GRAND AYATULLAH NASIR MAKAREM SHIRAZI
Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi is one of the most influential ayatollahs currently in Iran. He is a spiritual guide for many Twelver Shi'a Muslims.
He started his formal Islamic studies at the age of 14 in the Agha Babakhan Shirazi seminary. After completing the introductory studies, he started studying jurisprudence (fiqh) and its principles (usul al-fiqh).
He made rapid progress and finished studying the complete levels of introductory and both the levels of the intermediate Islamic studies in approximately four years. During this time, he also taught at the Islamic seminary in Shiraz.
At the age of 18, he formally entered the theological seminary of Qom, and for the next five years was present in the religious gatherings and classes of some of the leading Islamic teachers of those days, such as Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Burujerdi, & Ayatollah Seyyed Kazem Shariatmadari.
In Najaf (Iraq)
In 1950 he made his way to the seminary of Najaf, Iraq. Here, he was able to take part in classes of teachers such as Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim, Ayatollah Abul-Qassim Khoei and Ayatollah Abdul Hadi ash-Shirazi.
At the age of 24, he was granted complete ijtihad by two senior scholars in Najaf. Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim also wrote a short, comprehensive letter of commendation for him.
In 1951 he returned to Qom, since he did not have the means to survive and continue his studies in Najaf.
After returning to Iran, Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shirazi began teaching the intermediate and higher level of studies in usul al-fiqh and fiqh. Also, he was a member of the editorial board of the first Islamic magazine published in Iran named "Maktab'e Eslam", next to Ayatollah Shariatmadari.
He has won the Iranian Royal Academy of Philosophy' award for his essay "Filsuf-Namaha".
Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi was active in the pre-revolution days; hence he was thrown in jail many times. He was even exiled on three separate occasions to three different locations-Chabahar, Mahabad and Anarak. After the Iranian revolution, he was appointed to the first council of Representatives and played a major role in writing the first constitution.
Fatwas and viewpoints
Beating a disobedient wife
According to Makarem Shirazi, a Muslim man may "under exceptional circumstances" inflict a "light physical punishment" on his wife for not willing to perform her [sexual] marital duties. The physical punishment, he explains, must be very light where no harm or injuries are caused and even "the skin should not turn red". The "exceptional circumstances" are to be considered after [nicely asking and] advising, grumping, and separating beds, "just like when a surgery is the last resort for a patient" .
Wrongly translated news articles have referenced Makarem Shirazi, saying Islam allows a man to beat his wife. This leading ayatollah describes on his website, that Islam has ordered men to have good behavior with their spouses and has even forbidden them from yelling and speaking to their wives with temper . On the same topic, Makarem Shirazi says, if a man does not perform his marital duties towards his wife, even after advice and when there is no other solution, the Islamic government can physically punish him [on behalf of the wife] .
In the same article, he references psychiatrists (probably Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis) and mentions that "some women" have natural tendency towards sexual masochism and a slight punishment act will help in "easing their mind" .
Women's attendance in stadiums
In the aftermath of an attempt by President Ahmadinejad to allow women to attend soccer matches in stadiums (something they are not able to do now), Makarem issued a fatwa objecting to this.
Alternatives to stoning
Makarem's fatwa concerning stoning to death for adultery reads: "In certain circumstances, death by stoning can be replaced by other methods of punishment".
Makarem issued a fatwa declaring smoking as religiously illicit (makruh).
His works number more than 130 volumes. Some of these are: