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MUTAHHARI, MURTAZ A (January 31, 1919 – May 1, 1979), Iranian religious scholar and writer, one of the closest associates of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Born in a village in northeastern Iran to a scholar who was also his first teacher, Mutahhari began his formal schooling at the age of twelve in the great shrine city of Mashhad, where e discovered the great love for philosophy, mysticism, and theology that was to remain constant throughout his life. The core of the religious curriculum, however, consisted of fiqh (jurisprudence). To study this subject under the principal authorities of the day, Mutahhari moved to Qom in 1937. In Qom he made the acquaintance of Khomeini, renowned at the time mainly for his mystically tinged lectures on ethics. Significant, too, were the links Mutahhari developed with `Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i (d. 1981), the wellknown exegete and philosopher. In 1952 Mutahhari left Qom for Tehran, where he began teaching at the Madrasah-yi Marvi and, two years later, at the Faculty of Theology at Tehran University. The scope of his activity expanded still further when he began collaborating with Islamic organizations founded by religiously inclined laymen, the most important of these being the Husayniyah-yi Irshad, founded in 1965. Many of the lectures he gave under the auspices of these organizations were later published in book form.

Mutahhari was imprisoned for forty-three days in the aftermath of the uprising led by Khomeini in June 1963. After his release, he participated actively in organizations that sought to maintain the momentum the uprising had created, most significantly the Jami`ah-yi Ruhaniyat-i Mubariz (Society of Militant Clergy). He remained in touch with Khomeini during the ayatollah’s fourteen-year exile, visiting him repeatedly in Najaf and, during the revolution of 1978-1979, at Neauphlele-Chateau near Paris. A sign of the trust in which Khomeini held Mutahhari was his appointment to the Shura-yi Ingilab-i Islam! (Council of the Islamic Revolution), which functioned as interim legislature after the victory of the revolution in February 1979. A few months later, on I May 1979, Mutahhari was assassinated in Tehran by adherents of Furgan, a group preaching a radically modernistic and anticlerical reinterpretation of Shi’i doctrine, which regarded Mutahhari as its most formidable intellectual opponent. Mutahhari was eulogized as “a part of my flesh” by an atypically weeping Khomeini and buried in Qom.

Although the Iranian Revolution gave Mutahhari visibility as a political figure, it is his writings, vigorously promoted by the revolutionary authorities, that constitute his chief legacy. The most substantial of his works is, perhaps, his philosophical critique of materialism, Usul-i falsafah va ravish-i rValism (The Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism, 4 vols., Qom, 1953-1971) based largely on discussions held in the circle of `Allamah Tabataba’i. A more polemical approach to the same subject, paying particular attention to the cultural disorientation of Iranian society, was `Ilal-i girayish ba mdddigari (Reasons for the Turn toward Materialism, Qom, 19’71). Other works were also conceived in a spirit of addressing urgent contemporary concerns, most notably Nizdm-1 huquq-i zan dar Islam (The System of Women’s Rights in Islam, Qom, 1966). Taken as a whole, the works of Mutahhari demonstrate how leading figures among the Iranian `ulama’ concerned themselves, against a background of traditional learning, with the problems of the modern age, and thereby contributed to creating the intellectual climate of the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

[See also Qom; Shi’i Islam, article on Modern Shl’! Thought; and the biographies of Khomeini and Tabdtabd’i.]


Hoda, M. In Memory of Martyr Mutahhari. Tehran, 1982.

Khurasani, Muhammad Va’izzadah. “Sayri dar zindagi-yi `ilmi va inqilabi-yi ustad-i Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari.” In Yddndmah yi ustad-i Shahid Murtazd Mutahhari, edited by `Abd al-Karim Surush, pp. 319-380. Tehran, 198z.

Mutahhari, Mujtaba. “Zindagi-yi pidaram.” Harakat (Tehran) i (n.d.): 5-16.

Mutahhari, Murtaza. Fundamentals of Islamic Thought: God, Man, and the Universe. Translated by R. Campbell. Berkeley, 1985.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/mutahhari-murtaz-a/

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