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Morteza Motahhari

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Title  Ayatollah
Role  Philosopher

Name  Morteza Motahhari
Religion  Islam
Education  Hawza

Full Name  Morteza Motahhari
Born  31 January 1919 (1919-01-31) Fariman, Iran
Died  1 May 1979(1979-05-01) (aged 60) Tehran, Iran
Main interest(s)  Fiqh, Kalam, philosophy
Notable work(s)  The Rights of Women in Islam Justice of the God
Children  Ali Motahari, Mohammad Motahhari, Mojtaba Motahhari
Grandchildren  Morteza Larijani, Leila Motahari, Zahra Motahari
Books  Man and Universe, Fundamentals of Islamic Thought, The Rights of Women in Islam, Light Within Me, Jihad: The Holy War of Islam and
Similar People  Ali Motahari, Ruhollah Khomeini, Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, Ali Larijani, Mohammad Beheshti

Assassinated  May 1, 1979, Tehran, Iran

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Morteza Motahari (Persian: مرتضی مطهری‎‎; January 31, 1919 – May 1, 1979) was an Iranian cleric, philosopher, lecturer, and politician.


Morteza Motahhari httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons22

Motahari is considered to have an important influence on the ideologies of the Islamic Republic, among others. He was a co-founder of Hosseiniye Ershad and the Combatant Clergy Association (Jāme'e-ye Rowhāniyat-e Mobārez). He was a disciple of Ayatollah Khomeini during the Shah's reign and formed the Council of the Islamic Revolution at Khomeini's request. He was chairman of the council at the time of his assassination.

Morteza Motahhari Teacher Day commemorates Morteza Motahari Islamic

Early life

Morteza Motahhari Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari

Motahari was born in Fariman on January 31, 1919. He attended the Hawza of Qom from 1944 to 1952 and then left for Tehran. His grandfather was an eminent religious scholar in Sistan province and since he traveled with his family to Khorasan Province, there is little information about his origin as Sistanian. His father Shaykh Mohammad Hosseini was also an eminent figure in his village, Fariman, who was respected by the people. He was considered as one of the pupils of Akhund Khorasani and besides he was admired by Ayatollah Mara'shi Najafi.


Morteza Motahhari The Anniversary Martyrdom of Morteza Motahari Islamic Invitation

It is said that he was very intelligent as a child. At the age of 5, he went to school without informing his parents. Sometimes he was found sleeping near the school. By the age of twelve he learned the preliminary Islamic sciences from his father. He also went to the seminary of Mashhad and studied for two years there in the school of Abd ul-Khan along with his brother. But his studies remained unfinished in Mashhad seminary because of problems faced by his family which obliged him to return to Fariman to help them.

Morteza Motahhari Imam Khomeini Martyr Morteza Motahhari

According to his own account, in this period he could study a great number of historical books. It was in this period that he was confronted with questions on worldview such as the problem of God. He considered Agha Mirza Mahdi Shahid Razavi as an eminent master in rational sciences. He decided to go to Qom in 1315 Solar Hijri calendar.

He finally took up residence in the school of Feyzieh in Qum. He studied books Kifayah and Makaseb in Shia jurisprudence under instruction of Ayatollah Sayyed Mohaqeq Yazdi popularly known as Damad. He also participated in the lectures of Hojjat Kooh Kamarehei ant sough knowledge from Sayyed Sadr Al Din Sadr, Mohammad Taqi Khansari, Golpaygani, Aaahmad Khansari and Najafi Marashi.

When Ayatollah Boroujerdi emigrated to Qom, Motahari could take part in his courses on Principles of Jurisprudence. Ayatollah Montazeri was his classmate in this period.

Later, Motahari emigrates to Isfahan because of hot climate of Qom. There he becomes familiar with Haj Ali Agha Shirazi who was the teacher of Nahj Al Balaghah in 1320 Solar Hijri calendar who Motahari always describes with honor. Later, he joined the University of Tehran, where he taught philosophy for 22 years. Between 1965 and 1973 he also gave regular lectures at the Hosseiniye Ershad in Northern Tehran.

