Mohammad Yaqoobi

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Not to be confused with Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.
Grand Ayatollah Muhammad al-Yaqoobi
Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoobi 1434.jpg
Religion Usuli Twelver Shi`a Islam
Other names Arabic: محمد اليعقوبي
Born (1960-09-09) 9 September 1960 (age 54)
Najaf, Iraq
Senior posting
Based in Najaf, Iraq
Title Grand Ayatollah
Period in office 2003–present
Predecessor Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr
Religious career
Post Grand Ayatollah

Mohammad al-Yaqoobi (Arabic: محمد اليعقوبي‎; born 9 September 1960) is a prominent Iraqi Twelver Shi'a Marja' with the title of Grand Ayatollah.[1][2] After Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, he has the largest following in Iraq. Aside from religious issues and giving Islamic verdicts, the Ayatollah is heavily involved in both social and political work; heading the Islamic Virtue Party.[3] He established one of the largest, most prestigious women's Hawzas in Iraq, and has many charitable organisations in his name, all over Iraq.[4][5]

His primary education was at Imam Jawad Private Shia School. He graduated with a B.A. in Civil Engineering from Baghdad University in 1982, and joined the Najaf Hawza in 1992.[6]


Sheikh Muhammad is the son of Sheikh Musa the son of Sheikh Muhammad `Ali the son of Sheikh Yaqoobi the son of Hajj Ja`far. An orator and poet, his father (AH 1345-1402/ AD 1926-1982) published the al-Iman Magazine in the holy city of al-Najaf in the period between AD 1963 and 1968. This magazine was described as having been the tongue of this city that expressed its pangs and expectations during that period, which swarmed with great thinkers and scholars, as well as numerous intellectual and social trends that surged forward in Iraq in general and al-Najaf in particular.

His grandfather, Sheikh Muhammad `Ali (AH 1313-1385/ AD 1896-1965) was given the title of Sheikh al-khutaba' (Chief of Orators), because he had founded a new school of oration (khitabah, a religious speech delivered on religious occasions) in which a good number of great preachers trained on oration.

His father’s grandfather, Sheikh Yaqoobi (AH 1270-1329/ AD 1853-1910) was a great poet and a skilled preacher. He studied in the Gnostic school of Sheikh Husayn Quli al-Hamadani and Sheikh Ja`far al-Shushtari. His poetical works are published in an independent book.

Hajj Ja`far (AH 1200-1289), the head of the family from whom the current al-Yaqoobi Family ramified, was one of the celebrated personalities of al-Najaf city. He owned many estates. Sheikh Musa the son of Sheikh Ja`far Kashif al-Ghita' (d. AH 1243) entrusted to him the mission of building a wall around the city of al-Najaf for protecting it from the attacks of the Wahhabis.

Early life[edit]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoobi was born in the holy city of al-Najaf and, more precisely, in the house of his grandfather in the dawn on the seventeenth of Rabi` al-Awwal, AH 1380 falling on September 1960, which coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Muhammad. He grew up in the house of his grandfather until 1968 when his father moved to Baghdad where he had religious and social responsibilities and relations with the late Martyr Sayyid Mahdi, the son of the supreme religious authority, Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim.

In Baghdad, Sheikh Muhammad completed his primary and secondary studies so successfully that he joined College of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, in Baghdad University in 1978. He was then graduated in 1982, but he refused to join the military service, because of ideological differences. He married the daughter of Martyr Sayyid Muhsin al-Musawi al-Ghurayfi, a family that had many marriage relationships with the al-Yaqoobi family.

Since childhood, Sheikh Muhammad accompanied his father to his preaching sessions and to the mosques where he used to lead congregational prayers. He was less than ten year old when he used to recite supplications that he had retained on the participants in these congregational prayers after the accomplishment of prayers. That was the beginning of his religious education. He also excelled in school and loved reading religious materials. In the summers he studied at the hands of late Sayyid `Ali al-`Alawi religious studies designed for youth until the latter's banishment to Iran.

In the second stage of the intermediate school, Sheikh Muhammad joined Imam al-Jawad Private School of Shi`ite Studies. In addition to the familiar academic classes, Sheikh Muhammad received lectures in Islamic edification under the late Martyr Sheikh `Abd al-Jabbar al-Basri.

