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Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi
Born 1934
Yazd, Iran
Religious beliefs Twelver Shi'a Islam

Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi (Persian: محمد تقی مصباح یزدی) (born 31 January 1934 in Yazd) is a hardline Iranian Twelver Shi'i cleric and politician who is widely seen as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's spiritual advisor. He is also a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts,[1][2] the body responsible for choosing the Supreme Leader, where he heads a minority ultraconservative faction.[3] He has been called "the most conservative" and the most "powerful" and "influential ... clerical oligarch" in Iran's leading center of religious learning, the city of Qom.[4]

Mesbah Yazdi advocates Islamic philosophy and in particular (Ishraghi or Ishraqi).[5] He believes Iran has strayed from the values of the 1979 Iranian revolution and strongly opposes democratic rule[6] and the Reformist movement in Iran.[7][8]



Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi completed his primary and secondary education in Yazd, and then moved to Qom, where he continued his education in fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). He studied works of Avicenna and Mulla Sadra. In the 1950s he joined pro-Khomeini students in Qom. His teachers included prominent figures such as Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Bahjat Foumani. He was also among the students of Ayatollah Allameh Tabatabaei, the author of Tafsir al-Mizan, the influential shi'ite exegesis of Quran. He graduated in 1960. Before the Islamic revolution, he assisted the other clerics, i.e., Mohammad Beheshti and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in publishing two journals called "Mission of Prophet Muhammad" and "Revenge", while he was responsible for all the publishing activities in the latter.[9]

Political activity

Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi is the spiritual adviser of a number of hardline Islamic fundamentalists in Iran, including now President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is said to have "great sway among Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the Basij volunteer paramilitary force."[10] In 1997, after the election of reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, Mesbah Yazdi encouraged Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Hezbolli to put a stop to the reform agitation by any means, including violence.[4] After decline of the reform movement in 2003, his supporters made gains in local and parliamentary elections. In 2005, Mesbah Yazdi supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidential bid and subsequently gained "direct influence" in the Iranian government through the appointment of loyal supporters "to high posts" after Ahmadinejad's victory.[10]

According to some sources, Mesbah-Yazdi is rumored to have ambitions to succeed Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader."[3][11] Some clerics and some newspapers feared Mesbah-Yazdi was trying to expand his already growing power by "packing" the Assembly of Experts with "loyalists." In October 2006, an acolyte of Mesbah-Yazdi, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, was appointed head of the election commission, supervisor of the poll for the Assembly of Experts,[12] and many of the candidates in the 2006 Assembly of Experts elections were Mesbah-Yazdi loyalists (though they ran as independent candidates to avoid revealing their affiliation to Mesbah Yazdi).[10] However, his group failed to achieve a majority in that election, leaving the assembly in the hands of pragmatic-conservatives.[13] Mesbah-Yazdi himself won a seat but finished only in sixth-place in Tehran municipality where he ran,[14] and now heads the minority ultraconservative faction in the assembly[3]

He has been named by investigative journalist Akbar Ganji as "having encouraged or issued fatwas, or religious orders" for the 1998 Chain murders of Iran assassinations of five Iranian dissidents.[15]


2009 Presidential Election

According to the website roozonline, an unnamed cleric that could only have been Mesbah-Yazdi[16] reportedly issued a "religious decree to manipulate the results" of the 2009 election in favor of his follower, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[16]. The information came from an open letter issued by a group of Ministry of Interior employees, who described the cleric as "one of the Qom Seminary School professors, who also heads a research institute there and previously spoke at the Tehran Friday prayers". In part the fatwa read:

"if an election of a presidential candidate, would cause the islamic principles, although it's rising in the countries like Lebanon, Palestine, Venezuela and other parts of world, start diminishing it is Haraam [forbidden by Islam] to vote for that person. We shouldn't vote for that person and we should inform the people not to vote for him either, or else. For you, as administrators of the election, everything is permitted to this end."[16]

On June 22, a few days after security forces broke up one of the biggest election protests, Mesbah-Yazdi "addressed a gathering" of Revolutionary Guards and told them:

"Do not be worried about the events and earthquakes that have occurred. Know that God created this world as a test, ... The supreme leader holds a great many of the blessings God has given us and at a time of such uncertainties our eyes must turn to him."[17]

According to Alarabiya news [18] Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has issued a fatwa calling for the murder of Mir-Hossein Mousavi following the election.


Mesbah-Yazdi has been described as close to Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, Khomeini's first designated heir who was assassinated in 1981. Mesbah Yazdi helped Beheshti establish the Haghani School (also Haqqani) in Qom to train the future cadres of the regime,[19] and is (or was) a member of the school's board of directors.[20] The Haghani School is very influential and has been described as "a kind of Ecole Nationale d'Administration for the Islamic Republic" whose alumni "form the backbone of the clerical management class that runs Iran's key political and security institutions."[21]

Mesbah-Yazdi is the author of many books on fiqh, Quran exegesis, divinity and general issues of Islam. His "Amuzesh-e Falsafeh" is used widely in the philosophy classes of Qom's hawza. It broadly covers the same ground as Allameh Tabatabaei's Arabic-language works in philosophy "Bidayat al-Hikmah" and "Nihayat al-Hikma". Mesbah-Yazdi's "Amuzesh-e Falsafeh" has been published in English translation by Mohammad Legenhausen and Azim Sarvdalir as "Philosophical Instructions," Binghamton University 1999.[22 ]

He publishes the "archconservative" weekly Parto-Sokhan[23], is the director of the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute in Qom, founded in 1995,[22 ][24] and a member (since 1990) of the Iranian Assembly of Experts. In addition, Mesbah Yazdi sometimes speaks before Khutbah in Tehran's Friday prayers.

