Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Bahjat Fumani, known to be the greatest 'Arif in contemporary history, resided in Qum, Iran. He was a student of the greatest teacher of 'Irfan in recent history, Sayyid 'Ali Qadhi Tabatabai.
Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Bahjat Fumani was born into a religious and pious family in the year 1334AH (1915CE) in Fuman in North Iran. He lost his mother before he was 2 years old. About his father, Mahmood Bahjat, family members relate an interesting event.
From a young age he showed signs of genius and a great thirst for acquiring knowledge.When his father was around 16-17 years of age, he fell seriously ill and they thought he would not survive. When the relatives gathered around this young man, one of the family members heard a voice saying, “Do not worry, he will be fine, because he is going to be the father of Muhammad Taqi.” After this event, the youth soon recovered from his illness, got married a few years later and had several sons. He named his third son Muhammad Taqi in memory of the event of his childhood. However, in infancy, this child fell into a pond and was drowned. He had one more son after him, and he also named him Muhammad Taqi. This last son grew up to be the great scholar and ‘arif, Ayatullah Bahjat.
His father was a reciter of marthiyya and he would often take
the young Agha Bahjat with him to his recitals, thus inculcating in him a
deep and abiding love for Sayyid al-Shuhada (A.S.).
15 years later, he returned to Iran and settled in Qum. Here, in the company of Ayatullah Khomeini, Ayatullah Gulpaygani and other great future figures, he continued his studies under Grand Ayatullah Burujerdi.
His Character and Qualities
1. Piety and Self-Building
From his youth, Agha Bahjat was constantly engaged in
self-purification and self-building. In his ethical instructions, he always
insists that one should work hard at this task and forego and abandon many
luxuries in order to make headway against the endless demands of the soul.
From his youth, Agha Bahjat was constantly engaged in self-purification and self-building. In his ethical instructions, he always insisted that one should work hard at this task and forego and abandon many luxuries in order to make headway against the endless demands of the soul.Ayatullah Shaykh Javad Kerbalayi says about him, “One of his close students (in Najaf) reports that every night, or in fact at most times, Agha Bahjat sits alone, deep in thought and contemplation. He never wastes a moment of his time, and does not participate in vain gatherings. When the time comes for his class, or his ziyarat of Amirul Mu’mineen (A), he gets up abruptly, puts on his cloak and leaves the house without interfering in the activities of others. He is extremely reserved and does not like to reveal anything about himself, especially about the special favours and extraordinary spiritual powers that God has granted him.”
servants of God always look at the reality of this world, contrary to other
human beings whose eyes are fixed on its pleasures and luxuries. By
foregoing material comforts, they attain spiritual strength, and while the
rest of the people stumble in this dark world, these awliya soar in the
illuminated heights in proximity to God.
Agha Bahjat’s students report that he had a special closeness to God, that is immediately evident in his manner of worship. Those who have prayed behind him have described it ‘as a spiritually uplifting and unique experience’. In fact, the Fatimiyyah mosque at the end of the Guzarkhan market, where he had led prayers three times a day for over 40 years, was always full at prayer time. High ranking scholars made a special effort to come and pray behind him. Allamah Tabataba’i would also visit the mosque to pray. Almost as soon as Agha Bahjat used to begin his prayer, tears flowed from his eyes - frequently he has to pause because his voice is choked with emotion - such is his awe in God’s presence.
One of the scholars remarks, “In the early days, Agha Bahjat would go to the undeveloped part of Qum, past some farms, and recite his evening prayers with some companions in that remote location. One day, after the maghribain prayers, he commented, “If only the kings of this world realised how much pleasure a servant experiences in worship, they would never even glance at the worldly delights…”
Ayatullah Shaykh Javad Kerbalayi says, “Agha Bahjat never
misses his late night prayers (salaat al-layl) and spends a long time
weeping in the middle of the night, especially on the night preceding
4. His Ziyarat and Tawassul (Saluting the Ahlul Bayt (A.S.)
Despite his advanced years, the daily routine of Agha Bahjat remained unchanged. Early every morning, he would present himself at the shrine of Lady Fatima Masuma (A.S.) to pay his respects and send salutations. With the greatest of humility, he stood near her shrine, and recited the Ziyarat of Ashura of Imam Husain (A.S.).
