Seyyed Mahmoud Taleqani

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Seyyed Mahmoud Taleqani

Seyyed Mahmoud Taleqani (1910-79), known as Abu Dharr of these times, [was a] Shi’a scholar, orator, Qur'an commentator, writer and contemporary Iranian struggler.

His Family

Taleqani family in Taleqan region is among famous seyyeds (descendants of the Prophet). Mahmoud’s great grandfather, Seyyed Ala' ud-din, descended from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.). His grandfather, the late Seyyed Agha Mahmoud Taleqani, was one of the famous clerics of Taleqan, but little information is available about him. His grave is located in the cemetery of Geliyard village.

The late Seyyed Agha [Mahmoud] (grandfather of Ayatollah Taleqani) had two sons and six daughters. His eldest son was Seyyed Abul-Hasan, father of Ayatollah Taleqani. Agha Seyyed Abul-hasan was born in 1861, in the village of Geliyard [near the city of] Taleqan. After completing his primary [seminary] education up to the level of “Sutouh” in Taleqan, Qazvin and Isfahan, he left for Iraq to continue his studies. He studied ten years with the greatest authority of the age, Mirza Hasan Shirazi, and seven years in Karbala and under Seyyed Isma’il al-Sadr.

During his stay in Najaf, he learned the profession of watchmaking, by which he used to make a living until the end of his life. After returning to Iran, he started teaching at Marvi Seminary School in Tehran. The late Ayatollah Abul-hasan Taleqani lived in a humble room in the Qanatabad neighborhood of Tehran, and politically, he was a friend and companion of the late [Seyyed Hasan] Modarres and actively participated in the political meetings organized by Modarres (Azizi, Heshmatullah, pp. 19-20).

He died on 28 December 1931in Tehran. His body was buried with great splendor in the shrine of Hazrat `Abdul Azim al-Hasani, and from there, according to his will, it was transferred to Najaf and buried in Wadi al-Salam Cemetery (Mir abul-Qasemi, Seyyed Mohammad Husayn, vol. 30, p. 536).

On the death of Ayatollah Taleqani, Imam Khomeini said in his condolence message about him: “May God’s mercy be upon his noble father who excelled all the pious” (Azizi, Heshmatullah, p. 22).

A few small essays have been left by Seyyed Abul-hasan Taleqani, which include: “Kimiya-ye Hasti (alchemy of the existence)”, Resale-ye Ethna-Ashariyyeh (an essay on the Twelver Shi’a), Siyasat-e Husayni (Imam Husayn-oriented policy), Muhakeme-ye Hijab (The Trial of the Islamic dress code) and the exposition of the late Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Isfahani’s Seminary letures (Mir abol-Qasemi, Seyyed Muhammad Husayn, vol. 30, p. 536).

His Birth

Seyyed Mahmoud Taleqani was born on 4 April 1911, in the village of Giliyard near the city of Taleqan, to the second wife of Seyyed Abul-Hasan (Azizi, Heshmatullah, pp. 22-23).

His Education

He was sent to school at the age of five, and spent two years studying the Qur’an and learning calligraphy and writing in the village of Gelyard. He studied the Qur’an in the first year under the guidance of Mullah Seyyed Taqi Orazani, and spent the second year reading and writing under Shaykh Karbalai Ali Varkashi, as well as studying the book Moush va Gorbeh (the versified fable of the mice and the cat) by Obayd Zakani [Iranian satirist, d. 772/1331], which according to the common practice of those schools, was popular and was taught along with such books as “Golestan” by Sa’di, “Kalileh and Demneh”.

Seyyed Mahmoud went to Tehran at the age of seven and pursued his primary education at the Mulla Reza School located in Amin us-Sultan Square in Tehran and learned Arabic grammar (morphology and syntax) until the age of ten. With his father’s suggestion and guidance, he left for Qom to continue his education and settled in Radawiyya Seminary School. After some time, he was admitted to Faydiyya Seminary School (Malai Tavani, Ali Reza, pp. 22-23).

His Masters in Qom

In Qom, he studied al-Rawda al-Bahiyya fi Sharh al-Lum`a al-Dimashqiya (a voluminous textbook in Shi’a jurisprudence at an intermediate level) with Ayatollah Shahab-uddin Mar’ashi [Najafi], al-Mutawwal (by al-Taftazani, in Arabic rhetoric) with Adib Tehrani and studied for a period of time with Ayatollah Seyyed Muhammad Hujjat. Together with Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Eshraqi and Mirza Khalil Kamarei, who were considered intellectual scholars at that time due to the teaching of philosophy and wisdom, it was widely published. As he studied under Mirza Khalil Kamarei and completed [Mulla Hadi] Sabzevari’s “al-Manzuma” (in philosophy). Apart from this, he held a discussion and commentary session with Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Eshraqi on Thursdays in his home, where many students and scholars attended (ibid., pp. 26-27).

