Morteza Motahhari
Head of Council of the Islamic Revolution
In office
12 January 1979 – 1 May 1979
Appointed byRuhollah Khomeini
Succeeded byMahmoud Taleghani
Personal details
Born(1919-01-31)31 January 1919
Fariman, Sublime State of Persia
Died1 May 1979(1979-05-01) (aged 60)
Tehran, Iran
Cause of deathGunshot Wound
Resting placeFatima Masumeh Shrine, Qom
Political party
Children7, including Ali Motahhari
Theological work
DenominationTwelver Shīʿā
Main interestsIslamic philosophy
Years active1944–1979
Alma materQom Seminary
University of Tehran
Taught atUniversity of Tehran

Morteza Motahhari (Persian: مرتضی مطهری, also Romanized as "Mortezā Motahharī"; 31 January 1919[3] – 1 May 1979) was an Iranian Twelver Shia scholar, philosopher, lecturer. Motahhari is considered to have an important influence on the ideologies of the Islamic Republic, among others.[4] He was a co-founder of Hosseiniye Ershad and the Combatant Clergy Association (Jāme'e-ye Rowhāniyat-e Mobārez). He was a disciple of Ruhollah Khomeini during the Shah's reign and formed the Council of the Islamic Revolution at Khomeini's request. He was chairman of the council at the time of his assassination.[5]


Early life

Motahhari was born in Fariman. The year of birth is uncertain; with some sources giving 1919 and others giving it as 1920.[6] He attended the Hawza of Qom from 1944 to 1952 and then left for Tehran.[7] His grandfather was an eminent religious scholar in Sistan province and since he traveled with his family to Khorasan Province, there is little information about his origin as Sistanian.[8] His father Shaykh Mohammad Hosseini was also an eminent figure in his village, Fariman, who was respected by the people. He was considered as one of the pupils of Akhund Khorasani and besides he was admired by Ayatollah Mara'shi Najafi.[9]


At the age of 5, Morteza Motahhari went to school without informing his parents. By the age of twelve he learned the preliminary Islamic sciences from his father. He also went to the seminary of Mashhad and studied for two years there in the school of Abd ul-Khan along with his brother. But his studies remained unfinished in Mashhad seminary because of problems faced by his family which obliged him to return to Fariman to help them.[10]

According to Motahhari's own account, in this period he could study a great number of historical books. It was in this period that he was confronted with questions on worldview such as the problem of God. He considered Agha Mirza Mahdi Shahid Razavi as an eminent master in rational sciences. He decided to go to Qom in 1315 (Solar Hijri calendar).[11]

He finally took up residence in the school of Feyzieh in Qom. He studied the books Kifayah and Makaseb in Shia jurisprudence under the instruction of Ayatollah Sayyed Mohaqeq Yazdi popularly known as Damad. He also participated in the lectures of Hojjat Kooh Kamarehei and sought knowledge from Sadr al-Din al-Sadr, Mohammad Taqi Khansari, Golpaygani, Ahmad Khansari and Najafi Marashi.[11]

When Ayatollah Boroujerdi emigrated to Qom, Motahari could take part in his courses on Principles of Jurisprudence. Ayatollah Montazeri was his classmate in this period.[11]

Later, Motahhari emigrated to Isfahan because of hot climate of Qom. There he became familiar with Haj Ali Agha Shirazi who was the teacher of Nahj al-Balagha in 1320 (Solar Hijri calendar) whom Motahhari always described with honor.[11] Later, he joined the University of Tehran, where he taught philosophy for 22 years. Between 1965 and 1973 he also gave regular lectures at the Hosseiniye Ershad in Northern Tehran.

Motahhari wrote several books on Islam, Iran, and historical topics. His emphasis was on teaching rather than writing. However, after his death, some of his students worked on writing down his lectures and publishing them as books. As of the mid-2008, the "Sadra Publication" published more than sixty volumes by Motahhari. Nearly 30 books were written about Motahhari or quoted from his speeches.

Morteza Motahhari opposed what he called groups who "depend on other schools, especially materialistic schools" but who present these "foreign ideas with Islamic emblems". In a June 1977 article he wrote to warn "all great Islamic authorities" of the danger of "these external influential ideas under the pretext and banner of Islam." It is thought he was referring to the People's Mujahideen of Iran and the Furqan Group.[12]

Motahhari was the father-in-law of Iran's former secretary of National Security Council Ali Larijani.[13] It was by Motahari's advice that Larijani switched from computer science to Western Philosophy for graduate studies.