Having finished his intermediate school successfully in 1975, Sheikh Muhammad joined the al-Sharqiyyah Preparatory School in al-Karradah that granted him a bigger opportunity to meet with a select of religious youth who then participated in the movement of Martyr Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr in the late seventies of the past century, despite political persecution and physical executions.

In 1978, he joined the Baghdad University and was very greatly interested in the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the return of Imam Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran in February 1979. Repressive measures of the Iraqi authorities followed with its campaign of detention that included many of the pro-Iranian religious and mindful youth, particularly with the ascension to power of Saddam Hussein and issuance of the doomed resolution of the so-called Iraqi Revolution Council Command in March 1980 that decided sentencing to execution every one who would have any relation to the movement of Martyr al-Sadr. This was followed by the devastating Iraq-Iran War.

Yaqoobi attempted to postpone joining the obligatory Iraqi military service after graduation, by skipping classes but to no avail. Having passed the exams of the second turn, he had to join the military service as a civil engineer in the Ministry of Defense all the while planning for escape to Iran which never materialized.

When the Iraq-Iran war ceased and the Iraqi ruling authorities reduced their persecution against people, he sought to achieve his desire for joining the Seminary (Hawza: university of religious studies) in al-Najaf so as to complete his previous readings and religious education.

At that time, he performed Istikhara (praying Almighty God to guide to the best of two or more choices) about joining the Seminary, but the result was that I should wait and take his time. So, he had no other choice but to engage in earning, because I became responsible for a family. In my workplace, Martyr Sayyid Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr visited him many times. However, his engagement in work could not divert him from reading and researching. including authoring a book I entitled al-Riyaadhiyyat wa’l-Fiqh (Mathematics and Jurisprudence), which was published by his mentor Sayyid Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr at the end of the eighth volume of his famous book Ma Wara' al-Fiqh (Meta-jurisprudence). After that he joined the Seminary, where he developed this book in both quantity and quality to produce an expanded book entitled al-Riyaaiyyat Lil-Faqih (Mathematics for Jurisprudents).

After another Istikhara he put on the uniform of the religious people in Sha`ban 1412 AH/ February 1992 at the hands of the late Ayatollah Sayyid Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei in the presence of a number of scholars and jurisprudents who congratulated him Expressing his joy, Martyr Sayyid Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr said, “This is a true glad tiding!” [7]


Sheikh al-Yaqoobi joined the al-Najaf University of Religious Studies, which was headed by the late Sayyid Muhammad Kalantar, because this university was the one and only institution where study was regularly organized. He gave an exam in the office of the late Sayyid Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei and passed the exam with excellent grades. He then studied the Principles of Muslim Jurisprudence under Sheikh Muhammad Jawad al-Mahdawi and Muslim Jurisprudence under Sheikh al-Mahdawi and Sayyid Hasan al-Mar`ashi. He then studied the Rights of Cancellation (khayar) up to the end of the aforementioned book under the well-versed scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Amin al-Mamuqani. During this period, he used to seize any opportunity to present himself in the office of Martyr Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, as a referential authority (marji`), in order to submit to him the lectures that he had intended and ask him about his views. In that office, many discussions took place and many ideas were kindled in the mentality of Sheikh al-Yaqoobi. These discussions have had the greatest effect on the polishing of his scientific talents.

In addition to knowledge, Sheikh al-Yaqoobi learnt from his mentors the commitment to and abidance by seeking knowledge with accuracy and in terms of reciprocal respect. He also learnt supreme courtesy that he later put out in his books on morality, especially in the field of the relationship between students and their mentors.

Although he did not have in mind the idea of joining the stage of independent research (bahth kharij: the highest level of study in religious seminaries) before he would complete the final stage (sutuh), his mentor Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr encouraged him to attend the classes of this stage. Attending these highest researches under well-versed mentors, he also continued to attend the classes of the Principles of Muslim Jurisprudence as well.

