The distinguished jurisprudent and perfect mystic Ayatollah Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabriz was born in Tabriz. His exact date of birth is not known, but according to a work tht he wrote in his youth it seems tht he was born around 1292/1875.
After completing his early education in his home town, he left for Najaf where he benefited from the greatest teachers of his age. He studied Fiqh under the eminent jurisprudence, Haj Agha Ridha Hamadan, (author of Misbah al-Faqih), and Muhaddith Mirza Husein Nouri, (author of Mustadrak al-Wasail). He studied usual under Allamah Mulla Muhammad Kazim Khurasani (author of Kifayah al-Usul).
Agha Maliki was also fortunate to come into contact in Najaf with the most celebrated Gnostic of tht time, Akhund Mulla Husein Quli Hamadani who was highly proficient in the Islamic sciences, especially ethics (Akhlaq) and mysticism (Irfan). Agha Maliki spent 14 years with him during this period acquired profound knowledge of moral ethics and applied mysticism from his illustrious teacher.
He attained such high spiritual stations in Gnosticism tht a great jurisprudent and scholar Sheikh Muhammad Husein Isfahani (famously known as Kumpani) – himself an outstanding authority in irfan — wrote to him seeking spiritual advice and instructions regarding ethics and mysticism.
Agha Maliki returned from Najaf to his hometown Tabriz in the year 1320AH, but due to the upheaval at the time of the constitutional revolution, the conditions in Tabriz deteriorated, and he was forced to migrate to Qum. Here, he started teaching jurisprudence from Mulla Mohsin Faiz Kasha’s al-Mafati al-Sharayi’ al-Fiqh. He also began to nurture a special group of students and introduced the more able ones into spiritual wayfaring.
He ran two classes in ethics (Akhlaq). One was for advanced students, (of whom, Ayatollah Khomeini was one) which he conducted at his house; the other was public, which ran at the Faydhiyya Madrassa and was attended by many people, especially market stall holders. He also busied himself in writing and left behind many precious works.
Successful teachers are those who have two types of products: their literature and their students. It is said tht even if the life of Ayatollah Tabriz did not have any result other than his share in building the mystical personality of Imam Khomeini (RA) it would be enough for him. Among the best celebrated books of Ayatollah Tabriz, three books are the most famous:
- Asrarul-Salaat (The Secrets of Daily Prayers)
- Moraqebatul-Sanah (Observation of the Yearly Devotions)
- Leqa’u-Allah (Meeting with God) which is the best mystical book written on the topic
Ayatollah Sayyid Husein Fatimi Gummi (one of Agha Tabrizi’s greatest students) recalls: The Ma’sumin (AS) have stated, “Tht counsel and speech tht comes forth from the heart enters the hearts of the listener, and if it merely comes from the tongue, then it does not go further than the ear of the listener.” The words and advice of Haj Agha Maliki – May God sanctify his spirit – were such tht they stuck to the hearts of the audience like brands of fire. They transported the listener to another place. And when we came out of the gathering, we would observe tht everybody had been affected in the same manner. After his passing away, I have always hoped to attend a similar gathering but I have never found anything like it.
Such was the deep effect of Ayatollah Maliki Tabrizi’s words tht often listeners would overcome during his speech. Once he mentioned something so profound tht a market stall-holder who was listening collapsed. When someone mentioned this to Agha Maliki, he commented, “This is nothing, our Master, (the champion of champions), Ali bin Abi Talib (AS) would often faint out of fear and awe of Allah.”
Observing Night Prayers before dawn was a mandatory condition to be admitted to the lessons of Ayatollah Tabrizi. The late Shaalchi, one of his students narrated: “He (Ayatollah Tabrizi) was very strict about early rising for Night Prayers. I requested if I could be exempt as I believe tht would make me weak and would reduce my sleeping hours. Ayatollah Tabrizi said: Find a way to gain their consent. Tell them:”At dawn some elite people are in a sociable gathering with the Almighty God, do you want me to miss it?”
Ayatollah Javad Tabrizi in ‘Al-Moraqibaat’ with regards to Night Prayers says: “The appointed angels will wake man up for the Night Prayers but he ignores the angelic call and continues his sleep again. They wake him up again. These wake ups are not by chance, they are heavenly awakenings. If man took advantage of them and left the bed for Night Prayers, those calls will be stronger and more permanent. But if he ignores them, the angels will also give up.”
The angelic call may appear to you in the voice of your mother, your friend, or even in the voice of Azan, all of the purpose of inviting you to a private heavenly meeting at dawn. For those who are interested in waking up for the Night Prayers it is also very much recommended to recite the last Ayah of Surah al-Kahf (18) in Arabic.
Nearing the end of his life, Ayatollah Tabrizi was very ill and he could no longer even use water for his wudhuu. According to Seyyed Fatami-Nia one night before the demise of Ayatollah Tabrizi about 250 Sheikhs in Qom had dreamt tht the funeral of Ayatollah Tabrizi was processing and Imam Hussain (AS) was walking in front of his coffin.
The following day of the 11th of Thul-Hijjah in the year 1343 AH. He made his Tayammum for his Noon and Afternoon prayers. He stood up and made an intention for his Noon prayer and as he raised his hands in the middle of his Takbiratul-Ihram his body collapsed and his soul ascended to his Lord to continue the rest of his prayer at the presence of Allah forever. May God bless and elevate his status in Paradise.
Ayatollah Tabrizi (May God cover His mercy on him) is buried in a small cemetery in Qom near the Shrine of Ma’sooman (AS) known as ‘Sheikhan’).