His Masters in Najaf

After some time, he went to the [seminary] of Najaf and studied with Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Isfahani [also known as Kompani] and Agha Diya’ ud-Din al-`Iraqi. He returned to Qom from Najaf and after completing his seminary education and obtaining scientific and narrative authorization from his masters, he settled in Tehran around 1938.

His Scientific Propagation Activity

In his childhood and youth, Taleqani witnessed Reza Shah’s tyranny, especially his open confrontation with the religion as an institution as well as the religious people, and this situation put so much pressure on him so much so that, according to him, pains and diseases were caused by it and remained with him until the end of his life. His concern in that situation was more than anything else, the careful study of the verses of the Qur’an, Nahj al-Balagha, as well as the history and lifestyle (sira) of the Holy Prophet (s.`a.w.) and the Imams (a.s.). He gradually recognized the goal and destination in terms of social duty.

Taleqani believed that the enemies were trying to exclude the Qur’an from the lives of the Muslims and it seemed that the believers were also used to living without the Qur’an. He gradually came to the conclusion that religious knowledge, after the Qur’an, should be taken from Nahj al-Balagha, and that this book had a very significant role in opening the way and finding answers to religious and social issues.

Therefore, he started translating Nahj al-Balagha and with the cooperation of his teacher, Ayatollah Mirza Khalil Kamarei (1897-1984), he prepared a project for the interpretation and translation of Nahj al-Balagha and after that he used all his power to revive the attention to the Qur’an and Nahj al-Balagha in the lives of Muslims.

Since 1939, Taleqani, by inviting a group of young people, secretly held exegesis sessions in homes and gave exegesis of the Qur’an on a mobile basis in some less-known mosques and schools. Also, in the same year, he was imprisoned for a few days following a conflict with Reza Shah’s agents.

His Political Struggles

In August 1941, Taleqani established the Islamic Center, where he interpreted the Qur’an. The method of the Islamic Center was to publish the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah through lectures and the publication of a student magazine. This magazine was banned after publishing eleven issues. People like Mehdi Bazargan (1907-94)) and Seyyed Mojtaba Nawwab Safavi (1924-55) participated in these meetings.

Taleqani was one of the active lecturers and collaborators of the Islamic Council of Technical Faculty of Tehran University, the Islamic Council of Engineering, the Islamic Council of Religion and Knowledge, the Teacher Training Institute, the Organization of Devotees of Islam, and the Muslim League. In these groups and organizations, in addition to publishing and explaining religious teachings, he confronted the spreading trend of Marxism and materialism, and he was probably the first cleric who gave exegetical lectures to the university students. Later, based on the mentioned records, Bazargan introduced Taleqani as the pioneer of the “New Islamic Movement”.

The announcement of the republic by the democratic sect of Azerbaijan [in northwest Iran] made many people worried about the interference of foreigners and the domination of the supporters of Marxism in Iran. In the meantime, the Muslim League, which was founded by a group of clerics in Tehran as a fight against irreligion, sent Taleqani, who was speaking on the radio against the communists at that time, as his representative in the army to Azerbaijan Province to encourage the soldiers and closely monitor the activity of the army and to provide a report.

In the years 1948-9, instead of mobile meetings, Taleqani concentrated his activities in the Hedayat Mosque on [the former] Istanbul Street (now Islamic Republic Street), which at that time was a symbol of being fond of modernism disregarding the religious culture. Very soon, his sessions of the commentary on the Qur’an on Friday Eves attracted the attention of the university students, young people and the public believers, and this mosque became one of the most important bases for the spread of Islamic culture and campaigns.

With the commencement of the nationalization movement of Iran’s oil industry, Taleqani joined this movement. He was a candidate for the city of Chalus people’s representative in the 17th Parliament, but due to the annulment of the elections in that region, he did not enter the parliament. Also, with his encouragement, Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Khwansari issued a fatwa and supported the nationalization of the oil industry. After the coup d'état on 19 August 1953, his Qur’an commentary sessions and his lectures on the pulpit of the mosques gradually took on a political hue. He cooperated with the National Resistance Movement, and to encourage Muslim activists to combat against the tyranny and the dependent royal government, edited, annotated and published the book “Tanbih al-Umma wa Tanzih al-Milla (lit. awakening the community and sanctifying the religion)” compiled by Ayatollah Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Naini (1860-1936) with an introduction and explanatory footnotes.

