The Ahl al-Bayt School of thought is characterized by the phenomena of creativity in energizing movement of the Islamic thought in its different branches and various fields of beliefs, Quran, education, jurisprudence and other issues where it is described with depth, clearness, originality and vitality which in reality represents the genuine approach of Islam and its live culture.
The school of Shia Ijtihad has tried to reflect the reality of Islam from the purest sources by depending on the teachings of the pure Imams (peace be upon them) who directed their followers to refer to the righteous scholars in the matters of religion and life and to know their high status, because of their expertise in the matters of religion.
When we refer to the contemporary history of the holy city of Najaf which has had a dominant presence in the religious leadership and grand authority for Shi’ism, and what it contributed in this field, we can see that despite its harsh suffering, it has generated for the Marja’iyya and Ijtihad new figureheads and leaders, which indicates the depth of its originality, vigor of its scientific entity and its fulfillment of the true principles for which the infallible Ahl al-Bayt sacrificed.
Amongst the bearers of this leadership is the author, His Eminence, the religious authority, the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Al-Hakeem.
He is Sayyid Mohamed Saeed, the son of Ayatollah Sayyid Mohamed Ali, the son of Sayyid Ahmed, the son of Sayyid Mohsin, the son of Sayyid Ahmed, the son of Sayyid Mahmood, the son of Sayyid Ibrahim (the Doctor), the son of Ameer Sayyid Ali Al-Hakeem, the son of Ameer Morad al-Tabatabai. His noble linage reaches Ibrahim Tabataba, the son of Ismaeel Al-Dibaj, the son of Ibrahim Al-Ghamr, the son of Hassan Al-Muthanna, the son of Imam Hassan (peace be upon him).
He is the oldest grandson of the master of Shi’ism and their religious authority, the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Mohsin al-Hakeem and He (may Allah have mercy on his soul) is also his father’s maternal uncle.
He was born in the holy city of Najaf on 8th Thul-Qa’dah in the year 1354 which corresponds to 1934.
His father (may Allah have mercy on his soul) raised and took a special care of him as he noticed his eldest son’s special capability and distinction in learning the religious sciences. Under the guidance and direction of his father he began his religious studies before he reached the age of ten years. At the same time, he taught him various moral and noble values that became obvious characteristics in his personality.
He studied under the following teachers in this sequence:
1. His great father, His Eminence Ayatollah Sayyid Mohamed Ali al-Tabatabai Al-Hakeem (May Allah have mercy on his soul). He started teaching him from the introductory subjects like the Arabic language, grammar, logic, eloquence, jurisprudence and its fundamentals, until he finished most of his intermediate studies of the Hawza (known as the level of Al-Sutooh).
2. His maternal grandfather, the Shia religious authority, the Grand Ayatollah, the late Sayyid Mohsin Al-Tabatabai Al-Hakeem (may Allah have mercy on his soul), where he attended a great deal of his studies in jurisprudence and wrote his dictations.
3. The teacher of jurists and Mujtahids, the Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Hussein al Hilli (may Allah have mercy on his soul) where he attended his studies in the sciences of religious jurisprudence and the fundamentals of jurisprudence.
4. The late Shia religious authority, the Grand Ayatollah, Al-Sayyid Al-Khoi (may Allah have mercy on his soul), in whose classes of the fundamentals of jurisprudence he attended for two years.
His Teachings and Students:
After he finished teaching several sessions in the Sotooh level in the Hawza, he started in the year 1388 to teach the level of Bahth al-Kharij – the highest level of Hawza classes – until he finished his first course in the fundaments of the jurisprudence in year 1399, and then started another one. He continued to teach and write despite the harsh conditions of detention that took place from 1403 until 1411.
In the subject of jurisprudence, he started teaching Bahth al-Kharij in 1390 and he is still teaching despite the difficult circumstances for years. He graduated many respected scholars in the Hawza and they are now amongst elite teachers in the Hawzas of Najaf and Qom and elsewhere.
In addition to his writings during his studies at the level of Sutooh, which were characteristic in their investigative vigor and depth, the following particular books have emerged:
1. Al-Mukam in the fundamentals of jurisprudence, comprising of a detailed full course in the fundamentals of the jurisprudence in six volumes.
2. Misbah al-Minhaj, an expanded deductive work on jurisprudence. To date sixteen volumes have been published.
3. Minhaj al-Saliheen, his treatise on the practical laws of Islam according to his edicts (i.e. his Risalah Amaliyyah), printed in three volumes.
