The eminent Islamic scholar, Shaikh-ul-Islam Mawlana Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi is the most influential religious and social leader of the Sunni community in Iran. Besides, he is one of the leading sober and vigilant Muslim scholars in the region. Where was he born and grown? Where did he get education and what are his activities and services? The answers are as before you.
Birth Place & Growth:
He was born in 1947 (1366 H. Q) in “Galougah” (گلوگاه) village, an area in the vicinity of Zahedan, south east of Iran. Shaikh Ismaeelzahi grew up in a religious, decent and respectable family. His parents were very close to their Almighty God and used to offer night prayers (Tahajjod) and observe fast three days monthly.
Journey for Seeking Knowledge:
He joined Qur’anic schools when he was very young where he got elementary Islamic books. As there was not any Islamic college or Seminary in Zahedan at that time, he decided to travel to Pakistan for further Islamic education.
Shaikh Ismaeelzahi got education in “Dar-ul-Hoda” seminary in Sindh, Pakistan and remained student of the prominent Islamic scholar, late Mawlana Abdullah Darkhwasti, who was Hafedh, memorizer, of the Hadith and Qur’an. Shaikh Abdolhameed succeeded to gain the attention of his mentors and teachers as he was a regular and sincere student.
Shaikh Ismaeelzahi joined the outstanding Islamic seminary, Badr-ul-Uloom Hammadiya, in Rahimyarkhan, south Punjab and got command in the Islamic sciences, Tafseer and Hadith as well as Fiqh. He is one of the eminent students of Shaikh Abdulghani Jaajrawi, may Allah’s mercy be on him. Late Shaikh Jaajrawi had the most influence on the personality and character of the future leader of Sunnis in Iran. Shaikh Abdolhameed was a close person to his mentor, Mawlana Jaajrawi, and he was preferred by him on other students due to his Excellency and vigilance.
Following the graduation at Bar-ul-Uloom Hammadiya and achieving permission to teach Tafseer and Hadith, he returned to his hometown, Zahedan. Shaikh began his sincere services for Muslims under guidance and supervision of late Shaikh Abdolaziz Sarbaazi, the most influential Islamic scholar of that time. The founder of Darululoom Zahedan and grand Makki mosque comprehended the intelligence and best competence of Shaikh Ismaeelzahi; so he was appointed the deputy of Mawlana Abdolaziz.
Educational & Reformative Activities:
The former religious leader of Sunnis in Baluchistan, Shaikh Abdolaziz Mollazadeh passed away in 1987. Since that time, Mawlana Abdolhameed has been presenting his golden and sincere services to his nation in different dimensions. Shaikh became sponsor in the grand Makki mosque and Darululoom Zahedan, the biggest mosque and seminary of the Sunni community in Iran. The situation was so vital in the region at that juncture; but his eminence managed his duties well. People observed how he could overcome the problems and pave the way for the development of his nation in all angles of life; so their trust enhanced and people, elite and common, gathered around him.
Mawlana Abdolhameed advises rulers and citizens, call on good deeds and forbid from vice and misdeeds, he takes on robust and unbiased stances over important issues, favors his compatriots without any fear of incurring calumniation by slanderers. He does not expect reward from anyone but Exalted Allah.
From this point, he strives to unite Muslims and urges Islamic unification, rejection of sectarian and ethnic disputes, and commitment to the peaceful tactics, sobriety and moderation. He always warns and discourages exposure of disputable issues, hyperbole and a solidity that leads to strife. He has been playing an important role in implementation of peace and ensuring security in the regions where both Sunnis and Shias live together. Thus, we can observe his strong influence on all classes of public.
Dozens of people revert to him for resolving of their problems and needs each day. Shaikh welcomes them by an open face and heart struggling to resolve their matters as a religious leader, social expert and political guider in the current circumstances.