Motahari wrote several books on Islam, Iran, and historical topics. His emphasis was on teaching rather than writing. However, after his death, some of his students worked on writing down his lectures and publishing them as books. As of the mid-2008, the "Sadra Publication" published more than sixty volumes by Motahari. Nearly 30 books were written about Motahari or quoted from his speeches.

Morteza Motahari opposed what he called groups who "depend on other schools, especially materialistic schools" but who present these "foreign ideas with Islamic emblems". In a June 1977 article he wrote to warn "all great Islamic authorities" of the danger of "these external influential ideas under the pretext and banner of Islam." It is thought he was referring to the People's Mujahideen of Iran and the Furqan Group.

Motahari was the father in law of Iran's former secretary of National Security Council Ali Larijani. It was by Motahari's advice that Larijani switched from computer science to Western Philosophy for graduate studies.

A major street in Tehran formerly known as Takhte Tavoos (Peacock Throne) was renamed after him. Morteza Motahari Street connects Sohrevardi Street and Vali Asr Street, two major streets in Tehran.

Activities during Islamic revolution

During the struggle with shah’s regime, Morteza Motahari contributed in creating new Islamic discourses. Besides, he was among those who had discussed the conditions of Marja' after the death of Ayatollah Broujerdi. He wrote the book Mutual services of Iran and Islam in such a condition. Also his works had important impact on expanding the movement of religious reform in early days of revolution. His works primarily consisted of traditional Islamic and Shia thoughts. He wrote an essay about revitalization of religious thought in the occasion. Writing the "need for Candidness in religious leadership", he aimed to show the youth the attractiveness of Islam.

During the revolution, while Shapour Bakhtiyar prevented Khomeini's return to Iran in 1978, Ayatollah Motahari was the leader who managed the protester clergies in Tehran University's mosque. Motahari was an important figure, and helped Ayatollah Khomeini to organize revolutionary department.


Morteza Motahari expressed his opinions in different majors and disciplines such as philosophy, religion, economic, politics and etc. Motahari and Shariati were counted as two prominent figures during Islamic revolution of Iran. He emphasized on Islamic democracy for suitable political structure.

Motahari also recognized fitra as the truth of human. According to him, fitra is a permanent and unchangeable quality in human nature. In fact, he believed that fitra played the role of a mediator in God-human beings relation. Also, he believed that Imam was a perfect man who shows the high rank of human spirituality. Imam also is characterized as a religious leader. His lengthy footnote on the “book of principles of philosophy and method of realism” by Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i was against the historical Marxism. Also he believed that Wali-e faqih only had the right of supervisory not governing. He also maintained that the ruling was one of the political aspect of Imam in society. He maintained that there was no conflict between science and religion since he believed that Science qua science had no conflict and challenge with metaphysics. He believed that the quasi-conflict between science and religion was in terms of their language not themselves.


Motahari also expressed views on development and relevant ideology. According to him, freedom, culture and mental-cultural revolution are principles of development. He also refers to some elements for characterizing a developed society.these factors are independence, knowledge and transcendence. Also, according to Motahari, development originates from cultural self-reliance, purification of cultural sources and logical and cautious communication with west. Motahari believed in the development of human resources but he also thought that economy was not an aim but only is a condition for development.


As outlined by Ayatollah Morteza Motahari in 1975, the phrase ‘equal rights’ means something different from what is commonly understood by western world. He clarified that men and women were innately different and therefore enjoyed different rights, duties and punishments.


Motahari believed that the eternality of Islam is provided by Fiqh. He thought that fiqh along with the character of ijtihad could be an important thing for confronting with the problem of different times and places. Using ijtihad, there is no need to a new prophet.


According to Morteza Motahari morality should be described in terms of 'how being' and 'how behaving'. How behaving refers to human deeds which consists speaking and how being relates to characters and the evolution of the human spirit.


Motahari also believed that there were great challenges between scientists for knowing the human as a phenomenon and at the same time we can rarely find two philosophers who have common ideas in their approach toward studying humanity.


