Introduction of Prominent Shia Ulema (13)
Sheikh Tousi was a prominent Shia scholar, who rendered valuable services and numerous compilations in different domains of Islamic sciences, such as theology, principles of theology, science of hadith, exegesis of Holy Quran, and theosophy. He is the writer of two of the four main Shia hadith books, and is the founder of Najaf Seminary. Today, we become familiar with this hadith scholar.
Abu Jafar Mohammad ibn Hassan Tousi, popularly known as Sheikh Tousi, was the theologian and hadith scholar of the 5th Century AH. He was born in the city of Tous in the holy month of Ramadan of the lunar year 385 AH. He was the distinguished student of Sheikh Mofid and Seyed Morteza, later becoming a prominent lecturer of theosophy.
There is not much information at hand in regard to the first twenty-three years of the life of Sheikh Tousi. However, most probably, he acquired Islamic sciences in his hometown, Tous, throughout these years. Throughout that period of time, the city of Tous was one of the four famous cities of Khorasan, which was under the authority of Ghaznavid Dynasty. In that phase in time, Shias who resided in that region were under pressure. The city of Tous has been a cultural hub, too. Renowned poets such as Ferdowsi and scientists such as Khaje Nasir Ed-Din Tousi, and Ghazali rose into prominence in that city. Sheikh Tousi’s relatives were theologians and Islamic scholars for a number of generations. Sheikh Tousi’s son was a well-known theologian, who was popularly known as Mofid Thani. The daughters of Sheikh Tousi were also theologians, and his grandson presided over a seminary.
Sheikh Tousi migrated to the city of Baghdad at the age of 23 in the year 408 AH to complete his studies and to attend the classes of prominent lecturers of his era. He remained in Iraq for the rest of his life. He attended the classes of Sheikh Mofid for five years and thereafter attended the classes of well-known scholar, Seyed Morteza, for a number of years. Sheikh Tousi remained in Baghdad up to twelve years after the demise of his lecturer, Seyed Morteza. His house in Baghdad was a shelter and source of hope for Muslims. Sheikh Tousi groomed countless Ulema and scientists, who traveled to Baghdad from other Islamic lands to benefit from his lectures. He groomed more than three hundred students, most of which later became Shia theologians and attained the status of Ijtehad.
Sheikh Tousi stayed in the city of Baghdad for forty years, lecturing and holding discussions until the rule of Saljuqid King, Toqrul, within the period of which the radical opponents of Shias attacked the Shia districts of Baghdad, murdering Shias and pillaging their homes. Sheikh Tousi’s house was no exception. The assailants who raided his home intended to murder him. However, upon their failure to find him, they burnt his books and belongings. This incident shows the tough conditions of Shia Ulema in that phase in time. After this incident, Sheikh Tousi left Baghdad for Najaf. In that phase in time, Najaf was a small village, which was the place of residence of a small number of Shias, who lived in the vicinity of the Holy Shrine of the First Infallible Imam of Prophet of Islam’s Household, Imam Ali (AS). Upon settling down in the holy city of Najaf, Sheikh Tousi launched Najaf Seminary, which later turned into the largest seminary of Shias. This seminary has been active for more than ten centuries, grooming thousands of theologians and Mojtaheds throughout centuries.
Sheikh Tousi’s views were based on logic and reasoning. In the previous weeks, it was pointed out that negligence of abilities of mind, and sole consideration of the appearance of ayahs and narrations had slowed down the dynamism of theology until the era of Sheik Mofid, and had led to a number of deviations in the beliefs of people. Sheikh Mofid and Seyed Morteza enlightened Shias upon focusing on the ability of mind to understand Holy Quran and Islamic narrations.
The prominent Iranian thinker and Islamic scholar, Martyr Ayatollah Morteza Mottahari, in regard to Sheikh Tousi, noted: “Sheikh Tousi was an exemplary case of manifestation of Islam in an Iranian scholar. Upon study of the lives of figures, such as Sheikh Tousi, one realizes the extensive influence of the divine religion of Islam in the minds and hearts of Iranians, such that individuals such as Sheikh Tousi spent their entire lives, serving Islam.”