The well-known Islamic seminary, Darululoom Zahedan, progressed obviously by the continuous efforts of Shaikh Abdolhameed. The number of students and branches has increased. As, the grand Makki mosque, located next to Darululoom Zahedan, became the largest mosque of Sunnis in Iran after the extension project. Still these two buildings are under expansion plan. By supervision of Shaikh-ul-Islam, Darululoom Zahedan has been playing an open, durable and undisputable role in the fields of awakening Muslims, their religious and cultural advancement. The brilliant lights of his sincere efforts can be seen inside and outside of the country by graduation and upbringing young scholars, foundation of Islamic institutes and seminaries in numerous cities and towns.
It is pertinent to mention that struggles of Shaikh are not limited to any particular field; rather his heart feels pains of the entire Ummah with its all classes. We can summarize his efforts in the following grounds:
1. Teaching of Islamic sciences for 40 years.
2. Teaching the subject of Hadith, Shih al-Bukhari, for about 20 years.
3. Delivering sermons and speeches in the grand Makki mosque of Zahedan and other places; the duration of speeches is around 1500 hours in 30 years.
4. Paying specific attention to college and university students, providing them accommodation and creating an excellent environment for them to know more about Islam trust the scholars and grow up in an Islamic atmosphere.
5. Paying time for common people and making plans for their awareness by dispatching preachers; he himself travels to different cities and towns, gather people and talk to them.
6. He strives to solve disputes and jangles of Muslims. His role in this regard is not lesser than a wide court; even it happened severely that official courts compelled to refer some cases to him for resolving them in the light of Shari’ah.
7. As Islam is a comprehensive religion having instructions for all affairs of life, the political and social aspects should not be ignored; in this point, Shaikh Ismaeelzahi endeavors a lot. He countenances people to elect honest representatives in parliamentary and local council elections. Besides, he has an influential role in presidential elections. That is why; the regime counts his role and other scholars so important.
Stances of Shaikh Abdolhameed:
He is famous for his strong stances over the national issues and advocacy of the due rights of excluded Sunnis, unremitting protest against anti-Sunni discriminative policies which have been depriving Ahl-us-Sunnah in Iran from their lawful and constitutional rights. Shaikh has acceptable views and solutions for the national and international crises of the country. He is well-known for his sobriety, severe opposition to intemperance and negligence.
The abstract of his stances can be mentioned as following:
1. Shaikh believes that the due rights, affirmed in the Iranian Constitution but Sunnis have been coming excluded of them since the revolution of 1979, should be demanded via peaceful and legal ways; or by global human rights organizations if the Iranian rulers refuse to respond handsomely. He rejects hardly armed uprising for demanding the rights. He always asks for equal rights and freedom in religious and educational affairs of Sunnis as the constitution affirms it.
He spurns state intervention in Sunnis’ internal matters saying: “The Sunni citizens must be free in their religious affairs to worship Allah with peace and calmness in military bases, cultural and official departments and in the cities where Sunnis constitute a lesser number. The rulers should impede those who try to interfere in our seminaries and mosques.”
Shaikh decried the policy of sectarian discrimination against Sunnis in Iran during a speech, saying: “As we (Sunnis & Shiites) are brothers in citizenship and religion, it must be promoted in equality; the government should provide Sunnis opportunities to work in different departments and government offices. The Sunnis would provide their services for their country, as they have sacrificed a lot for the nation in the western border during Iran-Iraq war; they want to sacrifice for the country’s sovereignty in the eastern border too. In the same way, Sunnis hope that there should not be discrimination against Sunnis in recruitment in armed forces. Sunni citizens have been excluded from high posts like ministry, ambassadorial services and other key positions.”
He continues his points that Sunnis are not eager of power and posts, but they want to live with honor and dignity; they want to be treated like compatriots not strangers.
2. Demand for religious liberties as the law urges. Warning over infiltration of nasty and bad-mannered elements in official departments to marginalize Sunnis of Iran. As he says: “Although some articles of our constitution need reformation and change; but if the rulers carry out its all laws, many of the current crises will be resolved. The rulers can not overcome the crises until they listen to their critics, how much they can be small in number. The only remedy is national unity; unity can not be achieved without open dialogue and negotiations with all juntas and groups. Ignoring any community may affect our unity and peace.”
