Home Biography A journey of life and giving: His academic and religious studies (Part II)

His Eminence, the Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra): His academic and religious studies (Part II)

Since his early childhood, at the age where a person embarks on the learning and writing process, His Eminence studied at a Quran-teaching school with a Sheikh who was considered more an illiterate person than a literate one, due to the fact that the information he possessed in reading and writing lacked the technical and educational skills. Needless to say that the regular academic school, at the time, was not familiar among those who studied religious sciences. The reason could be attributed to the misconception that it was a product of the West, and consequently, it should be boycotted.

His Eminence was tutored by that Sheikh for a short time. Every student used to write on his own board, while reading was carried out in the traditional way; that is, the students had to memorize what was written by heart.

Just as many other students, the Sayyed felt that the Sheikh at that school was differentiating between children, treating the sons of the notables with favoritism. He was an old and lame person who, according to His Eminence, was very harsh on his students. His Eminence, then, moved to a regular school founded by "Muntada An-Nashr Society". The Sayyed was eleven years old when he was first examined and classified as a grade three student, but because of his intelligence and outstanding hard work, he was promoted to grade four.

However, due to his financial status, His Eminence could not continue his studies in that modern school that was the destination of many talented students, such as Sayyed Muhammad Baqir As-Sadr who became a close friend to His Eminence. According to what he once narrated, leaving that school hurt him badly. Yet, that shift to studying religion was the turning point in his journey of knowledge, as it marked his personality with the richness of thoughts and ideas.

When His Eminence enrolled to the religious school in the year 1363 H., he was eleven years old and he stayed there until the year 1385 H., summing up twenty two years of religious studies.

His first teacher was his father, Sayyed Abdul-Raouf Fadlullah (1907-1984); one of the greatest religious scholars in An-Najaf and Jabal Amel. He was not only famous for his parity, holiness, and devoutness, but he was also known for having taught and educated many scholars and authors.

Therefore, Sayyed Fadlullah was tutored by his father. He also read the book "Al-Ajroumiyyah", the first Arabic grammar book, then he read the book "Qatr An-Nada," in addition to several syntax books.

It is narrated that he wore the turban between the age of 12 or 13, because that was the traditional Islamic costume students of religious studies had to wear at an early age.

His Eminence, once, said that it was his uncle, Sayyed Muhammad Sa'id Fadlullah, who bought the costume for him. And like all the other teenagers who used to feel the pride of becoming men, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah experienced the sense of both pride and manhood the moment he put on that Islamic costume. In addition to his father, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah was taught by great religious authorities, such as Sayyed Al-Khou'i, Sayyed Al-Hakim, and Sheikh Sadra Al Barkoube who was a specialist in philosophy.

Accordingly, His Eminence lived in an atmosphere of knowledge and education that was based on training students on the skills of argument and discussion. Learning was not a process of memorization to what was taught or explained; it focused on the student's awareness and attentiveness to what he was studying. For instance, some instructors used to tell him: "You have to put all your efforts in every book you study in a way that allows you to argue with its author."

There was a prevalent atmosphere of freedom that enabled the students to enter into discussions and arguments with their teachers. The student was allowed to discuss any point or raise any question before moving to another topic. There was also what was called study groups that helped the students in reaching a distinguished intellectual level, which only people of older ages could attain. This was the case of Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah who, at the beginning of the process of studying Arabic grammar and literature, was able to deal with one of the basic rules of jurisprudence: "Is the general in the specific a reality or an abstraction?" That happened while he was studying Al-Alfiyya poem.

Through weekly argumentative discussions, he was living the depth of thinking. Moreover, An-Najaf Al-Ashraf used to follow a traditional method in the educational curriculum, which is that after finishing his studies, the student must review his lesson with another student; each reciting to the other.

It was believed that this way could help the student in training himself to give lessons and lectures in the future at an early age.

His Eminence was raised in that profound atmosphere of literature and religious sciences, for although An-Najaf Al-Ashraf existed since over a thousand years, it was a city of poetry and literature, from which several authors and poets, even modern ones such Assayab and others, graduated.

In that atmosphere of knowledge and literature, His Eminence was raised and his personality was developed. His marked intelligence and ability to memorize made him stand out amongst his classmates; a factor that enabled him to excel in the field of jurisprudence and legislation that emerge from his awareness, innovative thought and the presence in the heart of the events.

This is clearly reflected in his bold religious Fatwas that deal with both people's problems and the requirements of modern life. With an enlightened mind, he was able to solve and answer all the questions and problematic issues that people faced in their daily complicated lives.