Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi
|Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi|
|Born||23 March 1875|
|Died||March 30, 1961(aged 86)|
Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi (Persian: آیت الله العظمی سید حسین طباطبایی بروجردی, 23 March 1875 – 30 March 1961) was a Shia Marja' and the leading Marja in Iran from roughly 1947 to his death in 1961.
Education and academic specialties
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. 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.
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 masoomeen 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 Marja
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 Hassan 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.
Efforts toward Islamic unity
He established cordial relations with Mahmud Shaltut, the grand Shaykh of al-Azhar Mosque. Together, the two scholars established the "House for Bringing Muslim Sects Nearer" in Cairo. Shaltut issued a famous fatwa accepting the Shi'a faith as one of the recognised sects of Islam.
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.
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. 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." 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.
- Mottahedeh, Roy, The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran, One World, Oxford, 1985, 2000, p.231
- Hamid Algar, "Borujerdi, Ayatollah Hajj Agha Hosayn Tabataba'i," Encyclopedia Iranica Online, Available at www.iranica.com
- Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.231
- Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.230
- Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.237-8
- Sayyid Husain Borujirdi
- "Bourjerdi dies in Iran," The New York Times, March 31, 1961, p. 27.
- Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.240
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