Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi

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Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi
Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi 13980909 1144279.jpg
Mesbah Yazdi in 2020
Member of the Assembly of Experts
In office
23 February 1999 – 23 May 2016
ConstituencyTehran Province
Majority879,883 (23.74%; 2006)[1]
In office
21 February 1991 – 22 February 1999
ConstituencyKhuzestan Province
Personal details
Taqi Givechi[2]

(1935-01-31)31 January 1935
Yazd, Imperial State of Persia
Died1 January 2021(2021-01-01) (aged 85)
Tehran, Iran
Resting placeFatima Masumeh Shrine
Political partyFront of Islamic Revolution Stability (spiritual leader)[3]
Other political
Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom[4]
Children2 sons and 1 daughter[2]
RelativesHossein Noori Hamedani (affinal)[2]
OccupationPolitical activist
Years active1963–1964[2]
MembershipSupreme Council of the Cultural Revolution
Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly
WebsiteOfficial website
Theological work
DenominationJaʿfari Twelver Shīʿā
EraContemporary Islamic philosophy
Main interestsGuardianship of the Islamic Jurist, Jihad[5]
Notable ideasIncompatibility of Islam and democracy[6]
Years active1947–1960 (study)[7]
1966–2021 (teaching)[7]
Alma materQom Seminary
Hindi School, Najaf (1950)
Shāfīʿiya School, Yazd (1940s)
Khān School, Yazd (1940s)
Taught atQom Seminary
Haghani Seminary
Feyziyeh Seminary
InstitutionImam Khomeini Educational Research Institute (1991–2021)
In the Path of God Institute (1976–2021)[7]

Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah[8] (Persian: تقی مصباح‌‎; born Taqi Givechi,[2] Persian: تقی گیوه‌چی‎), commonly known as Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi (Persian: محمدتقی مصباح‌ یزدی‎, 31 January 1935 – 1 January 2021) was an Iranian Shi'i cleric, philosopher and conservative political theorist who served as the spiritual leader of the Front of Islamic Revolution Stability.

He was a member of the Assembly of Experts,[9][10] the body responsible for choosing the Supreme Leader, where he headed a minority faction.[11] He had been called 'the most conservative' and the most 'powerful' clerical oligarch in Iran's leading center of religious learning, the city of Qom.[12]

In Qom, from 1952 to 1960, he participated in the courses taught by Ruhollah Khomeini and Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i. He also attended, for approximately fifteen years, Mohammad-Taqi Bahjat Foumani.[13]

Mesbah Yazdi advocated Islamic philosophy and in particular Mulla Sadra's transcendent school of philosophy (Hikmat-e Muta`aliya). He believed Iranians are moving away from religion and values of Islamic revolution and opposed democratic rule of western country[14] and the west-oriented reform movement.[15][16]

Early life and education[edit]

Mesbah Yazdi's actual last name was Givechi, an occupational surname indicating his ancestors produced a type of traditional footwear called Giveh.[2] After he completed his primary education in Yazd aged 13, he entered Khān School, a seminary in his hometown. He was also in Shāfīʿiya School, another seminary in the city before moving to Najaf's Hindi School in 1950. Yazdi's study in Iraq lasted 7 months.[2] Then he moved to Qom to study in Qom Seminary, where he continued his education in fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). He studied works of Avicenna and Mulla Sadra. His teachers included prominent figures such as Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Bahjat Foumani. He was also among the students of Ayatollah Allameh Tabatabaei, the author of Tafsir al-Mizan, the influential Shi'a exegesis of Quran. He graduated in 1960. Before the Islamic revolution, he assisted the other clerics, i.e., Mohammad Beheshti and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in publishing two journals called "Mission of Prophet Muhammad" and "Revenge", while he was responsible for all the publishing activities in the latter.[17]

Political activity[edit]

First period[edit]

Mesbah Yazdi became politically active in 1963, following the 15th of Khordad movement. He was involved in community organizing and signing petitions against the White Revolution. After Ayatollah Khomeini was released from arrest, Mesbah Yazdi was among clerics who celebrated in the Feyziyeh School.[2] He abandoned activity before Ayatollah Khomeini's exile in 1964 and went back to theological work. He authored works harshly against Ali Shariati's ideas did not contribute to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, according to spectators.[2] Mesbah Yazdi is reported to be "politically isolated" until 1989, when Ruhollah Khomeini died.[2]

Second period[edit]

