Biography of Haydar Ali Qalmadran (May Allah bless him)


Haydar Ali (Qalmadran) ibn Ismail was born in 1330 AH/1913 AC into a peasant family in a Dizijan, about fifty five kilo meters from Qum. His mother passed away when he was five. Because he could not afford monthly fee, he was unable to enroll in the traditional school run by the wife of district leader who used to teach young ones. He used to stay behind the door to eavesdrop the lessons being taught by the old woman. Once upon a time, he was forced to answer a question to which the pupils could not give answer.  The old woman was happy and allowed him to study in the school with other pupils free of charge.  He was so curious about knowledge that he used to pick and read rough papers on the streets instead of normal books. But his father was hot-tempered; he used to stop him from attending the study circles. His father died when he was fifteen. 
Qalmadran married when he was thirty-year old. And when he became well versed in knowledge and culture, he began to contribute in various journals, namely istiwar and sirjishmah published in Qum, and wazifah published in Tehran daily. Also the yagmah journal used to publish his invaluable poems and articles. Likewise the al-Hikmah journal used to publish articles on Jurisprudence. Both Ayah Allah talikani and Engineer Bazrikani were regular contributors in the same journal. 
Qalmadran was fond of reading and research in Islamic books right from his childhood. As teenage, he started writing poem and became a major columnist in a number of magazines in Qum, Tehran. He also taught in schools in Qum, where he wrote articles in defense of Islamic teachings. Beside this, he used to call for reform, charging Muslims to wake up to their responsibilities. 
When the bureau of culture in Qum published an article critically condemning Islamic dress, vein, he wrote a rejoinder to debunk the content of such article. His rejoinder was published by Istiwar. The rejoinder infuriated head of the bureau in Qum that he threatened to sack him. But  Qalmadran said:  then I sought an audience and addressed the people. I replied his ridiculous speech and frail threats and thus the meeting came to an end after my talk. As a result, he could not do anything. Instead, he was transferred to another state. 
His Contemporaries.
1. Shaykh Muhammad (al-Khalisi) is one of the prominent scholars in Iraq. Qalmdran knew al-Khalisi after his translation of “al-Ma’arif al-Muhammadiyyah”. The relationship continued after the translation of another book “al-Islam Sabil al-Sa’adah wa al-Salam”, “Ihya al-Shari’ah” in three volumes, and other works by al-Khalisi. This cultural works led to exchange of correspondence and meeting between them. Shaykh al-Khalisi was highly influenced by Qalmdran’s illuminating and reform thoughts. This can be perceived in the works published by the latter. Also, we could notice this in his introduction to the book “Armagan Asman= tuhfat al-Sama” by Qalmdran, when he said: A youth like Haydar ‘Ali Qalmdran in a period of  unawareness and ignorance of Muslims; a period when Muslims have neglected the Islamic teachings; a period of ignorance- this youth considers it his duty to explain and disseminate facts about Islam with bravery, not fearing ignorant people. How else can we appreciate this great favour ?! The author was influenced by Shi’ah reformer Ayah Allah Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi al-Khalisi (May Allah please with him). He translated most of the latter’s works into French language. However, he was more open and tolerant than this Shi’ah figure; he even disregarded some of Imamiyyah consensus in certain issues, like his condemnation of payment of fifth-percentage of incomes and profits. Also, he denied that the twelve Imams are recognized by the prophet (SAW), saying that they are at best, saints and scholars and the most notable figures in their time. On this, he wrote his famous  book “Tariq al-Huda”, after which some ignorant people attempted his life in two failed assassination attempts. He also held that there is no basis for an absent, unseen Imam; he cannot return back. No one has an absolute immunity except the messenger of Allah with his divine mission. In his study of history of grave visitation in Islam, he held that it is wrong to build dome and erect tomb on graves of the pious, like prophet’s family and their children, thereby people pay homage to them, circumambulate around them and  pray unto them. He considered this practice a form of polytheism in worship. Hence he wrote his book: “ bahth hawl ziyarah al-muzaraat. In one of his journeys to cities in Iraq, especially in Karbala,  Qalmadran met scholars like Kashif al-Gita and Hibbah Allah al-Sharastani, author of “al-Hayhah wa al-Islam”. Both are of great scholars for Shi’ah twelve Imams. He closely knew them. He used to send correspondence to al-Khalisi and sometimes to al-Sharastani to discuss some theological issues.
