Grand Ayatollah Noori Hamedani was born in 1925 (A.D.) in the city of Hamedan into a family known for its religious background. His father was Hujjatul Islam wal-Muslimeen Sheikh Ibrahim Noori Hamedani, one of the renowned religious scholars of Hamedan, as well as a contemporary and roommate of late Grand Ayatollah Akhund Mulla Ali Hamedani.
His Eminence started schooling at the age of seven. He was apprenticed to his late father studying Farsi literature, Gulistan Sa'di, creative writing, Nisab and Ma'alim al-Usul. Then in the year 1321 (1942 A.D.) of the Persian calendar he entered late Akhund Hamedani's Islamic school where he engaged in acquiring knowledge for one year and a half. His eagerness and thirst for learning made him leave Hamedan for the holy city of Qom, a well-known center of Shi'ite religious learning and a site of pilgrimage of the Ahlulbayt, peace be upon them. Despite all the difficulties and harsh conditions, he never stopped being determined to acquire knowledge from great teachers of the Islamic Seminary of Qom.
As mentioned above, his father was his first teacher and educator with whom he learned the basics of Islamic studies. Later, he began to study with prominent scholars of Hawzah (the Islamic Seminary) especially late Ayatollah Akhund Mulla Ali Hamedani. After His Eminence moved to the Islamic Seminary of Qom, he benefited from many a number of accredited scholars particularly late Muhammad Damad, Ayatollah Hujjat Kuhkamarei, Allamah Tabatabai, Ayatollah Boroujardi and late Imam Khomeini (may their souls rest in peace). Here is a transcription of what His Eminence has said about his teachers:
"One of my teachers was late Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Damad who taught jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence and I attended his lectures for nearly 12 years. We were a few people who were known as Damad's students in the Seminary. In fact, Ayatollah Damad was very careful and precise. To be honest, his thoughts were very exact and meticulous. He was also brilliant in terms of educating and paying attention to his students. I have some notes which I jotted down while he was giving lectures and which I would return to him for any comments. He used to go through them, reading them carefully and leaving some comments on the margin. At this point when I look at them, for me they are important and instructive notes.
"He was so unique in terms of humbleness, sincerity and the simple life he lived. I do not forget the day when he was giving a lecture on wudhu (ablution), he asserted that one should perform wudhu himself without taking help from anyone; he himself should pour water and complete wudhu without anyone helping him. Of course, there are degrees in helping someone in such cases. Some degrees of it make the wudhu void and some others are simply disapproved. Late Muhammad Damad mentioned a narration from Wasail al-Shi'ah in which it is said that one day Imam Reza (AS) visited Ma'mun while he was making wudhu in a way such that one person was pouring water over his hand and he was making wudhu. Addressing him, Imam Reza (AS) said, "Do not associate with Allah anyone, O commander of the faithful". Imam Reza (AS) addressed Ma'munn using this epithet. Commenting on this (title), his voice cracked and he started crying so hard that he could not complete his lecture on that day. He lamented that the situation was so grave that Imam Reza (AS) addressed Ma'mun by the title 'commander of the faithful'.
"I am talking about Damad's sincerity and dedication. That day, he made everyone cry with his sincerity; he could not carry on his lesson. He pulled his 'abaa (cloak) over his head and left the session.
"Among the scholars whom I studied with was Allamah Mohammad Hussein Tabatabai whose Asfar lessons I attended for five years. Of course, Allamah Tabatabai's integrity and greatness in terms of morality, perfection, knowledge and instruction is well-known and needs no elaboration.
"Another teacher under whom I studied was the great Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Hujjat Kuhkamarei. I attended his lessons for a while. He was well-known in Qom for his teaching method peculiar to him. He was a great teacher with a very eloquent speaking skill. He was especially talented in delivering his lecture as he organized his points in a way such that it was easy to write. We should look up to him when it comes to his method of organizing and sorting out the points he wanted to discuss. For example, in the case of an unauthorized sale, he would tell his students that there were several positions and methodologies each adopted by a given scholar. Those authorities whose positions were declared included Sheikh Ansari, late Akhund Khurasani whose position can be derived from his annotations on Makasib, late Sayyid Muhammad Kazem Yazdi, late Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Company and Ayatollah Hujjat himself. There were five to six positions regarding 'unauthorized sale' which he discussed till the end every day in a well-ordered and amazingly interesting manner. He delivered his lectures while observing proper sequence and mentioning the ramifications of everyone's position and methodology. Also, with regards to the effectiveness and validity of unauthorized sale as well as permission and its role in the validity of a purchase transaction and so forth, his classification of the topics was highly appealing to the students.