On the last days of Shawwal 1414 AH (April 1994), Sheikh al-Yaqoobi commenced writing down a two-volume book that was published later. He kept on attending the classes of his mentor, Martyr al-Sadr, up to the martyrdom of the latter in Dhu’l-Qa`dah 1419 AH (1999). The last research he had attended was the research of prohibitions (nawahi: matters that are deemed prohibited in the Islamic Law)

In Dhu’l-Hijjah 1415 AH, Sheikh al-Yaqoobi began attending the classes of Muslim Jurisprudence under Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani. During these classes, he made conclusive researches on the ritual fasting (sawm) and other researches on the ritual poor-rate (zakat). He preserved in attending these classes until their conclusion in Safar 1420. For two years (AH 1416-1418), he studied researches on Muslim Jurisprudence according to the book of al-Makasib under the late martyr al-Mirza `Ali al-Gharawi. In order to complete what he had already studied under Martyr Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, Sheikh al-Yaqoobi joined the classes of Sheikh Mohammad Ishaq Al-Fayyad, al-Gharawi’s mentor, when he started classes on the second half of the Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Muslim Jurisprudence). He studied there for four years (1417-1421 AH) as a result of which he had completed an entire course on Usul al-Fiqh.

In addition to logic, ethics, and social awareness, Sheikh al-Yaqoobi taught Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh in all degrees of the final stage (sutuh). Of course, he delivered many lectures on these topics some of which have been recently published. He used to take advantage of the religious occasions as well as the beginning and end of academic years in order to give such lectures.

He has been given three licenses of narration (riwayah: narration of traditions); one by Sayyid Muhammad Kalantar on the authority of Sayyid al-Sabzawari, Sayyid al-Beheshti, and Agha Buzurg al-Tahrani, another by the well-versed Dr. Husayn `Ali Mahfudh who was given license to narrate from seventy ways of narration, and the third by Sayyid `Abd al-Sattar al-Hasani who had his own ways of narration.[8]


A number of mujtahids have testified to Sheikh al-Yaqoobi’s having attained the degree of Ijtihad, which is a supreme rank of knowledgeability in issues appertained to Islamic laws and Muslim jurisprudence. One was handwritten by Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad `Ali Garami al-Qummi, who is licensed for Ijtihad by Ayatollah Sheikh Hussein-Ali Montazeri. Based on the fact that some of the books intended in the previously mentioned license of Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeqi Tehrani were written in AH 1420, Sheikh al-Yaqoobi enjoyed the faculty of Ijtihad since that time.

The era that followed the martyrdom of Sayyid Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr and the holding of the leadership of the Islamic movement in Iraq by Sheikh al-Yaqoobi required a lot of intellectual, moral, and social enlightenment. Sheikh al-Yaqoobi made many attempts to promote the Islamic thought through various methods and techniques, such as the issuance of books, booklets, brochures, and cassettes.[9]

He used to make use of some religious occasions as well as the beginning and the termination of study in the Seminary to deliver lectures on topics like social awakening and Islamic thought. As a result of these lectures, he could create a large popular vigilance, restore self-confidence in the mentalities of the masses, continue conveying the genuine mission of Islam after it was shaken in the mentalities of many faithful people due to the martyrdom of Martyr Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, and eradicate the state of frustration that crept into the hearts of people, especially when the ruling authorities worked towards annihilating all the features of the movement of al-Sadr.[10]

Thus, nothing of the practical traces of al-Sadr remained except the al-Sadr University of Religious Studies. Supported by the students and teachers of this religious university, Sheikh al-Yaqoobi made all possible efforts to save this scientific faculty despite of the big pressures they had to encounter. Consequently, this university took custody of the elite students and teachers who represented the movement of al-Sadr and who undertook the greatest part of the mission of maintaining the Islamic movement, helping the head of the university write many works and interviews that have had echoes in the society and addressed the majority of the social classes, such as his books on the religious laws appertained to the students of universities, the labourers, the employees, the fishermen, and the tribes. He also wrote about the religious laws appertained to the traders of antiques, raising their social rank and making them feel that they had a share in the Seminary’s interest. Accordingly, a number of them returned to abiding by the religious laws.[11]