2. Engineer Mahdi (Bazrakan). Qalmadran himself gave account of how he met engineer Bazrakan: when I was standing in the street between the village and the city of Qum waiting for a bus which conveyed certain group of people, and I was reading a book to invest in my time lest I wasted it, a car passed before carrying a lot of people. Then the car stopped and moved back to stop before. The people inside the car asked me to join them. While in the car I discovered that among the passengers there was somebody called engineer Bazrakan, the first Iraninan prime minister after the revolution. Then he was the head of oil company in (1370 AH or 1371 AH). He had just returned from Abadan for an official issue relating to oil. He (Bazrakan) told me that he was highly surprised to have seen somebody from village to have been so preoccupied with reading while waiting for the bus. This occasion is the sole reason why there is so much affection and love between, so much that Bazrakan benefitted a lot from and consulted his (Qalmadran) book, namely “al-hukumah fi al-Islam” to write his own book, entitled “al-bi’thah al-ideologiyyah”. Bazrakan was also impressed with the book “Armagan Asman=Risalah al-Sama’” authored by Qalmadran that he described it as Dr. Al- al-Shar’ati. And when Qalmadran was released from the prison, engineer Barzakan visited him four times at his house in Qum.
3. Dr. Ali Shari’ati. He saw the book “Armagan Ilahi”,  by Qalmadran. And when he heard from researchers, thinkers and university lecturers about his other books like Armagan Asman, he was influenced by illuminating and reform thoughts of Qalmadran. He then sent a number of letters from Paris to him. And when Dr. Shari’ati returned to Iran, he told Dr. Ukhrawi, one of his friends, that Qalmadran had a lot of impact on my thought and I would like to meet him. Could you facilitate this meeting? But Dr. Shari’ati died without actualizing his goal. 
4. Murtadha (Mathari). He was one of Qalmadran’s admirers. But because he feared people criticism, he did not establish any relationship with Qalmadran. As confirmed by Qalmandran himself confirmed that one day, Mathari told him when they met at one of the streets, that: I read Armaqdan Asman and I found it an interesting book. 
His Assassination and Other Tragedies of His Life
When he published his book: Tariqh al-Itihad (Dirasah Nusus al-Imamah) shortly before the Revolution, Shaykh Murtadha Ahiri the son of Ayah Allah Shaykh AbdulKarim al-Ahiri, the founder of the al-Hawzah al-Ilimiyyah (Scientific Holding) in Qum, sent a man to Qalmadran requesting him to visit his house. When he got to the house of al-Ahiri, the latter  asked him (Qalmadran): you are the author of the book Nusus al-Imamah? Qalmadran replied: I would  not say I did not write it ! But my name is not written on the book. Ahiri told him: you may be killed for writing this kind of book ! Qalmadran  replied: that would more happily for me, to be killed before of my conviction. Al-Ahiri told him: if you could gather all the available copies in the   market  and put them in the ground or burn them. Qalmadran replied: I could not do this, because somebody had also published and distributed the book. Unless if you Could purchase all the copies and burn them. But, (know that) million copies of books would be printed for socialist propaganda. Why don’t you stop those books and their authors as well?!  
Few months after the Revolution of Khomeini, precisely in the night, 20th of blessed Ramadan, when Qalmadran was in his birth place where he usually stayed during Ramadan period, an hired assassin, sent by some ignorant people, intruded into his house in the mid night and attempted to kill him while asleep, and ran away.  But despite the close distance, the bullet could only hit the outer part of his neck, forcefully entering through to the next room. 
It was reported from Qalmadran that a day before the incidence, a man from Qum had asked him about his views and personal convictions and his book. 
It is clear that his two books al-Khams and Tariq al-Itihad are responsible for this attempt on his life. Anyway, Allah did not destine that he be killed during that event. Afterwards, he used to visit the village and carry on his usual activities.
The attempted murder happened thus: three or four people riding a car, entered the village on  the 20th of Ramadan during the night. They parked the car in a bridge on standby ready to move. In the mid-night, two of them entered the house of Qalmandran hiding inside the flower garden. The children of Qalmadran used to lock the door from inside tightly. But they were surprised to notice that the door was open. However, they were not alert of an impending danger. While in the mid-night when the attackers felt that everyone in the house has slept, one of the attackers entered the bed room of Qalmadran with a lamp and a pistol. His wife had been exhausted and was unable to sleep that night. And when she observed that attacker, she thought that it was Ali, her son. She called : Ali ! Hearing this, the attacker was afraid and hurriedly fired at Qalmadran and ran out. The wife was screaming and could not say a word because of shock.
Also, the children were screaming when they heard of shooting, saying: they have killed Al-haj. Later people gathered and took Qalmadran to Kamkara hospital in Qum. After some days, a young man who appeared like a student came asking about Qalmadran. The son of Qalmadran escorted him until he entered one of Scientific Holdings at Yakhjal Qadi in Qum.  