"Another point I just remembered to mention is about the day in which he was breathing his last in his death bed. I went to his house which was situated close to Hujjatiyah Madrasa (Islamic school). I stood on the courtyard while a few other people were also waiting there. Everyone was sad and affected. Someone came forward and reported: "Some turbah (soil) of Imam Hussein (AS) was fetched and it was mixed with some water for him to eat. He picked it and raised it to his lips and said, (آخر زادي من الدنيا تربة الحسين) "My last provision (which I take with me for the enternal journey) is the turbah of Hussein". There and then he drank it and recited "Ashhadu an la ilaha illallah" and his soul departed while he was facing Qibla.
Another teacher of mine was Grand Ayatollah Boroujardi. I was proud of attending all his lessons for 15 years right from the day he moved to Qom until he (may Allah elevate his position) passed away. I have penned down a lot of his lectures on jurisprudence and its principles. Sometimes I would annotate on his lessons and hand over my annotations and comments to His Eminence. He would go through those comments and encourage me with magnanimity peculiar to him.
Ayatollah Boroujardi was prominent and outstanding in terms of generosity and dignity. For example, once he was sitting out in the open when a woman came up. He saw the woman and told his servant to ask the woman what he could do for him. The servant said: 'She is an Alawiyah woman. She needed some money to buy a veil, and 50 Tumans were given to her.' Upon learning that she was from an Alawi descent, he said, 'Alawiya and you gave 50 Tumans!?' It looked as if he considered 50 Tumans degradation of the Alawiya woman whereas, in fact, 50 Tumans was not a meager amount at that time. He then said, 'Give her four or five hundred Tumans.' People who turned to him for help usually received more help from him than they expected.
"One of my great teachers was late Imam Khomeini (may Allah bless him) whom I first met in the year 1362 A.H. when I began to attend his dars-e akhlaq (lectures on Islamic manners and morality). He gave his lectures on Friday evenings one hour before sunset and it was regularly held in Madrasah-i Fayziyah in a room under the school's library. His dars-e akhlaq was followed by a congregational prayer which was led by Grand Ayatollah Khansari. Later on I attended not only his dars-e akhlaq but also his lectures on gnosticism ('Irfan) as well as on other branches of Islamic sciences. His lessons were incredibly instructive and perfect since he made use of verses (of the Qur'an) and prophetic traditions which he explained in very plain words giving his scientific and moral conclusions. His words were so sincere and honest that they deeply influenced the audience.
"The classroom was full to the capacity. His sincerity and spirituality overwhelmed everyone in the gathering. Even back then, Imam Khomeini (ra) was one of the prominent and renowned scholars. He was brilliant in terms of sharp-sightedness, profound thinking, realistic approach and openness of the mind. One thing that was highly effective and instrumental in making his thoughts known to others was his Kashf al-Asrar. At the time, this book had been printed and published and it was available to readers. Indeed, as of today this is an invaluable source of knowledge.
"His personality was multi-faceted and multidimensional. One dimension of his personality had to do with his knowledge of philosophy. Perhaps, at this time we do not know of someone like him, although at that time we had late Ashtiani while Allamah Tabatabai lived in Najaf.
"As well, one of my teachers in rational sciences was Imam Khomeini's teacher, late Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Abul Hasan Qazvini, better known as Allamah Rafi'ei who came to Qom and stayed for a few months. He taught rational sciences and I also attended his lectures.
"His personality can be discussed from different aspects. In my view, what is important is to be abreast with time. As asserted in our religious texts it is essential that a scholar be cognizant of the needs and requirements of his time. He was among the prominent and learned scholars. Whoever from the prominent scholars, whose thought and activities were congruent with the time, could create changes."
Respect for Teachers
Inspired by Quranic verses and Islamic narrations, and following the footsteps of his predecessors, His Eminence makes every effort to remember his teachers with tremendous respect and dignity. He constantly advises his students to respect their teachers and hold them in high regard. He has said many times, "I have a list of my teachers' names and I pray for them during my night prayers because praying for your teachers will earn you a lot of barakah (blessing) and helps you succeed in your life."
Since his arrival in the Islamic Seminary of Qom to engage in religious studies, Grand Ayatollah Noori Hamedani simultaneously started teaching and giving lectures on various jurisprudential, legal, theological and moral subjects. His classes have been crowded with a large number of students benefiting from him. His Nahjul Balaghah lessons in A'zam Mosque during the time of the tyrant regime of Shah were considered to be very informative and useful to seminary students. His Nahjul Balaghah lessons were very well structured, and he would demonstrate everything with such perfect logic and clarity that the Shah's oppressive and brutal regime was left with no alternative but to call off the class depriving hundreds of seminary students – who are now renowned scholars and servants of the Islamic Republic of Iran – from that great atmosphere of literature and learning.