In 1997, after the election of President Mohammad Khatami, Mesbah Yazdi encouraged Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Hezbolli to put a stop to the reform agitation by any means, including violence.[12] After decline of the reform movement in 2003, his supporters made gains in local and parliamentary elections. In 2005, Mesbah Yazdi supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidential bid and subsequently gained "direct influence" in the Iranian government through the appointment of loyal supporters "to high posts" after Ahmadinejad's victory.[18] By 2011, however, he was sharply critical of Ahmadinejad saying that he was behaving "unnaturally" and needed to be "saved."[19] After Ahmadinejad fired intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi without consulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Mesbah Yazdi stated, "That a human being would behave in a way that angers his closest friends and allies and turns them into opponents is not logical for any politician."[20]

According to some sources, Mesbah-Yazdi is rumored to had ambitions to succeed Khamenei as Supreme Leader.[11][21] Some clerics and some newspapers feared Mesbah-Yazdi was trying to expand his power by "packing" the Assembly of Experts with "loyalists." In October 2006, an acolyte of Mesbah-Yazdi, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, was appointed head of the election commission, supervisor of the poll for the Assembly of Experts,[22] and many of the candidates in the 2006 Assembly of Experts elections were Mesbah-Yazdi loyalists (though they ran as independent candidates to avoid revealing their affiliation to him).[18] However, his group failed to achieve a majority in that election, leaving the assembly in the hands of pragmatic conservatives.[23] Mesbah-Yazdi himself won a seat but finished only in sixth-place in Tehran municipality where he ran,[24] and had the minority faction in the assembly[11]

He had been named by Akbar Ganji as "having encouraged or issued fatwas, or religious orders" for the 1998 chain murders assassinations of five Iranian dissidents.[25]

2009 presidential election[edit]

Mesbah-Yazdi supported Ahmadinejad in 2009 and declared his election a miracle and a gift from the Hidden Imam.[26]

On 22 June, a few days after security forces broke up one of the biggest election protests, Mesbah-Yazdi "addressed a gathering" of Revolutionary Guards and told them:

"Do not be worried about the events and earthquakes that have occurred. Know that God created this world as a test, ... The supreme leader holds a great many of the blessings God has given us and at a time of such uncertainties our eyes must turn to him."[27]


Mesbah-Yazdi meets with presidential candidate, Saeed Jalili, June 2013
Mesbah Yazdi in Assembly of Experts, 2014

Mesbah Yazdi believed that the educational system of hawza should be changed and his proposal was approved by Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi,[28] so he and Mohammad Beheshti establish the Haghani School (also Haqqani) in Qom to train the future cadres of Iran. Mesbah-Yazdi had been described as close to Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, Khomeini's first designated heir who was assassinated in Hafte Tir bombing in 1981 (despite being considered a moderate),[29] and is (or was) a member of the school's board of directors.[30] The Haghani School is very influential and had been described as "a kind of Ecole Nationale d'Administration for the Islamic Republic" whose alumni "form the backbone of the clerical management class that runs Iran's key political and security institutions."[31]

Mesbah-Yazdi is the author of many books on fiqh, Quran exegesis, divinity and general issues of Islam. His "Amuzesh-e Falsafeh" is used widely in the philosophy classes of Qom's hawza. It broadly covers the same ground as Allameh Tabatabaei's Arabic-language works in philosophy "Bidayat al-Hikmah" and "Nihayat al-Hikma". Mesbah-Yazdi's "Amuzesh-e Falsafeh" has been published in English translation by Gary Legenhausen and Azim Sarvdalir as "Philosophical Instructions," Binghamton University 1999.[32]

He published the weekly Parto Sokhan,[33] was the director of the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute in Qom, founded in 1995,[32][34] and a member (1991–2016) of the Iranian Assembly of Experts.

After the presidential election of June 1997 in the relatively more open political atmosphere in that time, Mesbah Yazdi's students played an important role as the critics of the former president Mohammad Khatami. As a result, Mesbah Yazdi's name appeared more often in the media and became more well known. He supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidential bid,[35] In December 2006, he was reelected to the Assembly of Experts.[10] He lost his seat in the 2016 election.


