Sayyid ‘Ali Qadhi Tabataba’i, was a scholar of the highest calibre in the holy city of Najaf al-Ashraf, in the last century.
1. Akhlaq [Ethics],
2. Aqaa’id [Theology],
3. ‘Irfaan [Mysticism],
and was also well versed in:
4. Falsafah [Philosophy],
5. Fiqh [Jurisprudence].
Many great scholars [some of the famously known are: Imam Khomeini, Ayatullah Mohammad Taqi Behjat, Ayatullah Tabataba’i, Ayatullah Abbas Kashani...] of the previous generation were his students. He had a special status and piety, which enabled him to perform many miraculous acts.
Ayatullah Sayyid Mirza ‘Ali Tabataba’i, famously known as Qadhi [1285 - 1366 A.H] was born in Tabriz in Iran. He completed his basic Hawza studies in his hometown, and then at the age of 28, migrated to Najaf to learn from the great masters who taught him in the shadow of the Haram [Tomb] of Imam ‘Ali – Amir ul-Mu’mineen [‘a.s].
Sayyid Qadhi excelled in:
1. Fiqh [Jurisprudence],
2. Usool [Principles],
3. Hadith [Traditions],
4. Tafseer [Exegesis],
5. Akhlaaq [Ethics],
and distinguished himself as one of the most sought-after instructors in Najaf, especially in the fields of Akhlaaq [Ethics] and ‘Irfan [Gnosis/ Mysticism].
He wrote several books, including a partially completed Tafseer of the holy Qur’aan, which is a commentary up to verse 91 of the Surah [Chapter] al-An’am [The Cattle]. Several of the top ranking ‘Ulamaa [Scholars] and Maraaj’ [Jurists] of the last generation were his students, including:
1. Imam Khomeini
2. Grand ‘Aarif Ayatullah Mohammad Taqi Behjat,
3. Grand Ayatullah Zanjani,
4. Grand Ayatullah Khui,
5. Grand Ayatullah Najafi Mar’ashi,
7. Allaamah Tabataba’i,
8. Shaheed Mehrab,
9. Ayatullah Dastghayb Shirazi,
10. Sayyid Hashim Haddad,
and many others.
Sayyid Qadhi was a man of exceptional abilities - many times his illustrious students would describe
their memories of the wondrous acts they witnessed in his blessed presence. The contemporary scholar and student of Ayatullah Khui, Ustad Fatimi-Niya, relates the following incident:
In the days when Ayatullah Qadhi was in Najaf, Ayatullah Khui came to him and requested, “I would like you to instruct me in some matters.” He [Ayatullah Khui] probably meant ‘Irfan [Mysticism] and Divine Gnosis and Spiritual Exercises. Agha Qadhi gave him some special spiritual instructions which Ayatullah Khui faithfully followed.
Then one night in the blessed Month of Ramadhan, Ayatullah Khui visited his illustrious teacher, Ayatullah Qadhi, who showed him [Ayatullah Khui] a vision of his future. Suddenly, Ayatullah Khui saw a man who resembled himself, appear in front of him; the man slowly began to age until his beard turned white. He saw the man teaching students of Hawza at the highest level in the Masjid-e Hindi in Najaf. He saw him beginning to issue Fatawa [Edicts] and then saw that his treatise of Fiqh [Risaala
‘Amaliyyah] was printed. After a long time he heard the loudspeakers in the mosque of Kufa announce, “The grand Ayatullah al-Khui has passed away”. When the vision was over, Ayatullah Qadhi turned to Ayatullah Khui and said, “This was your life, from now till your death. You have a good future; now you may go.”
Ayatullah Nasiri Dawlat Abadi relates that his teacher, Ayatullah Shaykh Abbas Quchani narrated the following incident to him:
In Najaf al-Ashraf, we used to have special sittings with Ayatullah Qadhi. Usually the participants would inform each other about the gatherings and we all used to know one another. In one such gathering, I suddenly saw a young Sayyid enter the room. Ayatullah Qadhi interrupted his discussion with us and showed great respect to the young Sayyid who had just entered and then said to him, “Agha Sayyid Ruhullah! Do not hesitate to stand firm against the tyrant rulers and unjust governments. You must resist them, you must oppose their ignorance!”
This was a time when there was not even a whisper about any revolution in Iran. Quchani used to say, “We were all very surprised that day at this conversation, but after many years, when the Islamic revolution happened, we understood what Marhum Qadhi had been referring to on that day and why he had shown such great respect to Imam Khomeini.”
Imam Khomeini would often remember this great scholar. He once said, “When it came to [understanding] the deep and lofty meanings of Tawheed [Oneness of God], Sayyid Qadhi was a mountain.”
It has also been narrated by one of the students who said: “Whenever Sayyid Qadhi would be giving lessons and the time of prayers would be near, he would take a corner and sit while one of the students would be checking for the salaat time by looking at the sky. Suddenly, the Sayyid would rise and call for the prayers whereas the students would be wondering how he knew the time for salaat.
After the salaat got over, the students approached Sayyid Qadhi and asked to how he came to know about the time for salaat and he said: “Every Mu’min is supposed to see it clearly that the Angels of noon are exchanged by the Angels of evening”.