His Eminence has been busy for the past thirty years now giving lectures at the highest level of Hawzah studies (better known as Dars-e Kharij). Nearly one thousand participants from prominent and outstanding students of the Hawza are attending his lectures and benefitting from him.
Grand Ayatollah Noori Hamedani sticks to a strict method in academic writing. He always recommends seminary students to engage in writing and make sure they write on different topics and fields of studies. His Eminence himself has authored books on various subjects. Some of his works, which total more than 50 volumes, have been published and some others are being prepared to be printed and published. The books which have been published thus far are the following:
2- Masāil min Ijtihad wa Taqlid (Arabic)
3- Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil according to Islam (Arabic)
4- Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil according to Islam (Persian)
5- The Embodiment of Islam (Biographical Accounts of Great Muslim Scholars)
6- The Status of Women in Islam
7- Jihad (Persian)
8- Riba (Usury)
9 – Knowledge of the Space Era
- The Wonders of Creation (Persian)
11- The Creation
12- Man and the World
13- Kharijites according to Nahjul Balaghah
14- A Revolutionary Movement in Egypt
15- Anecdotes of the Past
16- Man and Modern-Day Issues
17- The Public Treasury according to Nahjul Balaghah
18- Islamic Economy
19- The Logic of Theology
20- Islamic Republic
21- A Treatise on Islamic Law (Tauzih al-Masail)
22- Combat Readiness and Border Protection in Islam
23- 1001 Jurisprudential Issues – Replies to Inquiries about the Practical Laws of Islam (vol.1 & vol.2)
24- Hajj Rituals (Arabic)
25- Hajj Rituals (Persian)
26- Muntakhab al-Masāil (A Selection of Islamic Laws in Arabic)
Each of these works has its special audiences and is used by people from different walks of life.
Political and Social Activities
Being a student and passionate lover of late Imam Khomeini (ra), he was greatly influenced by the doctrines of the founder of the Islamic Republic in all spheres and aspects especially politics. That was why he embarked on social and political activities alongside his profound scientific engagements. He was on the forefront of struggle against the tyrant regime of Shah not fearing jail, exile and dangers. Consigning his matters to Allah, he made every possible effort to accomplish his revolutionary mission. Here is what His Eminence says:
"I was amongst those who studied with Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeini (ra) for a few years learning from him as well as benefitting from his moral character and virtues. Throughout these years, considering the Islamic texts and standards, I had learned that the responsibility of the clerical institution is limited to studying and delivering lectures. Therefore, I tried, as far as I could, to stand behind Imam Khomein (ra) to help him from the day he launched his struggle and the revolution.
"At the time, we had meetings with our friends on a regular basis to discuss ongoing issues as well as to make decisions. Sometimes, we signed declarations against the regime and the king. It was I who prepared some of those declarations and helped publish and distribute them and dispatch individuals for the same purpose to different parts of the country."
Qizil Qal'ah Prison
After Imam Khomeini (ra) was sent into exile to Turkey, some declarations were issued in Qom which had my signature on them too. That was why a few SAVAK agents invaded my house and searched everywhere. They even turned over the pages of books, took some of the books with them and arrested and took me to SAVAk headquarter on Railway Road. I was there for one day and then I was taken to Qizil Qal'ah prison in Tehran. Qizil Qal'ah was one of Shah's notorious prisons. There I learned some other people in the prison. However, all of us were put in solitary confinements and they opened the confinements' doors three times a day, morning, noon and afternoon. During the break, we had the right to walk out to make fresh wudhu. It was only when I was being taken to the bathroom that I saw those people from a distance and learned that they too were in the same prison.
"There was no lamp inside the solitary confinement except a small opening above the door from which a flickering light shone into the cell. The cells were so small that if you unfolded your arms, they would touch the walls on both sides. The floor of the solitary cells was made of bricks and it was so uneven that your back hurt badly when you slept on it.
"I was in these cells for about three months without trial and I was forbidden to meet with anyone. I could not go out except when it was time to renew my wudhu. After trial, we were taken to the courtyard of the confinement facility for ten minutes to walk and have some fresh air. When they took me out of the cell for interrogation, their most important allegation was that you are a supporter of Imam Khomeini and you write and sign declarations in his support. I was released from prison after nearly two months from the trial.
