Naeem ul Hassan Kandwal
No one could have imagined that a child born on April 10, 1932, in Pakistan’s little-known Dhakku family would grow up to become one of the world’s most influential Muslim scholars. This child is none other than Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussain Najafi, Marja-e-Taqleed, Mufassir e Quran, historian, researcher, philosopher, thinker, writer, critic, and educationist who passed away recently. He was featured in five editions of “The Muslim 500: The World’s Most Influential Muslims.” He’s one of the nine Marjas mentioned in the latest edition. Despite death threats, he played a heroic role in urging people to reject false beliefs and embrace true and pure Tawhid (monotheism). Ayatollah Najafi was greatly appreciated by Maulana Ishaq Madani, a well-known Ahl-e-Hadith scholar, for his book Usool ush-Sharia fi Aqaid Us-Shia. Ayatollah Najafi’s teacher, Ustad ul Ulama Ayatollah Muhammad Yar Shah, used to stand and greet him. When he meekly begged his teacher not to do so, he (the teacher) said, “Your extensive religious knowledge compels me to stand in your reverence.” Ustad ul Ulama Allama Gulab Ali Shah referred to him as “Qibla” with veneration. This is the first time in history that a student’s professors hold him in such high regard. Ayatollah Najafi was a firm believer in Muslim unity. On the invitation of Iranian Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he attended the 17th and 21st Islamic Unity Conferences in Tehran, Iran, in May 2004 and May 2008. Let me present a brief background on Ayatollah Najafi’s life before considering his outstanding accomplishments as a scholar. Ayatollah Najafi was born in the small town of Jahania Shah in Pakistan’s Punjab Province’s Sargodha District. His father, Rana Tajuddin, wished for his son to be a renowned Alim. When Rana Tajuddin died in 1944, Ayatollah Najafi was 12 years old. Family members urged the widow that Ayatollah Najafi should look after the family lands, but she decided to make her son an Alim in order to fulfil her late husband’s wish. After finishing secondary school, Ayatollah Najafi enrolled in Madrasah Muhammadia in Jalalpur Nankiana, Sargodha, where one of his renowned teachers was Ayatollah Hussain Bakhsh Najafi (Jarra). In 1947, he studied Dars-i-Nizami with Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Naqvi Chakralvi (known as “Allama Baqir Hindi”). Ayatollah Baqir Naqvi migrated from Iraq to spread religious education in Pakistan. Since Ayatollah Muhammad Yar Shah Najafi, the most notable pupil of Ayatollah Baqir Naqvi, had relocated from Alipur to Jalalpur, Ayatollah Najafi relocated to Jalalpur to complete Dars-i-Nizami for the following five years. He completed the Molvi Fazil exams at Punjab University in 1953 and travelled to Najaf for higher education in 1954. In 1952, Ayatollah Najafi married his maternal cousin before heading to Najaf for higher religious study. Every successful person has a tragic backstory. Ayatollah Najafi’s sole son, Muhammad Sibtain, was born in 1954. He became extremely ill and died at the age of five because Ayatollah Najafi did not have enough money for his care. Ayatollah Najafi used to spend his stipend money on domestic chores and book purchases since he was extremely passionate about acquiring knowledge. He did not have children for the following eleven years after Sibtain died. In 1970, he married the daughter of Haji Muhammad Shafi (Faisalabad). He had three daughters from this marriage. Ayatollah Najafi’s academic career serves as a model for youngsters all across the world. Surprisingly, he began higher religious studies in 1954 and acquired the ijazah of ijtihad in 1960. Despite challenges, finishing higher religious study in six years at the age of 28 and acquiring the ijazah of ijtihad is certainly a great achievement, making him one of Islamic history’s youngest scholars to acquire the status of Marja-e-Taqleed. Dars-e-kharij of Fiqh, dars-e-kharij of Kifaya-tul-Usool, dars-e-kharij of Usool-e-Fiqh, Fehm-e-Hadees-o-Rajjal & Kutb Shanasi, Rasail-o-Makatib, Ilm-e-Munazra, Satheeyat & Asfar, Darse Manzooma Sabzwari, Ilm-e-Kalam, Tanawwo dar Islami Uloom-o-Funoon and Ittehad-e-Islami were among the disciplines he studied at Hawza Elmiye