A major street in Tehran formerly known as Takhte Tavoos (Peacock Throne) was renamed after him. Morteza Motahari Street connects Sohrevardi Street and Valiasr Street, two major streets in Tehran.

Activities during the Islamic revolution

During the struggle with Shah's regime, Morteza Motahhari contributed in creating new Islamic discourses.[14] Besides, he was among those who had discussed the conditions of Marja' after the death of Ayatollah Broujerdi. He wrote the book Mutual services of Iran and Islam in such a [clarification needed]condition. Also his works had an important impact on expanding the movement of religious reform in early days of revolution. His works primarily consisted of traditional Islamic and Shia thoughts.[15] He wrote an essay about revitalization of religious thought in the occasion. Writing the "need for Candidness in religious leadership", he aimed to show the youth the attractiveness of Islam.[16][17]


Morteza Motahhari expressed his opinions in different majors and disciplines such as philosophy, religion, economic, politics, etc. Motahhari and Shariati were counted as two prominent figures during Islamic revolution of Iran. He emphasized on Islamic democracy for suitable political structure.[18]

Motahhari also recognized fitra as the truth of human. According to him, fitra is a permanent and unchangeable quality in human nature. In fact, he believed that fitra played the role of a mediator in God-human beings relation. Also, he believed that Imam was a perfect man who shows the high rank of human spirituality. Imam also is characterized as a religious leader. His lengthy footnote on the "book of principles of philosophy and method of realism" by Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i was against the historical Marxism.[19] Also he believed that Wali-e faqih only had the right of supervisory not governing.[20] He also maintained that the ruling was one of the political aspect of Imam in society.[21] He maintained that there was no conflict between science and religion since he believed that Science qua science had no conflict and challenge with metaphysics. He believed that the quasi-conflict between science and religion was in terms of their language not themselves.[22]


Motahhari also expressed views on development and relevant ideology. According to him, freedom, culture and mental-cultural revolution are principles of development. He also refers to some elements for characterizing a developed society. These factors are independence, knowledge and transcendence. Also, according to Motahhari, development originates from cultural self-reliance, purification of cultural sources and logical and cautious communication with west. Motahhari believed in the development of human resources but he also thought that economy was not an aim but only is a condition for development.[18]


As outlined by Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari in 1975, the phrase 'equal rights' means something different from what is commonly understood by western world. He clarified that men and women were innately different and therefore enjoyed different rights, duties and punishments.[23]


Motahhari believed that the eternality of Islam is provided by Fiqh. He thought that fiqh along with the character of ijtihad could be an important thing for confronting with the problem of different times and places. Using ijtihad, there is no need to a new prophet.[20]


Motahhari defined freedom as nonexistence of obstacles. According to him, obstacles were of two characters. The first one was that obstacle could limit human and besides counted as a something get human not to do something. In simple word, obstacle could has the dignity of limiting and declining humans. The second one is to thing which decline the perception and introspection of subject in terms of knowledge. According to Motahhari, aside from the realization of putting away obstacles we need to give the spirit of freedom. He analyze the concept of freedom as both right and obligation. He believes that the freedom has necessity for human. Human must be free to choose voluntarily his path. He believes that, contrary to liberalists, inborn right has an ultimate for transcending of human beings.[24]

Philosophy of law

Like other men of thought, Motahhari thinks that we have to define the concepts first of all. Therefore, he defines right as a dominance or score on something. According to right the human is merit to possess something and other human ought to respect him. Some of rights are such as the right of parents on their children or the rights of husband and wife in relation to each other. Motahhari divided the right into two groups. First group is existential rights or takwini and the second is religious rights or tashriei. former is a real relation between person and object and the latter determined according to former. He knew the right as a potential score for persons. In fact the right concerned with the priority of somebody on something. He concerned with the question in that is the right and possession predicated on human as such or predicated on human in terms of being in society? He believes that undoubtedly the right existed prior to society. Contrary to John Austin (legal philosopher), Motahhari believes that there is a mutual relation between right and responsibility (Haq va Taklif). Motahhari believes that the natural law theory is a rational one that is of importance for human kind. According to him, the foundation of natural theory of law is to world has a goal and aim finally. On the basis of principle of having goal, the God creates the world for the sake of human kind and they have potential right to change the world therefore human kind have right prior to introducing in society.[25]

