The great Allamah, the late Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (r.a.), is the author ofBiharul Anwar; the thirteenth volume of which is devoted to the traditional reports about the twelfth Shiite Imam, Imam Muhammad Mahdi (a.s.). Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) was one of the most prolific writers of Shia Islamic books of traditions. It was the singular effort of this great scholar that Shia Islam was able to preserve its heritage and to popularize it among the masses, even though anti-Shia people tried their best to destroy the heritage of Shiaism and consign its books to the flames, as is known to all.
Here we shall present the biography of Allamah Majlisi in brief and for details, one may refer to books like Mirza Husain Noori’sFaizul Qudsi Fee Ahwal Majlisi etc. This book includes details of the ancestors, siblings, teachers and students of Allamah Majlisi (r.a.). It also deals with the writings of this great scholar in Arabic as well as in Persian. The same was also mentioned in the old edition of the first volume ofBiharul Anwar .
Father - Allamah Majlisi, the First
Mulla Taqi Majlisi, son of Maqsood Ali Isfahani, famous by the title of Majlisi the first, was the father of Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, the author ofBiharul Anwar . He was one of the most prominent Shia scholar of the Safavid Era. His contribution to the preservation and revival of Shia heritage was such that every Shia person is indebted to him. The great jurist and famous scholar, Shaykh Hurre Amili says: “Mulla Muhammad Taqi Majlisi was an accomplished scholar, a great researcher, a pious worshipper, a trustworthy scholastic theologian and a jurist of his time.”
Mulla Taqi Majlisi was a student of Mulla Abdullah Shustari and Shaykh Bahauddin Amili (r.a.). He resembled his teacher in piety and worship. All his life, he was busy in practicing the best of the morals and in propagating the traditions of the house of the Prophet. He was a prolific poet, who used thenom de plume of Majlisi and hence this title became popular among his descendants.
He passed away in the year 1070 Hijri at the age of sixty-seven years.
Among his writings is a gloss onMan Laa Yahzarul Faqih in Arabic as well as Persian, a commentary onAt-Tahdhib , commentary onZiyarat Jamia . A gloss onUsul Kafi ; as well a commentary onSahifa Kamilah of Imam Sajjad (a.s.).
Sons of Majlisi I
According to all books, Majlisi, the first, had three sons: Mulla Azizullah, Mulla Abdullah and Mulla Muhammad Baqir (Majlisi II). He also had four daughters who were also accomplished and educated like his sons.
The great Allamah, Mulla Muhammad Baqir Isfahani, famous as Allamah Majlisi and Majlisi II, was the third and the youngest son of Mulla Muhammad Taqi or Majlisi I. According to Mir Abdul Husain Khatoonabadi, Majlisi II was born in 1037 in Isfahan, which was a center of Shia Islam at that time. However in some other sources the year of his birth is mentioned as 1038.
Allamah Majlisi had a natural inclination to learning and he set upon the pursuit of knowledge since his childhood. He received his early education from his father and then from various scholars of that time, whom we shall mention below.
Allamah Majlisi and the post of Shaykhul Islam
He was elevated to the post of Shaykhul Islam by Shah Sulaiman Safavi, which was the highest religious post in Iran. At that time, his age was sixty-one years and he retained that post till the end of his life. Shah Sulaiman Safavi also formed endowments for the scholarly pursuits of the Allamah and for the spread of Islamic education.
Valuable writings of Allamah Majlisi
Since Persian was language of the common people at that time, Allamah Majlisi wrote a large number of books in this language to popularize Shia Islam among the masses. His Persian books are as follows:
1-Hayatul Qulub (3 volumes)
2- Hilyautul Muttaqeen
3- Ainul Hayat
4- Mushkilatul Anwaar, Mukhtasar Ainul Hayat
5- Zaadul Maad
6- Tohfatuz Zair
7-Haqqul Yaqeen (his last book)
8- Jilaul Uyun
9- Rabiul Asabi
10- Maqabisul Masabih
… and around forty other books.
Arabic books of Allamah Majlisi:
1- His magnum opus, the encyclopedicBiharul Anwar was originally published in twenty-five volumes as follows:
Vol. 1. Book of knowledge and ignorance; excellence of knowledge and scholars and their classes.