Najaf. In terms of academic qualifications, a Mujtahid is equivalent to someone who possesses not one but seven PHDs. When Ayatollah Najafi returned to Pakistan in 1960 after receiving ijazah of ijtihad, the people’s beliefs, particularly the belief in Tawhid, had become weakened. To correct the people’s beliefs, he wrote the books Islah-ul-Majalis wal-Mahafil and Islah-ur-Rusoom (Asli Islam aur Rasmi Islam). Many uneducated individuals threatened to kill him in response to these books, but he remained unwavering. These obstacles had no effect on his unrelenting determination. These books had such a great impact on youngsters that he now has followers all around the world who view him as their true benefactor and saviour. Ayatollah Najafi’s accomplishments are too numerous to list here. While he corrected the people’s beliefs through books and Majalis, he also took the lead in teaching them religious education as an educator. After returning to Pakistan in 1960, Pir Fazal Shah (Parhezgar) and other Saadaat of Sargodha invited him to become the principal of Dar-ul-Uloom Muhammadia, Sargodha, which he gladly accepted. In 1963, principals of Shia madrasas from around Pakistan assembled in Karbala Gamay Shah, Lahore, to form Tanzeeme Madarise Arabia Shia Pakistan (the Organisation of Shia Madrasahs of Pakistan). He was elected as its president. He was the founder of Jamia Ilmia Sultan ul-Madaaris al-Islamia and Jamia Aqeela Bani Hashim (for women) in Sargodha. A religious scholar should be an example to others. Ayatollah Najafi was without a doubt an excellent role model. His courage, honesty, humility, patience, forgiveness, self-denial and generosity set him apart. One of his opponents fell ill once. He went to see this ailing person. The ailing person was greatly surprised to see him and was both humiliated by what he had done in the past and extremely impressed by Ayatollah Najafi’s high morality. Similarly, a so-called scholar who had spent his entire life assassinating Ayatollah Najafi’s character died. He (Ayatollah Najafi) went to his tomb, placed his hand on the gravestone, and said, “I have forgiven you.” If Ayatollah Najafi had wanted to, he could have lived in luxury. He graciously declined numerous offers from his fans to furnish a fancy home and car, and he lived his entire life in a small old house. He always treated children and adults with respect and mercy, which is why he was loved by everyone. In addition to his amazing achievements in correcting people’s beliefs, Ayatollah Najafi silenced critics of his religion through his books such as Khatm-e-Nabuwwat bar Khatmi Martabat (SAWAW), Tajalliat-e-Sadaqat fi Jawab Aftab-e-Hidayat, Tanzeeh ul-Imamia amma fi Risala Mazhab ush-Shia, Isbaat-ul-Imamat, and Tahqeeqat-ul-Fariqain fi Hadis-as-Saqalain. His other outstanding books include Faizan ur-Rahman fi Tafsir ul-Quran, Masail ush-Sharia (translation of Wasael ush-Shia), Kawakib-e-Muzayya (translation of Al-Jawahar as-Sunnia fil-Ahadees-al-Qudsia), Ahsan ul-Fawaid fi Sharh al-Aqaid, Qawaneen ush-Sharia fi Fiqh-e-Jafariya (Tawzih ul-Masail), Khulasa tul-Ahkam, Iqd ul-Juma’n (Translation of Mafatih al-Janan), Saadat ud-Darain fi Maqtal al-Hussain and Hurmat Reesh Tarashi. Ayatollah Najafi died on August 21, 2023, at the age of 91, at Quaid E Azam International Hospital in Islamabad. Thousands of his followers (about 1 lac) attended the funeral prayer, deeply heartbroken by the loss of their benefactor. Senior Islamic scholars from throughout Pakistan took part. He was laid to rest at his seminary, Jamia Sultan Ul Madaris, Zahid Colony, Sargodha. It is impossible to summarise Ayatollah Najafi’s accomplishments and contributions in the fields of Tafsir E Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Islamic Research, and, most importantly, preaching pure Tawhid in a single article; rather, many books could be written on the subject. No other scholar in Indian subcontinent history has endured as many difficulties as he did. His unwavering faith, steadfastness, patience, perseverance, and dedication to his mission of teaching people true and pure Tawhid distinguish him. Ayatollah Najafi is without a doubt the most influential Islamic scholar and researcher in the history of the Indian subcontinent.