About One of Quran Sessions of Past Decades in Arak

A Completely Traditional Style

Ehsan Mansouri
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Mohammad Rahim Biraqi, a Quran activist of Markazi province, has been resident for a few years in Tehran. He was an active participant both in formal and classical sessions of Quran in Arak and in traditional sessions, and is a teacher of Holy Quran in university. I interviewed with him about a Quran meeting in Arak, and especially on the late Professor Mohammad Hassan Nahrmiani. The late Professor Nahrmiani was one of the renowned professors of Holy Quran in Arak that the new generation after the revolution of Arak is indebted to him whatever they know about Quran teachings; a retirement of Arak municipality staffs who, wore in cloak, taught Holy Quran for over 70 years in Arak, was admired by the Supreme Leader in 2000 and deceased in the mid-1380s (SH). This interview provides useful materials about history of Quran sessions, teaching methods, treatment and tools of teaching Holy Quran for researchers.


When did you get acquainted with master Nahrmiani?

Honor of meeting master Nahrmiani dates back to 1988 or 1989. There were a nice and moral atmosphere in the afternoons of Fridays before the late master and in tomb of Agha Nooruddin Iraqi[1], there was a nice spiritual atmosphere and was very suitable for holding Quran session. Of course, older people participated more than younger ones. I also occasionally participated in these meetings because I was interested in him. The late Haj Agha Shahab[2], who was a good teacher of Quran, as well as one of my relatives, Haj Agha Shamsi, who was deceased and became teacher of Quran meetings of my village people, introduced meetings of master Nahrmiani. This caused me also to go to that meeting on some Fridays. Mr. Shamsi, with a large Quran in his hand, was also among continuous comers of weekly session. Many of those who are currently master, participated in his meetings for a while, but I do not remember much about those people.


How was management of Quran meetings?

The way in which the meeting was organized was that people usually sat down, opened Rehals (book rest) and Qurans, and master Nahrmiani read the verses himself. The participants also began to read and wherever they read wrong the master amended their wrong; often on diacritic, and in Tajwid cases it was also sufficed to some generalizations such as "Idgham" (merging), "Iqlab" (conversion), "Izhar" (clarity), "Ikhfa" (concealment). Sometimes he did not complain and said repeat it. In terms of reader mistake, he made some explanations, technically or diacritically, or amended that diacritic or movement. If it was also a general issue, he explained the problem for all.


Which reading style was dominant?

The master's reading style was a special style as it could be called neither Tahghigh[3] nor Tarteel. His speed and style of reciting did not fit with speed of today Tarteel or Tahghigh; he reads more with a unique, completely traditional style, and I remember at that time, if someone wanted to talk about Naghamat (tunes) and Elhan (melodies), he was sensitive and took a stance. He didn't believe styles that have note and a melodic base. Some of masters who we talked with them at those days, they said more that the master himself read Segah[4], but he himself did not believe that a style that he read we determine its name. He didn't allow to enter this area.



He viewed the issue in a religious approach that Quran should not be merged with musical and melodic fashion.


Did he do Quran interpretation too?

In tomb sessions that I used to go I did not see that he wanted to interpret but, everywhere needed, he explained some points on the verses. I do not remember that he did interpretation. Sometimes he addressed meaning of the verses and paid attention to them but in general he didn't place its basement of his works upon entering translation part and explaining the verses.


How old was the meeting?

I do not know about dating of the meeting, I only know that it had been held for many years, and as long as the master could stood, the meeting was never closed. Of course, sometimes due to cold weather of winter and not igniting the heater and not unlocking the door, it was possible to be some problems in holding the session otherwise he never closed ordinary meetings.


How did master Nahrmiani commute?

When I went to the meeting, he came and went himself because he was very lively and in good mood, and cheerful with his friends. He was not washed up till late of his life. Lately, his eyesight was weakened and his ability also was reduced due to an accident and getting elderly and depleted a little, otherwise at the Quran sessions he was essentially in good mood.


How was his memory?

Interestingly, his memory for names of people was correct. In my opinion, the only thing that the master wasn't infected was forgetfulness. He knew me when I was a teenager. At that time, I was 16 years old and he did me favor. At the first meeting that the late Shamsi introduced me to the master and I recited, he welcomed, and admired me. While my reading style was different from style of reading of the master Nahrmiani and the people who were there, he did not want me to read exactly like theirs, and basically he did not complain about reading styles; he complained only my Waqf (Stopping) and Ebteda (start) and Tajwid mistakes. Those years I did not have any problem in reading and fluent reading, and sometimes he complained my mistakes in Ikhfa, Idgham and Iqlab (conversion) to M. he didn't complain much about more technical problems such as balance of stresses.


Did he look at Quran and complained?

