Ayatollah Khamenei

If seminary schools don't pursue Philosophy, the undeserved will take control of it

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on April 23, 2018 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the members of the Supreme Congress of Islamic Wisdom and the officials of the Aqa Ali Modarres-e Zonuzi – also known as "The Sage of Tehran" - Commemoration Congress.


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad, and upon his pure household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth

You are very welcome honorable gentlemen, great personalities and dear scholars in the area of aqli [rational] sciences. I am very grateful to Mr. Fayyazi whose life and existence is really a blessed one as he has managed to establish this congress [the Supreme Congress of Islamic Wisdom was established in 2005 at the request of the Supreme Leader]. With the explanations that the gentlemen in the meeting provided, this congress is a very valuable one.

Fortunately, aqli sciences have developed during the era of the Islamic Republic. Well, before the Revolution, there was no trace of such things in Qom. During my residence in Qom, it was only Mr. Tabatabai [Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Hussein Tabatabai] who held aqli classes with about 40, 50 individuals participating in it. However, in the present time, it is many years that Mr. Javadi has been working on this area. Mr. Mesbah, Mr. Subhani and their organizations have been holding many classes on philosophy and kalaami sciences [the study of Islamic doctrine] in Qom. These potentials are signs that aqli sciences have been promoted and developed.

When Mr. Fayyazi and other gentlemen mentioned that new ideas and thoughts in strengthening an already proven subject or in rejecting a wrong issue are discussed and highlighted in such congresses, this is very valuable and good because they help aqli sciences to move forward. One of the characteristics of the late Aqa Ali Modarres was that he provided a critique of Mulla Sadra. He helped develop philosophy as much as Mulla Sadra. He had certain ideas in critiquing Mulla Sadra. Such tasks should be carried out. I do not want to refer to the critique of Mulla Sadra, rather what I want to say is that writing critiques, presenting new ideas and being creative in aqli sciences is a very important issue.

Sometimes, there are different interpretations of a school of thought. In the present time, westerners are active in this area. When it comes to promotions and public relations, we are not really comparable to westerners. They are much stronger and much more advanced than us in this regard. For example, there are various interpretations of the ideas and books that Hegel wrote. They present various interpretations of his ideas. This helps aqli sciences to progress in terms of thoughts, logic and reasoning. So, this is a very good task. I hope that by Allah's favor, the organization which is headed by Mr. Fayyazi and which is – according to their own statements - supervised and guided by Mr. Javadi, Mr. Mesbah and Mr. Subhani will move forward as much as possible. This is a very important and essential task that needs to be carried out.

As for commemoration congresses, this task is an important task. We should not think that by commemorating a person like Ali Modarres, we are merely introducing a great person. This is not the case. This is an act of introducing an intellectual orientation and of highlighting a certain thought and a great intellectual. The gentlemen in the meeting specified that this is a commemoration congress for "the teacher and hakim [sage] of Tehran". It is true that he resided in Tehran and that he was the hakim of Tehran, but the late Aqa Ali Modarres was not the only hakim of Tehran. As you gentlemen were speaking, several names related to the hakims who resided in Tehran in the past 100 years crossed my mind: the late Mirza Abul-Hassan Jelveh, Mr. Muhammad Reza Qomsheyi – who worked on mysticism – the late Hidaji and the late Mirza Abdullah Zonuzi. Mirza Abdullah Zonuzi was the father of Ali Modarres. Aqa Ali was his father's student and both were the students of Mulla Ali Noori Isfahani.

The late Mulla Ali Noori was one of the great personalities of this arena. They were individuals who understood the philosophy of Mulla Sadra. After some time, the philosophy of Mulla Sadra was seriously attacked and it declined. Later on, some people emerged in Isfahan and they revived it.  Of course, not all of them were from Isfahan. An example is Aqa Ali who was not from Isfahan. Other examples are the gentlemen and great personalities whose names are mentioned here and there.

They were not from Isfahan, but Isfahan was the center. This shows that Isfahan was the center of aqli sciences. Later on, this father and son – the late Mirza Abdullah Zonuzi and the late Aqa Ali Hakim – went to Tehran and after that, Tehran became the center of Aqli sciences. In any case, they are very great personalities. And the latest personalities in this line were the late Amirza Mahdi Ashtiani, the late Amirza Ahmad Ashtiani and the late Shahabadi. Amirza Mahdi is very famous, but the late Amirza Ahmad Ashtiani is not well-known as a hakim. That is while he was a great philosopher and a real sage.