Husein Tehrani, in his book, Anwar al-Malakut, quotes Ayatullah Shaykh Abbas
Quchani, the great scholar and spiritual successor of the famous Mirza Ali
Qadhi Tabataba’i, as narrating: “While he was in Najaf, Agha Bahjat would
often go to Masjid al-Sahlah and spend whole nights alone there in worship
and contemplation. On one very dark night, when the lights in the mosque
were not lit either, he needed to go out to refresh his wudhu.
One of his noticeable traits was his humbleness and simplicity, despite his fame and status as a leading contemporary scholar and jurist. For many years he had refused to print his religious edicts (tawdhih al-masail) and he only agreed after much pressure. When he was scheduled to lecture he would request that his name not be mentioned as the lecturer.
A scholar reports, “Once I went with my guest, Shaykh Nasrullah Lahuthi, to visit Agha Bahjat. Agha Lahuthi said to his teacher, “Agha! I was in Mashhad and someone was criticising you, and I became very annoyed.” Agha Bahjat responded, “We have reports in the ahadith, that if a scholar pays too much attention to worldly matters, then he will be criticized by others.” I remember thinking, “If the way Agha Bahjat lives is called “paying too much attention to worldly matters”, then what about us!”
6. His Mystical Wayfaring (sayr wa suluk) and His Spiritual Station
Ayatullah Bahjat has many decades of experience in mystical
wayfaring, the special journey through established stations that the soul
undertakes to attain proximity to God. He is one of the outstanding pupils
of the great master, Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Qadhi Tabataba’i and had received
special instructions from his teacher. Even as a youth, he had passed many
stations of the spiritual path.
7. His Awareness of the Unseen (Ghayb) and his Wondrous Acts
In fact, a reminder of this ability is his constant
repetition of the Divine name “al-Sattaar” - the Concealer. This dhikr and
tasbih is constantly on Agha Bahjat’s lips, whether he is walking or
sitting. Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi says in this regard, “It seems that he is at
the level where he witnesses many things from ghayb. Often he is aware of
the real nature and inner secrets of those who sit around him, and he
invokes God, who is the Concealer of defects - al-Sattaar al-‘Uyub, so that
the secrets of the people around him may be concealed from him.”
For example, when Imam Khomeini was in exile in Turkey, many of his students would make statements in his defence and get into trouble with the government. They would be imprisoned and frequently tortured. I remember distinctly when Agha Jannati was captured and no one knew where he had been taken. I mentioned it to Agha Bahjat, who said, “Inshallah, you will soon inform me of his release.” Of course, some might say this was just a prayer, but in fact, he did not make such statements about every prisoner. Many times we would say, “pray for so and so,” but he would remain silent. Just as he had promised, Agha Jannati was released soon without having been hurt.”
One of his students says, “My wife was expecting a child. It was the month of Ramadhan, and I wanted to go on a journey, so I came to Agha Bahjat to say goodbye. He turned to me and said, “In this month, you will be blessed with a baby boy, name him Muhammad Hasan.” This is exactly what transpired.” There are many such episodes that people have related about their encounters with Agha Bahjat.
Agha Bahjat himself dislikes a lot of fuss made about these episodes but his students occasionally narrate them so the mu’mineen may realise that there exist in our times certain individuals, to whom God has granted special favours.
Certainly, for the one who sincerely strives in God’s way, then He Himself becomes their guide, “And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways. (Ankabut, 29/69)”
Drinking from the Fountain of the Wisdom of Ayatullah Bahjat
In this section we will examine several examples of the advice and replies of Agha Bahjat to questions about different matters.