Vol. 2. Book of monotheism, qualities of the Almighty Allah, His beautiful names.
Vol. 3. Book of Divine Justice
Vol. 4. Book of debates and discussions
Vol. 5. Life histories of the prophets
Vol. 6. Life history of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and an account of his ancestors
Vol. 7. Common account of the Holy Imams (a.s.) and Imamate
Vol. 8. Mischiefs that occurred after the passing away of the Prophet
Vol. 9. Account of Amirul Momineen (a.s.)
Vol. 10. Account of Lady Fatima, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (a.s.).
Vol. 11. Account of four Imams after Imam Husain (a.s.): Imam Zainul Abideen, Imam Muhammad Baqir, Imam Ja’far Sadiq and Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.)
Vol. 12. Account of four Imams before Imam Mahdi (a.s.): that is Imam Ali Reza, Imam Muhammad Taqi, Imam Ali Naqi, and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.).
Vol. 13. Account of Imam Mahdi (a.s.).
Vol. 14. The earth and the heavens and their parts. Jinns, men, animals, eatables and drinks.Tibbe Reza andTibbe Nabi etc.
Vol. 15. Book of Faith and disbelief.
Vol. 16. Ethics, practice and manners
Vol. 17. Advices and wise sayings
Vol. 18. Part I- Purification, Part II - Prayers
Vol. 19. Excellence of the Holy Quran and rewards of its recitation etc.
Vol. 20. Zakat, Sadaqah, Khums, prayer, Etekaf and other rituals of the year.
Vol. 21. Hajj, Umrah, description of Medina etc.
Vol. 22. Ziyarats that have been narrated from the Holy Imams (a.s.).
Vol. 23. Vows and oaths.
Vol. 24. Practical laws till the Book of Diyats.
Vol. 25. Permissions and all the lists of Shaykh Muntakhabuddin Razi. Permission of various scholars like Allamah Hilli etc.
2- Miratul Uqool fee Sharh Akhbar Aali Rasool: Commentary of Usul Kafi of Kulaini.
3- Commentary onArbaeen
4- Commentary onAt-Tahdhib by Shaykh Tusi
5- Commentary onSahifa Sajjadiya
6-Al-Masail Hindiya - Replies to questions sent to him by his brother, Mulla Abdullah from India.
… and eight other books.
Translations of the various books of Allamah Majlisi
Most of his Arabic writings have been translated into Persian and most of his Persian books have been translated into Arabic. Some of his Persian books have also been translated into Urdu and other languages.
The present translator has translated all the three volumes ofHayatul Qulub into English.
The respected Mr. Sayyid Tahir Bilgrami has translatedAinul Hayat into English for Ansariyan Publications.
Teachers of Allamah Majlisi
Allamah Majlisi obtained instruction from various teachers, the most prominent being the following:
1- His honorable father, Mulla Muhammad Taqi Majlisi (r.a.).
2- Mulla Muhammad Salih Mazandarani (d. 1081)
3- Maulavi Husain Ali, son of Mulla Abdul Shustari
4- Mir Rafiuddin Muhammad bin Haider Husaini Naini (d. 1099)
5- Mir Muhammad Qasim Tabatabai
6- Muhammad bin Sharif bin Shamsuddin Isfahani
7- Shaykh Hurre Amili
8- Mulla Mohsin Faiz Kashani (d. 1091)
9- Sayyid Ali Khan Shirazi (d. 1120)
10- Muhammad Mohsin bin Muhammad Momin Astarabadi etc.
Students of Allamah Majlisi
Among the most illustrious students of Allamah Majlisi were the following:
1- Sayyid Nimatullah Jazaeri
2- Mir Muhammad Salih bin Abdul Wasay
3- Mir Muhammad Husain Khatoonabadi…etc.
According to his grandson, Mir Muhammad Husain Khatoonabadi, Allamah Majlisi passed away on 27th of Ramadhan 1110 Hijri at the age of 73 years. He was buried next to his respectable father in the Jame Masjid of Isfahan, which is since then a place of visitation for Shia people.