After the presidential election of June 1997 in the relatively more open political atmosphere in that time, Mesbah Yazdi's students played an important role as the critics of the former president Mohammad Khatami. As a result, Mesbah Yazdi's name appeared more often in the media and became more well known. He issued a fatwa in support of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidential bid,[25] and meets with the president frequently. In December 2006, he was elected to the Assembly of Experts, the group of Ayatollahs responsible for choosing a successor for the Supreme Leader.[2]


Mesbah Yazdi has been described as "a theoretician of the radicals" in Iran,[26] "extremely hostile towards the West" and "the first senior figure" in Iran to have "publicly endorsed a military nuclear programme." [27]He advocates suicide bombings, the killing of "any person who insults Islam," and the carrying out of the fatwa to kill author Salman Rushdie. He considers "the Zionists" to be the fundamental source of evil on earth. [26]

In a lecture posted on his website, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi warns of Muslim of the "thugs of falsehood and the followers of the damned Satan" who have formed a

coalition of the forces of infidelity and hypocrisy, the servants of dollars and euros/gold and silver, and influential oppressors and traitors to uproot Islam, to fight Muslims, to dominate their countries, wealth, and resources, to deny their glories and excellence, to destroy their relics and teachings, to wipe out their culture, to alter their identity, to put them in miserable conditions, and to force them into wretchedness in this world and God’s punishment in the hereafter.[28]

Mesbah-Yazdi supports a return to what he sees as the values of the 1979 Iranian revolution.[25] He believes an "Islamic republic" is a contradiction in terms, as a truly Islamic government would not hold elections as an opportunity for voters to make choices between representatives and policies, but to express their allegiance to the supreme faqih.[7] He believes that "the republican component" was established in Iran as a concession to secular forces[8] and should be "stripped" away to leave the true essence of the "Islamic system."[7] He has been quoted as saying, "It doesn't matter what the people think. The people are ignorant sheep."[8]

Mesbah-Yazdi is also a firm opponent of the Reformist movement in Iran which he believes an Islamic government must "combat ... because injecting misleading ideas [of reform] is like injecting the Aids virus!". He also claims that young Iranians who questioned the regime after studying abroad did so only because they had been trained in 'psychological warfare' by foreign universities.[25] President Khatami once called him the theoretician of violence.[26]

In 2005 he issued a fatwa urging Iranians to vote for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former student and "protege", whom he is "considered a ideological and spiritual mentor" of, and with whom he reportedly meets with weekly.[26] Following Ahmadinejad's election Mesbah Yazdi declared that Iran now had its first true Islamic government and there was no need for any more elections, which were incompatible with theocracy.

Mesbah Yazdi believes that a trial is not needed to convict and execute offenders. "If anyone insults the Islamic sanctity, Islam has permitted for his blood to be spilled, no court needed either". He has called for the execution of Dr Hashem Aghajari for insulting Islam based on the blasphemy laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This idea is considered by many, as an open avocation of terrorism.

On the issue of slavery Mesbah Yazdi has said

Today, too, if there’s a war between us and the infidels, we’ll take slaves. The ruling on slavery hasn’t expired and is eternal. We’ll take slaves and we’ll bring them to the world of Islam and have them stay with Muslims. We’ll guide them, make them Muslims and then return them to their countries.[29][30]

In a lecture that was released in February 15 2006, Mohsen Ghorourian who is a well-known student of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi said that using atomic bomb has religious legitimacy.[31] In 2005.

Like many prominent Shia clergies, he supports non-literal interpretations of various verses of the Qur’ān and narrations attributed to the Prophet and his followers.[5] Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi opposes bida'a or innovations in religion which he believes includes new interpretations of the Sunna and Qur'an. He has been quoted as saying: "If someone tells you he has a new interpretation of Islam, sock him in the mouth."[25]

In August 2009 he is reported to have warned Iranian opposition groups against undermining supreme leader Ali Khamenei, stating,

"When the president is endorsed by the leader, obeying him is similar to obedience to God."[32]


Nikahang Kowsar was arrested for his depiction of "Professor Crocodile", a reptilian academic who was shown strangling a journalist with his tail, interpreted as a reference to Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. It is written in the cartoon "Isn't any one to free me from this bribed reformist"