1. How to counter and cure riya (showing off or trying to impress others while engaged in acts of worship)
A student in the Hawza of Qum relates that Agha Bahjat was once asked, “Sometimes a person decides to perform a virtuous act sincerely for God, but Shaytan converts his intention and the person starts to think instead about how people will be impressed, how he will become popular, etc., when he performs the act. Are these thoughts counted as riya, and do they nullify his virtuous act and make it worthless?”
stated in reply, “Riya is only relevant in acts of worship (‘ibadat). And
any act of worship that has riya associated with it is a sin, and it makes
the act null and void.
One of his students says that Agha Bahjat was asked, “Our
lives have passed away and we still have not experienced pleasure (halaawa,
lazzat) from our worship, especially salat. What is your advice so that we
can taste some of the pleasures that our infallible leaders (A) have
However, the student was insistent, and so Agha Bahjat
replied, “This pleasure that you seek in worship has two prerequisites; one
outside salat, and one within salat itself. What is necessary before salat
and outside of it is that a person abstains totally from sin, and does not
blacken his heart with the disgrace of disobedience, because sin will rob
his heart of light. As for the second requirement, within the salat itself a
man must create a barrier around himself so that no thought other than the
remembrance of God can enter. He must not allow his thoughts to stray away
from God even for an instant. [In this manner, you will achieve what you
To a young student, he said in reply to the same question, “Never knowingly let you thoughts drift away from God in salat.”
3. Sincere intention and harmony between knowledge and action
He was asked by a scholar:
“Agha, what should we bear in mind so that our intention in
wearing the amamah (turban) is sincere?”
“Your criterion in your acts must be Allah swt’s religion.
Always ask yourself whether your words and deeds conform with the shari’a or
not. You should make the niyyat that the knowledge (‘ilm) that you possess
and will gain in the future, will always be translated into actions. In
other words, there should be perfect harmony between what you know and what
you do. The greatest misfortune is when scholars act without proper
knowledge or possess knowledge but do not act upon it. So make a firm
resolve that your knowledge and actions will be harmonious.”
“An ‘alim who does not act on his knowledge is like the candle that illuminates the path for others but itself burns away.”
4. Trust and reliance on Allah swt
Ayatullah Misbah narrates that Agha Bahjat once said to him:
“One day I was sitting in my room and could hear the voices
in the street outside. I went out and saw that my neighbour’s son was
playing in the street when a beggar approached him saying, “I am a needy
person. Can you please go into your house and get something for me?”
Agha Bahjat remarked, “I was struck by this conversation and the innocence of the child who had so much trust and faith in his mother that he felt that she could solve any problem. And then he said, ‘If only we could develop the same absolute trust and reliance on Allah swt that this child had in his mother. Indeed all our problems would be solved if only we sincerely turned to Him for all our needs!”
5. If we constantly think of Imam-eZamana (A.S.),would he not think of us?
Agha Quddus recalls that he once asked Agha Bahjat:
replied, “If you make an intention to enter into the employment of Imam
Mahdi (A.S.), do you imagine that he will not look after you?”
Agha Quddus narrates that once he was recounting his program
and tableeghi activities performed during the month of Ramadhan to Agha
Bahjat and he said:
Agha Bahjat asked him why, and he replied, “Because I have some doubts about certain ahadith that I recite and I am afraid that if they are incorrect [then my fasts will become invalid].”
Agha Bahjat stated: “Then at night are you certain about these traditions that you feel confident in repeating them?”
Agha Quddus says: “I realised that he disapproved of my actions and was advising me to be certain of the facts before I repeated them to others.”
7. Tabligh by Action (and not only words)
Hujjatu’l Islam Lutfi says: “One day, after the morning prayers I approached Ayatullah Bahjat and requested him to give me some advice”.
He said, “kunu du’atan nasi ilallahi bighayri alsinatikum” “Call people to Allah swt with something other than your speech.”
I understood that although as a scholar, my responsibility was to engage in tabligh (propagating the faith), Agha wanted to draw my attention that the best tabligh was not that which was delivered from pulpits, but that which was demonstrated by conduct.
