Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi

  (Redirected from Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi)

Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi (Luri/Persian: آیت الله العظمی سید حسین طباطبایی بروجردی) (March 1875 – 30 March 1961) was a leading Iranian Shia Marja' in Iran from roughly 1947 to his death in 1961.[1]

Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi
Hossein Borujerdi.jpg
Borujerdi, late 1950s
TitleGrand Ayatollah
Born(1875-03-23)March 23, 1875
Boroujerd, Iran
DiedMarch 30, 1961(1961-03-30) (aged 86)
Qom, Iran
EraModern history
CreedUsuli Twelver Shia Islam
Main interest(s)Usool Fiqh
Muslim leader


Borujerdi was born in March 1875 in the city of Borujerd in Lorestan Province in Iran, hence the surname. His family traced its lineage 30 generations to Hassan ibn Ali the grand son of the Prophet Muhammad.[2] His father Sayyid Ali Tabataba'i was a religious scholar in Borujerd and his mother, Sayyidah Agha Beygum, was the daughter of Sayyid Mohammad Ali Tabataba'i.


He had two sons and three daughters from his first wife all but one of whom died in childhood. The one who survived, died due to a difficult birthing two years after marriage.

He had two sons and two daughters from his second wife (the daughter of Hajj Muhammad Ja'far Roughani Isfahani).

His third wife was his cousin, the daughter of Sayyid ‘Abd al-Wahid Tabataba'i.[3]


  • One of his sons, Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Tabataba'i Burujirdi was born in 1925 in Burujird; he was in charge of writing the official verdicts of his father. He died in 1977 in Qom.
  • Sayyid Ahmad Tabataba'i was born in 1937 in Burujird and died in Qom at the age of 19.
  • Agha Fatemeh Ahmadi Tabataba'i, his older daughter and the wife of Sayyid Ja'far Ahmadi. She died in 1993 at the age of 80.
  • Agha Sakina Ahmadi, his second daughter was born in 1933 and was the wife of Sayyid Muhammad Husayn ‘Alawi Tabataba'i.[4]

Education and academic specialtiesEdit

After entering elementary school at the age of seven, Sayyid Husayn's father realized his talent for learning and sent him to Nurbakhsh seminary in Borujerd. At the age of 11 he began his education at the theological schools of his city, under his father Sayed Ali. Then in 1310 (1892–93) he went to the theological school of Isfahan to continue his education. In the ten years that he studied in Isfahan he completed his sutuh studies and was also granted the level of Ijtihad from his teachers, and began teaching Usul. Around the age of 30 Burujerdi moved from Isfahan to the theological seminary of Najaf, Iraq to continue his education. [5]

In his youth, Borujerdi studied under a number of Shia masters of fiqh such as Mohammad-Kazem Khorasani and Aqa Zia Iraqi, and specialized in fiqh. He studied the fiqahat of all the Islamic schools of thought, not just his own, along with the science of rijal. Though he is known for citing Masumeen to support many of his deductions, Borujerdi is known for elucidating many aspects himself and is an influential fiqh jurist in his own right. He has had a strong influence on Islamic scholars like Morteza Motahhari and Hussein-Ali Montazeri.

Tenure as Ayatollah and MarjaEdit

Borujerdi revived the hawza of Qom in 1945 (1364 AH), which had waned after the death in 1937 of its founder, Abdul-Karim Ha'eri Yazdi. When Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfahani died the following year, the majority of Shi'a accepted Ayatullah Borujerdi as Marja'. Scholar Roy Mottahedeh reports that Borujerdi was the sole marja "in the Shia world" from 1945-6 until his death in 1961.[6]

Efforts toward Islamic unityEdit

Borujerdi was the first Marja to look beyond Iraq and Iran. He sent Sayyid Muhaqqiqi to Hamburg, Germany, Aqa-e-Shari'at to Karachi, Pakistan, Al-Faqihi to Medina and Musa al-Sadr to Lebanon.

