The Godly Scholar   Ayatullah Mirza Jawad Maliki Tabrizi  (d. 1343/1924)

آيت الله ميرزا جواد ملکي تبريزي - ره

The distinguished jurisprudent and perfect mystic Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabrizi was born in Tabriz . His exact date of birth is not known, but according to a work that he wrote in his youth it seems that he was born around 1292/1875. After completing his early education in his home town, he left for Najaf where he benefited from the greatest teachers of his age. He studied fiqh under the eminent jurisprudents, Haj Agha Ridha Hamadani, (author of Misbah al-Faqih), and Muhaddith Mirza Husein Nouri, (author of Mustadrak al-Wasail). He studied usul under Allamah Mulla Muhammad Kazim Khurasani (author of Kifayah al-Usul),

Agha Maliki was also fortunate to come into contact in Najaf with the most celebrated Gnostic of that time, Akhund Mulla Husein Quli Hamadani who was highly proficient in the Islamic sciences, especially ethics (akhlaq) and mysticism (irfan). Agha Maliki spent 14 years with him and during this period acquired profound knowledge of moral ethics and applied mysticism from his illustrious teacher.

He attained such high spiritual stations in Gnosticism that a great jurisprudent and scholar Sheikh Muhammad Husein Isfahani (famously known as Kumpani) - himself an outstanding authority in irfan – wrote to him seeking spiritual advice and instructions regarding ethics and mysticism.

Agha Maliki returned from Najaf to his hometown Tabriz in the year 1320AH, but due to the upheaval at the time of the constitutional revolution, the conditions in Tabriz deteriorated, and he was forced to migrate to Qum . Here, he started teaching jurisprudence from Mulla Mohsin Faiz Kashani's al- Mafatih al-Sharayi’ al-Fiqh. He also began to nurture a special group of students and introduced the more able ones into spiritual wayfaring.

He ran two classes in ethics (akhlaq). One was for advanced students, (of whom, Ayatullah Khomeini was one) which he conducted at his house; the other was public, which ran at the Faydhiyya Madressa and was attended by many people, especially market stall holders. He also busied himself in writing and left behind many precious works.

Ultimately, after living a fruitful life full of learning, teaching, writing and purification of the self, he left this transient world in1343 A.H. He is buried in the Shaykhan graveyard in Qum , near the tomb of Mirza Qummi. On his grave the following verse is written in Persian: "The world lost its soul, and the nation lost its shelter."

The Effect of His Discourses

Ayatullah Sayyid Husein Fatimi Qummi (one of Agha Tabrizi’s greatest students) recalls:  The Ma’sumin (A) have stated, “That counsel and speech that comes forth from the heart enters the hearts of the listener, and if it merely comes from the tongue, then it does not go further than the ear of the listener.” The words and advice of Haj Agha Maliki – may God sanctify his spirit – were such that they struck to the hearts of the audience like brands of fire. They transported the listener to another place. And when we came out of the gathering, we would observe that everybody had been affected in the same manner. After his passing away, I have always hoped to attend a similar gathering but I have never found anything like it…………………………

His Words used to shake the Listener

Such was the deep effect of Ayt. Maliki Tabrizi’s words that often listeners would be overcome during his speech. Once he mentioned something so profound that a market stall-holder who was listening collapsed. When someone mentioned this to Agha Maliki, he commented, “This is nothing, our Master, (the champion of champions), Ali bin Abi Talib (A) would often faint out of fear and awe of Allah.”

The High Status of the Graveyard of Agha Tabrizi

About the graveyard where Agha Maliki is buried, Allamah Tehrani states:  Agha Sayyid Hashim Haddad (the great ‘Arif, and illustrious student of Sayyid Ali Qadhi Tabatabai) would often mention the special and high status of the graveyard of Agha Tabrizi because of the pious and lofty souls buried there.

Allamah continued, “It is proper for students of the Hawza and those who are engaged in spiritual wayfaring to spend much time in this graveyard, in order to benefit from the great spiritual power and blessings that emanate from there.

Many other great Shia scholars are buried In this graveyard, including Zakariya b. Idris, Zakariya b. Adam, Mirza Qummi, Mirza Jawad Agha Maliki Tabrizi, Mirza Ali Agha Shirazi and many more.

His manner of instruction

Marhum Mirza Abdulla Shalichi narrated:  Our late teacher, Mirza Javad Agha Maliki was both a Mujtahid in fiqh, who had a Risala ‘Amaliyyah, as well as an Arif of the highest station. His instructions to his students even encompassed matters to do with eating, sleeping, sitting and talking. He would advise us not to eat so little that we may become weak, nor to eat so much that we might become lazy and indifferent to worship. He would say, “It is below the dignity of one who considers himself a human being to ever sin.”

Mirza Shalichi added, “I still go to my late teacher’s graveside to benefit from him. I would advise anyone in need to go there, recite Fatiha and then ask for his need from God for the sake of (with the Wasila of) this great scholar – I am certain you would achieve your desire.”

His station in the eyes of Allah swt

Mirza Shalichi adds, “Occasionally my late master would impart training and instruction to me simply by staring intently for a while into my eyes.”

He narrates, “Once after the Fajr prayers, I rushed to the akhlaq class of my teacher, Agha Maliki. He came to stand next to me and asked, “What do you see?” I suddenly became aware of the presence of many souls who had come to participate in the class. They were talking quietly amongst themselves.

Then my teacher said to me, “Do not think that the ability to see into the realm of the souls is a high station. In comparison to the wonders that wait for he who dedicates himself to the path of spiritual wayfaring, this is very superficial.”

His deathDied in 11/11/1343AH – 3rd July, 1925 AD)

Haj Agha Hussein Fatimi, a pious ascetic and an intimate friend of Agha Maliki has narrated:  "When I returned from the Jamkaran Mosque, I was informed that Haj Agha Maliki has inquired about me. Since, I knew that he was sick I rushed to see him. I found him laying in a bed, neat and clean, bathed, perfumed, and hair dyed readied for Zuhr and Asr prayer.

He recited Adhan and Iqamah upon his bed, recited supplications and as soon as raised his hands for Takbirat-al-Ahram and said: Allahu Akbar, Allah is Great, his sacred spirit left his body; thus, the meanings of the hadith: “the Salat is a believer's heavenly journey” become truly manifested for him.

Also, the meanings of "get readied for the prayer" 'qad qamat as-salat,' which in accordance to traditions has been described as the time of meeting with the Beloved, too became materialized for him, because he rushed to meet his Beloved with prayer".

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Ayatollah Mirza Jawad Maleki Tabrizi   (May the Mercy of God be upon him) by Br Abbas Jaffer London

Purification of the soul and struggle for its perfection is a fundamental Islamic concept. The Holy Quran in an absolutely unique style emphasises on self-purification as the only way to eternal success and salvation.

Indeed he succeeds who purifies his own self. And indeed he fails who corrupts his own self.”    91:9-10 

The path to this success is a lifetime struggle and the journey of self purification will end when lovers meet. 

“O man! Verily, you are endeavouring towards your Lord an endeavour until you meet Him.”84:6                                                                                                                                     

The methodology of how to successfully pass the trip is the subject of Islamic mysticism called Irfan.  However, Islamic Irfan like many other Islamic sciences has been on occasion misused and misrepresented and hence those who fail to distinguish the authentic from the forged tend to deny the whole subject. The weakness of this approach is similar to denial of Islamic jurisprudence (al-Fiqh) for the reason that some so-called jurists have utilised analogy and inference in their deduction or relied on non-authentic Hadiths!     

From the rise of Islam to this present day, many devoted Muslims have struggled on the Path of nearness to the Almighty Allah. Among them were the true followers of the Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a.s) who were satisfied from the pure prophetic fountain of Kauthar; through the holy hands of Ahlul-Bait.  

A wayfarer is in inevitable need of a well educated and experienced teacher and mentor who can guide the new and inexperienced wayfarer step by step towards his/her perfection.

Stepping into the lifetime journey of self-purification and perfection by reading the mystical texts is more dangerous than self-treatment by reading a medical book.   Thus, learned mystics consider it quite mandatory for a wayfarer to work under the full supervision of a learned and experienced mentor and guide.  