Taleqani was one of the supporters of the Jam’iyat-e Fadayian-e Islam (The Devotees [or self-sacrificers] of Islam Association) and had close relations with its founder S. Mojtaba Navvab Safavi (1924-56) and approved the positions and actions of that association. He considered the members of that association as faithful and enthusiastic youths who removed the obstacles on the way to the nationalization of the oil industry, and when they were wanted (by the regime), he gave them refuge, and because of this, he was arrested and detained for several days. The Fada’iyan Association also published Ayatollah Taleqani’s “Islam va melkiyyat (Islam and Ownership)” in their publication “Nabard-e Mellat (the nation’s battle)”. “Islam and Ownership” was one of the first efforts of the Shi’a world to outline an acceptable economic system from the point of view of Islam and distinguish it from capitalism and socialism along with some criticisms against those two schools.

In the 1950s, Taleqani traveled to Muslim countries such as Jordan and Egypt once or twice and participated in several conferences and became familiar from nearby (i.e. was closely involved) with the most important issues of Islamic countries, including the occupation of Palestine and the crimes of the Zionists and the establishment of the aggressing regime of Israel, as well as the idea of proximation between Islamic denominations. In the situation where the then government of Iran had recognized the Zionist regime as a de facto government, Taleqani enlightened the audience about the defense of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Following the formation of the Second National Front (Jebhe-ye Melli) in 1960, Taleqani was elected as one of the members of the Central Council [of the Front], but due to disagreements with some of the Front’s leaders on Islamic and religious issues, he founded - together with Mehdi Bazargan and Yadullah Sahabi - the Iranian Freedom Movement (Nehzat-e Azadi-ye Iran). However, he continued to accompany the Front.

On 19 July 1961, he was arrested for a short time due to holding a ceremony for those killed in the 21 July 1952 uprising (Qiyam-e 30 Tir). After the protests of clerics against the contents of the regulations passed by the government of Asadullah Alam (then Prime Minister 1962-4) regarding State and Provincial Associations (anjomanha-ye eyalati va velayati) in the Fall of 1962 (based on which the elected candidates were exempted from taking an oath by the Qur’an), he tried to establish a link between the religious authorities as well as the clerics and members of the Freedom Movement.

In January 1963, during the referendum of the [so-called] White Revolution, Taleqani together with the leaders of the National Front and the Iranian Freedom Movement were arrested and imprisoned for a few months due to their protest against this action. In the days of Muharram 1383 AH (June 1963), he gave speeches in the Hedayat Mosque exposing the nature of the Shah’s regime and the Zionists and criticizing the White Revolution program. For this reason, after the incident of 5 June 1963 (15 Khordad 1342), he was arrested and after a long trial in a military court, he was sentenced to ten years in prison. His courage, frankness, broad-mindedness and faith were very impressive in that court. In the first session of the trial, he announced that the trial was illegal and in the last session, he addressed the audience and recited verses from Surat al-Fajr (Qur’an 89). Taleqani used to give speeches in prison and had a Qur'an commentary class and even held Festival prayers on Eid al-Fitr (the Day of Fast-breaking). In addition, his good behavior as a cleric among the prisoners had lasting effects and fruits. Taleqani was finally released in October 1967, following the revelations of Iranians abroad (about the scandalous measures of the Pahlavi’s regime) and the pressure of international human rights institutions and actions inside the country.

During the years 1967-71, Taleqani worked in various fields; among other things, he gave a speech in support of the Palestinian people on Eid al-Fitr (Day of Fast-breaking) and asked people to deposit the Fitriya (alms given of the Fast-breaking Day) for the Palestinian people. Taleqani's positions in the Freedom Movement were inclined to those of its passionate youths. For example, his support for leftist strugglers or his support for Jamal Abdul Nasser [Egyptian president 1956-70] was against those who considered Nasser’s government to be military and against freedom and democracy.

Taleqani’s commentary of the Qur’an was probably the basis for the formation of armed struggles among the Islamist forces. After the emergence of armed Islamic organizations having an armed approach, Taleqani gave them intellectual and financial support. The founders of the People’s Mojahedin Organization (PMK) of Iran had already gotten to know him by studying Taleqani’s commentary of the Qur’an. At the same time, it should not be overlooked that after his release from prison and on the eve of the Victory of the Islamic Revolution, he emphasized in his commentary discussions the necessity of consolidating religious foundations before political action.

