Ayatullah Sayyid Mohammad Raza Gulpaygani
Ayatullah Sayyid Mohammad Raza Gulpaygani
Ayatullah Seyed Muhammad Reza Gulpaygani departed for his heavenly abode on Thursday night, 9th of December at the age of 96. He suffered from acute respiratory deficiency and lung infection for which he was confined at hospital.

The Ayatullah who was the supreme religious authority of the Shi'a world, became terminally ill immediately after midnight Tuesday and was rushed to the Cardiac Care Unit of the hospital but his condition continued to deteriorate despite the extra care and attention of his doctors.

Ayatullah Gulpaygani went into a coma in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and eventually left the mortal world minutes before evening prayers Thursday.

He saw the light of day in the village of Koukeh near the city of Gulpaygan (135 kms north-east of Isfahan) in the closing years of the 19th century and at the age of 20 went to Arak which was the Centre of the Theological studies. There, he received his education under Ayatullah Abdul Karim Haeri. Later in 1921 he went to the city of Qum to complete his studies.

In the early 1960s following the death of Grand Ayatullah Boroujerdi and during the banishment Ayatullah Imam Khumayni from Iran, he became superintendent of the Qum Theological Seminary. He took over the administration of the school at a crucial time when both the theological school and Islamic scholars were in at stake due to repressive measures directed by Shah. At that time he had about 800 students who attended his classes and received advanced training in religious studies.

Ayatullah Gulpaygani is the author of a number of scholarly works and treatises as well as commentaries on various other works of scholastically abstruse character. Among them is an annotation on the Al-Urwat-ul-Wuthqa, 'Tawzih-al-Masa'il' the Manasik-e-Hajj' and so on.

He rendered valuable services during his superintendence of the Theological Seminary in Qum, and also helped establish almost 30 theological schools in various towns and cities throughout Iran, as well as health clinics for students and other types of public utility centers in many parts of the country and abroad as well.

Ayatullah Gulpaygani was a great scholar and a 'Marj'a' and he had many followers throughout the world. He subscribed to the concept of 'Willayat-e-Faqhih put forwarded by Imam Khumayni.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatullah Seyed Ali Khamenei expressed deep condolence over the sad demise of the Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Reza Gulpaygani.

He was one of the pillars of the Islamic Revolution and The Islamic Republic, said the leader in a statement.

During the oppressive rule of the former regime and in confronting the bitter incidents which occurred in the years after the banishment from Iran of Imam Khumayni (1963), there was some occasions when the voice of this great personality was the only threatening voice against the former regime, which raised from the Qum theological seminary and gave enthusiasm to the Islamic movement.

After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he had an active contribution in managing the general affairs of the revolution, said the statement adding that he unequivocally supported the Islamic Republic system and its exalted leadership. He was respected and honoured by the late Imam Khumayni.

The departure of this divine scholar was a grave and irreparable loss, the statement added.

The statement also said that the grand Ayatullah was Marja'-e-Taqlid for 32 years, and a teacher at the Qum theological seminary for about 72 years while keeping on learning and teaching Fiqh (Jurisprudence) for about 85 years.

He was the first person to establish modern theological seminary and the first great institute for Quranic studies in Qum. He was the first person to prepare a table of contents of Fiqh and Hadith (Tradition) by using modern technology and knowledge.

He founded hundreds of schools, mosques and Islamic propagation centres in Iran and other countries and brought up thousands of disciples.