  • A Research on Derivatives according to the views of the Usulists; statements of his mentor, Martyr al-Sadr II, dealing with his views about `Ilm al-Usul (Principles of Jurisprudence).
  • Al-Faridhah al-Mu`attalah (The Deserted Religious Duty); a deductive jurisprudential research on the individual duty (wajib ta`yini, i.e. it must be carried by each individual independently) of performing the Friday Congregational Prayer.
  • Al-Qawl al-Fasl fi Ahkam al-Khall (The Conclusive Word about the Laws of Vinegar); a deductive, jurisprudential, and scientific research linking between chemistry and Muslim jurisprudence.
  • Al-Riyadhiyyat Lil-Faqih (Mathematics for Jurisprudents); profound mathematical deductions on some questions appertained to fiqh (Muslim jurisprudence) and usul al-fiqh (Principles of Muslim Jurisprudence).
  • Masa'il fi’l-Fiqh al-Istidlali al-Muqaran (Questions in Contrastive Deductive Jurisprudence); a number of profound deductive researches on some of the most important controversial question among jurisprudents.
  • Buhuth Istidlaliyyah fi Masa'il Khilafiyyah (Deductive Researches on Controversial Questions); the lectures of the stage of Independent Research (in the Seminary) that Sheikh al-Yaqoobi delivered in the holy city of al-Najaf. The first volume of this book has been published.
  • Al-Uswah al-Hasanah lil-Qadati wa’l-Muslihin (Leaders and Reformists; Excellent Exemplars); lessons on self-building and policy of the Muslim nation as extracted from Muhammad’s traditions.
  • Ahkam al-Sawm wa-Adabuhu (Laws and Etiquettes of the Ritual Fasting); a practical jurisprudential thesis on the laws of the ritual fasting as commentary on the book of Manhaj al-Salihin by Martyr Sayyid al-Sadr II.
  • Subul al-Salam (Courses to Peace); a practical jurisprudential thesis clarifying the most significant issues of the religious laws, written in an up-to-date style.
  • Manasik al-Hajj (Rites of Hajj); a book on the laws and etiquettes of the ritual duty of Hajj.
  • Al-Usus al-`Ammah lil-Fiqh al-Ijtima`i (The General Foundations of Socio-Jurisprudence).
  • Dawr al-A'immati fi’l-Hayat al-Islamiyyah (The Role of the Holy Imams in the Islamic Life); an elaborate explanation of and a commentary on a research bearing the same title and written by Martyr Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr. Martyr Sayyid al-Sadr II had also written a commentary on the same research.
  • Intisaran li Umm al-Banin (In Support of Umm al-Banin).
  • Al-Ma`alim al-Mustaqbaliyyah lil-Hawzah al-Sharifah (The Futuristic Features of the Blessed Seminary).
  • Jami`at al-Sadr al-Diniyyah (The al-Sadr University of Religious Studies); the identity and achievements of this scientific faculty.
  • Shahr Ramadhan wa’l-`Eid (The Month of Ramadhan and the Lesser Eid); a book making comparison between the religious laws and the customary traditions pertaining to the month of Ramadhan and the feast that follows it.
  • Min Wahy al-Munasabat (Aroused by Occasions); lectures delivered on various occasions.
  • Min Wahy al-Ghadir (Aroused by al-Ghadir).
  • The Three Complaints:
  • Shakwa al-Qur'an (The Qur'an Complains)
  • Shakwa al-Masjid (The Mosque Complains)
  • Shakwa al-Imam (The Imam Complains)
  • Nahnu wa’l-Gharb (We and the West); a series of books out of which seven parts have been published so far:
  • Nahnu wa’l-Gharb (We and the West)
  • Al-Mu`adil al-Mawdhu`i al-Islami wa-Tahaddiyat al-Mithal al-Maddi (The Islamic Objective Equivalence and the Challenges of the Materialistic Ideal)
  • Nadhrat Islamiyyah fi I`lan Huquq al-Insan (Islamic Glances at the Human Rights Charter)