In the Fall of 1971, Taleqani was arrested again and sentenced to three years of exile in the city of Zabul (southeast Iran) and sent there, but with the insistence of the independent judges of justice department, his sentence was changed to one and a half years of exile in Kerman. He returned to Tehran in May 1973 and after his release, he continued his relationship with secret armed organizations. As a result, he was arrested again in November 1975 and sentenced to ten years in prison. In prison, despite his previous support for the People's Mojahedin Organization (PMK), after the tendency of their leaders to Marxism and even the apostasy of some of them became public, he together with several famous clerics who were imprisoned, issued a statement on 20 March 1976 condemning their apostasy.

The events that occurred one after the other at the end of 1977 and in the first months of 1978, after the Pahlavi regime disrespected Imam Khomeini by publishing an article in Ettela’at newspaper, laid the groundwork for a nationwide revolution. Therefore, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi released all political prisoners on 30 October 1978 to prevent this revolutionary uprising. While Taleqani was in the public health department of Qasr Prison due to illness, he was released with the enthusiastic reception of the people of Tehran.

Immediately after he was released, he was included among the leaders of the Islamic Revolution, and his home in Pich Shemiran neighborhood (in Tehran) became an office for people and revolutionaries to refer to. Until Imam Khomeini’s return [from France] to Iran and his arrival in Tehran, that home was one of the main centers for advancing the process of the Revolution and popular movements, regardless of inclinations, and the political opinions of individuals. Part of the administration of sit-ins and strikes, as well as solving problems caused by lack of fuel and energy, were among the activities of this office. However, his office gradually became a place for the Iranian People's Mojahedin (PMK) of Iran and leftist groups and even some profiteerers.

Shortly after his release from prison, Taleqani tried to form a council of leaders and political groups on his own initiative. Sometime after the initial core of the Revolutionary Council was formed in Paris, on the beginning days of January 1977, he was elected as the head of the Revolutionary Council at the invitation of Imam Khomeini; however, his presence in the Revolutionary Council was independent and far from party affiliation. At this point of time, in order for him to prevent violence and extremism and retaliatory actions, Taleqani continuously issued statements, gave interviews and delivered speeches. He also asked Imam Khomeini, when he stayed in Neauphle-le-Château (a commune near Paris), to announce a general amnesty upon his arrival in Tehran, as taking model from the Prophet concerning his behavior in the Conquest of Mecca [in the year 10/632].

In the march on the Day of Tasu’a (10 December 1978), which was held at the invitation of the “Association of Struggling Clergy (Jame’e-ye Rouhaniyyat-e Mobarez)”, Taleqani also called the people to the march and accompanied them. Sitting in at Tehran University Mosque together with clerics, in protest against the action of the government of [then Prime Minister] Shapour Bakhtiar in closing Tehran’s International Mehrabad Airport to prevent Imam Khomeini from entering Iran, was one of his other activities in the days before the victory of the revolution.

Taleqani had views on some issues different those of other revolutionary clerics; among them, he did not consider the premiership of Bazergan to be good, despite his close friendship with him, due to his concern about its consequences. He also supported those members of the Organization of the Iranian People’s Mojahedin (PMK) who did not accept the change in the Organization’s ideology.

After the Islamic Revolution

After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Taleqani was considered an important and influential figure inside and outside the country, and he was among those who were referred to by the leaders of the liberation and revolutionary movements. This fact, along with the pressure of his advocates, occasionally led to interference in the affairs of the interim government.

At the end of March 1979 he went at the head of a high-ranking delegation on behalf of the Interim Government, to Kurdistan Province, which was affected by unrest, and negotiated with the heads of groups and prominent personalities in the region. After that, an agreement was reached to form a popular council and it helped to calm the tense situation in that area. He also proposed the formation of local councils and sent representatives to the Provinces of Gonbad, Sistan-Baluchestan and other troubled areas.

On 13 April 1979, the incident of the arrest of his two children, Abu ’l Hasan and Mojtaba, and Mojtaba’s Palestinian wife, by the Islamic Revolution Committee, caused Taleqani distress, and he protested against what he called the arbitrariness of some revolutionary institutions and considered it to deprive the people of their freedom. He closed his offices and went to an unknown place for a few days. This issue ended with the official intervention of Imam Khomeini and Taleqani’s meeting with him in Qom, and then Taleqani’s enlightening speech at Faydiyya Seminary School. After disputes arose over how to prepare and approve the draft of the Constitution, it was decided at the suggestion of Taleqani, that an assembly consisting of a number of experts [whose members would be elected as the nation’s representatives] will examine the [draft of the] Constitution and submit the result to a referendum. Subsequently, he himself won the first vote of the people of Tehran Province in the election of the Assembly of Constitutional Experts, which was held to determine the representatives of each province, but due to the reasons, the most important of which was his death in the first days of the formation of the Assembly of Experts, he practically played no role in it.