8. Staying away from Sin
Ayatullah Shaykh Jawad Kerbalai, the great scholar of akhlaq remarks:
“I had a great benefit from the many years that I studied under Ayatullah Bahjat. In that time I also witnessed first-hand many of the wondrous gifts that he has been granted. Among his words of wisdom I recall:
He always insisted that no progress could be made without abandoning sin. He used to say, “The great and special bounties of Allah are available freely to all His true servants, the only requirement is that a person has to qualify for these gifts. The only way to qualify for these special favours is by abandoning the disobedience of Allah swt.
Of course, there must be some commitment to attain proximity to Allah swt as well. The more a person knows the station of God (attains ma’rifat) and the more he loves Him, the more important it is to avoid every sin, even minor ones and even loss of concentration in His presence in worship.
It is because some servants reach this stage of proximity that it is said, “hasanaatu’l abrar, sayyiatu’l muqarrabeen”, or “the virtuous acts of the righteous people are (only) ordinary acts for the close servants”.”
Once a student who had only recently joined the hawza asked Ayat Bahjat:
“I have come to the hawza to attain knowledge. What should I
do so that I can become a proper scholar?”
On another occasion he was asked:“What is the best dhikr (invocation)?” He replied, “In the opinion of this simple servant, the best dhikr is the dhikr of action! What I mean is refraining from sinful beliefs (aqida) and sinful conduct (‘amal). Goodness and true success will only come from this way.”
In a letter, he was asked how one could attain proximity to God and also gain closeness to His khalifah, the Imam of our time (AF).
He replied: “Bismihi ta’ala. Refrain from sin and pray the salat at the exact time.”
9. The Secret of Salaat
Ayat Bahjat has said:
“Namaz (Salaat) symbolizes the Ka’ba. The Takbirarut’l Ihram
stands for casting aside everything other than Allah swt and entering His
haram (sanctuary). The Qiyam represents a conversation between two friends.
The Ruku’ symbolizes the bowing of a slave in front of his master and the
Sajdah is the ultimate display of lowliness, humility and helplessness in
front of the Master. And when the slave returns from such a Namaz, the
souvenir he brings back is the greeting of peace (salaam) from his Lord…”
10. Staying Awake at Dawn (Sahr) and in the Night
Ayatullah Ahmadi says:
“Ayat Bahjat always advised us to stay awake in worship
between dawn and sunrise and to rise in the night for prayer, (Namaz-e-Tahajjud/Salaatul
Layl). He even said, “I actually believe that it was through these very two
acts that the Prophet (S) acquired his perfect gnosis (ma’rifat) of Allah
relates from his teachers that whenever they desired to receive greater
favour and understanding from Allah swt, they would take advantage of the
solitude, peace and abundant blessings that is available in the depths of
the night and at dawn. At these times, one can form a connection with God
that is not easily possible at other times.
Ayat Bahjat has said:
“The first step
in the journey towards God and in attaining His proximity is for a servant
to realise that he has allowed a gulf to form between himself and his
Master. He must ensure at all costs that he does not allow this gulf to
widen and this must be his first goal. When he has put that control in
place, then he may begin the practices that will gradually draw him closer
and closer to his Lord.”
Agha Shahi remarks:
“Ayat Bahjat is
constantly stressing the importance of controlling one’s tongue and
maintaining silence. He would say, “We must control our speech. We should
spend 23 hours of the day in contemplation and thought, and only one hour in
speech; in fact, often even that is too much.
Ayatullah Bahjat often advises his students to inculcate the habit of being da’im al-dhikr, i.e. remaining in constant remembrance of Allah swt. He has said, “Someone who is constantly in dhikr, will always perceive himself in the presence of Allah swt and will be continuously communicating with Him.”
For those who want to combat waswasa, (constant suspicion of
the motives of others), he recommends highly to continually recite the “tahlil”,
which is the dhikr, “La Ilaha Illallah”.