Imam Khomeini (r.a.) enjoyed the company of the best teachers of Irfan during his studying period. After Ayatollah Muhammad ali Shah-Abadi, whom we discussed in Parts 98 & 99, Ayatollah Mirza Jawad Maleki Tabrizi (r.a.) was the second most important teacher of Imam Khomeini in Irfan.    

The late Ayatollah M.J. Tabrizi known as ‘The Beauty of Wayfarers’ (Jamalul-Salekin) used to hold two types of Irfan classes; one for the public in ‘Faydiyeh School’ in Qom and another, a private one, in his home. Imam Khomeini (r.a) was among his handful of private students.  

The lessons of Ayatollah Tabrizi were so influential that as he was talking, his students were in tears crying out loud. Sometimes the power of his sincere talks would penetrate the hearts of his students so deeply that they would feel faint.   

The Works of Ayatollah Tabrizi

Successful teachers are those who have two types of products; their literature and their students. It is said that even if the life of Ayatollah Tabrizi did not have any result other than his share in building the mystical personality of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) it would be enough for him. 

Among the best celebrated books of Ayatollah Tabrizi, three books are the most famous:

1)     Asrarul-Salaat (The Secrets of Daily Prayers)

2)     Moraqebatul-Sanah (Observation of the Yearly Devotions)

3)   Leqa’u-Allah (Meeting with God) which is the best mystical book written on the topic.  

Personal Characteristics of Ayt. Tabrizi 

Irfan with no practicality and worshipping is rather just a bunch of expressions and hence a public fraud. In the school of Ahlul-Bait (a.s) it is impossible for one to gain any spirituality unless by means of worshipping God in its divine prescribed method. The more spiritual the Shi’a mystic becomes the more they observe and practice the Shari’ah law.    

Observing Night Prayers before dawn was a mandatory condition to be admitted to the lessons of Ayatollah Tabrizi.   The late Shaalchi, one of his students narrated: “He (Ayatollah Tabrizi) was very strict about early rising for Night Prayers.    

I requested if I could be exempt as I believe that would make me weak and would reduce my sleeping hours. Ayatollah Tabrizi said: Find a way to gain their consent. Tell them: “At dawn some elite people are in a sociable gathering with the Almighty God, do you want me to miss it?”  

Ayatollah Jawad Tabrizi in ‘Al-Moraqibaat’ with regards to Night Prayers says: “The appointed angels will wake man up for the Night Prayers but he ignores the angelic call and continues his sleep again. They wake him up again. These wake ups are not by chance, they are heavenly awakenings. If man took advantage of them and left the bed for Night Prayers, those calls will be stronger and more permanent. But if he ignores them, the angels will also give up.”   

The angelic call may appear to you in the voice of your mother, your friend, or even in the voice of Azan, all for the purpose of inviting you to a private heavenly meeting at dawn. For those who are interested in waking up for the Night Prayers it is also very much recommended to recite the last Ayah of Surah al-Kahf (18) in Arabic.    

Dhikr Yunusiyah (The Call of Jonah) 

It is narrated from the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.) that whoever invocated to the Almighty God with the ‘Call of Prophet Yunus’ [holy Quran 21:87-88] his call will be granted.  A man asked the messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) if that call would be only for Prophet Yunus? The Messenger of Allah (saw) replied: If it was for Prophet Yunus, then it will be for every Mo’men. Don’t you see that the Almighty Allah states: ‘And thus do We deliver the believers.’  

Ayatollah Tabrizi in his ‘Asrarul-Salaat’ says: “I asked my mentor, who was the best philosopher, Arif and experienced teacher and the most perfect spiritual physician I have ever seen in my life; “Which one of the physical worshipping from your experience is more effective to the heart?  He replied: long prostration for about an hour or ¾ of an hour in which you repeatedly say:Laa Elaaha Ellaa Ant Sobhanaka Enni Konto Mena zZalemin. [Dhikr Yunusiyah]. 

When you recite it, you should observe your soul imprisoned in the jail of this world fastened with the chains of immoral behaviour. During the prostration you should glorify Allah and confess that you have been unfair to yourself not your Lord.”[i] 


 

by Sheikh Mansour Leghaei  http://www.ihic.org.au/articles.php?a_id=24

A wayfarer is in inevitable need of a well educated and experienced teacher and mentor who can guide the new and inexperienced wayfarer step by step towards his/her perfection. Stepping into the lifetime journey of self-purification and perfection by reading the mystical texts is more dangerous than self-treatment by reading a medical book. 