The Theory of Council [i.e. the affairs of a group being by counsel among themselves] was the most significant and lasting aspect of Taleqani’s social and political thinking. He explained it on the basis of the Qur’anic verses and the Sunnah of the Infallibles and propounded it for the establishment of a desirable political system within the framework of religious traditions and teachings and in accordance with the cultural standards of the Iranian society, and defended it as a model of popular and democratic participation.

Shortly after the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Taleqani suggested to Imam Khomeini to revive the tradition of Friday prayers, which he had previously held in prison. Subsequetnly, he was appointed by the latter as the first Friday Prayer Leader in the Islamic Republic.

The first Friday prayer was held in [the courtyard of] Tehran University on 13 April 1979 with the presence of hundreds of thousands of prayig people. He also led the first Eid al-Fitr (Day of Fast-breaking) Prayer after the victory of the Islamic Revolution (in 1979) on 24 August at the University of Tehran and made important remarks regarding the issues of the day and criticizing the efforts and riots of the opponents and radical movements, and emphasized the leadership of Imam Khomeini.

The last Friday Prayer Held by Taleqani was on 7 September 1979 in Behesht Zahra Cemetery [in the vicinity of the capital] in the section dedicated to the martyrs of 17th of Shahrivar 1357 SAH (8 September 1978). In the sermons of that day, he asked the members of the parliament to review and pass the constitution and leave the work of the people to themselves by passing [the bill of] the councils (Ja’fari, Muhammad Mahdi, vol. 30, pp. 537-541).

Accompanying Imam Khomeini

The history of acquaintance of Ayatollah Taleqani with Imam Khomeini and knowing him dates back to the years of study in Qom Seminary and their early seminary education. Taleqani says in this regard:

“I have closely associated with him since I was a junior seminary student, and his thoughts, ideas and good records are clear and obvious to everyone. Grand Ayatollah Khomeini has had a special sanctity from the very beginning and has been and still is distinguished in every aspect.”

From the beginning of the courses of seminary education until the victory of the Islamic Revolution and then the death of Taleqani, these two knowledgeable, brave and struggling clerics have always been on the same path of true Islam, which is the path of uprising against tyranny and colonialism and the establishment of justice. They both always accompanied and supported one another in the forefront of the struggles of the Iranian nation, and Taleqani’s attitude towards Imam Khomeini in the forefront of the struggles of the Iranian nation has always been clear and unambiguous.

In the beginning of 1971, following the death of Grand Ayatollah Hakim in Najaf, which caused the religious and political officials and the general public to run around to identify the new Shi’a religious authority, and the Shah’s regime was determined to send a telegram to several clerics and religious authorities of that time in the city of Qom, with the purpose of signalizing one of them as a rival for Ayatollah Khomeini, Taleqani together with a group of religious intellectuals emphasized not only the issue of Imam Khomeini’s qualification for religious authority, but also his qualification for leadership, through speeches and distribution of various leaflets, which caused him to be imprisoned. After the death of Ayatollah Hakim, when Taleqani was asked about the religious authorities and the most-learned mujtahids to be followed [by the believers], he said:

“If you ask in terms of religious authority and legal knowledge (faqaha), all these people are clerics and jurisprudents of the Twelver Shi’a, but in terms of leadership, courage and attention to the issues of the day, Hajji Seyyed Ruhollah will surpass them all.”

These two reformist and mujahid clerics were in constant contact to eliminate the common enemy and reach the common goal. Ayatollah Martyr Doctor Beheshti says in this regard:

“Since the great leader of the [Islamic] Revolution, Imam Khomeini, supplied the Revolution with a new direction and spirit, there were meetings and relations between Ayatollah Taleqani and Imam Khomeini, I myself witnessed their meeting and relationship many times in those years”.

During the long period of Imam Khomeini’s exile to Iraq and then to France, that Taleqani was either in prison or in exile, or kept under strict surveillance by the security officers the SAVAK, none of these factors could interrupt his relationship with the leadership of the Movement.