Another tragic incidence that had impact on Qalmadran was the death of one his children in 1360 SH/1399 AH. He was bitterly sad about this incident that he suffered from a stroke.  He was unable to write. But he did not stop reading as much as possible. 
Another sorrowful incident is when he was jailed in Sahel prison in Qum. He talked about this occasion: When I was lying on my sick bed as a result of stroke, two men came from Revolutionary court. They arrested me on account that I opposed the Revolution movement. They took me with my books to prison. They did not allow me to take my drugs which I actually needed. I was suffering from serious ailments that I could not control my urine. I was administered with special apparatus available in crucial places. While in the prison, I was left with a small inner wear. The louvers in the room have been broken and I was subjected to harsh cold till day break. In fact, I could not have my launch because fellow prisoners had taken away the food. It was one of them that gave me some left-over food. Based on this, I decided to fast the next day. 
My children went to Ayah Allah al-Muntaziri who was then deputy of al-Khomeini(it must be noted that there was a long relationship between Qalmadran and al-Munatziri. Qalmadran himself said: Ayah Allah al-Muntaziri was using my book: (al-Hukumah fi al-Islam) in teaching in Najaf Abad Isbahan). In the morning, I saw some Revolutionary guards enter the prison reluctantly. They apologized and took me out of the prison. They contacted my children and asked them to bring some cloth for me. They (my children) signed letter of undertaking and released me.
Imagine, were it not for Allah’s mercy, then a good relationship between him and Ayah Allah al-Munatizir, how the Revolution and its guards would have treated him ! 
It must be mentioned that the bureau of culture in Qum organized an exhibition called  (al-Mujahidat al-Samitah) and displayed some of Qalmadran’s books as if those books contain some deviating thoughts and convictions. They also displayed some documents against Ayah Allah al-Munatizir.     
His Sublime Characters and Freedom
He (may Allah bless him) was throughout his life trustworthy, virtuous, honest, devoted, ascetic, courageous, generous and straight-forward. Those who knew him respected him and acknowledged that he was a great man, modest, distant from eye-services and social mannerism, and was not obsessed about food and cloth; as though he emulated past scholars of Islam. His life was like theirs and the leaders of Ummah.
Although given his popularity, he could exert his influence to get government top posts and enrich himself and his family, but his asceticism prevented him from trading his knowledge and piety for pretext, superstitions, and falsehood that are prevalent in Iranian environment. Rather, he was steadfast with the truth and rejected insignificant material wealth. What a huge success ! 
His Scholarship Heritage
Besides his many articles published in a number of newspapers and magazines, he was able to produce an invaluable Books; he originally wrote some while he translated others from Arabic to French. All are highly precious. Some of them are:
  1. Translation of “al-Ma’arif al-Muhammadiyyah’ (The wisdoms of Prophet Mohammad) by al-Khalisi. This is one of books by al-Khalisi. It had been translated and published earlier before 1335 (Iranian Calendar)
  2. Translation of “Ihyau al-Shari’ah” (Revival of Shari’ah) by al-Khalisi. The author explained some jurisprudential issues. Qalmadran translated and published it under the title: “Aiyin Jawidan”.
  3. “Aiyin din ya Ahkam Islam”, the translated version of “al-Islam sabil al-Sa’adah wa al-Salam”(Islam: The path to Happiness and Peace ). This book is also authored by al-Khalisi. Qalmadran translated and published it in 1376 AH.
  4. The book “Armagan= Risalah al-Sama” became popular in 1961 CE. Qalmadran had published it earlier in his series of articles published in the magazine “al-Wazifah”.
  5. “Armagan Ilahi’. It deals with the importance of Juma’ah prayer. This book was a translated version of “al-Juma’at” authored by al-Khalisi.
  6. A Treatise: “al-Haj aw al-Mu’tamar al-Islami al-Azim”(Haj or the Grand Islamic Conference), 1362 AH.
  7. A treatise: “al-Istimlak fi Iran min wijhat al-Nadhar al-Islami”. He wrote this book with his handwriting. It remains unpublished until the present.
  8. Qiyam al-Imam al-Husain (Peace upon him).
  9. The first chapter in a valuable book entitled : “Hukumat Dar Islam= al-Hukumah fi al-Islam”. It studies importance of governance and how it should be established in 68 themes. In Iran, nobody has ever written something similar to this book. Till the present, the book is unrivalled in Iranian academic settings.   Qalmadran was reported to have said: Ayah Allah al-Muntaziri used to use this book in his teaching activities in Najaf Abad Isbahan before the Khomeini Revolution. Qalmadran explained the rationale behind writing this book, saying: I saw in a dream in the night of Monday, 27th Muharram 1384 AH that I was in the circle of some brothers in Karbala. It appeared as if Husein died and I was assigned to bathe his corpse with the help of other brothers. I was ready and intended to perform ablution before anything. Then I woke up from sleep. I interpreted this dream as an indication that I would later cleanse Islam from superstitions and illusions by the book and others. And that I would present a real picture of Islam to the people. Thanks for this blessing, I observed mid-night prayer. Praise to Allah. In the morning, I began writing the book. At that time I was at a village called Dirzijan during the summer holiday.   