Some experts in mysticism assert that what lead al-Hallaj[i]; to publicise his ambiguous statements was the lack of a proper mentor. Thus, learned mystics consider it quite mandatory for a wayfarer to work under the full supervision of a learned and experienced mentor and guide.  

Imam Khomeini (r.a) enjoyed the company of the best teachers of Irfan during his studying period. Ayatollah Mirza Jawad Maleki Tabrizi (r.a) was the second important teacher of Imam Khomeini in Irfan.  

The late Ayatollah M.J. Tabrizi known as ‘The Beauty of Wayfarers' (Jamalul-Salekin) used to hold two types of Irfan classes; one for the public in ‘Faydiyeh School' in Qom and another, a private one, in his home. Imam Khomeini (r.a) was among his handful of private students.  

The lessons of Ayatollah Tabrizi were so influential that as he was talking his students were in tears crying out loud. Sometimes the power of his sincere talks would penetrate the hearts of his students so deeply that they would feel faint.    

The Teachers of Ayatollah Tabrizi  

The main teacher of Ayatollah M.J. Tabrizi in Fiqh was the late Ayatollah Hajj Agha Reza Hamadani, and in the Fundamentals of Fiqh he studied under the late Ayatollah Akhond Khorasani. In Irfan he was the honoured student of the late Ayatollah Mollah Husain-Qoli Hamadani. About his Practical Irfan studies under Mollah Hamadani he said: After two years of asceticism I said to my mentor Mullah Husain-Qoli: “It has been two years that I have attended your lessons yet I have not gained any tangible mystical experience.” My mentor told me: “Then you need to set the shoes of those whom you disagree with before them.”  

Personal Characteristics  

1) Early Bird Irfan with no practicality and worshipping is rather just a bunch of expressions and hence a public fraud. In the school of Ahlul-Bait (a.s) it is impossible for one to gain any spirituality unless by means of worshipping God in its divine prescribed method. The more spiritual the Shi'a mystic becomes the more they observe and practice the Shari'ah law. 

Observing Night Prayers before dawn was a mandatory condition to be admitted to the lessons of Ayatollah Tabrizi. 

The late Shaalchi one of his students narrated: “He (Ayatollah Tabrizi) was very strict about early rising for Night Prayers. I requested if I could be exempt as I believe that would make me weak and would reduce my sleeping hours. Ayatollah Tabrizi said: Find a way to gain their consent. Tell them: “At dawn some elite people are in a sociable gathering with the Almighty God, do you want me to miss it?” 

Ayatollah Jawad Tabrizi in ‘Al-Moraqibaat' with regards to Night Prayers says: “The appointed angels will wake man up for the Night Prayers but he ignores the angelic call and continues his sleep again. They wake him up again. These wake ups are not by chance, they are heavenly awakenings. If man took advantage of them and left the bed for Night Prayers, those calls will be stronger and more permanent. But if he ignores them, the angels will also give up.” 

The angelic call may appear to you in the voice of your mother, your friend, or even in the voice of Azan all for the purpose of inviting you to a private heavenly meeting at dawn. For those who are interested in waking up for the Night Prayers it is also very much recommended to recite the last Ayah of Surah al-Kahf (18) in Arabic.  

3. Nearness to Imam Zamaan (a.j) 

Seyyed Jawad Shahroodi one of the students of Ayatollah Tabrizi narrated: “Once in my dream I saw Imam Zamaan (a.f) with a group of people as if they had attended the prayer of the Imam. I went forth to visit him and kiss his blessed hand. When I went closer I noticed a very honourable Sheikh beside the Imam on whose face the signs of magnanimity were apparent. When I woke up from my dream I was wondering who that Sheikh was until I met Ayatollah Tabrizi and recognised the face and more surprisingly he also recognised me too. 