He emphasizes saying: “Article 12 of the Iranian Constitution declares “Islam and Ja’fari jurisprudence” the official religion of the state, but other Islamic sects such as Hanafi, Shafe’i, Hanbali, Maleki and Zaidi are free in their educational and religious affairs. Implementation of this article can solve lots of problems.”
3. Albeit Shaikh Abdolhameed does not belong to any particular political party, but he stress always on the freedom of media, speech, political parties and social activities accordance with the constitution. He believes that if the regime wants to save the country from the Arab-style uprisings, then it should ensure freedom of speech, free elections, and reformation of ongoing policies and release of all political prisoners.
4. He thinks that both the revolution and state belong to the entire Iranian nation; the nation voted Islamic system and presented sacrifices for the 1979 Revolution. So any specific junta or person can not arrogate it ignoring the views of other sympathetic individuals in the country.
5. He reprehends despotism strongly. He believes that men of power must hark at critics and not be afraid of criticism.
6. Shaikh castigates the regime over the violation of social and religious liberties. He forces on the provision of freedom of conduct for all minorities. He is against practicing pressure on minorities in Iran like Daraweesh and the followers of other religions and sects.
7. He censured in strong words blind executions. He expressed his concerns on torturing some prisoners in the Iranian jails for professions. He believes that ongoing execution sentences and torture of prisoners are sinister acts and contrary to Islamic Shari’ah.
8. He stated many times that dictatorship and despotism, ignoring sincere critics and opponents, unprecedented pressure on people and ban on common liberties emerge public demonstrations and revolutions in the Middle East. He thinks these uprisings are not just Islamic, rather these are religious and political awakenings; any regime denies to listen to its masses would face revolt of nation. He conceived of the end and instability of regimes which want to enjoy power by force and guns, rather the secret of long-term power is justice and giving liberty to all masses.
9. He works hard for fraternity and Islamic unity, especially between Sunnis and Shias. But he thinks that unity can not be achieved by slogans and holding conferences or establishment of councils for unification. He believes that real unity can be gained only by providing justice to all sects, tribes and schools of thought, implementation of law equally. He urges that no one is more Iranian than Sunni citizens. Thus, he wants consideration of Sunnis’ religious and citizenship liberties completely, their participation in jobs and higher positions. Shaikh stresses that Iranian Sunnis want to take part in the construction of their motherland and protect it by getting jobs in armed services.
He says: “We always prefer to have unity amongst the whole Iranian nation, but unless our governments including Shia community don’t adopt such nice teachings in their practical lives, I am sure just chanting slogans for unity and brotherhood go in vain; its our need to be united, other wise we lose our power, if the regime stops chanting for unity any day, we will not do, we will call to unity always and it is not a state policy rather it is our belief.”
10. Shaikh points that as people have right to elect their rulers, they have the right of criticism and protest as well. The door of positive criticism must not be closed.
11. He conceived of that nuclear power for peaceful agendas is the right of Iran. For getting good results and halting international pressure, all rulers must return to the negotiation table. The Iranian rulers should open their gates for representatives of IAEA and international human rights organizations.
Trips of Shaikh-ul-Islam:
Due to varied activities of him, he rarely could make trips to other countries. He was invited to many international conferences and meetings in some Islamic states. So he traveled to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, India and Tajikistan to attend conferences about “Imam Abul Hasan Nadvi,” “Imam Abu Hanifa,” meetings of Fiqhi Council, Muslim World League and International Union of Muslim Scholars.
He was invited to some Islamic conferences in Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other places; but due to confiscation of his passport he could not attend the meetings.
The Iranian authorities detained his passport when he returned from Turkey where he attended a conference of the IUMS in June 2010.
1. Imam and Khateeb of Ahl-us-Sunnah in Zahedan. He delivers his sermons in the grand Makki mosque before 40 to 50 thousands of audiences.
2. The rector of Darululoom Zahedan, the biggest Islamic and cultural seminary of Sunnis in Iran. There are 1500 to 2000 students with a seminary for females.
3. The head of the Coordination Council of Sunni Seminaries in Sistan-Baluchistan.
4. Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
May Allah protect him and bestow him the best inspirations to serve His chosen religion more.
Arranger: Cultural Section of Shaikh Abdolhameed’s Office