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We Should Learn Not to Abandon Our Outstanding Personalities

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on November 13, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the officials of the Allamah Ja'fari Commemoration Congress.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I became very happy when I was informed that the late Allamah Ja'fari is going to be commemorated. The reason is that after the demise of that great personality – who was a very active individual in scholarly, promotional, religious and artistic areas – no proper task has been carried out which befits his status. Well, it is common to commemorate the name and memory of great personalities in society – it is better to do so in their lifetime, if not at least this should be done after their demise – so that others benefit from the scholarly and existential identity of those personalities. This personality does not die even after their death. This tradition is thankfully common among us as well.

I do not know why we have not upheld this permanent and common tradition of ours in the case of the late Allamah Ja'fari (may Allah the Exalted bestow paradise on him). So when I heard that a commemoration congress is going to be held for him and that Tabrizi personalities on the one hand and scholars from Qom and other places on the other hand are in charge of this task, I became happy. He really deserves this and this is a proper task.

One of the clearest characteristics of the late Allamah Ja'fari was comprehensiveness. He was not confined to a particular field of study. He had worked on both fiqh and philosophy among our seminarian fields. In fiqh, he was the student of the late Amirza Razi Tabrizi. Amirza Razi was the student of Akhund. I had seen the late Amirza Razi. He was the most prominent scholar from Tabriz. He was the leading Tabrizi clergy at a specific period of time. Mr. Ja'fari had a close relationship with him in his youth. He used to attend his classes and he would speak to us about his relationship with the late Amirza Razi.

 After that, he went to Najaf. In Najaf, he attended, for several years, the classes of Ayatullah Khoei, other great personalities and apparently the late Asheikh Kazem Shirazi. Well, these things make one a faqih. Those who are involved with scholarly and religious matters feel that with such classes, one becomes a faqih.

He had worked on philosophical studies as well. One of his characteristics in the area of philosophy was attention to the viewpoints of western philosophers. Since he was young – the time when we became familiar with him in Mashhad – he was familiar with the viewpoints of Hegel and the like – those were opinions which were not common at that time and no one in Islamic seminaries was familiar and in touch with such matters – and he used to discuss them with us.

It was in the year 1333, 1334 when I met him in Mashhad. At that time, we were teenagers and he had just come from Najaf. He had a relative in Mashhad, his uncle who lived there. For a certain reason – the details are not necessary – he and his brothers were considered as seniors and they had some kind of respect in Mashhad because of living there for so long. For that reason, he went and stayed there for some time – I do not remember for how long.

The Navvab School was a place where he used to constantly come and go. We too were there as well. He used to sit and speak with his warm and sweet words and his beautiful accent. His work was attractive to everyone. He had a book named, "The Relationship of Man-Universe." He insisted that we should not say, "Man and Universe." He wanted us to say, "Man-Universe." He used to place great emphasis on this. I myself heard him say, "It is not Man and Universe." The first volume had just been published. He would bring it to Navvab Schol and the clergy would gather and he would explain the goals of the book.

His verbal explanations were not easy, as was the case with his written explanations. Of course, I cannot have a say and make claims on his philosophical viewpoints. Only those friends who were closer to him can speak in this regard. In any case, he was a well-informed and diligent individual.

 

The personality of Mr. Ja'fari (God's mercy be upon him) was really outstanding in the sense that no field of science and philosophy would make him ignore other fields and areas. You can see that he has both commentaries of Mathnavi and Nahjul Balaghah. Well, Mathnavi and Nahjul Balaghah have deep and essential differences, but he had written detailed commentaries on both Mathnavi and Nahjul Balaghah and he offered them to public opinion.

And he was the same in literary and artistic areas. He was an artist by nature and he had deep knowledge of it. I remember that in the beginning of the Revolution, there used to be a small meeting every week or once in two weeks and despite the fact that I was very busy, I tried to attend them. He was a fixed member of those meetings in Tehran. Certain poems used to be recited some of which were difficult, but his mastery over poetic understanding and knowledge used to surprise me very much.

It is well-known that those who have a good memory are not deep in terms of thinking and those who enjoy intellectual depth do not have a good memory. They say that these two things disagree with each other. However, Mr. Ja'fari proved that this notion was wrong. He was an intellectual and thinker and he had an extraordinary memory. His memory was really and truly among the wonders of the world!

Once, we went on a summer trip with the late Mr. Ja'fari and three other friends. We were five and only one among those friends is alive and the other three – including Mr. Ja'fari himself have passed away. We were walking in one of Mashhad's yilaqs [a place where one stays for summer] and we were talking to each other [hiking] in the mountains. Mr. Ja'fari would not let us feel the length of the road because he was a sweet and warm speaker who had mastery over all discussions. One of the things which stood out was his memory. If you read one part of a poem, he would continue it until the end.

I remember that we began to speak about Manuchehri and I read one couplet of one of his poems: "Now, where is my swift camel?" I read a couplet of one of his qasidas and he began to read it from the beginning to the end. He was like this. His memory was extraordinary and he remembered everything.

One of his characteristics was his sense of responsibility towards promoting Islamic teachings. He used to deliver speeches, he had a sweet accent and an eloquent tongue. I remember that before the Revolution, he used to be invited for different meetings. At that time, we were in Mashhad. Sometimes, he was invited for special meetings and he would come from Tehran. And he participated in meetings in Tehran and other cities as well. After the Revolution too, he used to hold many meetings for youth, for students, for university professors, for scholars, and for the masses of the people and he promoted religious teachings in those meetings. In other words, his scholarly and intellectual level and status would not prevent him from discussing his ideas and viewpoints with his audience.

Another characteristic – he really enjoyed many positive characteristics – was his religious commitment. He was extremely committed to and zealous towards religious matters. He was sensitive to the deviations that would emerge in the words and thoughts of certain individuals and he would confront them. Well, he was the target of many enmities and they even insulted him. Nonetheless, he stood firm in this arena. Mr. Ja'fari (may God bestow paradise on him) was really and truly an outstanding individual and personality.

He was a patient person as well. Despite all his behavioral characteristics and delicacies, he was a patient person. Certain disasters befell him. For example, he lost his daughter and his wife. He had such problems in his life as well, but he stood firm and strong. He was a strong, patient and resistant man.

I hope that Allah the Exalted will give you the blessing to work on his thoughts. We should learn this from westerners who do not abandon their outstanding personalities. They do not only write biographies, rather they explain their ideas and the different aspects of their thinking. They write numerous books about them. They analyze them. Some reject, some approve and some argue their thoughts. Such tasks should be carried out on our great intellectuals as well, including the late Mr. Ja'fari. I hope that by Allah's favor, the commemoration congress that you held will be able to carry out this task and launch this movement so that Mr. Ja'fari and his thoughts will be liberated from anonymity.

In any case, I thank all you honorable gentlemen who are in charge of such tasks. I am grateful to Tabrizi personalities, to the scholars from Qom and Tehran and to all those who are in charge of this task.

 Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings

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