Philosophy of religion

Motahhari refers to the concept of 'maktab' or school when he intends to define the word of religion. According to him maktab is a thoughtful disciplined system including ideology and View in terms of ethics, politics, economy and civil law, etc. Finally, he defines religion as a collection of knowledge bestowed to human for the sake of guiding him and also religion is a collection of beliefs, moralities and individual and collective judgments. Therefore, he knows religion and its teaching as beliefs, moralities and judgments. Also Motahhari believes that the domain of religion at all is not limited to life but concerned with after afterlife. He believes that Islam as a religion is consistent with life of human and there is no room for denying it.[26]

Western philosophy

Dariush Shayegan believes that Motahhari confused the Hegelian thought and Stace's quotations in confronting with Hegel. According to Shaygan since each of Motahhari and Hegel belong to different paradigms, there is no common world between them.[27]


He considered Marxism as a great threat for youths and revolution of Iran therefore he tried to criticize Marxism along with pioneer figures like Ali Shariati. Also his commentary on the book of Mulla Sadra influenced many scholars. Besides, he also emphasized on the social, cultural and historical contingencies of religious knowledge. Motahhari argued that if someone compares fatwas belong to different jurists and at the same time considers their lives and states of knowledge then it is clear that the presuppositions of jurists and its knowledge affected their knowledge. According to him, because of this reason, we observe that the fatwa belong to Arab has an Arab flavor and the fatwa belong to non-Arab has an Ajam flavor. Also He tried to compare Quran with nature. He also believed that the contemporary interpretations of Quran were considerable than Ancient rendition of Islam because the future generation has a better understanding of Quran and Also a deeper appreciation of it. But at the same Time he doesn't believe in epistemological pluralism.[28]


Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Giving Speech in Anniversary of Morteza-Motahari
Ali Larijani giving a speech on Motahhari's commemoration (2 February 2020)

On 1 May 1979 Morteza Motahhari was assassinated in Tehran by gunshot after leaving a late meeting at the house of Yadollah Sahabi.[29] The Furqan Group claimed responsibility for the assassination.[29] The alleged assassin was the group's founder, Akbar Goudarzi.[30]

Teachers' Day (Motahrai's death)

On the occasions of Morteza Motahari's death (assassinated by Forqan Group), 12-Ordibehesht (the second month of the Solar Hijri calendar) has been named at the calendar of Islamic Republic of Iran as "Teachers' Day".[31][32][33] An honoring of "Teachers' Day" is held annually in Iran for a week.[34]


In 1346, due to the establishment of Hosseinieh Ershad and with the insistence of his friends to get closer to Hosseinieh, he moved to Dolat Street, Gholhak neighborhood. During his 9 years of residence in this house (from 1346 to 1355), which had the longest time compared to the rest of his years of residence in Tehran, he wrote most of his works in this house. The house is built on two floors, on the first floor of which are the manuscripts and personal belongings of Shahid Motahari and on the second floor are the books of that martyr. The Shahid Motahari Museum was established in 2007. Identifying, collecting, organizing, introducing and preserving the works of the master is one of the main goals of becoming a museum of this historical house. Providing a suitable space and environment for researchers who intend to study the works of Master Motahhari has also been one of the reasons for reading the second floor of this house. Holding seminars and meetings on the subject of the master's works is one of the most important group programs of this museum house, which is held several times during the year.[35]



Main article: Morteza Motahhari bibliography

He "authored over fifty books, which dealt with theology and philosophy as well as practical issues such as sexual ethics, usury, and insurance",[37] some of which include:

