Some Fond Memories of Allameh Jafari
Now let us take a look at the more practical side of Allameh Mohammad Taghi Jafari. There are a great many anecdotes about him; here are just a few.
When the Congress on Rumi's 700th birthday was being held in Tehran, Allameh Jafari, an Iranian researcher who had studied the Mathnavi a great deal, was – intentionally or unintentionally – not invited (!). We were quite disappointed, but the Allameh said, "Go and attend the lectures. You should go after knowledge, not names of people." I remember that the late Mujtaba Minooee was doubtful in his lecture whether the first verse of the Mathnavi is "Listen to the flute as it complains," or "as it narrates." Later, when I told the Allameh about this with both humor and disappointment, he said, "Mr. Minooee is quite distinguished in lexicology and authenticity of manuscripts. It is not proper for you to ridicule him! If you are upset about my having not been invited, you should not make up for it by disrespecting those who are! Now tell me, did you hear the flute there?" I said no. "Well, if you did," he answered, you would be concerned with neither complaints nor narrations!" I was so overwhelmed that I began to cry. «Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Najafi»
Years ago, heavy rain began pouring in Tehran, and soon all the gutters were flooding the streets. On Ziba Street, near Khorasan Street, some puppies were frightened and cold, and their mother was trying to get them out of the water one by one. The water was so flooded that they were all likely to drown. When Allameh Jafari saw this, he immediately asked the passersby to stop the water so the dog could get her offspring out of the water. The people seemed indifferent, but he shouted and persisted so much that they used a big stick to change the direction the water was flowing, and the puppies were saved.«Mahmoud Ziba»
A while before the Allameh died, I was working on a painting called habl-ollah. When Allameh Jafari saw the painting at my house, he gave me some advice and technical suggestions. Interestingly, when the great master of painting, Mahmoud Farshcian visited me a while later, he gave me exactly the same advice Allameh Jafari had before. «Seyyed Shahin Arab»
I had the honor of being Allameh Jafari's neighbor a few years near Sadeqieh Square. There was also an old blacksmith near us who worked at home. One summer afternoon, I went to talk to the Allameh. He was sitting in his study, studying and writing as usual, and the blacksmith's hammer could be heard pounding on iron next door. "If the noise bother you," I told the Allameh, "I can go and ask him not to make so much noise." "No, don't," the Allameh answered. "When I feel tired of work here, the sound of his hammer warns me, gives me strength. When that old man is still working hard in front of that burning furnace, I tell myself, how can I, sitting here, reading and writing, feel tired? So, the noise is not only not a bother, it even encourages me to go on." «Rasoul Masoudi»
Very few people know that Allameh Jafari was also a poet. He was too modest to admit it to anyone. Once we were at an Ashura ceremony in Keshmir. On the way back, the Allameh recited some beautiful poetry. "Who wrote that?" I asked. He implied that he had written them himself. «Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi»
In the early 1980s, the Global Congress on Imam Reza (P.B.U.H.) was being held in Mashhad, and all participants were given cards to enter the conference hall. One day, the Allameh realized that he had left his card at the hotel. The officials did not let him in. "This is Allameh Jafari," I told them. "He can go in if he has a card," they insisted. I was quite annoyed, but the Allameh said, "It's all right. They're just doing their job." It was noon, and very hot outside. After a lot of arguing, I finally persuaded them to let the Allameh sit inside the building while I go and find his card. I left, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I had no choice but to go and talk to the higher officials of the conference. When he heard about what had happened, he was quite angry with the guards at the door. "Don't you recognize this man?" he scolded them. "Don't get upset," Allameh Jafari said. "They were just doing their jobs." «Javad Muhaqeq»
In 1976, Allameh Jafari took his first trip abroad, visiting universities and other academic centers in Germany. He spoke of the country's outstanding figures like Kant, Planck, Einstein, and Helmholtz. When we arrived at the Berlin Wall, he said, "This wall will fall one day. You cannot half a nation or their culture." «Shahram Taghizadeh Ansari»
The Allameh and I were on a trip to Mazandaran. On the way, I told him I planned to visit one of my relatives, who was quite poor. The Allameh said he would come with me. He treated the family of villagers with such interest and enthusiasm that it seemed he had met a very famous person. When we were going to leave, he took some of the little money he had with him out of his pocket, and put it somewhere in the house without the host knowing anything. «Nematullah Bavand»
Once we were visiting a factory with Allameh Jafari. "A workplace is like a university," he said. "They are both places of worship." When the factory manager was going to pay the taxes Islam requires, the Allameh said, "We must first see how your workers are living." He soon found out that the factory employers were mostly in an unsuitable financial situation, and in debt. "Before you pay God's dues, pay these hardworking people their dues," he told the factory manager. «Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Najafi»
In 1992, one of the Allameh's daughters died. He was supposed to give a speech that day at the Imam Sadiq University, too. His house was full of relatives and friends who had come over to prepare for the funeral. When they were going to call and cancel the speech, the Allameh disagreed. "I've promised to go," he said amidst all the insisting of those around him. He left to be on time for his speech. «Yousef Amirkhizan»
