Ayatullah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri, a leading proponent of Muslim unity, passed away today in Tehran. He was 76.
Inna lil Lah-e wa inna ilayh-e raji‘oon (We are from Allah and to Him is our return).
He was admitted to hospital several days ago amid reports that he may have contracted the coronavirus.
Ayatullah Taskhiri developed heart complications in hospital and was to undergo surgery when the news of his death came.
Widely traveled and the author of more than 50 books on a wide range of subjects, Ayatullah Taskhiri was best known as head of Al-Majma at Taqrib bain al Madhahib al-Islamiyyah (The World Forum for the Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought) that brought Muslims from all Schools of Thought onto a common platform.
As Secretary General of this important Islamic unity forum, Ayatullah Taskhiri cultivated close personal links with many leading Islamic scholars from all Schools of Thought in Islam.
Among the scholars and activists that he came to know closely was the late Dr Kalim Siddiqui (d.1996).
Ayatullah Taskhiri attended several of the annual World Seminars in London, England organized by the Muslim Institute under the leadership of Dr Kalim Siddiqui.
He was also advisor to the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Islamic world affairs.
In the 1980s, Ayatullah Taskhiri served as Iran’s representative to the Organization of Islamic Conference (now renamed ‘Organization of Islamic Cooperation’).
One of the founders of the World Assembly of Ahlul Bayt, Ayatullah Taskhiri served as its Secretary General from 1990 to 1999.
He also established the Islamic Culture and Relation Organization in 1995.
However, Ayataullah Taskhiri had to relinquish many of these responsibilities after suffering a massive stroke that left him largely incapacitated.
Born on October 19, 1944 in Najaf, Iraq to a religious family from Tonekabon, one of the western cities of Mazandaran province, his early education was in Najaf.
In his youth, he was active against the Iraqi Ba‘th Party that persecuted religious scholars. He ended in prison and was sentenced to death but through the intervention of senior religious scholars, his life was spared.
He moved to Qum in Iran in 1971 where he continued his studies in Islamic Jurisdiction and other Islamic subjects.
He also composed poetry in the Arabic language.
His wise counsel and sincere struggle for Muslim unity will be greatly missed.