Mesbah-Yazdi in Principlists Grand Coalition Convention

Mesbah Yazdi had been described as "a theoretician of the radicals" in Iran,[36] "is opposed to western culture".[37] He considered "the Zionists" to be the fundamental source of evil on earth. [36]

In an article by the Associated Press, quoting from a 2005 book written by Yazdi, the AP asserted that Yazdi made a "rare public call for the producing the 'special weapons' that are monopoly of a few nations -- a veiled reference to nuclear arms."[38]

In a lecture posted on his website, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi warns of Muslim of the "thugs of falsehood and the followers of the damned Satan" who have formed a

coalition of the forces of infidelity and hypocrisy, the servants of dollars and euros/gold and silver, and influential oppressors and traitors to uproot Islam, to fight Muslims, to dominate their countries, wealth, and resources, to deny their glories and excellence, to destroy their relics and teachings, to wipe out their culture, to alter their identity, to put them in miserable conditions, and to force them into wretchedness in this world and God’s punishment in the hereafter.[39]

Mesbah-Yazdi supported a return to what he saw as the values of the 1979 Iranian revolution.[35] He believed an "Islamic republic" is a contradiction in terms, as a truly Islamic government would not hold elections as an opportunity for voters to make choices between representatives and policies, but to express their allegiance to the supreme faqih.[15] He believed that "the republican component" was established in Iran as a concession to secular forces[16] and should be "stripped" away to leave the true essence of the "Islamic system."[15] He had been quoted as saying, "It doesn't matter what the people think. The people are ignorant sheep."[16]

Mesbah-Yazdi was also a firm opponent of the Reformist movement in Iran which he believed an Islamic government must "combat ... because injecting misleading ideas [of reform] is like injecting the Aids virus!". He also claimed that young Iranians who questioned the regime after studying abroad did so only because they had been trained in 'psychological warfare' by foreign universities.[35] President Khatami once called him the theoretician of violence.[36]

In 2005, he issued a fatwa urging Iranians to vote for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former student and "protege", whom he is "considered a ideological and spiritual mentor" of, and with whom he was reportedly meeting weekly.[36]

On the issue of slavery Mesbah Yazdi said:

Today, too, if there’s a war between us and the infidels, we’ll take slaves. The ruling on slavery hasn’t expired and is eternal. We’ll take slaves and we’ll bring them to the world of Islam and have them stay with Muslims. We’ll guide them, make them Muslims and then return them to their countries.[40][41]

Like many prominent Shia clergies, he supported literal interpretations of various verses of the Qur'an and narrations attributed to the Prophet and his followers.[42] Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi opposed bida'a or innovations in religion which he believed includes new interpretations of the Sunna and Qur'an. He had been quoted as saying: "If someone tells you he has a new interpretation of Islam, sock him in the mouth."[35]

In August 2009, he warned Iranian opposition groups against undermining supreme leader Ali Khamenei, stating,

"When the president is endorsed by the leader, obeying him is similar to obedience to God."[43]


Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi had been described as "affiliated" with the Hojjatieh group.[44] Mesbah denied this and denounced the rumor, saying that if anyone finds a connection between him and Hojjatieh, he will renounce everything he stands for.[45] Ayatollah Khomeini actually frowned on the Hojjatieh and the group was nominally dissolved in 1983.

Public image[edit]

According to a poll conducted in March 2016 by Information and Public Opinion Solutions LLC (iPOS) among Iranian citizens, Mesbah had 18% approval and 20% disapproval ratings and thus a –2% net popularity; while 52% of responders didn't recognize the name.[46]

Personal life[edit]

