‘Allāma’s nights like his days were spent in studying, researching and writing. Only on the day of Ashura [the 10th of Muharram] would he take a break.
He stayed away from useless discussions, futile night gatherings and fruitless visitations, and grieved deeply for lost time.
Sometimes when in the process of researching a topic he would lock himself in a room and not meet anyone unless it was necessary. He considered every moment in a man’s life to be his capital. As a result when ‘Allāma was in Tabriz, he was away from nearly everyone, and spent one season of the year in a village near Tabriz by the name of Shādgān. Preparations for Tafsīr al-Mīzān, reading once through Bihārul Anwār of the late Majlisī (r), and many other research projects in the subject of hadīth and other intellectual problems were carried out during this time.
Ayatullah Ja’far Subhānī
Occasionally Aghā Quddūsī [Allāma Tabātabā’ī’s son-in-law] and I would discuss the cause of [my father’s] success, and the reason behind his progress. He would say, “Aptitude is a very important factor in the progress of an individual. However perseverance also plays a very important role”.
‘Allama had astounding perseverance. He spent many years working hard at his tafsīr, but he never got tired of it. [During this time] he wouldn’t differentiate night from day. From early morning until noon he was occupied with researching and writing. Then after his prayers, a meal, and a short rest, he would once again busy himself with work and activity. This was despite the difficult conditions life dealt him - the spiritual and mental blows one upon the other, the unremitting emotional bereavements, and the family tragedies and difficulties on top of all this. At five years of age his mother, and at nine his father both passed away, and the dust of grief of being an orphan settled deep into his spirit and soul … [not to mention] the difficulties he faced in Najaf and in Tabriz…
Yet when a path is chosen and perseverance is there to help, a man’s weighty duties become easy and simple.
When I was in Najaf I found a math teacher who was only free to teach at 1 in the afternoon. I would walk from one side of the city to the other side in the exhausting afternoons of Najaf. When I arrived at his location my clothes would be so drenched in sweat that I would enter the fountain [to shower], and after some time I would go near the teacher and study math.
Truly heat and cold, fatigue and distress had no meaning for him. This is because he took his work very seriously and had strong determination.