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KHO’I, ABOL-QASEM (1899-1992), widely followed Shi i mujtahid (interpreter of Islamic law). AbolQasem Kho’i (or Abu al-Qasim Khu’i was born in the city of Kho’i, province of Azerbaijan, Iran. At the age of thirteen, he entered religious training in Najaf, Iraq, studying with Shaykh Fath Allah al-Asfahani (alSharl’ah) and Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Na’ini, among others. Kho’i remained in Najaf’s hawza (theological center), rising to become a teacher of jurisprudence and theology, writer, and spiritual leader of millions of Shi’i Muslims in Iraq, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere.

With the death of Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim in 1970, Kho’i became the most widely followed Shi’i mujtahid. He maintained contact with his followers worldwide through a well-organized network of representatives, using the religious tithes conveyed to him to provide stipends to seminary students and to establish Islamic schools in Iraq, Iran (Qom), Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Lebanon. He founded a publishing house in Karachi and mosques with cultural centers in Bombay, London, New York City, and elsewhere.

Among KhoTs many well-known books are Al-bayan fi tafsir al-Qur’an (Exegesis in Qur’dnic Commentary); Al-masd’il al-muntakhabah (Selected [Religious] Questions); and Minhaj al-salihin (The Path of the Righteous), a two-volume work on religious practices and law. In his theology, Kho’i was traditional and scholarly; in his personal life, austere. He opposed all political activity by high-ranking religionaries and advanced two doctrinal objections to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s advocacy of wilayat al -faqih (guardianship of the jurist): (I) the authority of Shi’i jurists cannot be extended by humans to the political sphere; and (2) the authority of ShN jurists during the absence of the Twelfth Imam cannot be restricted to one jurist or a few. For this he was subjected to severe criticism from Khomeini’s followers.

In the area of women’s rights, Ayatollah Kho’i funded religious schools for girls but took the position that women could not be religious guides for others. He issued fatwas (religious decrees) allowing unrelated men and women to attend religious and social functions together.

Kho’i was the only ayatollah in Iraq after the Iraqi government expelled Ayatollah Khomeini in 1978 and executed Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in 1980. He applied for an exit visa but was refused. His funds were confiscated; his students were arrested and tortured; and he himself was placed under a virtual house arrest that continued until his death twelve years later. Despite pressure from the Iraqi government to endorse its war effort against Iran, he held to his refusal to take any political positions. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in I 99o, he issued a fatwd forbidding ShNs to purchase goods brought from Kuwait, on the grounds that the goods were stolen. In March 1991, after the failed Shl’! uprising against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Kho’i was detained in police custody and the hawza was closed by the government.

Ayatollah KhoTs students number in the thousands and include the previously mentioned Ayatollah al-Sadr (Iraq); Sayyid Mahdi Shams al-Din, acting chairman of the Supreme Assembly of Lebanese Shi’i Muslims; Imam Musa al-Sadr (Lebanon); Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah (Lebanon), and Ayatollah Ardabili, former chief justice of Iran.

[See also Al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation and the biographies of Fadlalldh, Hakim, Nd’ini, and Sadr.]


Al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation. “Concepts and Projects.” Fourteen-page historical account of the Al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation.

Momen, Moojan. An Introduction to Shi`i Islam. New Haven and London, 1985. Excellent depiction of Shiism and its prominent leaders. Muslim Group of the U.S. and Canada, Washington D.C. Chapter. “Al-Khu’i.” Washington, D.C., 1992. Five-page obituary addressing Ayatollah KhoTs contributions and his trials under Iraq’s Ba’thist regime.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/khoi-abol-qasem/

  • writerPosted On: July 26, 2014
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