"A few months after I was released from the prison, I traveled to Hamedan where clerics and laity came to visit me. It was summer and I started a class which was welcomed by religious students and clerics. The SAVAK of Hamedan was concerned due, mainly, to the fact that the youth and people of the city regularly visited me and some attended my lectures. That was why they arrested me and sent me back to Tehran. Again I was put in Qizil Qal'ah prison where I was in custody for several more months.
"After I was released from jail, I was forbidden from delivering public speeches; I did not have the right to give sermons. So I went to Rafsanjan where I delivered two or three public speeches. The intelligence service learned that I was giving public speeches, so it prevented me from delivering more speeches."
The Historic 19th of Dey 1356 (January 9, 1978)
"From that time I returned to Qom and engaged in my studies and holding my classes. However, I did pursue my goal in appropriate times and when the situation was propitious until the incident of the January 9, 1978 (Dey 19, 1356 AHS) took place shaking the very basic pillars of monarchy in Iran. This is the reason behind the incident:
"In Ettela'at, a Persian language daily newspaper, published on 7th January 1978, a very insulting and outrageous article had been published against Imam Khomeini (ra) who was in Najaf back then. The scholars, teachers and students of the Islamic seminary of Qom were angry at this. For this reason, a meeting attended by (late) Meshkini and (Ayatollah) Wahid Khurasani was held in my house. It was decided in that meeting that the bazaar of Qom and Islamic seminary be shut down and closed as a sign of protest against the publication of the article. The seminary and bazaar remained closed. The teachers and scholars of the seminary and business people frequently visited the religious authorities' office where speeches were delivered in protest against the regime. On January 9, 1978 (better known as 19 Dey), some (political activists) had gone to some seminary teachers' houses. They had agreed that they would get together in my house in the afternoon. This decision had also been announced during the congregational prayer. It was about 1:00 o clock when some people came and installed several loudspeakers inside the house and street. Gradually, the crowd gathered in the courtyard and over the roofs; even the street was crowded and packed with people. First, my son-in-law Mr. Sayyid Hussein Musavi Tabrizi delivered a speech. Thereupon, I saw it as a duty upon me to address the gathering and speak about the crimes of the tyrant regime. Hence, I made a comprehensive and fiery speech to expose the Shah's regime. In that speech, I deemed it necessary to touch on the main source of the crimes and speak about Imam Khomeini's movement which originated in Islam, Quran and normative conduct of immaculate Ahlulbayt, peace be upon them. That was why, to expose the imperial powers and their puppets, I read out to the public the following poems:
The moon lights up the horizon and the dog barks,
Everyone is so proud of his own indisposition,
Like bats you might dream,
This world will be deprived of the sun,
The sea is not rendered impure with the spout of a dog
The sun does not die out with blowing of the mouth
On a brightly night when the moon is lit with the star
No one cares about the barking dog
Everyone does his own job
The pure-hearted ones would not water a straw
O the one with severed lip, throat and mouth,
Who spits towards the sky
A straw it is carried away by water,
The crystal water flows on without anxiety
Mustafa splits open the moon at midnight,
Bulahab speaks in vain out of spite,
The Christ revives the dead
The Jew is envying with rage.
مه فشاند نور و سگ عو عو کند
هر کسي بر طينت خود ميتند
چون تو خفاشان بسي بينند خواب
کاين جهان ماند يتيم از آفتاب
کي شود دريا زپوز سگ نجس
کي شود خورشيد از پف منطمس
در شب مهتاب مه را بر سماک
از سگان و عوعو ايشان چه باک
کارک خود ميگذارد هر کسي
آب نگدارد صفا بهر خسي
اي بريده آن لب و حلق و دهان
که کند تف سوي ماه آسمان
خس ، خسانه ميرود بر روي آب
آب صافي ميرود بياضطراب
مصطفي مه ميشکافد نيمه شب
ژاژ ميخايد ز کينه بو لهب
آن مسيحا مرده زنده ميکند
آن جهود از خشم سبلت ميکند
The people were charged with this comprehensive, logical and rumbling speech. Thereupon, they left my house and set off. I also deemed it necessary to walk with them. As we marched on, we reached the main road. The first people in the procession had reached the square opposite to the police station. There and then the mercenaries of the regime attacked and fired on people who had nothing to defend themselves with. Some were martyred, some critically injured and some managed to survive. This bloody incident led to public riots and uprising in many different cities of Iran. On the occasion of the commemoration of the martyrs of this day, the extensive uprising of the Iranian nation began from Tabriz and gradually spread across the entire country. That was why our alley was named "Qiyam" (uprising) alley.
