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BORUJERDI, MOHAMMAD HOSAYN (also rendered Muhammad Husayn Burujirdi; 1875-1962), Iranian theologian and religious leader who by the time of his death became the sole source of emulation (marja` al-taghd) for all Iranian Shi’is. Born in Borujerd (Burujird) Province in western Iran, Ayatollah Borujerdi came from a family known for its religious learning and piety. At twelve he enrolled in Borujerd’s madrasah (Islamic seminary), where his father, Sayyid `All Tabataba’i, was one of his main mentors. At eighteen he went to Isfahan to study jurisprudence and philosophy. In 1901 he left Isfahan for Najaf, where he studied with Ayatollah Muhammad Kazim Khorasani and `Allamah Muhammad Kazim Yazdi. After ten years, he returned to Borujerd, where, apart from brief interruptions, he stayed for the next thirty-seven years. While in Borujerd, he taught jurisprudence and was marja` al-taglid for the people of Khorasan and southwestern Iran. In 1945 he left Borujerd for Tehran to receive medical treatment, and, by invitation of the city of Qom’s `ulama’, he settled there. Borujerdi’s arrival at the Iranian center of ShN learning filled the vacuum created by the death of two leading Wamd’ of that city: Shaykh `Abd al-Karlm Ha’iri Yazd! and the chief source of emulation, Sayyid Abu al-Hasan al-Isfahani. These events paved the way for Ayatollah Borujerdi’s ascendence as the new marja` al-taghd of Iranian Shi’is.

Because of his lack of political ambition and conservatism, Ayatollah Borujerdi maintained a quietist attitude toward politics, refraining from using his powerful position to mobilize his vast following. On several important occasions, however, Borujerdi abandoned his political quietism.

On his initiative, after the attempted assassination of the shah at Tehran University on 4 February 1949, a gathering of clergy in Fayziyah Madrasah in Qom passed a resolution calling on their colleagues to stay aloof from political involvement and partisan politics. While Mohammad Mossadegh, the nationalist leader, was in power (1951-1953), Borujerdi and Ayatollah opposed most of his policies, on female enfranchisement. Borudiate the conflict between Mossadegh April 1953. Fearing a communist takeer, he tacitly supported the August coup of brought the shah back to power, welcoming his return to Iran. Borujerdi was also prominent the anti-Baha’i campaign of 1955. By accusing the Baha’is of secret activities against the monarchy and state, Borujerdi elicited the support of the shah in the campaign. He called on the shah to purge Baha’Is from all government positions and to seize their assets in order to build more mosques and madrasahs. He instructed, however, that this should be done without the shedding of blood. He also issued a fatwd (religiously binding authoritative statement) to boycott the consumption of Pepsi Cola, because the Iranian franchise was owned by Sabet Pasal, a wealthy Baha’i. Borujerdi also opposed the government’s 1959 land reform bill. This bill, among other things, affected religious endowments, diminishing the clergy’s means of subsistance and their financial independence from the state.

Borujerdi’s contribution to Shi`i theology is primarily in the domain of hadith (deeds and words attributed to the Prophet) and the reinvigoration of the practice of independent investigation. He also displayed interest in Sunni-Shi’i rapprochement and worked to establish closer ties with the Egyptian Sunni `ulama’ of al-Azhar.


Akhavi, Shahrough. Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: ClergyState Relations in the Pahlavi Period. Albany, N.Y., 198o. Provocative analysis of clergy-state relations in twentieth-century Iran.

Algar, Hamid. “The Oppositional Role of the Ulama in Twentieth Century Iran.” In Scholars, Saints, and Sufis, edited by Nikki R. Keddie, pp. 231-255. Berkeley, 1972. Good autobiographical essay on Iranian clergy in the twentieth century.

Keddie, Nikki R. Roots of Revolution. New Haven, 1981. Comprehensive historical study of religion and politics in Iran.

Razi, Muhammad Sharif. “Ayat Allah Burujirdi.” In Ganjinah-‘i Ddnishmandan. Tehran, 1973- Provides some useful autobiographical information on the life of Borujerdi; in Persian.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/borujerdi-mohammad-hosayn/

  • writerPosted On: November 3, 2012
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