4. Al-Manasik, the Hajj and Umrah guide as per his edicts.
5. Fee Rihab al-Aqeeda, a detailed dialogue of a Jordanian personality with His Eminence on the issues of beliefs, in three volumes
6. Hiwar fil-Marja’iyyah, a dialogue with His Eminence about the issues of religious authority.
7. Murshid al-Mughtarib, translated into English as “Muslims’ Guide in non-Muslim Countries” the book which is before you.
8. Al-Hiwariyat, a treatise presented in a form of dialogue in which the edicts of His Eminence are presented in easy-to-understand format.
9. The Fiqh of Computers and the Internet, also translated into English.
10. The Fiqh of Human Cloning, also translated into English.
11. A message to the expatriate Muslims.
12. A message to the religious preachers, scholars and the Hawza students, also translated into Persian and Urdu.
13. A message to the believers in Azerbaijan, translated into the Azeri language.
14. A message to the pilgrims of the Holy House of God.
…and many more.
His Detention (1983-1991)
After Saddam Al-Tikriti’s seizure of power and the removal of his predecessor, Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakr, in June 17th, 1979, intensive pressure and hardship of the regime against Iraqis was increased, especially against the scholars of Hawza in Najaf. His Eminence decided to stay in the Hawza and not leave the country, and to tolerate the mentioned pressures and dangers, in order to contribute to the maintenance of this scientific and cultural entity and at the same time not to grant the government its wish in evacuating the Hawza from its scholars in its bid to control it.
The pressure reached its peak during the Iran-Iraq war after the plot of Saddam failed to bring down the young Islamic revolution in Iran by a quick war. When the Iranian military attacks increased in the battlefields, Saddam convened a conference of “Muslim Clergymen” in Baghdad with the hope that it will be attended by Muslim scholars from inside Iraq as well as from other countries and he named it as “The Public Islamic Conference”, in order to pressurize the Iranians to stop the war
It was natural that he pressured the scholars of the Hawza to participate in this conference; he paid special attention to the Al-Hakeem family because of its respected scientific and public rank inside and outside Iraq. This intensive pressure had been in various ways of threats and intimidation. When the family refused to participate, Saddam ordered the arrest of the family two weeks later after the end of the conference, as an act of revenge against their noble position which became a symbol in the history of modern Iraq, especially when there was no clear religious scientific entity in the Arabic Hawza in Iraq at that time.
It was His Eminence and his father, Ayatollah Sayyid Mohammed Ali Al-Hakeem (may Allah have mercy on his soul), as well as his brothers and their sons, were among the detainees. The government focused on their interrogation of some of the Al-Hakeem family in the General Directorate of Security, one of them being His Eminence himself; but Almighty Allah mercifully saved him from the evil of the oppressors.
Isolation in the prison of Abu Ghraib:
In March 1985, the regime transferred the detainees of the Al-Hakeem family from the detention facility of the General Directorate of Security in Baghdad to the isolated sections of Abu Ghraib prison, after the executions of sixteen martyrs in two sessions. Despite the harsh living conditions in these isolated sections, it had opened a relatively big opportunity of scientific and educational activities for the prisoners of the Al-Hakeem family, because of the large number of prisoners and their religious and educational interests. All of this gave His Eminence the chance for further scientific, educational and social activities inside the prison.
1. Scientific and cultural activities:
His Eminence was active in teaching his family members – especially as many of the detainees from the Al-Hakeem family were his students before the detention – so he started two classes of Bahth al-Kharij in the sciences of the Hawza: one of them in jurisprudence and the other in the fundamentals of jurisprudence.
He also paid attention to the revival of the religious events by giving general cultural lectures that have had significant impact during the harsh circumstances. He also answered questions in various issues.
2. Social and educational activities:
The poor conditions of the prison, the spread of deadly diseases and disconnection of the prisoners from their families – as they were not allowed to see their families and their families did not know their fate – called for the need to someone that can reflect parental care and attention, which was represented by His Eminence (may Allah prolong his life) who undertook this responsibility and played this role for thousands of detainees who were staying in these cells.
He said, during the peak of hardship in the isolated sections in the prison of Abu Ghraib, to one of his sons: “If there were no benefits in our plight, i.e. the plight of the Al-Hakeem family, except to decrease the suffering of the prisoners, then it is sufficient”.