He established cordial relations with Mahmud Shaltut, the grand Shaykh of Al-Azhar University. Together, the two scholars established the "Organization for Rapprochement Among the Islamic Sects" in Cairo. Shaltut issued a famous fatwa legitimizing Ja'fari school of jurisprudence on par with the four major Sunni legal schools.

Permission for narrating HadithEdit

He was authorized as a Mujtahid by his outstanding teachers: Akhund Khurasani, Shaykh al-Shari'ah Isfahani and Sayyid Abu al-Qasim Dihkurdi. He was also given the permission of narrating Hadith by Akhund Khurasani, Shaykh al-Shari'ah Isfahani, Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Isfahani known as Aqa Najafi Isfahani, Sayyid Abu al-Qasim Dihkurdi, Agha Buzurg Tihrani and 'Alam al-Huda Malayiri.[7]

Teaching MethodEdit

He used a simple language in his lessons and avoided unnecessary extra discussions. Like early Shi'a 'ulama such as Shaykh al-Mufid and Sayyid Murtada, Shaykh al-Tusi, Shaykh Tabarsi and Allamah Bahr al-'Ulum, he had a comprehensive knowledge of different Islamic studies. He also studied jurisprudential verdicts of Shi'a and Sunni faqihs of the past. He had a unique method in ‘Ilm al-rijal by studying the chain of narrators of hadiths in the Four Books independently from narrations. Through this method, he made great contributions to later researches.[8]


Arabic booksEdit

Jami' ahadith al-shi'a (31 vol) Sirat al-nijat Tartib asanid man la yahduruh al-faqih

  1. Tartib Rijal asanid man la yahduruh al-faqih
  2. Tartib asanid amali al-saduq
  3. Tartib asanid al-Khisal
  4. Tartib asanid 'ilal al-sharayi'
  5. Tartib asanid tahdhib al-ahkam
  6. Tartib rijal asanid al-tahdhib
  7. Tartib asanid thawab al-a'mal wa 'iqab al-a'mal
  8. Tartib asanid 'idah kutub
  9. Tartib rijal al-Tusi
  10. Tartib asanid rijal al-kashshi
  11. Tartib asanid rijal al-najjashi
  12. Tartib rijal al-fihristayan
  13. Buyut al-shi'a
  14. Hashiyah 'ala rijal al-najjashi
  15. Hashiyah 'ala 'umdat al-talib fi ansab al abi talib
  16. Hashiyah 'ala manhaj al-maqal
  17. Hashiyah 'ala wasa'il al-shi'a
  18. Al-mahdi (a) fi kutub ahl al-sunnah
  19. Al-athar al-manzumah
  20. Hashiyah 'ala majma' al-masa'l
  21. Majma' al-furu'
  22. Hashiyah 'ala tabsirah al-muta'allimin
  23. Anis al-muqalladin[9]

Persian BooksEdit

  1. Tudih al-manasik
  2. Tudih al-masa'l
  3. Manasik haj[10]

Popular studentsEdit


Political leaningsEdit

Unlike many clergy and temporal rulers, Borujerdi and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, are said to have had cordial and mutually beneficial relations, starting with a visit by the Shah to Borujerdi's hospital room in 1944. Borujerdi is said to have generally remained aloof from politics and given the Shah his "tacit support," while the Shah did not follow his father's harsh anti-clericalism (for example he exempted clergy from military service), and until Borujerdi's death occasionally visited the cleric[12][13].

Borujerdi's belief in quietism, or silence of state matters, extended to keeping silent in public on such issues as Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh and the end of his campaign to nationalize and control the British-owned oil industry in Iran, and the Baghdad Pact alliance with the US and UK.[14] It is thought that as a reward for this support the Shah ensured more religious instruction in state schools, tightened control of cinemas and other offensive secular entertainment during Moharram.

Ayatollah Borujerdi passively opposed the Pahlavi regime's agrarian reforms, which he called "agrarian destruction."[15] In his view, the confiscations of large concentrations of landholdings of aristocrats and clergy by the Pahlavi shahs disrupted the fabric of rural life and eroded religious institutions.

