aspect and his strong and compelling arguments in the footnotes of ‘The principles of philosophy’ by ‘Ayatollah Tabatabaiee. This is another point. He elucidated Islamic concepts and teachings with a novel diction and expression which was much needed. I don’t say that if the works of the predecessors were pondered and scrutinized signs of this exegesis would not be found. Really if one had attentively studied the works of the Ulema he would have found some hints and cues; but I want to say that nobody had done this. As far as we know, nobody had done it before Mr. Motahhari. Even the modernist writers, who had emerged in the Arab countries, and we knew some of them, had not done this. These Egyptian authors, who were modernists and would write things with a broader sight and who knew the world somewhat more than Martyr Motahhari, most of them had traveled a lot and had visited different universities. Yet he [Ayatollah Motahhari] was not so, he was confined. I mean he was inside Iran and Tehran but his profound vision of the Islamic issues and his novel understanding of the verses [of Qur’an] and the narrations [of the Ahl-ul-Bayt], in my opinion, was one of his most outstanding aspects. It was he who, for the first time, substantively expressed the subjects related to principles of ideology, piety, patience, love, fairness, justice, and so on in the ideological atmosphere of Iran.
We thank God that Mr. Motahhari’s name was not forgotten in our society and the mental atmosphere of this country; but rather it became more prominent day by day. Many of the world phenomena are naturally perishable and by the lapse of time they become older. Most of the world phenomena are such. Yet there are some phenomena that not only do not fall into oblivion via lapse of time but become brighter, more manifest, more spectacular and more impressive. The phenomena based on reality are usually such. I clearly feel that, thank God, Martyr Ayatollah Motahhari’s thoughts are such.”
Memoirs of Dr. Ali Motahhari (Martyr Motahhari’s Son)
Night Supplication in front of the Word Allah
As it is said he didn’t give up midnight vigilance, midnight prayer, and wakefulness since his youth till the end of his life. It was his practice both at the time of studentship and after that and even at the time of martyrdom. I remember that facing our house there was the house of one of the previous regime’s officials which was usually guarded by two police officers. Apparently since the official had seen that the lamp of our house was lit at midnight, had worried to find the reason and it was important for him from the security point of view. He had told the guards to look for the reason. Professor [Motahhari] had a neon board of Allah which was green when lit. He would turn it on and perform his midnight prayer in its light. After the revolution one of the officers said, we had examined several nights and I had looked through the window to see what was going on inside the house. At the end I myself saw that he came at midnight and started worshipping for an hour. We were somehow absorbed by the professor, and despite much negative propaganda against the clergymen and him in particular to make us pessimist to them, we became very interested in him so much so that some would say we got our salary from the government but it was as if we were guarding him.
A Voice vis-à-vis MHe was very sensitive against ideological deviations and believed that we were seeking Islamic revolution and not mere revolution. It is not important that Shah goes but it is important to see what system is established after his going. Because if after the ouster of the Shah, for example the Mojahedin-e-Khalq take the lead, it is much better not to stage a revolution at all. Thus the deviated groups had found out professor Motahhari’s sensitiveness and had become his enemy. Three or four months before the victory of the Islamic revolution, a person, who had some tendencies to Mojahedin-e-Khalq and the leftists and was intended to be religious, too, was freed from the prison. Professor [Motahhari] said we had better visit him. I was with the professor. There was a man by the name of Ashuri as one of the heads of the Forqan group. He spoke of Islam and Marxism and said: ‘These two religions say one single thing and their content is the same with different forms. They speak of the laborers and we speak of the oppressed. Therefore our word is the same. We should unite to topple the regime of Shah and basically there is no difference between Islam and Marxism, etc.’ Professor was very upset and that man knew that professor Motahhari would answer him. That’s why he rose to leave. The professor said: ‘No, Be seated! Be seated!’ He made him sit and explained him in detail that our path is fundamentally separate from that of the Marxists. In no way can the forms be different with the same content. And we cannot unite with the Marxists in any way.
Immortal among People
Prior to the victory of the Islamic revolution, at the time of Imam Khomeini’s staying in Paris, it was heard everywhere that the regime of Shah wanted to arrest the leaders and prominent figures of the revolution.
Some people told him [Ayatollah Motahhari] it was better to go somewhere else to hide. He said: ‘Such actions are not good for clergymen. It is not good for us to escape from one place to another to hide; such things are not good for us.’ He stayed at home like before and nothing happened.
His Method of Training Children
One of the features of the professor’s training method for his children was that he would never resort to force and coercion and he would let them to realize and choose the right path with their own thought and wisdom. About choosing the field of education and the way of spending leisure time and the like he would never force us to do something necessarily; but he would show us the way. As the holy Qur’an says: ‘…be he grateful or ungrateful.’ And it was we who would choose the way. There was never force over our heads and we would choose one way with interest and free will.
The Professor’s Arrest after anti-Israel Speech
I have another memory from the year 1969 when he delivered the provocative speech on Palestine in Hosseinieh Ershad. This speech has been broadcast many times by IRIB. It was a very provocative, important and interesting speech which shook the regime of Shah; and it required a lot of courage to deliver such a speech when the regime of Shah was in the zenith of power and had the highest level of relations and unity with Israel. When the Israeli planes would refuel in Iran’s airport(s) during the 1967 war and would fly over the heads of the Arabs and Muslims, much bravery was needed to give such a speech and we saw that professor Motahhari gave that speech and was promptly arrested and taken away. When he was freed he said, ‘They made me sit in a car and blindfolded me and the car set out. I told them there is no need to blindfold and I will not look. If you want me not to look I will close my eyes. But they didn’t agree. Yet I realized the route till Ferdowsi square but didn’t realize after that.’ Apparently they had taken him to the committee of the SAVAK which was presumably located in the same Ferdowsi Street.
Allameh Tabatabaiee’s Message on the Occasion of Ayatollah Motahhari’s Martyrdom
In the name of the Almighty God
In memory of a scientific and philosophical personality who cast a world into grief and made the world of science and merit mournful with his departure.
Late Motahhari, who was a scientist, a thinker and a researcher with an overflowing intellect, a bright thought and a realistic mind, has left behind marvelous works and researches written about scientific and argumentative purposes that are seen in his books.
Late Motahhari, through his precious and blissful life that was abundant with scientific effort and philosophical thinking, sends an expressive and valuable message to the enthusiasts of science and philosophy never to repose from effort towards perfection and never forget scientific struggle for perfection; and in the market of realities turn their life--which is the best human commodity-- to the spiritual life— which is the lofty human life and is lasting till the world exists; and not to be absorbed and deceived by fabricated and imaginary personalities in this short life.
Yes, a narrow route opened by a scientist towards realities will bestow eternal life upon him and this is more valuable than the world and what it contains. Show Less >>
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