14. Not Considering one’s own Virtuous Deeds as ‘Significant’
Ustad Khusrushahi relates: Ayatullah Bahjat always considers the virtuous deeds and the worship that he performs as insufficient.
He often says, “How good it would be that when a person performs virtuous deeds and acts of worship, he says to himself, “I have done nothing great”, but when he sees the virtuous acts of others, he admires them, thinking, “what a noble deed they have performed.”
The Ustad concludes, “In other words, his advice is to consider one’s own virtuous acts as insignificant, while regarding highly the good deeds of others.”
15. Getting the Seal of Approval of Imam al-Asr (AF)
Ayt Bahjat once advised the students of hawza: “We students should constantly be thinking about how we can earn the seal of approval of our master, the Wali al-Asr (AF).
All students, whether junior or graduates or preachers, should be concerned about how they learn their lessons, what should their attitude be and how they should conduct themselves.
They should continually ask themselves if their attitude, conduct, speech and actions would please their master when they are presented to him and would he approve of them.
Ayatullah Bahjat says that: “If this thought is always at the back of our minds, we will never stray in our conduct, speech or deeds.”
16. The Purpose of Higher Islamic Studies
greatly encourages students who are pursuing higher Islamic studies and
frequently advises junior students also by saying, “Whenever you learn
something new, immediately apply this knowledge to improve your wajib acts
and to help you in staying away from sinful acts. He would remind them of
the hadith, “man ‘amila bima ‘alima, warrathahu’llahu ‘ilma ma la ya’lam”,
whoever acts on what he knows, Allah swt will teach him what he does not
To senior students, his words are more thought provoking. One of his students recalls, “I remember once when I was accompanying him from his house to the mosque where he led the prayers. Ayt Bahjat turned to me and asked: “A student starts with “muqaddamat” (introductory lessons) and then studies the “ma’alim” and “mughni” and then where does he go next?” I said, “lum’ah”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “makasib”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “kifayah”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “Dars al-kharij”. He asked, “then what?” I said, “He attains ijtihad”. Once again, he asked, “then what?”
The student continues, “This was a great lesson to me. I realised that knowledge itself was not the goal; it was only the means (to achieve the goal) i.e. to gain the proximity of Allah swt. If at every one of these successive stages, the student did not achieve even a little more proximity to Allah swt, then he has not progressed much at all.”
18. How to Train one’s Soul (Tahdhib al-Nafs)
Once, some hawza students from Lebanon requested Ayatullah Bahjat for spiritual and akhlaqi (moral) advice. He replied: “One of the most beneficial actions in these matters is to sit with your fellow students every day and study one hadith from the chapter jihad al-nafs of the book Wasail al-Shi’a of Shaykh Hurr al-Amili. Of course, the hadith must be discussed properly, pondered over carefully and then transformed into action. This will be a spiritual tonic that within one year, will transform an individual in a way that he will himself see the change.”
19. The Status of Supplication (Du’a)
Ayatullah Bahjat believes that du’a has a very great status and insists that du’a governs the outcome of every stage of our lives.
Ustad Hadawi relates: “My daughter was very ill and I came to
Ayatullah Bahjat and asked him to pray for her. He told me, “You yourself
recite the following du’a three times every day: “Allahumma ishfiha bi
shifaa-ika, wa daawiha bi dawaa-ika, wa ‘aafiha bi ‘aafiyatik” “O Allah,
cure her with Your cure, and treat her with Your medicine, and restore her
health with Your strength”. Then, after the third time say: “Bi’l
Imami’l-Kazim (A.S.), fa innaha amatuka wa bintu ‘abdik”. “By the sake of
Imam al-Kazim (A.S.), for she is your servant, and the daughter of your
Shaykh Bahjat passed away on the 17th of May 2009 in Qum.
Source: Condensed from “Bargi az Daftar-e Aftaab”, A Leaf from the Book of Radiance (About the Life of Ayatullah Bahjat).