4. Sincerity

Ayatollah Musa Shobairi one of the students of Ayatollah Tabrizi narrates: “Ayatollah Tabrizi said: I had just written a book on a subject when I noticed that the late Faydh Kashani[iii] has also written another book on the same subject. I was wondering whether I should still publish my book. I offered a special prayer to visit Imam Sadiq (a.s) in my dream and asked him if with the book of Faydh Kashani I had to still publish my book. I saw Imam Sadiq (a.s) in my dream and asked him the question but he was silent. I insisted and he calmly told me: “The book of Faydh is sufficient.” I then destroyed my book!    

The Prescription of Ayatollah Tabrizi for Ayatollah Isfahani (Kompani)  

Ayatollah Muhammad Husain Isfahani known as Kompani was an outstanding Muslim Jurist and philosopher of his time. In a letter to Ayatollah Tabrizi he requested him to write a practical prescription for his spiritual perfection. 

I quote parts of the prescription from my teacher Ayatollah Hasan-Zadeh who quoted it from his teacher Allamah Tabatabaei: 

“ … The beneficial way in knowing the self is to endeavour in reducing your animality by the following disciplines: 

1. Reducing your meals in that you don't have more than two meals a day and not to have meat more than two or three times in a week.  

2. Reducing your sleeping hours in that you don't sleep more than six hours.  

3. Endeavour in safeguarding your tongue and abstaining from heedless people. These three will be very helpful in reducing the animality of man.  

As for accelerating and reinforcing your spirituality:  

1. Permanent grief of the heart (not facial) in fear of not reaching your destination.  

2. Thikr (remembrance of Allah) and Fikr (to think and ponder) as these two are the wings of flying to the heaven of knowledge. As for the Thikr the Thikr of Yunusiyah in the morning and at night is very much experienced and brings about many blessings. The minimum times of reciting it is 400 times. As for the Fikr for a beginner the best is to ponder upon death.”[iv]  

  Ascension to his Lord  

Nearing the end of his life, Ayatollah Tabrizi was very ill and he could no longer even use water for his Wudu.  

According to Seyyed Fatami-Nia one night before the demise of Ayatollah Tabrizi about 250 Sheikhs in Qom had dreamt that the funeral of Ayatollah Tabrizi was processing and Imam Husain (a.s) was walking in front of his coffin. 

The following day on the 11th of Thil-Hajjah in the year 1343 A.H. he made his Tayammum for his Noon and Afternoon prayers. He stood up and made an intention for his Noon prayer and as he raised his hands in the middle of his Takbiratul-Ihram his body collapsed and his soul ascended to his Lord to continue the rest of his prayer at the presence of Allah forever. May God bless and elevate his status in Paradise .  

Ayatollah Tabrizi (may God cover His mercy on him) is buried in a small cemetery in Qom near the Shrine of Ma'soomah (s.a) known as ‘Sheikhan'. [v]  

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[1] Another important teacher of Imam Khumeini in Irfan was Ayatollah Mirza Jawad Maleki. 

[2] Sharh Fosoos by al-Qounawi, the second most advanced textbook in Theoretical Irfan, is an explanation on Fosoosul Hekam ( the Gems of Wisdom) by Ibn al-Arabi. 

[3] Mesbahul-Ons (the Light of Intimacy) by Ibn Fanari, the most advanced textbook in Theoretical Irfan, is an explanation for ‘Meftahul-Ghayb' by al-Qoonawi  

[4] Manaselu Saa'erin by Khaje Abdullah al-Ansari with its most famous explanation by al-Kashani is the main textbook in Practical Irfan.  

[5] Salawat of Fatima (s.a) is to say: “ Allahumma Sallé Alaa Fatima Wa Abiha Wa Ba'leha Wa Baniha Wa Serrel Mosta'da'e Feeha Be Adadeh Maa Ahata Behi Elmok.”

 

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[i] Mansour Al-Hallaj was an Iranian famous Sufi lived between 858-922 AD who was persecuted for his ambiguous heretical statement: “I am the Truth”.

 

[ii] Asrarul-Salaat p.46

 

[iii] Faydh Kashani was one of the outstanding Shia scholars died in

 

[iv] Ayatollah Hasan-Zadeh, 1001 Words, Word 301

 

[v] Tabib Delha, compiled by Sadiq Hasan-Zadeh.