Motahari thought that the social freedom was not possible and practical without considering spirituality. Motahari defined freedom as nonexistence of obstacles. According to him, obstacles were of two characters. The first one was that obstacle could limit human and besides counted as a something get human not to do something. In simple word, obstacle could has the dignity of limiting and declining humans.the second one is to thing which decline the perception and introspection of subject in terms of knowledge. According to Motahhari, aside from the realization of putting away obstacles we need to give the spirit of freedom. He analyze the concept of freedom as both right and obligation.He believes that the freedom has necessity for human. Human must be free to choose voluntarily his path. He believes that, contrary to liberalists, inborn right has an ultimate for transcending of human beings.

Philosophy of law

Like other men of thought, Motahari thinks that we have to define the concepts first of all. Therefore, he defines right as a dominance or score on something. According to right the human is merit to possess something and other human ought to respect him. Some of rights are such as the right of parents on their children or the rights of husband and wife in relation to each other. Motahari divided the right into two groups. First group is existential rights Or Takwini and the second is religious rights or tashriei. former is a real relation between person and object and the latter determined according to former. He knew the right as a potential score for persons. In fact the right concerned with the priority of somebody on something. He concerned with the question in that is the right and possession predicated on human as such or predicated on human in terms of being in society? He believes that undoubtedly the right existed prior to society.Contrary to John Austin (legal philosopher), Motahari believes that there is a mutual relation between right and responsibility (Haq va Taklif). Motahari believes that the natural law theory is a rational one that is of importance for human kind. According to him, the foundation of natural theory of law is to world has a goal and aim finally. On the basis of principle of having goal, the God creates the world for the sake of human kind and they have potential right to change the world therefore human kind have right prior to introducing in society.

Philosophy of religion

Motahari refers to the concept of Maktab or school when he intends to define the word of religion. According to him maktab is a thoughtful disciplined system including ideology and View in terms of ethics, politics, economy and civil law and etc. Finally, he defines religion as a collection of knowledge bestowed to human for the sake of guiding him and also religion is a collection of beliefs, moralities and individual and collective judgments. Therefore, he knows religion and its teaching as beliefs, moralities and judgments. Also Motahari believes that the domain of religion at all is not limited to life but concerned with after afterlife. He believes that Islam as a religion is consistent with life of human and there is no room for denying it.

Western philosophy

Dariush Shayegan believes that Motahari confused the hegelian thought and Stace's quotations in confronting with Hegel. According to Shaygan since each of Motahari and hegel belong to different paradigms, there is no common world between them.


He considered Marxism as a great threat for youths and revolution of Iran therefore he tried to criticize Marxism along with pioneer figures like shariati. Also his commentary on the book of Mulla Sadra influenced many scholars. Besides, he also emphasized on the social, cultural and historical contingencies of religious knowledge. Motahari argued that if someone compares fatwas belong to different jurists and at the same time considers their lives and states of knowledge then it is clear that the presuppositions of jurists and its knowledge affected their knowledge. According to him, because of this reason, we observe that the fatwa belong to Arab has an Arab flavor and the fatwa belong to non-Arab has an Ajam flavor. Also He tried to compare Quran with nature. He also believed that the contemporary interpretations of Quran were considerable than Ancient rendition of Islam because the future generation has a better understanding of Quran and Also a deeper appreciation of it. But At the same Time he doesn’t believe in epistemological pluralism.


Because of his activities, he was favored by revolutionary people and was hated by anti-revolutionaries group such as Furqan Group. On 1 May 1979 Morteza Motahari was assassinated in Tehran by gunshot by a member of the Furqan Group after leaving a late meeting at the house of Yadollah Sahabi. The group acclaimed the responsibility of the assassination. The alleged assassin was Akbar Goudarzi, who founded the leftist Islamic group.


  • UNESCO Award, 1965.
  • Publications

    He "authored over fifty books, which dealt with theology and philosophy as well as practical issues such as sexual ethics, usury, and insurance", some of which include:


    Morteza Motahhari Wikipedia