The following letter written by Imam Khomeini in 1975 in response to Hajji Shaykh Muhammad Kiyani-nezhad’s letter, shows the friendly and confidential relationship of these two great mujahids in those years of maximum political suffocation:

“I received your precious letter from Makkah. It is hoped that your sincere rituals be accepted by Allah, Glorified is He, and you will be successful in guidance. As for going on pilgrimage to Makkah in the coming years, there is no harm with it considering the mentioned situation [explained in your letter]. As for the religious funds that are given to Hojjat ul-Islam Taleqani to be distributed, it is good to consult him and do whatever he deems appropriate. As for sending money to him, there is no harm in it because he is authorized [to receive it]. Please remember me in your prayers.”

As it is understood from the brief text of this letter, the importance of the matter is not merely the jurisprudential authorization, but also the approval and agreement in the process of the struggle, which Imam Khomeini considers Taleqani to be authorized in receiving and spending religious funds. The importance of this letter is due to the fact that at that time, some ignorant scholars and clerics considered Taleqani’s financial and intellectual aid to some anti-regime religious groups as wrong and did not consider any aid to them permissible. The government agents also spread widespread rumors and propaganda against him. Taleqani believed that any government that is formed in Iran should be within the framework of the struggles of the Iranian nation under the leadership of Imam Khomeini.

In the case of the arrest of Taleqani’s children, which led to the closure of Taleqani’s offices in Tehran, after Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini (the Imam’s son) met with him and informed him of the Imam’s concern for the presuming of foreign and deviant agents on this issue for causing division and opportunism, Taleqani immediately had his offices opened and, while returning to Tehran, emphasized the leadership of Imam Khomeini and said:

“The world has accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, and not merely us.”

In October 1978, when the Revolution was in a critical situation, agents of Pahlavi’s Royal Court and the SAVAK released Taleqani from prison in order to signalize his character (rivalling that of Imam Khomeini) and divert the Revolution from its original path, but Taleqani who was aware of this conspiracy, released a statement and emphasized his support for the Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, and thereby intensified the Movement of the revolutionary masses and thwarted the SAVAK conspiracy.

Ayatollah Taleqani, in his speech on July 21, 1979 in Baharestan Square (in Tehran) expressed his stance towards Imam Khomeini as the following:

“The Leader (Ayatollah Khomeini) is so much decisive and gifted with faith and goodwill so that you can rarely find a leader like him. Some groups complain that we do not have a way, they (indeed) complain for no good reason. A listening ear (alluding to: the Qur’an 9:61) listens to the words as it was in the time of the Prophet (s.`a.w.) and then orders what is correct and enforceable. Sometimes, when I go (from the Capital) to the city of Qom [where Imam Khomeini resides], just for a political issue, the newspapers make a controversy and make big headlines. Yes, it is a case of exchanging opinions. Whenever I feel despair, (I go to meet him) I see determination, trust and sincerity from such a leader. If we don’t appreciate it, as a result of this ingratitude, we will be punished by Allah (in the Hereafter).”

Therefore, the positions, interviews, and documents of Taleqani left behind, all show his support for the leadership of the Islamic Revolution. On the other hand, Imam Khomeini’s position and opinion about Taleqani expressed on various occasions are unique by themselves.

(for instance,) In his speech after Taleqani’s death in Faydiya Seminary School, Imam Khomeini addressed the people and said:

“(Indeed) We have lost a brother, our nation has lost a father, and Islam has lost a warrior (mujahid).”

During the meeting with Taleqani’s family, he also said:

“The late Taleqani was honest. He thought honestly and acted in all honesty. He was not deviated to the left or right; nor was he westoxicated (enamored of the west) or eastoxicated (enamored of the east). He was Islamic, he (just) followed the teachings of Islam, and he was useful for a nation, and his departure is a loss (for us)” (cf. Azizi, Heshmatullah, pp. 215-220).

His Death

Ayatollah Taleqani died in the evening of 10 September (1979). His body was buried next to the graves of the martyrs of the Islamic Revolution in Behesht Zahra Cemetery [in the vicinity of the capital] after a mass funeral procession. Imam Khomeini in his message of condolence on his death, considered him as the great Companion of the Prophet (s.`a.w.) Abu Dharr al-Ghifari for Islam and emphasized that his eloquent tongue was as efficient as the sword of [Imam `Ali’s disciple and army commander] Malik Ashtar al-Nakha’i (Ja’fari, Muhammad Mahdi, vol. 30, p. 541).