He married his wife, who is from Ayatollah Hossein Noori Hamedani's family, in the 1950s. The couple had three children, two sons and a daughter.[2] Both their sons are said to be clerics and one of them has studied in McGill University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The daughter is married to Hujjat al-Islam Mohammadi Araghi, who headed the "Islamic Culture and Communication Organization", a subdivision of Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "نتایج چهارمین دوره انتخابات خبرگان رهبری". Ministry of Interior. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Nikpour, Abbas (March 2002) [Esfand 1380–Farvardin 1381], "Ayatollah Mesbah, From Margins to the Middle of the Text", Gozaresh (in Persian), no. 132–133, pp. 47–52, ISSN 1021-450X
  3. ^ Bozorgmehr, Najmeh (23 February 2012). "Hardline group emerges as Iran poll threat". Financial Times. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Iran: Qom divided over presidential candidates". Asharq Al-Awsat. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  5. ^ Rahnema, Ali (2011). Superstition as Ideology in Iranian Politics: From Majlesi to Ahmadinejad. Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 9781139495622.
  6. ^ Ashraf, Ahmad (5 April 2012) [December 15, 2007]. "ISLAM IN IRAN xiii. ISLAMIC POLITICAL MOVEMENTS IN 20TH CENTURY IRAN". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica. 2. XIV. New York City: Bibliotheca Persica Press. pp. 157–172. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d Muhammad Sahimi (29 September 2010). "Hojjatiyeh, Mesbahiyeh, and Ahmadinejad". Tehran Bureau.
  8. ^ "آیت الله مصباح یزدی کاندیدای انتخابات خبرگان رهبری شد" (in Persian). Mehr News Agency. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2016. The reference contains copy image of Mesbah Yazdi's official identity documents, including both certificate of Identity and national identity card where his fullname is mentioned Taghi Mesbah
  9. ^ 16 نماينده استان تهران در مجلس خبرگان مشخص شدند Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b Freeman, Colin; Biouki, Kay (19 November 2006). "Ayatollah aims to be Iran's next spiritual leader". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 22 November 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  11. ^ a b c Battle for Iran shifts from the streets to the heart of power. Peter Beaumont. 28 June 2009 Reyrieved 15 July 2009
  12. ^ a b Nasr, Vali The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p. 216
  13. ^ "Biography". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  14. ^ Javedanfar, Meir (6 May 2009). "Ahmadinejad's messianic connections". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  15. ^ a b c Iran: a green wave for life and liberty, Asef Bayat, 7 July 2009 Retrieved 14 July 2009
  16. ^ a b c Molavi, Afshin The Soul of Iran Norton, (2005), p. 105
  17. ^ پايگاه اطلاع رسانى آثار حضرت آيت الله مصباح يزدى Archived 19 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine (Persian)
  18. ^ a b "Iranian Clerics' Angling Stirs Worry on Absolute Rule". The New York Times. 25 September 2006.
  19. ^ Ayatollah: Iran’s president ‘bewitched’ by senior aide, Thomas Erdbrink, 15 May 2011
  20. ^ Ally criticizes Iran's president in power struggle Share[permanent dead link] Ali Akbar Dareini, 14 May 2011
  21. ^ Bureau. The Assembly of Experts[permanent dead link] PBS
  22. ^ Majd, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, (2008), pp. 49–50
  23. ^ Iran vote
  24. ^ Majd, Hooman, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, Doubleday, 2008, pp. 45-6
  25. ^ Ganji Identified Fallahian As The "Master Key" In Chain Murders Iran Press
  26. ^ Ahmadinejad Isolated by Battle With Iran's Supreme Leader The Atlantic, Golnaz Esfandiari and Kourosh Rahimkhani, 8 June 2011
  27. ^ "Discontented Muslim clergy challenge Iran's supreme leader behind scenes", Ali Akbar Dareini and Lee Keath / The Associated Press. 8 July 2009
  28. ^ "محمدتقي مصباح يزدي".
  29. ^ Roy, Olivier, The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East, Columbia University Press, 2008, pp. 133, 131
  30. ^ "Home Page\Biography". Mesbah Yazdi website. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  31. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, (Norton, 2006), p. 215
  32. ^ a b Arun Wyramuttoo Rasiah: City of Knowledge. PhD Dissertation. University of California at Berkeley. 2007.
  33. ^ Majd, Hooman, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, Doubleday, 2008, p. 46
  34. ^ Qabas.Net Archived 29 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ a b c d Freeman, Colin (20 November 2005). "The rise of Prof 'Crocodile' - a hardliner to terrify hardliners". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  36. ^ a b c d Is war between Iran and Israel inevitable? Erich Follath 23 June 2009, Retrieved 15 July 2009
  37. ^ Roy, The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East, (2008), p. 132
  38. ^ "Top Cleric: Iran Has Right to 'Special Weapons'". CBS News. 14 June 2010.
  39. ^ "Website of Ayatullah Mesbah Yazdi" Archived 26 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Click on "speeches", then "lesctures". "Towards a Comprehensive Defense of Islam and Islamic Culture." Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Mesbah
  40. ^ Transcript of TV interview with Dr. Soroush by Dariush Sajjadi, Broadcast, Homa TV, 9 March 2006 Retrieved 15 July 2009
  41. ^ see also "متن مصاحبه داريوش سجادی با دکتر سوش". Dr. Soroush. Retrieved 7 March 2008.(in Persian)
  42. ^ "Translators Introduction".
  43. ^ Obeying Ahmadinejad like obeying God: Iran cleric (AFP). 12 August 2009 Archived 16 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine quote from official IRNA news agency
  44. ^ Letter From Tehran: Iran's New Hard-Liners, Who Is in Control of the Islamic Republic? Jerry Guo, 30 September 2009
  45. ^ "آیت‌الله مصباح: احمدی‌نژاد اشتباه كرده ا". Sharif News. Retrieved 7 March 2008.(in Persian)
  46. ^ "ظریف محبوب‌ترین چهره سیاسی ایران". Information and Public Opinion Solutions LLC (in Persian). 24 May 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016.

External links[edit]

Media related to Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi at Wikimedia Commons