The same is true of Asheikh Muhammad Taqi Amoli who even wrote a commentary on Manzumah [Hadi Sabzevari's Sharh al-Manzumah which was written to explain the transcendent philosophy of Mulla Sadra]. So he was a hakim. Of course, he was a faqih too. He was a great faqih at the level of a marja taqlid, but he was a hakim as well – that is to say he had expertise on aqli sciences. In my opinion, these personalities should be pulled out of the realm of anonymity and they should be highlighted and introduced because they have new ideas to present.

Well, you have published the book "Badayi' al-Hekam" written by Aqa Ali Hakim. Well, someone should sit and read this detailed book so that he can understand what he is saying. How many individuals are ready to read this book? How many individuals do you have who are capable of doing this? The requires the same thing that I mentioned about the late Mulla Sadra [Supreme Leader's speech delivered on November 29, 2001 in meeting with officials of Mulla Sadra Commemoration Congress]. Of course, a small task has been accomplished in this regard which is not bad. A group of people should sit and extract the main gist of Aqa Ali Hakim's philosophy. They should clarify his main ideas.

Once, Mr. Javadi showed me a book by Aqa Ali. I think it was one of his theses. He said to me that Aqa Ali has said such and such things about this issue. I do not remember it now, but I know that it was an important issue. Well, these ideas should be extracted from among his books and theses. Apparently, Aqa Ali has a thesis on "dependent existence" [compared to independent existence in Islamic philosophy]. Aqa Ali has written numerous theses. They should derive such ideas so that Tehran – which was the center of philosophy at a certain era according to your statements – feels the existence of such deep and strong philosophical thoughts which were formulated by Aqa Ali 150 years ago during which time he passed away. Apparently, he passed away in 1307. His ideas, thoughts and philosophy should be outlined and clarified.

The same should be done for other personalities such as the late Amirza Abul-Hasan Jelveh (may God bestow paradise on him). He wrote many annotations on Asfar [The Four Intellectual Journeys written by Mulla Sadra] and he had very good handwriting. It is said that after teaching various editions of Asfar, he wrote an annotation on them. I came across one of these editions of Asfar – which was annotated by the late Mirza Abul-Hasan Jelveh or Hajj Mirza Abul-Hasan Jelveh: I am not sure if he had gone to Makkah or not – and I donated it to the library of Mr. Mesbah's foundation. It should be there now.

Well, Mirza Abul-Hasan has new ideas. As you know, he was one of the critics of Mulla Sadra. He was one of those individuals who had new ideas and arguments on many principles of Mulla Sadra, just like Aqa Ali. He was the same. Well, we should see what he has said. Someone should derive and explain his ideas. In my opinion, these are very important tasks which have remained untapped. We have thought of this late and therefore, we should carry out all of these tasks.

In any case, inviting our youth to aqli sciences is very important. It is very important for Islamic seminaries to pay attention to aqli sciences – in particular, philosophy. Some honorable and esteemed gentlemen – who are very well-respected among us – complained that lessons on philosophy, mysticism and other such fields have greatly increased in number in Qom. I said to those gentlemen that if we eliminate philosophy from Qom, other people in other places will undertake the task of teaching and clarifying philosophy while they do not have enough expertise for that. In the present time too, some people are known as philosophers in places other than Qom while their information on philosophy is superficial. This does not mean that they do not have any knowledge, but their knowledge is not deep. It is superficial. They read something and then they say certain terms which are not based on deep knowledge. Well, this is not good. It is good for these fields to stay in Qom and in Islamic seminaries. The same is true of Tehran. If teaching philosophy and aqli sciences becomes common in the Tehran Islamic Seminary – which was once the center of aqli sciences – in my opinion, this will be a very good and beneficial event, God willing.

I did not mention the names of Mirza Hashem Ashkvari and the late Asayyid Kadhim Assar. Of course, some of these personalities were teachers in universities and some were teachers outside universities. They are the latest personalities and they are their students, but the ones whom we spoke about are the generation before these personalities. Whenever they speak about the Tehran school of thought, the names of this father and son are mentioned. Of course, you did not mention Mirza Abdullah Zonuzi in any way. He should have certain works and therefore, his works – the works of the late Mirza Abdullah Zonuzi – should be studied. This is because Aqa Ali was his father's student. It is these gentlemen who are known as the forerunners of the Tehran school of thought.

In any case, we thank the gentlemen in the meeting for the effort that they have made and the task that they have begun – introducing philosophical personalities. I hope that God will bless you. I hope that God will approve and preserve the great teachers of philosophy in Qom – as we can thankfully see the benefits and advantages of their existence – and I hope that He will help them continue making achievements. I hope that you gentlemen – who are in charge of these tasks – will benefit from divine blessings, approval and guidance, God willing. I hope that by Allah's favor, you will be successful.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings




  • Islamic philosophy
  • Philosophy