When Imam Khomeini (ra) traveled to Qom, he also visited our house and it was said to His Eminence that it was the house where the Islamic revolution started from.
Following this speech on the nineteenth of Dey (9th January), I was waiting for SAVAK agents to come to my home and arrest me. Then there was urgent work for which I had to go to Tehran. When I was in Tehran, the SAVAK mercenaries had come to my house and searched for me everywhere. When I returned from Tehran and I learned about the incident, I further prepared myself and, after bidding farewell and taking preparation, I phoned SAVAK and said to them that I had come back home. I told them that if they wanted to arrest me I was there ready to be arrested. After half of an hour they invaded my house and took me to Qom police headquarter, and from there they sent me into exile to Khalkhal.
I remained in Khalkhal in exile for several months. There they were too hard to me. Every day, I had to go to the police station and sign a notebook. They strictly controlled my home; they even monitored normal frequentation.
They had made it difficult for us to buy general grocery, and had told store keepers not to sell us essential items. One day, I went to the office to sign the checklist. Then I was told not to return home because they wanted to take me to Saqaz. No matter how much I insisted to be allowed to go home and inform my family, they did not accept. Therefore, I was taken to Saqaz with a few policemen accompanying me. In Saqaz, a few other acquaintances were also in police custody.
Life was very difficult in exile. When Sharif Imami's government came to power, he began to release some political prisoners and those in exile to gain public reputation. I was also one of those people who were released from jail.
When I was released from the last prison in Saqaz of Kurdistan, I went to Qom and after a few days I went to Paris to visit Imam Khomeini in Neauphle le Chateau. There in Neauphle le Chateau I met with Imam Khomeini, may Allah be pleased with him, and I attended meetings which were held in the attendance of that standard-bearer of the Islamic movement and my great teacher. I also had several private meetings with His Eminence.
When I decided to return to Iran, Imam Khomeini (ra) gave me a letter which he had written about establishing an Islamic government following the eminent collapse of the tyrant regime of Shah. I was supposed to discuss with Dr. Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Mutahhari what His Eminence had written in that letter, and then I had to report back to Neauphle le Chateau which I did.
Efforts Made to Announce Marja'iyah of Imam Khomeini
One of the incidents that took place during this period was the demise of Grand Ayatollah Hakim (ra). Considering Imam Khomeini's scientific status and brilliant features, we decided to give him more publicity among the people outside of the Islamic Seminaries, so we decided to make an announcement to ask people to turn to Imam Khomeini after Grand Ayatollah Hakim.
There were 12 teachers of the Islamic Seminary of Qom, including me, who prepared and signed a declaration in confirmation of the marja'iyah (religious authority) of Imam Khomeini (AS) after late Ayatollah Hakim. The declaration was published and distributed across the country. The clerics of other provinces welcomed the declaration and in some places the preachers had read out the declaration for the general public on the pulpits which had a positive outcome.
After issuance of this declaration, we were waiting for the mercenaries of the government to come and arrest us because we knew they would react to the announcement and take action against us. The government did take action in the wake of that incident. One day the SAVAK agents assailed my house. However, we fulfilled what we realized to be our duty during these incidents.
Cultural- Scientific Travels
Inspired by the Qur'anic advice which says "travel in the land", Grand Ayatollah Noori Hamedani has travelled to different countries around the world. In these journeys, he increased his experiences by engaging in scientific discussions and also interacting with people from different cultures and thoughts. Regarding his travels outside of the Islamic Republic of Iran, His Eminence says:
"I was late Imam Khomeini's representative in Europe in 1979 and 1980 and I was going back and forth between Iran and Europe. During these two years and in the curricular season, I was also busy giving lectures in the Islamic seminary but when the Hawza was off I travelled to European countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. Whenever I went to those countries I would explain Islamic teachings and the greatness of the Islamic revolution in my meetings, interviews and public gatherings. I answered scientific and religious questions by the grace of Allah. I travelled many times to Pakistan, once to Thailand, Bangladesh and India. In these journeys I had meetings with people from various sects and denominations. During the meetings I explained Islamic teachings and doctrines to the people and made sure to draw their attention to the merits and benefits of the Islamic revolution as well as expose the image of global imperialism.
 A turbah (mohr) is a small piece of soil or clay used during salat (Islamic daily prayers) to symbolize earth. The use of a turbah is compulsory in most Shi'a schools of Islam and many Hadith mention the benefits of prostration (Sajda) upon the soil of the earth or an alternative material. The most favored soil is that of Karbala, the site of the death of Husayn ibn Ali; however, soil from anywhere may be used. In the absence of soil, plants or items made from plants may be substituted.