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ Rahnema, Ali (20 February 2013) [15 December 2008]. "JAMʿIYAT-E MOʾTALEFA-YE ESLĀMI i. Hayʾathā-ye Moʾtalefa-ye Eslāmi 1963-79". Encyclopædia Iranica. Fasc. 5. Vol. XIV. New York City: Bibliotheca Persica Press. pp. 483–500. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  2. ^ R. Michael Feener (2004), Islam in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, ABC-CLIO, p. 89, ISBN 9781576075166
  3. ^ "IICHS - Institute for Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies".
  4. ^ Manouchehr Ganji (2002). Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-275-97187-8. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  5. ^ Debating Muslims Michael M. J. Fischer, Mehdi Abedi
  6. ^ Dabashi, Hamid (28 July 2017). Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundation of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Routledge. ISBN 9781351472357.
  7. ^ Kasra, Nilofar. "Ayatollah Morteza Motahari". IICHS. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  8. ^ اولین همایش مطهری سیستانی در زابل Archived 23 May 2019 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Nasri 1386, pp. 5–6
  11. ^ a b c d Nasri, Abdollah (1386). Life's outcome: A survey of Morteza Motahari's Ideas. daftere Nashre Farhang. pp. 5–10.
  12. ^ Davari, Mahmood T. (1 October 2004). The Political Thought of Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari: An Iranian Theoretician of the Islamic State. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203335239.
  13. ^ Sohrabi, Naghmeh (July 2011). "The Power Struggle in Iran: A Centrist Comeback?" (PDF). Middle East Brief (53).
  14. ^ "Iranian Personalities: Ayatollah Morteza Motahari". Iran Chamber Society.
  15. ^ Eshkevari, Hasan Yousefi; Mir-Hosseini, Ziba; Tapper, Richard (27 June 2006). Islam and Democracy in Iran: Eshkevari and the Quest for Reform. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781845111335.
  16. ^ Mirsepassi, Ali (12 October 2000). Intellectual Discourse and the Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521659970.
  17. ^ Hamid, Dabashi (2006). "Morteza Motahhari: The Chief Ideologue of the Islamic Revolution". Theology of Discontent. Routledge. pp. 147–215. doi:10.4324/9781315135519-4. ISBN 978-1-315-13551-9. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  18. ^ a b Movahedi, Masood; Siuki, Jafar Fahimi; Shakeri, Mohsen (September 2014). "Analysis of Current Theories on the Development of the Islamic Republic of Iran". Academic Journal of Research in Economics and Management. 2 (9): 42–48. doi:10.12816/0006595. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  19. ^ Shahibzadeh, Yadullah (June 2016). Islamism and Post-Islamism in Iran: An Intellectual History. Springer. ISBN 9781137578259.
  20. ^ a b Ghobadzadeh, Naser; Qubādzādah, Nāṣir (1 December 2014). Religious Secularity: A Theological Challenge to the Islamic State. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199391172.
  21. ^ Surdykowska, Sylwia (2012). Martyrdom and Ecstasy: Emotion Training in Iranian Culture. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 179. ISBN 978-1-4438-3953-2.
  22. ^ The relation of science and religion according to Motahhari, Muhammad hossein mahdavi nejad, magazine of legal investigation, number:6-7, 1381 solar, in Persian
  23. ^ Bucar, Elizabeth M. (15 February 2011). Creative Conformity: The Feminist Politics of U.S. Catholic and Iranian Shi'i Women. Georgetown University Press. ISBN 978-1589017528. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  24. ^ Life's outcome, A survey of Morteza Motahhari's Ideas. p.455-475. vol.1, 1386 solar, Abdullah Nasri
  25. ^ life's outcome, A survey of Motahhari's Ideas.p.401-410.vol.1,1386 solar
  26. ^ Ryaz Ahmaddar,religion and political and social system from Motahari and Iqbal Lahouri, Tolou Magazine, 2007, 21, 6.
  27. ^ Shayegan, Darius (1 January 1997). Cultural Schizophrenia: Islamic Societies Confronting the West. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815605072.
  28. ^ Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Abdolkarim Soroush,The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics, Edited by John L. Esposito and Emad El-Din Shahin,online pub date: Dec 2013
  29. ^ a b Nikazmerad, Nicholas M. (1980). "A Chronological Survey of the Iranian Revolution". Iranian Studies. 13 (1/4): 327–368. doi:10.1080/00210868008701575. JSTOR 4310346.
  30. ^ Sahimi, Mohammad (30 October 2009). "The power behind the scene: Khoeiniha". PBS. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  31. ^ Teacher's Day celebration Retrieved 4 May 2020
  32. ^ A day when was named "teacher's day" twice Retrieved 5 May 2020
  33. ^ Commemoration of Teacher's day, Morteza Motahari[permanent dead link] Retrieved 4 May 2020
  34. ^ Teacher's day, in diverse countries; Iran (Morteza-Motahari) Retrieved 4 May 2020
  35. ^ Shahid Motahari Museum House
  36. ^ Remembering Ayatollah Morteza Motahari Archived 25 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine ABNA
  37. ^ Farhang Rajaee, Islamism and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran, University of Texas Press (2010), p. 128
  38. ^ Farhang Rajaee, Islamism and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran, University of Texas Press (2010), p. 129
Political offices Preceded byNone President of Council of Islamic Revolution 1979 Succeeded byMahmoud Taleghani