In 1981, I took a group of elementary school students to meet Allameh Jafari. They were so excited that they surrounded him, talking to him, and even climbing up his arms. The Allameh just sat there, leaning against the wall, kindly answering their questions and signing autographs for them. Suddenly I felt the children were making too much noise, and apologized to the Allameh for the inconvenience they were making him. "No, they are not," he said, suddenly looking very serious. "We must give some of our time to these children, even at this age." «Hossein Sa'edi Samiromi»
Whenever Allameh Jafari traveled somewhere, he would find out whether he had any relatives there, and if he did, he would pay them a visit. «Seyyed Rasoul Hosseini»
We often spent nights on the mountainsides with Allameh Jafari and other friends, watching God's beautiful nature in the moonlight. Suddenly, the Allameh would break the silence and say something like, "If we do not correctly, properly use the opportunity of free will God has blessed us with, we might as well be like these beautiful parts of nature, fatalistically mute, going on their compulsory path toward the end." «Alireza Yeganeh»
Sometimes during his lectures at universities or other places, Allameh Jafari quoted from other scholars and writers. Although some quotations were quite new, he always took care to mention the name of the writer. Once, he quoted a sentence from a writer during a speech at a university, but could not remember his name. When he remembered it a few moments later, the Allameh suddenly said, "Oh, thank God, now I can relax."«Mohammad Baqer Jalal»
"The Allameh once told me an interesting story about his first pilgrimage to Mecca.'I was with some friends and scholars, but at the airport in Jeddah I saw some villagers from Maraqeh, Iran, who were quite upset and worried, for they had no clergyman with them to help them out. I asked my traveling companions to excuse me, and joined the villagers. I fact, that was the most enjoyable trip I had to Mecca, for they did not treat me as a scholar, or scientist or anything like that. They simply gathered around me, asked any religious question they had, but they still did the basic things themselves. They even called me sheikh. I felt wonderful being with them, praying with them, and explaining some rituals about Haj to them, without any formalities or pretension." «Dr. Fazl-ullah Salavati»
"It was during the second World War when I decided to go to Najaf via the south of Iran," Allameh Jafari recalls of his trip to Najaf. "I went to the train station several times to get a ticket, but most trains were being used to transport foreign soldiers, and it was really hard to find tickets. One day, I was sitting in a corner in the train station, hoping to get a ticket, when suddenly I saw a tall, thin colonel come to me. I didn't know him, but he said hello. "I've seen you here for the last few days," he said. "What's the problem?" "I want to get a ticket for Khorramshahr, so I can get to Najaf and study there," I replied. "Don't worry," he told me. "I'll get you a ticket." The next day, he did. Soon I was on the train, leaving for Khorramshahr. Suddenly, from the window I saw the colonel and his superior officer coming toward me. They passed me a box of pastries through the window. I thanked them, but they said, "There is only one thing we want you to do for us. When you enter the shrine of Imam Ali (P.B.U.H.), give the Imam our warmest regards and respect." From then on, whenever I went to the Imam's shrine, I could see their faces." «Ali Shafiqnia»
Alal Alfasi was a law professor, great philosopher and leader of the Independence Party in Morocco. In the spring of 1970, he was returning from Mashhad. Although he was the special guest of the Iranian court, he came to visit Allameh Jafari, along with his entourage and Iranian bodyguards. The discussion turned to the contrast between Western and Eastern culture. Allameh Jafari disagreed with the word "contrast," and used the word "global culture." Although still doubtful, Alfasi said, "When the likes of Jafari exist in the world, why not!" «Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Najafi»
The Allameh was invited to deliver a lecture. After the lecture, an important figure who as present there very respectfully asked the Allameh to accept a million tomans as a thanks for the lecture. "I have no need for that money," the Allameh answered. "Please keep it. If someone needing money comes to me, I will give him a letter and guide him to you, and you can pay him."
From then on, people who needed money got letters from the Allameh, and were paid from the one million tomans. The important figure was so overwhelmed by the Allameh's kindness that he added another five million to the amount, and many needy people's problems were solved. «Davoud Ahangaran»
Once, the great Allameh and I were passing the bazaar of Tehran. "This, my son," he told me, "is the place where goods are the highest of ideals and money the axis of all values!"
Soon, we were at the Galubandak intersection, waiting to cross the street. Then we got to a drugstore. The Allameh paused, and looked at the drugstore. "Do you need anything here?" I asked him. "I do," he replied, "but I have no pass to get me in!" Then he took a white piece of paper out of his pocket, crumpled it and put it back inside without showing me what it was, murmured a poem and walked on.
Two days later, I was sitting in his study waiting for the Allameh when I saw the crumpled paper in a corner. I picked it up. It was a prescription the doctor had written for the Allameh's sick wife 12 days before. Then I understood what he meant by not having a pass to get in. He had no money that day. «Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Najafi»