  • Nadhrah fi Falsafat al-Ahdath (A Glance at the Philosophy of Events)
  • Al-Fikr al-Islami al-Mu`asir wa’l-`Awlamah (The Modern Islamic Thought and Globalization)
  • Falsafat Tashri`at al-Mar'ah (The Logics for Laws of Women)
  • Nidham al-Idarah wa’l-Hukm fi’l-Islam (The Administration and Government System in Islam)
  • Nahwa Mujtama`in Nadhif (Towards a Clean Community); a series of books out of which eleven books have been published so far, each under an independent title:
  • Al-Ghina' Yurithu al-Nifaq (Singing Brings About Hypocrisy)
  • Maw`idhah wa-Irshad fi Fasl al-Sayf (Preaching and Guidance in Summer)
  • Al-Mashakil al-Zawjiyyah (Matrimonial Problems)
  • Rifqan bi’l-Rijal Ya Qawarir (Be Lenient Towards Men, O Vials!)
  • Al-Aids Nadhir Inhiyar al-Hadharah al-Gharbiyyah (AIDS; Foreboding of the Western Civilization Collapse)
  • Kunu Ahraran (Be All Free!)
  • Al-`Amal al-Siyasi min al-Wajibat al-Shar`iyyah (Political Activity; A religious Duty)
  • Habs al-Huquq al-Shar`iyyah min al-Kaba'ir (Refraining From Defraying the Religious Taxes; A Grand Sin)
  • `Undhur al-Sidq fi’l-Shakhsiyyah al-Islamiyyah (Honesty; a Component in the Islamic Personality)
  • Al-Mujtama` al-Islami wa-Mushkilat al-Sihr wa-Ashab al-Nur wa’l-Maqamat al-`Aliyah (The Muslim Community and the Problems of Sorcery and the Men of Illumination and Supreme Ranks)
  • Fiqh al-Mar'ah al-Muslimah (Jurisprudence of Muslim Women)
  • Al-Khitabah al-Nisa'iyyah bayna al-Waqi` wa’l-Tumuh (Women’s Preaching; Actuality and Ambition)
  • Dhawahir Ijtima`iyyah Munharifah (Abnormal Social Phenomena); in three parts.
  • Al-Hawzah wa-Qadhaya al-Shabab (The Seminary and the Issues of the Youth)
  • Al-Fiqh lil-Jami` (Jurisprudence for Everybody); a series of books:
  • Fiqh al-Jami`at (Jurisprudence Appertained to Universities)
  • Fiqh al-`Ummal (Jurisprudence Appertained to Laborers)
  • Fiqh al-`A'ilah (Jurisprudence Appertained to Family)
  • Fiqh al-Mawakib al-Husayniyyah (Jurisprudence Appertained to Ceremonies of Condolence of Imam al-Husayn)
  • Fiqh al-Muwadhafin (Jurisprudence Appertained to Employers)
  • Fiqh al-Sayyadin (Jurisprudence Appertained to Fishermen)
  • Fiqh al-`Atiq (Jurisprudence Appertained to Trade of Antiques)
  • Al-Fiqh wa Salunat al-Hilaqah (Jurisprudence Appertained to Barbershops)
  • Fiqh al-Sayyarat (Jurisprudence Appertained to Automobiles)
  • Fiqh al-Muzari`in (Jurisprudence Appertained to Peasants)
  • Fiqh al-Musawwirin (Jurisprudence Appertained to Photographers)
  • Al-Murshid al-Fiqhi lil-Mu`allimin (Jurisprudential Guide for Teachers)
  • Wasaya wa-Nasa'ih li-Khutaba' wa-Talabat al-Hawzah al-`Ilmiyyah al-Sharifah (Instruction and Advices for Students of the Blessed Seminary)
  • Al-Istima` ila al-Akhbar fi Waqt al-Azamat (Listening to News in Crises)
  • Khitab al-Marhalah (Speeches of the Current Stage); a continuous series of books five of which have been yet published and a set of speeches and guidelines delivered for purpose of educating the masses, promoting their senses, and informing them of their religious duties towards the various surrounding circumstances.
  • Al-Sayyid al-Shahid al-Sadr al-Thani Kama A`rifuhu (Martyr Sayyid al-Sadr II As I Know Him)
  • The Unpublished Heritage of Martyr Sayyid al-Sadr II; a series of books:
  • Hadith al-Ruh (Spiritual Discourse with Martyr Sayyid al-Sadr II) in two volumes.
  • Commentaries on Ayatollah Sayyid al-Khu'i’s Minhaj al-Salihin by Martyr Sayyid al-Sadr II.
  • Qanadil al-`Arifin (Lanterns of the Gnostic); ethical correspondences on self-discipline and heart purity between Martyr Sayyid al-Sadr II and Sheikh al-Yaqoobi.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]