3. Withstanding in the interrogations:
Detainees and prisoners in Iraq usually faced various types of severe torture which made it difficult to withstand and endure. His Eminence personally encountered various kinds of bloody and harsh torture, such as being beating with batons and given electric shocks, but he faced the tragedy with rare spirit and solid patience and he was urging the rest of the detainees to be patient and withstand the hardships and to depend on Almighty Allah.
After his release on 5th Thul-Qa’dah, 1411, along with the rest of the members of the Al-Hakeem family, after the execution of some of them, the regime pressured His Eminence in many various ways to accept the official religious leadership (Marja’iyyah) but he strongly refused while insisting on the independency of the Shi’ite religious leadership from the political regimes. Despite that, he remained insistent on taking charge of supporting the Hawza in the holy city of Najaf and helping thousands of needy families in Iraq including many of the families of martyrs and detainees. He was also supporting religious propagation secretly away from the surveillance of the tyrant’s supporters.
When His Eminence traveled for medical treatment outside Iraq, many believers urged him not to go back to Iraq especially when the war was expected in the near future but he refused and insisted on returning to the trench of the religious Hawza in Najaf to be closer to the Iraqi believers in their long plight.
His Religious Leadership:
After the death of Ayatollah Sayyid al-Khoie (may Allah have mercy on his soul), many people started to follow him in Taqlid. Lots of believers and the Hawza scholars from inside and outside Iraq, including some leading scholars and religious authorities, were insisting on His Eminence to announce his religious leadership. So, he assumed the responsibility in a critical and complex set of circumstances experienced by believers in various parts of the globe.
The concerns of His Eminence are characterized within the following themes:
(A) Within the boundaries of the religious Hawza – this religious institute that is undergoing a heavy responsibility in facing various situations and diverse enemies’ plans – his eminence was concerned with upbringing a generation of students characterized by piety along with various Islamic sciences. His eminence addressed the students of the Hawza with a message where he focused on a range of important points that students supposed to be committed to them.
(B) He paid great attention to the Shiite communities, especially those who live away from the religious centers and suffer difficult circumstances; his directives were received by the people in the West and his message to support them and guide them in facing various problems in living in non-Muslim countries.
(C) He saw the importance of the connection with the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet and his family (peace be upon them) which was reflected in his personal lifestyle, as he is committed to reciting daily and repeatedly the Holy Qur'an and he – in an answer to a question addressed to His Eminence – stressed on the importance of considering the Qur’an, the authentic books of narrations, Nahj al-Balagha and Saheefa al-Sajjadiyya as key references for scholars and preachers and speakers.
)D) He holds a deep bond with the household of the Prophet (peace be upon them) and the dedication to their love. This is clearly shown through his repeated guidance and in various occasions to pay great attention to the rituals related to Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) and other Islamic events. And this is clearly shown by his yearly lectures in the month of Muharram and his interest in reciting the story of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) personally.
(E) He emphasizes the close relationship with the nation and the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). His Eminence does not waste any chance to give advice and guidance through lectures or speeches in the holy city of Najaf and elsewhere.
(F) He pays great attention to supporting the needy families, which is clearly shown by his various support for them and by establishing monthly stipends to thousands of needy families in Iraq.
(G) His office oversaw the reconstruction and renovation of various dilapidated holy sites, like the project of the renovation the huge Sahla mosque in Kufah and the building of many mosques in various cities of Iraq and Syria.
(H) He supports religious preaching, sending religious preachers and supporting the preaching activities in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, newly independent republics in central Asia, Syrian cities, northern Iraq and Iraqi refugee camps in Iran, and other areas of Iran. He also supports the establishment of educational and religious centers in various places, as well as the spread of the teachings of the Ahl Al-Bayt in the Muslim countries, especially the republics of central Asia.
(I) His office has established relationships with Islamic centers and institutes in the United States and Europe through direct contact, sending various Islamic books, and answering their various questions. The website of His Eminence’s office provides Islamic material in the Arabic, English and Urdu languages in an attempt to deliver the Islamic teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) across to different parts of the globe, as well as answering the questions raised by believers and others in various topics of jurisprudence, beliefs, etc.
(J) He follows the events of interest to the Islamic world and the followers of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) and the challenges they face, and to take the appropriate steps, such as the oppression that is taking place against the Muslims in Palestine, Lebanon, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.