His works

Ayatollah Taleqani’s works and writings are a diverse and valuable collection, including authorship, commentary, translation, essays and speeches, which were written in the most difficult time and place conditions, in travel and presence, in exile and in prison, with great effort and struggle. Some of his works are as follows:

1. “Partovi az Qur’an (A ray of the Qur’an – a commentary on the Qur’an)”: This commentary of the Qur'an, which is considered the most important work of Ayatollah Taleqani, was written during almost sixteen years from 1963 to 1979, under Taleqani's most difficult conditions of the mosque, prison or exile. In the opinion of many Islamic researchers, this unfinished, small-volume, but rich commentary brought about a change in the knowledge of the Qur'an and a movement in the educated young generation, and it was highly regarded in the religious, scientific and exegetical community.

The most important message of this commentary, representing the thought of Ayatollah Taleqani is that the Qur'an is a book of guidance, not a book of scientific, philosophical, legal analysis and the like. This work caused Ayatollah Taleqani to be mentioned as one of the pioneers of the movement of returning to the Qur'an in Iran. In fact, in this work, he was influenced by the movement of elders and reformers such as Shaykh Muhammad `Abduh [1849-1905] and Rashid Rida [1865-1935] (pupils of Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi [1838-97]) and the founders of the movement of returning to the Qur'an. This work, which is [considered as] a religious, scientific, mystical, historical and social encyclopedia with a new method, has been, published in six volumes by Sherkat-e Sahami Enteshar (lit. joint-stock company Publishers).

Concerning the value and importance of this commentary Hojjat-ul-Islam, S. Mahmoud Du'aei, a high official in the Imam Khomeini's office said:

“In Najaf I had presented the book “Partovi az Qur’an (A ray of the Qur’an)” to Imam Khomeini to study. After some time, I heard his elder son Martyr Seyyed Mustafa saying that the Imam emphatically had recommended him to study it for sure and to draw inspiration from it both in the methodology and the understandings and apply them in his own work on the commentary of the Qur'an. The Imam's recommendation to study this book and his absolute approval for it was so much serious that surprised his son due to the fact that the Imam had a cautious manner with regard to the individuals and their writings”. (Azizi, Heshmatullah, pp. 37-38).

2. Governance in the eyes of Islam: After the coup d'état on 19 August 1953, when the atmosphere of silence and suffocation once again cast a shadow on Iranian society, Ayatollah Taleqani, who wrote most of his works according to the requirements of the age, attempted to edit and publish a valuable and forgotten book. Allama [Mirza Husayn] Naini's Tanbih al-Ummah wa Tanzih al-Millah (lit. awakening the community and purification of the religion) was written during the [Iranian] Constitutional Movement (1905-9). Taleqani revived this book after it was abandoned for a long time, and was likely close to being put into oblivion. In fact, after Taleqani's work, this book became known and received attention. Taleqani did not revise the original text of the book, but rather he wrote a very good introduction and explanations on it.

According to Taleqani, the general purpose of this book was:

“To express the state and conditions of the governance from the point of view of Islam and Shi'ism... This book is an argumentative jurisprudence for the researchers, and a book of practical laws of Islam on social tasks for the common people”.

Taleqani's intention for reviving and introducing this precious work was to condemn the authoritarian governments, and exposing their nature and also to encourage the clergy to interfere in the politics and fate of society (ibid., pp. 36-37).

3. Translation and commentary of 81 sermons from Nahj al-Balagha: This book was published in 1947. Later, with the permission of Ayatollah Taleqani, Seyyed Muhammad Mahdi Ja'fari continued his translation and research [employing the same method] and published it in five volumes in a book under the title of “Partovi az Nahj al-Balagha (A Ray of Nahj al-Balagha)”.

4. Translation of the book al-Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib: He translated and published the first volume of the book al-Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib authored by the famous [Egyptian] scholar `Abd al-Fattah `Abd al-Maqsoud in 1956-7, but later he failed to translate the rest of the book due to political-social troubles, imprisonment and exile.

In 1970, Mr. Jafari was suggested to translate the next volumes of this book, which was valuable due to its importance in proximation between the Sunni and Shia denominations. He translated the second volume under the supervision and guidance of Ayatollah Taleqani, and the next volumes independently. The whole work was published in eight volumes by Sherkat-e Sahami-ye Enteshar (the joint stock company).

In fact, Ayatollah Taleqani recommends and emphasizes to the researchers and intellectuals of the society by doing these two translations the field of research and the necessity of knowing Imam `Ali (a.s.), the Commander of the Faithful and his government.

