|Grand Ayatollah Muhammad al-Yaqoobi|
|Religion||Usuli Twelver Shi`a Islam|
|Other names||Arabic: محمد اليعقوبي|
9 September 1960 |
|Based in||Najaf, Iraq|
|Period in office||2003–present|
|Predecessor||Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr|
|The Fourteen Infallibles|
Mohammad al-Yaqoobi (Arabic: محمد اليعقوبي; born 9 September 1960) is a prominent Iraqi Twelver Shi'a Marja' with the title of Ayatollah. He established one of the largest women's Hawzas in Iraq, and has a few charitable organisations in his name within Iraq. He is a pariah cleric who is not recognised among the mainstream Shia clergy and is a recently self-proclaimed Ayatollah with a small following.
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 years 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!” 
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.
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.
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.
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.
- List of Maraji
- Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr
- Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr
- Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah