The unveiling ceremony of the book “Shiite Ambassador to the West”, one of the latest publications of the Cultural and Artistic Institute of the Islamic Revolution Document Center, was held coinciding with the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Javad (a.s.).
The book is a description of the efforts of Hojat al-Islam Mohammad Mohagheghi Lahiji, the first Imam of Imam Ali (a.s.) Mosque in the Islamic Center of Hamburg, Germany, and a documented narration of the history of the Islamic Center of Hamburg.
In the ceremony, which as held in the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Ayatollah Reza Ramazani, Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Hojat al-Islam Mustafa Pour Mohammadi, the head of the Islamic Revolution Document Center, Hojat al-Islam Sayed Ali Qazi Askar, former representative of the Supreme Leader in Hajj and Pilgrimage Affairs, Dr. Mahdi Mostafavi, Deputy for the Office of the Supreme Leader in the International Affairs, and Abu Zar Ebrahimi Turkaman, the head of the Islamic Culture and Communication Organization, delivered their speech.
“Building this mosque need a clean foundation”
In this ceremony, in honor of Hojjatoleslam Mohagheghi Lahiji, Ayatollah Ramezani said, “He can literally be considered a purposeful immigrant. That is, he migrated for God. The emigration he made (from Lahijan) to Rasht, and from Rasht to Tehran, and then to Mashhad and Qom, all were blessed. He benefited from the classes of the Seminary figures, in Fiqh and Osul, and ethics. Education in modern sciences made him a comprehensive figure. He emigrated for God, and because he had a scientific jihad, he was a scientific mujahid. These words apply to him.”
“Propagating means that the preacher conveys the truth to the heart and soul of the audience. “وَمَا عَلَى الرَّسُولِ إِلَّا الْبَلَاغُ الْمُبِينُ” (The messenger is only to convey the message plainly) (Quran, Surah Al-Ankabut, verse: 18). In my opinion, this statement of Imam Sadegh (a.s.) is true about the late Mohagheghi Lahiji: “إنّ اللّٰه أدّب نبيّه صلّى اللّٰه عليه و آله فأحسن تأديبه” (God Almighty disciplined his Prophet and his AhlulBayt (family), and it was the best discipline)” said the Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly on the importance of the propagation.
“Those who want to be active in the field of propagation must have both a thorough knowledge of religion and spirituality to be more influential. The late Mr. Mohagheghi Lahiji had these two characteristics. He was both a jurist in the Islamic issues and had morals. It can be said that the reason for his success was that he was able to manifest the morality there (Hamburg). This is an art that religious scholars should have,” said Ayatollah Ramazani, referring to Islamic narrations.
“There, we were not expected to quote Hegel and John Hick and others (Western scholars). Rather, they asked us to narrate from Quran and the AhlulBayt (a.s.). They asked us, “Tell us about the truth of the religion”,” added the former director of the Islamic Center of Hamburg.
“Mr. Abdoldjavad Falaturi was educated in the (Islamic) seminary and was a student of the late Ayatollah Khoei. In Germany, he received the academic professor position. When he was invited to teach at the University of Tehran, he said, “Do not expect me to teach what I have learned in Germany in Iran. In Germany, I speak either from the Quran or from Nahj al-Balaghah.” One who has Nahj al-Balaghah, has an orderly system of thought. Today we must present this system of thought to human society,” he continued.
Then, referring to the personality traits of the first Imam of the Hamburg Mosque, and knowing modesty, as one of the prominent moral characteristics of the late Mohagheghi Lahiji, Ayatollah Ramazani said, “God, in fact, blessed him for this modesty. Today, human society is truly eager for morality. Today, you see Hanston discussing universal ethics, many of which are derived from Islamic principles. The late Mohagheghi Lahiji was present in the land of exile only because of his religious duty. Our teacher said, “Just as learning science is necessary even in far areas, so is teaching it in remote areas,” But this teaching and learning will be lasting if it is for God. “وَيَبْقَىٰ وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ” (yet lasting is the majestic and munificent Face of your Lord.) (Quran, Surah Ar-Rahman, verse: 27).”
Referring to the management course of Ayatollah martyr Beheshti in the Islamic Center of Hamburg, he said, “Ayatollah Shubairi said of Martyr Beheshti, “He was more meticulous than all of us. Even more than Mr. Musa Sadr.” These are very precise points that we need to pay attention to. Today, the Western world and humanity need such missionaries. We did not work in this field and we are behind schedule. We have not been able to send missionaries who know foreign languages and have scientific and spiritual prestige to foreign countries, and some who were sent were unsuccessful. Because some of them were afraid of the West, and others said, “The West has nothing (to be worried about).” But it should not be judged this way.”
Referring to the history of Imam Ali (a.s.) Mosque, the former director of the Islamic Center of Hamburg said, “Three places were planned for the construction of the mosque. Ayatollah Borujerdi had said the best place should be chosen and had accepted to fund the project so that its money would be clean. When the decision was made to buy the place, the owner asked for the price of 300 thousand marks for the property. But when he found out what the land wanted to be used for, he discounted 50,000 marks.”
Mentioning a memory about Martyr Beheshti, Ayatollah Ramazani said, “One of the people who accompanied martyr Beheshti in Germany told me, “When the late Beheshti came to Hamburg, a meeting was held in the cemetery there and a large crowd attended. I told Shahid Beheshti, that now is the best time to raise money for the mosque. As martyr Beheshti heard this, he looked at me angrily and said, “This mosque needs clean money (for funding)”. This mosque is both founded on piety and funded with clean money.”
Shiite ambassadors’ role in Islamic history
Hojat al-Islam Pour Mohammadi, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Document Center, was another speaker at the event. Referring to Imam Reza’s emphasis on the blessings of Imam Javad (a.s.), and the role of Shiite ambassadors in his time, he said, “From the time of Imam Javad (a.s.) to the time of Imam Mahdi (a.s.), the story of advocacy, representation and embassy was formed in the Shiite world. What leads to the promotion of Islam through advocates, representatives, and ambassadors, and, as the moderns say, a systematic relationship with the Infallible Imam (a.s.) and the Shiite community, has begun since the time of Imam Javad (a.s.). These connections with the people and the Shiites were formed in the garrison living condition the Imams.”
“The story of the embassy and the advocacy has a strange story. Ambassadors and immigrants played a very important role in history. In Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, etc., the cultural development of the Shiites has been carried out by immigrants. Immigrants came from all walks of life, including businessmen, scholars, doctors, and so on. The role of immigrants in Africa and southern Europe is also clear. Immigration, emigration, and propagation have been very influential in the development of Shiite civilization. Today, we still see a prominent and distinguished role in these efforts,” continued Hojat al-Islam Pour Mohammadi.
“I knew the late Mohagheghi Lahiji in general. But because of this book, I found out more about his life,” said the head of the Islamic Revolution Document Center, referring to the character of the late Mohagheghi Lahiji.
“Here I want to refer to the seminary of Qom and Ayatollah Haeri. In the life and behavior of the late Sheikh Abdul Karim Haeri, we see that he performed all his duties as a Marja Taqlid (source of emulation) in Qom. For example, at night he went to the house of the poor and take coal and food, built houses for the poor. He had such activities. This lifestyle was his own, and this is very important. Mr. Mohagheghi Lahiji is the symbol of this school,” said Hojat al-Islam Pour Mohammadi, expressing that the late Mohagheghi Lahiji was trained in the seminary of Qom.
“The Iranian, Shiite, and Islamic, heritage, is unique, and we should introduce it. Fortunately, these actions have begun seriously at the Islamic Revolution Document Center, and here it is appropriate to mention our noble brother, the late Mr. Hosseinian. So far, 406 memories of the Ulama’s memories are registered in the Document Center. 70 memories have been printed, and the late Mohagheghi Lahiji memories are also published. These examples are very inspiring and we need to learn their lifestyle,” stated the Secretary of the Combatant Clergy Association.
“Contemporary history is very important. My brief analysis is that the 14th century Hijri Shamsi is one of the most influential centuries, and we can refer to as a turning point, especially in Iran. It is interesting that at the beginning of this century, 1301.1.1 (1922.03.22) the late Sheikh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi travels to the holy city of Qom from Sultan Abad (Arak) to participate in the eve of the Persian new year (Nowruz). There, the Ulama of Qom visited him and asked him, “Now that you have returned to Iran from Samarra and Karbala, stay in Qom”. Therefore, he stays in Qom and 1301.1.1 (1922.03.22), is the anniversary of the beginning of late Haeri’s residence in Qom,” reminded the head of the Islamic Revolution Document Center.
“With the presence of Haj Sheikh Haeri in Qom, great changes took place in the history of Iran. After that, great changes took place in the history of Islam and the region, and the Islamic movement marked great changes too. With the presence of Hajj Sheikh in Qom, the role of the seminary and the clergy became functionalist, which is very important. Along with the changes of the time, modernity and transformation were formed in the context of the seminary and the clergy, and the dispatching the late Mohagheghi Lahiji to Hamburg and the letter of Mr. Qomi to al-Azhar, Cairo, were in the same direction,” continued Hojat al-Islam Pour Mohammadi.
“Next year, God willing, the Islamic Revolution Document Center will hold a special program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Qom, which has been the source of cultural, social, and political developments in Iran, the region, and the world. Good books may have been written on the subject, but the work is not complete. At the Islamic Revolution Document Center, as a historiographical institute, we are collecting and supplementing information and data on this subject. The Document Center has published nearly forty works for the 40th anniversary of the revolution, and now it is going to publish works for the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the seminary in Qom. We will complete some published works and republish others. We also ask for the help of all scholars and researchers so that, God willing, next year, which is the 100th year of new development in the history of Islamic Iran, we can commemorate the seminary of Qom and produce worthy works.” said the head of the Islamic Revolution Document Center, referring to the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the seminary in Qom.
Story of German officials’ presence in construction ceremony of Imam Ali (a.s.) Mosque
The other speaker at the ceremony was Dr. Mahdi Mostafavi, Deputy for the Office of the Supreme Leader in the International Affairs. Introducing the book “Shiite Ambassador in the West”, he said, “This book is a biography of the educated scholar and thinker, Hojat al-Islam Mohammad Mohagheghi Lahiji. About 68 years have passed since the demise of the late Mohagheghi. His blessed life has been 58 years. He was 44 years old when he went to Germany. During his short stay in Germany, the late Mohagheghi Lahiji was able to propagate Islam outside of Iran, and to explain the teachings of the AhlulBayt (a.s.).”
“The fact that the late Mr. Mohagheghi went to Germany, and built a mosque in the city of Hamburg, the blessings of which still remain to this day, had undoubtedly conditions and requirements. Today, the center is still one of the most important Shiite and Islamic centers abroad. This is due to the sincerity of the founders of the center and the holy mosque. This sincerity is evident in the beliefs, behavior, and funding of its construction,” Mostafavi reminded.
“As the building of the center and the Islamic Mosque of Hamburg started, verses of the Quran were engraved on the building stone of the center, and there is no mentioning of the name of a person or institution or group, and only a Quranic verse, which refers to the construction of the Kaaba by Prophet Abraham (a.s.), was engraved on that symbolic building stone,” he continued.
“One of the factors that has made the center enduring, is the very good relations that the late Mohagheghi had established with the influential figures and centers in Germany. The people who attended the construction ceremony of the mosque show these connections. People such as members of the German parliament, the mayor of Hamburg, the consuls general of Islamic countries, university professors, and prominent Iranians who were present in Hamburg were among the guests of this ceremony. Thus, from the very beginning, these connections created security and stability for the activities of this center,” Dr. Mostafavi stated.
When rational Islam mentioned, all eyes on Islamic Center of Hamburg
Following the ceremony, the video message of Hojat al-Islam Dr. Mohammad Hadi Mofateh, the current director of the Islamic Center of Hamburg, was displayed. In a part of his speech, referring to verse 108 of Surah Tawbah, Hojat al-Islam Mufateh said, “Imam Ali (a.s.) Mosque in Hamburg is a perfect example of this noble verse: “لَمَسْجِدٌ أُسِّسَ عَلَى التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْ أَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ” (A mosque founded on Godwariness from the [very] first day is worthier that you stand in it [for prayer]) (Quran, Surah At-Tawbah, verse: 108).”
“60 years have passed since the foundation of this mosque by the late Mohagheghi Lahiji and by the order of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi. During these 60 years, different people came and went in this mosque, and different imams were in charge of the mosque and the center and transferred this responsibility to the next Imam. Different people attended this mosque, worked, prayed, and left, and it has always continued to shine throughout continental Europe and in Germany,” continued the head of the Islamic Center of Hamburg.
“During these 60 years, whenever there has been a talk of rational and moral Islam, all eyes have been on the Islamic Center of Hamburg. This is due to the spirit of piety, spirituality, and sincerity, which was founded from the beginning by the order of Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi and at the request and initiative of a group of trusted and pious Iranian businessmen in Hamburg, and by the late Mohagheghi Lahiji,” noted Hojat al-Islam Mofateh, referring to the role of this center in reflecting true Islam in Europe.
Art of Hojat al-Islam Mohagheghi Lahiji was the power of convincing
Abuzar Ebrahimi Turkaman was another speaker at the ceremony. While emphasizing the importance of the art of propagation, the head of the Islamic Culture and Communication Organization stated, “The late Hojat al-Islam Mohagheghi Lahiji was sent to Hamburg in 1955 to propagate Islam. One of his outstanding features is the art of propagation.”
“Convincing is the job of the artist. The late Mohagheghi Lahiji was able to persuade” he stated, emphasizing that in cultural affairs we do not seek to prove but to convince.
“Propagation is not just speaking by a speaker and listening by the audience, but the preacher should create interaction. Because he is a mediator for the words. When Mohagheghi Lahiji entered the (Islamic) seminary of Qom, he did not limit himself to seminary courses, and in addition to learning Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), he learned other sciences such as mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Because he had studied at the Darolfunun and was moving towards sciences that no one paid attention to,” Turkaman continued.
“In Germany, the late Mohagheghi Lahiji brings together Turks, Afghans, and Iranians, which shows his convincing power. He had no material or financial motive for being sent to Germany,” he mentioned.
In another part of the ceremony, Dr. Mohammad Javad Mohaghegh Lahiji, the son of the first Imam of the Hamburg Mosque, introduced the Islamic Center of Hamburg and Imam Ali (a.s.) Mosque in a video message from Germany, and provided a brief and useful history of the center.
Importance, position of propagation in Islam
Qazi Askar then addressed the ceremony. Referring to the importance of propagation in Islam, he said, “The issue of propagation in the country is a very important and delicate issue, and unfortunately, there are shortcomings in this regard.”
“What made late Mohagheghi Lahiji successful abroad was the comprehensiveness of his character. He had a high vision and did not just look at the domestic issues of Iran. Even before the age of 20, he was looking to learn Russian so that he could go abroad to study science and use his knowledge,” noted the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, referring to the activities of the late Mohagheghi Lahiji.
“When the late Mohagheghi Lahiji entered the Islamic seminary, he did not pay attention to only one part of the religious knowledge. Rather, he took advantage of the Darolfunun and various theological sciences such as Fiqh, Osul, law, and philosophy, and succeeded in using all these sciences in propagating Islam, and inviting people to the path of truth. Therefore, the first step in propagating religion is to have the knowledge,” Qazi Askar added.
“The second characteristic of this prominent scholar is knowing the audience. When we read his biography, we see that he had plans for all his audiences. He had plans for teenagers, students, women, and even non-Muslims,” he continued.
“When Friday prayers are held in the Islamic Center and Imam Ali (a.s.) Mosque in Hamburg, Muslims of different nationalities attend and consider there as their home. The late Mohagheghi Lahiji did not see Islam as one-dimensional, and succeeded in uniting Muslims of all persuasions under a single flag,” said the former representative of the Supreme Leader in Hajj and Pilgrimage affairs.
“The late Mohagheghi Lahiji had a humble personality and lived a simple life. He visited the sick, bathed and shrouded the dead, visited houses, and showed love to people. He even turned his house into a place for the propagation of Islam, where he himself welcomed and received the guests in clerical garb. This was an example of his simple life, and his modesty, and one of the reasons for his success. Such people are unfortunately very strange and neglected in their own time. If you read the history of building Imam Ali (a.s.) mosque, you know very well how hard they toiled to build a mosque in the best part of Hamburg,” added Hojat al-Islam Qazi Askar.
“The late Mohagheghi Lahiji was able to have 8 years of successful Islamic propagation in Germany, attracting all sections of society, and turning their hearts to Islam. After all this effort and experience, he came to Qom and started a small bookstore for a living, and finally died in exile,” he mentioned.
The final part of the ceremony was the signing of the book “Shiite Ambassador to the West”.