‘Allamah Tabataba’i was one of those rare teachers who acquainted his students with the whisperings of life and the fountain of knowledge, but at the same time trained them with the light of love and self-purification…We have had and have many teachers; individuals who have many students. However every teacher does not guide and train his students. These are two categories separate from each other [ie. Teaching and guiding]. Some teachers teach for many years and concentrate only on imparting knowledge. ‘Allamah Tabataba’i however, at the very same time that he taught his students, he brought them up as well, and day by day made them more accomplished.
Ustad Reza Ustadi
What can I say about someone to whom I owe my life and my soul? From the time that God gifted him to us, he favored us with everything.
To us rash and rude students, he was gentle and tender. He was like a tall father who bends to take the hand of his child, and walks in step with him. He walked with and trained each of us according to our individual style, taste and varying aptitude. Even though divine secrets swelled in his luminous heart, he had a cheerful open and relaxed face, a silent tongue and gentle voice. He was always in a state of thought, and would occasionally have a tender smile on his lips.
Professor Corbin was an inquisitive French university student from the Sorbonne University of Paris. According to ‘Allamah Tabataba’i he was a simple-hearted and just man who believed that among the religions of the world it was only Shi’ism that was a mobile and live sect. All other religious sects had completed their lifespan and no longer allowed for their followers to have expectation (taraqqub) and attain greater stages of perfection.
Professor Corbin’s relationship with ‘Allamah Tabataba’i began in the year 1968, and continued for 20 years. Corbin saw ‘Allamah’s precise vision and sharp-sightedness as potentially powerful and influential in the West and in Europe, and therefore carried out interviews with him. His goal was that the voice of Islam and Shi’ism should reach the ears of that part of the world so that they might too become aware of this knowledge that was intrinsic to the soul necessary for the growth of the soul. Eventually these interviews were published in four languages: Farsi, Arabic, French and English and compiled in a book by the name of Shi’a.
‘Allamah’s meetings with Corbin required a great deal of effort and struggle on his part, as he was forced to travel from Qum to Tehran by public bus so that he could talk about the truths of Shi’ism and introduce the true face of the concept of the possessor of the greatest sanctity (wilayat) to him. But it quickly became clear that these efforts were in fact of great service to Shi’ism because Corbin recorded these meetings and made them available in Europe, spreading the truth of Shi’ism and even supporting and defending the religion through his own speeches and conferences.
Corbin was of the opinion that because Shi’ism believes in the existence of a living Imam, it is the only religious sect that it is still alive. This is because the belief and reliance on Hazrat Mahdi (as) will always remain established. The Jewish faith died with the death of Hazrat Musa (as), the Christian one with the ascension of Hazrat Isa (as). All other sects of Islam also came to a dead-end with the death of Hazrat Muhammad (S), whereas Shi’ism maintained that the authority, Imam and possessor of Wilayat who is connected with the spiritual world and receives Divine guidance is alive, and therefore Shi’ism itself remained alive as a religion.
In this way Corbin himself was very close to Shi’ism and as a result of his interaction and discussions with ‘Allamah Tabataba’i and his acquaintance with these truths, especially that of Hazrat Mahdi (as), an intense metamorphosis was apparent in him.
‘Allamah Tabataba’i used to say “he (Corbin) frequently recites supplications from Sahifaye Mehdiwiyye and cries as he does so”.