  10. A treatise “Hal Ahulai Muslimun?” (Are these people Muslims?) This pamphlet is a translation of al-Khlaisi’s will written while in the hospital in 1377 AH. He had dictated it to his scribe and it was published entitled: “Hal Ahulai Muslimun?”. It also consists of a small treatise entitled: “Iran Dar Atsh Nadani= Iran fi Nar al-Jahl”. It is a translation of selected topics in one al-Khalisi’s book entitled: “Sharr was fitnah al-jahl fi Iran” (Evil and Spell of Ignorance in Iran).
  11. A collection “Rau najat Az Sharr Gilat= Tariq al-Najat min Sharr al-Gulat” in five volumes comprising of the following themes: (1) ‘Ilm al-Ghayb [Knowledge of Unseen ], (2) al-Imamah [Religious Leadership], (3) Bahth fi al-Wilayah wa haqiqatuha[A Study on custodianship and its concept] (not published), (4) Bahth fi al-Shafa’ah [A Study on Intercession], (5) Bahth fi al-Guluww wa al-Gulat [A Study on extremism and extremists] (printed in Bahth fi al-Shafa’ah), (6) Bahth fi haqiqah al-Ziyarah wa Imarah al-Maqabir [A Study on the concept of grave yard visitation and construction] (it was published under the title “al-Ziyarah wa ziyara tanamah”. And it was printed with old printing system in about fifteen copies and distributed among the admirers of Qalmadran only. 
  12. Kitab al-Zakat. It was published with the help of Engineer Bazrakan in a share-holding company. But the religious authority banned the book from distribution for some time. 
  13. Kitab al-Khams. Qalmadran authored this book after the earlier one Kitab al-Zakat. This book was not published because holding-companies and Shi’ah scholars were sensitive towards the subject-matter of the book. But some of his colleagues had copied the book in Isfahan and distributed it. Ayah Allah (Nasir Makarim Shirazi) and (Rida Istidadi) and others wrote rejoinders to this invaluable book. Qalmadran collected these rejoinders and compiled them with Kitab al-Khams.
  14. “Kitab Shahara itihad= Tariq al-Itihad” It is known that Shi’ah used to easily explode whenever there is a discussion on Imamah. This book comprises of themes on Imamah and other issues after the death of the Prophet (SAW), like gathering of the Companions at Saqifah bani Sas’idah and the issue of Khilafah and Imamah.  This book was published by some colleagues of Qalmadran.  
  15. Zabi’h Allah Mahallati one of people belonging to Shi’ah school of thought, wrote  few years before the Khomeini Revolution, a treatise entitled: “Darb Shamshir bir munkar gadir= Darbah al-Sayf ‘ala munkar al-Ghadir”. He included in this book some false themes that contradict the truth and reason. As a response, Qalmadran wrote a rejoinder entitled: “Yasikh yak dahahti bih Ayah Allah Mahalati= Jawab min rojul qarowiyy ila Ayah Allah al-Mahalati”.
  16. The second chapter in the book: “al-Hukumah fi al-Islam”. He studied duties of Islamic government and Muslim governor.
  17. A treatise “Sunnah al-Rasul min ‘itrah al-Rasul (SAW)” 
` These are some works of Qalmadran. It must be mentioned apart from those translated works, articles and religious researches in defense of Islam, Qalmadran delivered some sermons and religious and cultural studies in Tehran. (Mosque of Kazr Daftar Ayam Allah al-Barqai’) and in Tebrizi and Isbahan. He also delivered some important sermon at grave yard of al-Husain  in Karbala when he visited the place. This sermon was published in the book: “Ziyarat wa ziyaratanamah”. 
This great man, Qalmadran, died on Friday, 29th Ramadan, 1409 AH at the age of 76 after a devoted life of Islamic propagation, challenging innovation and superstitions prevalent in his society. He was buried afternoon of that day in funeral ceremony attended by his friends and students. It was a modest ceremony free of all sort of innovations rampant in Iranian society. The funeral prayer was led by Shaykh al-Muwahhid Mustapha Husaini Tabatibani.
May Allah be pleased with him and other pious callers to Islam.