The late Allamah al-Tabataba’i’s fame rests on his academic works—the most important being his great exegesis of the Qur’an, al-Mizan fi tafsir al-Qur’an. It is said to be the foundation stone of the academic prestige which Allamah Tabataba’i was accorded in the Muslim world.

Among his other works is Usul-i-falsafah va ravish-i ri’alism (Practical and Philosophical Principles of Realism). This book is a comparative study of Islamic philosophy and various modern anti-Islamic schools of thoughts, especially Marxism. His disciple, the late Murtadā Mutahharī, annotated this work, thus making it easily accessible to the average man.

A third book, Shi’a dar Islam, was first published in Persian; later it was published in English with the title, Shi’ite Islam. The ʿAllāmah wrote this book on the request of Professor Kenneth Morgan of Colgate University, to introduce Shiism to the West.

However, it is his tafsir al_mizan (published in 20 volumes in Arabic) which presents the true picture of the author’s academic style and his way of thinking. In the preface to English volume 1, the author outlines his plan, to explain the Qur’an with the help of the Qur’an itself. This he faithfully does, all the way through to the end of the tafsir.

God gave us everything when He gave us Allamah Tabataba’i. No words can explain his exhaustive spiritual magnificence. He soared in the heavens at the same time that he carried out his worldly occupations. He was most lenient and soft on us rash and impudent students. He used to accompany us like a tall father who bends, takes his child’s hand in his own, and walks at the child’s pace. He educated and dealt with each of us based on our personal talent, character, penchant, aptitude, and pace, be that fast or slow. His heart was filled with Divine Secrets, yet he had a smiling, cheerful and open face, a silent tongue, and a soft voice. He was constantly in thought; and, occasionally, delicate smiles appeared on his lips.

– Ayatullah Husayni Tihrani, The Shining Sun


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