Ruhollah Khomeini, who would lead the Iranian people's revolution in 1979, was a pupil of Borujerdi and Borujerdi forbade him to take part in political activities, a ban which only ended with Borujerdi's death.

Moral VirtuesEdit

He was a sincere believer. Whenever he was praised by others for his contributions to Shi'a community, he would say: "purify your acts from hypocrisy, for the watcher (God) is very sharp-sighted."

He never abandoned education and acquisition of knowledge until the last moments of his life. He used to say, "I never get tired of studying, rather when I get tired, I get relaxed by studying."

He would tolerate disrespectful behaviors of his critics and forgave them. This was one of the reasons made him a unique religious leader.

In the last days of his life, Professor Muris (French physician) came from Paris to visit him for his health issues. Before he visited Professor Muris, he asked for a comb to tidy his beard first. His friends told him it was not necessary since he was sick, but he answered, “I am the religious leader of Shi'a and it is not acceptable that I visit a non-Muslim with untidy look."

In regards with some superstitious customs in the mourning ceremonies of Imam Husayn, he was not afraid of what people would say and he declared his opposition frankly.

Ayatollah Burujirdi vowed not to become angry, otherwise he would fast for one year.

Charitable WorksEdit

According to Motahhari, Ayatollah Burujirdi was eager to establish schools with religious management and doing so, the new generation would become religious and knowledgeable. He thus spent a considerable amount of religious tax for establishing such schools.

Due in part to the trials of the Second World War, the price of food went up in Burujerd and the quality of life there saw a massive decline. Burujirdi invited famous people and businessmen to his house and implored them to be charitable and to help the needy. He himself spent much of his assets for this purpose.

The city of Burujerd lacked electricity, but by the order of Ayatollah Burujirdi and the help of some religious people, they constructed a power plant.

Under his directorship, many political and social changes happened in administration of seminaries and also publication of religious books.

Under his leadership, many religious scholars were sent to other cities and countries to preach religious beliefs and to fulfill religious needs of people.

Many charitable and religious organizations were built at his time; some of those are as follows: ‘A'zam Mosque in the holy Shrine of Lady Ma'sumah in Qom, Baghdad Mosque, a hospital in Najaf, Neku'i hospital in Qom, Islamic Centre Hamburg, Germany.


Grave of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Borujerdi in Fatima Masumeh Shrine

Borujerdi died in Qom on March 30, 1961.[16] The Shah proclaimed three days of mourning and attended a memorial service in his honor.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mottahedeh, Roy, The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran, One World, Oxford, 1985, 2000, p.231
  2. ^ Davvani, Ali. مفاخر اسلام [Mafakhir Islam] (in Persian). 12. pp. 69–95.
  3. ^ Davvani, Ali. مفاخر اسلام [Mafakhir Islam] (in Persian). 12. p. 538.
  4. ^ Davvani, Ali. مفاخر اسلام [Mafakhir Islam] (in Persian). 12. pp. 538–540.
  5. ^ Algar, Hamid (1989). "BORŪJERDĪ, ḤOSAYN ṬABĀṬABĀʾĪ". Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.231
  7. ^ Davvani, Ali. مفاخر اسلام [Mafakhir Islam] (in Persian). 12. p. 177.
  8. ^ Hawza. 43: 3–4–5. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Noor-e-Elm (in Persian). 12: 87–88. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Noor-e-Elm (in Persian). 12: 89. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ سیر مبارزات امام خمینی به روایت ساواک [Seir e mobarezat e imam khomeini be revayat e savak] (in Persian). 1. p. 45. and
  12. ^ Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.230
  13. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, 1940- (1993). Khomeinism : essays on the Islamic Republic. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-91466-7. OCLC 44963924.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.237-8
  15. ^ Sayyid Husain Borujirdi
  16. ^ "Bourjerdi dies in Iran," The New York Times, March 31, 1961, p. 27.
  17. ^ Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.240

External linksEdit