Home Biography A Journey of Life and Giving: Birth and Childhood (Part I)

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah:
"A Journey of Life and Giving" Part I

   19 Shaaban 1354H/1935 (A.D.) marked the blessed birth of His Eminence, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah. He was born in the capital of knowledge and religious sciences, An-Najaf Al-Ashraf, in Iraq. He is the pedigree of a religious family that historically descends from Mecca Al-Mukarramma. His father is Ayatullah, Sayyed Abdul Raouf Fadlullah, who lived  in An-Najaf for about 30 years to study and teach, and who was also the son of the Grand Religious Authority of Jabal Amel, Sayyed Najib-Eddin (1863H.1916 A.D.).

His father was his first teacher and educator who left his mark on the Sayyed's personality. Sayyed Abdul Raouf Fadlullah was known for his sense of dignity and pride, as well as the qualities that safeguarded him and constituted a barrier against any kind of compromise in the religious domain, where a person finds himself obliged to change his stances and beliefs to get something else in return; something that never occurred to him and that is why he was burdened with debts.

In that atmosphere of harsh conditions, His Eminence was raised. It is said that his parents were so poor that when he got sick, he used to be taken to a traditional doctor in the neighborhood instead of the hospital. He recalled that when he was stricken with the measles, it took him months to recover.

Thus, as the eldest among his five brothers and five sisters, his childhood was characterized with both poverty and hard weather conditions, as well as by the atmosphere of faith, piety, and religious knowledge.

The house he was born in was in a dark alley. It consisted of three rooms and a small kitchen. In the courtyard of the house, there was a small salty pond. Besides, the house also contained a narrow and cold basement that the dwellers ran to from the intolerable heat, while at night they used to sleep on the roof of the house, because it was cooler than the inside.

The cloak was the traditional costume at the time, and the dim lantern was the only source of light available, because there was no electricity.

As for playing and having fun, the street and the narrow lanes were the only places available for him. However, he used to go on a picnic with his father. They used to visit a spring of water in An-Najaf, a branch of the Euphrates where the green orchards spread. Such visits took place either once a month or once in two months on Thursdays or Fridays. They also used to go to Al-Kufa that is famous for its location on the great Euphrates River, knowing that the only means of transport of the time was the wagon.

During that time, the Sayyed was eager for knowledge. He used to go to the holy Alawite courtyard where he could watch the mourning processions of Ashura… The most effective and painful scene he witnessed was people hitting their heads with knives and spilling their blood. It was so painful and filled him with sadness and other strong feelings that unconsciously transformed him into a sensitive poet.

The environment of An-Najaf imposed itself on his childhood. It is paradoxical; it was a closed environment, while the Sayyed's personality was open. In fact, that closed environment did not know that from it a great talented religious authority would be born and would leave his mark in the future.