5. Islam and Ownership: In addition to religious, political and cultural issues, Taleqani paid special attention to economic issues by raising the topic of ownership in the Islamic Student Association during 1950-2 and writing the book “Islam and Ownership”. In this book, while examining and rejecting the capitalist and socialist economic systems that at that time had divided the world into two poles of socialism and communism, Taleqani cited Islamic and Qur'anic jurisprudential foundations, and challenged this important issue in the Islamic jurisprudence, and established the Islamic economic system. In fact, by writing this book, for the first time in the history and jurisprudence of the Shi'a, Taleqani opened a chapter in the Islamic economy and the limits of ownership; and in the midst of the propaganda of anti-Islamic groups, he confronted [indeed] the socialism and capitalism in the East and the West [Translated into English by A. Jabbari and F. Rajaee. Lexington, Kentucky: Mazda Publishers, 1983.] (ibid., pp. 35-36).

6. We are going to God, or the memoirs of the Hajj pilgrimage: This pilgrimage took place in 1952 after a few months of Taleqani's participation in the Karachi Muslim People's Conference. He first went to Iraq and visited the Holy Shrines of the Imams and the cultural centers of that country, and then travelled to Syria and visited the Holy Shrines there. After that he went to Beirut (Lebanon) and from there to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). At that time, the Iranians were suffering from much difficulties; because the national government of Dr. Mossadeq was in office and the governments who were under influence of British policy were highly restrict to Iran. In this informative travelogue, Ayatollah Taleqani complains about the companions more than about the officials of Saudi Arabia; that is the companions who are ignorant or negligent about the spirit of Hajj, disregard the unity of Muslims and suffer from lack of knowledge about the today's world politics and neglect the spiritual issues. This travelogue is a very clear and expressive picture of the political, social and cultural situation in the Middle East at that period of time.

7. Centralization and decentralization of religious authority and fatwa:

After the death of the exclusive authority of the entire Shi'a world, Ayatollah Borujerdi (in 1961), some scholars and religious thinkers in Tehran and Qom thought of holding a seminar to discuss authority and its centralization or decentralization, that is, being the religious authority as a council or being it as an individual. This seminar was not held for one reason or another, however, each of the participants-to-be wrote an article that were published under the title of A Discussion about Religious Authority and Clergy by Sherkat-e Sahami-ye Enteshar Publishers (Enteshar Joint-stock Company).

According to Hamid Algar (Encyclopedia of Islam under the article “Islah (Reform)”, it is perhaps the most effective and informative religious writing written in Persian since the publication of the book Tanbih al-Umma. One of its important articles was the above-mentioned title by Ayatollah Taleqani, who concluded after a historical, political and jurisprudential discussion that considering the political and cultural situation of the world, it is better to have the religious authority in the form of a council and that the fatwa (verdict) to be issued based on the expertise of the members of the Religious Authority Council.

8. Religious, social, moral, philosophical, educational discourses.

9. Explanation of the Mission for maintaining justice: including six speeches in the Hedayat Mosque in November and December 1978 (ibid., pp. 34-35).

10. Sermons of Friday Prayer and Eid al-Fitr (Day of Fast-breaking)

11. The future of mankind and directions for a bright future

12. Hijab, the woman's personality

13. A discussion about religious authority and the clergy

14. Freedom and tyranny

15. Speech on Ashura

16. And More…


1. Azizi, Heshmatullah, Life and Struggles of Ayatollah Taleqani, Tehran, Islamic Revolution Documentation Center, 1st edition, summer 20098.

2. Mir Abol-Qasemi, Seyyed Muhammad Husayn, “Seyyed Abol-Hasan Taleqani”, in Danehsname-ye Jahan-e Islam (Encyclopedia of the Muslim World), vol. 30, pp. 535-7, under the supervision of Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, , Islamic Encyclopedia Foundation, 1st edition, Tehran, 2021.

3. Ja'fari, Muhammad Mahdi, “Seyyed Mahmoud Taleqani”, in Danehsname-ye Jahan-e Islam (Encyclopedia of the Muslim World), vol. 30, pp. 537-41, under the supervision of Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, Islamic Encyclopedia Foundation, 1st edition, Tehran, 2021.

4. Mollai Tawani, Ali Reza, Political Biography of Ayatollah Taleqani, Nay Publishers, 2nd edition, Tehran, 2010.

5. Ja'fari, Muhammad Mahdi, 1389, Ayatollah Taleqani va Tafsir Partovi az Qur'an (Ay. Taleqani and the Commentary: a ray from the light of the Qur'an), in collaboration with Akbar Thaqfiyan and Ali Ojbi, Khane-ye Ketab, second edition, Tehran, [2010].