The master was Hafiz of Quran, but his approach was that Quran should certainly be open. His method was that he must look at Quran, but that surely Quran should be open and he complain, no, that was not so.


Did anyone come from other cities and provinces to the mausoleum meeting?

The mausoleum meeting was a completely traditional meeting which meant it was not in way that some from other provinces to attend the meeting too. It was completely domestic and people came from surrounding streets and neighborhoods, for example the late Shamsi's house was on Alborz Street. That some people say that this meeting was half a century old, I do not know, but those days that I went, it showed a long history, it meant indicated that there were many years it had been held.


How was behavior of Master Nahrmiani?

The late Nahrmiani was a very good-natured person. Despite being an old man, he was kidding with people. He had beautiful teeth that when he laughed, all her teeth were showed. Because he knew people, he also made special jokes with them. Because there were a few young in the meeting, he treated often old man-like. He always wore his famous gown and hat; he wore them in winter and summer. Until recently that master Nahrmiani was health and could stand, the mausoleum meetings were not closed. In the last years, all of his comrades died. As well as, repairs took place in the mausoleum and its space was changed. Once I remember that on the way to Quran's meeting, he crashed into a car in entrance of Shahrjerd.


How was his personal life?

Master Nahrmiani, as a true believer, was an austere man and didn't have a costly life. His house was in the same old style and past. He didn't receive any money for Quran recitation and meetings. People often invited the master for home meetings and of course I did not attend in his home meetings.


Had he some other meetings?

I knew that he had meetings in his own house too, but I didn't go, because I went Fridays nights to Du'a Kumayl of Agha Ziauddin mosque and then Basij base, so mornings of Friday I was depleted and I couldn't go to Du'a Nudba.


Did he attend in university too?

I entered university in 1992, but as I know, nobody invited him to university. The reason was that he had a traditional style. In recent years, some measures have been done for appreciating Nahrami. We ourselves hold a ceremony for him in Quran and Nahj al-Balaghah association; these were moves for introducing him; because he was prominent among his generation, and nowadays people may have been heard only a name from him.


Did he attend in public meetings too?

He attended in funeral of his neighbors and read Quran. If you have heard voice of master Nahrmiani, you would found out that the master's style, especially after the revolution in which progress in science of recitation, especially in style of Egyptian Qaris, had been fashioned, it was not bought just by the old ones.


How was training student in these meetings?

The late Nahrmiani was succeeded in educating the student often in traditional style. Quran professors and protagonists of the city had the chance to understand his presence, but it couldn't be argued that there was made a particular trend in training these people, especially about teaching Quranic Naghamat and Elhan that were fashioned at that time; it had been originated from elsewhere, and It was not that the teachings of master Nahrmiani had created a new potential in field of Naghamat and Elhan. Master Nahrmiani, as a traditional teacher, especially in field of Waqf and Ebteda and Tajwid and mastering in content and his pure heart, was a fully Quranic man. He was a salient instance of a person ordered by Quran and Ahl al-Bayt (AS). His inner candor and hearty religiousness is so professed by the professors that we can say: "the old father of heaven must wait a lot, so the mother of cosmos would bear a child like you again"[5]. Before being master in techniques of recite, he acted in Islamic ethics and customs. In my opinion, we have to compare master Nehrmiani with himself and his contemporaries not with today people, because his acting based on Quranic practices to be hard to find today.


[1] Agha Nooruddin Iraqi (1278 AH Arak - 1341 AH Arak) was one of mujtahids and Marja' of Shiites and of influential Ulema of Persian Iraq region, and of students and followers of Akhund Khorasani. He was one of the main sponsors of Iraqi constitutionalists, and for several times he support him in Arak through issuing a jihad command. After the constitutional decree was issued, he also undertook head of State Association of Arak. During World War I, he went with Mujahedeen to Kermanshah and later to Istanbul. He was one of the most influential and prominent clerics of Arak and Iraq governorship (Arak province) and was Marja' of majority of Arak people and governorship of Iraq between 1321 and 1342 (AH) (time of his death). Today, his mausoleum in Arak is considered as shrine of people and was registered in registration number of 3477 as one of the national relics of Iran. He is cousin of clergyman Mohsen Soltanabadi Iraqi.

[2] Of Quran professors of Arak who was also coeval of professor Nahrmiani.

[3] In reading Quran, Tahghigh means reading Quran in at most relaxation and deliberation, even slower than reading in Tarteel, alongside with saturating stress, Tahghighing of Hamza, ending movements, Tahghighing letter denominators and … which all of these could be done through reading verses in the lowest speed.

[4] Segah Dastgah (musical mode) is one of seven Iranian musical Dastgahs.

[5] Ghazal 277 from the collection of Sa'adi's Ghazals

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