The Ayatollah's nickname comes from a cartoon portraying "Professor Crocodile", a "reptilian academic who was shown strangling a journalist with his tail". The cartoon was drawn by Nikahang Kowsar and satirized freedom of expression in Iran, and a speech given by Mesbah Yazdi in the previous day. Mesbah Yazdi was known as Professor Mesbah (Persian: استاد مصباح) among his supporters. "Mesbah" rhymes with the Persian word for crocodile, "Temsah" (Persian: تمساح), and the cartoon labeled the crocodile as "Professor Temsah", who repeats the words used by Mesbah Yazdi in the previous day. The cartoonist was shortly imprisoned for the depiction."[25]


Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has been described as "affiliated" with the Hojjatieh group.[33] Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi denies this and has denounced the rumor, saying that if anyone finds a connection between him and Hojjatieh, he will renounce everything he stands for.[34] Ayatollah Khomeini actually frowned on the Hojjatieh and the group was nominally dissolved in 1983, yet they secretly continued to maintain and strengthen their network.

Quotes by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi

  • "The real and precious knowledge is the one that culminates in God fearing."
  • "If it is impossible to uncover the hypocrites faces other than through sacrificing our souls, therefore we are supposed to do so."(In Persian)
  • The concept ”exam” in the divine order (In Persian)
  • "We should know that 1,400 years ago the Koran said that the enemies of Islam will always fight while chanting peace-seeking slogans.[25]"
  • "Islam cannot accept that a group of people congregate and decide to initiate laws for themselves" (Ettela'at, 1 Oct. 1993)

See also


  1. ^ 16 نماينده استان تهران در مجلس خبرگان مشخص شدند
  2. ^ a b "Ayatollah who backs suicide bombs aims to be Iran's next spiritual leader". Retrieved 2008-03-07.  
  3. ^ a b c Battle for Iran shifts from the streets to the heart of power. Peter Beaumont. 28 June 2009 accessed 15-July-2009
  4. ^ a b Nasr, Vali The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.216
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ "Ahmadinejad's messianic connections".  
  7. ^ a b c Iran: a green wave for life and liberty, Asef Bayat, 7 - 07 - 2009 accessed 14-July-2009
  8. ^ a b c Molavi, Afshin The Soul of Iran Norton, (2005), p.105
  9. ^ پايگاه اطلاع رسانى آثار حضرت آيت الله مصباح يزدى (Persian)
  10. ^ a b c Iranian Clerics’ Angling Stirs Worry on Absolute Rule by NAZILA FATHI, September 25, 2006
  11. ^ Bureau. The Assembly of Experts
  12. ^ Majd, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, (2008), p.49-50
  13. ^
  14. ^ Majd, Hooman, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ : The Paradox of Modern Iran, by Hooman Majd, Doubleday, 2008, p.45-6
  15. ^ Ganji Identified Fallahian As The "Master Key" In Chain Murders
  16. ^ a b c "Mesbah Yazdi’s Decree to Rig Votes".  
  17. ^ "Discontented Muslim clergy challenge Iran's supreme leader behind scenes", by Ali Akbar Dareini and Lee Keath / Associated Press. July 08, 2009
  18. ^ "مرجع ديني ايراني بارز أفتى بقتل موسوي وكروبي".  
  19. ^ Roy, Olivier, The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East, Columbia University Press, 2008, p.133, 131
  20. ^ "Home Page\Biography". Retrieved 2008-03-08.  
  21. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, (Norton, 2006), p.215
  22. ^ a b Arun Wyramuttoo Rasiah: City of Knowledge. PhD Dissertation. University of California at Berkeley. 2007.
  23. ^ Majd, Hooman, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ : The Paradox of Modern Iran, Doubleday, 2008, p.46
  24. ^ Qabas.Net
  25. ^ a b c d e f "The rise of Prof 'Crocodile' - a hardliner to terrify hardliners". Retrieved 2008-03-07.  
  26. ^ a b c d Is war between Iran and Israel inevitable? By Erich Follath accessed 15-July-2009
  27. ^ Roy, The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East, (2008), p.132
  28. ^ "Web Site Of The Ayatullah Mesbah Yazdi" Click on "speeches", then "lesctures". "Towards a Comprehensive Defense of Islam and Islamic Culture." Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Mesbah
  29. ^ Transcript of TV interview with Dr. Soroush by Dariush Sajjadi, Broadcast on Homa TV on 9 March 2006 accessed 7-15-2009
  30. ^ see also "متن مصاحبه داريوش سجادی با دکتر سوش". Retrieved 2008-03-07.  (Persian)
  31. ^ "Iran clerics say it's okay to use nukes". Retrieved 2008-03-07.  
  32. ^ Obeying Ahmadinejad like obeying God: Iran cleric (AFP). 12 August 2009 quote from official IRNA news agency
  33. ^ Letter From Tehran: Iran's New Hard-Liners, Who Is in Control of the Islamic Republic? Jerry Guo, September 30, 2009
  34. ^ "آیت‌الله مصباح: احمدی‌نژاد اشتباه كرده ا". Retrieved 2008-03-07.  (Persian)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi article)

From Wikiquote

Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi (born 1934) is a senior member of the Assembly of Experts of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


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