Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, one of the most controversial and influential clergies in Qom, is sick and in grave condition, according to his office.
Without elaborating on the 85-year-old Ayatollah's ailments, his office said in a statement that his condition was deteriorating and called on his students, followers, and supporters of the "Shi'ite jurist guardianship" to pray for him.
Mohammad Taqi Givehchi, known as Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, is a member of the opaque Assembly of Experts, responsible for supervising the Iranian Supreme Leader's performance and selecting his successor.
Hawza, the Twelver-Shi'ite seminary, reported that Mesbah Yazdi's illness was not COVID-19, and he had been suffering from gastrointestinal complications for some time and currently bed-bound at home.
Born in the central city of Yazd, Mesbah Yazdi has served as one of the most controversial ultraconservative clergies in Iran after the downfall of the country's pro-West king, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979.
He was a staunch supporter of the ninth President of the Islamic Republic, hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Renowned for defending the position of Iran's leader as the representative of God, Mesbah Yazdi has argued, "The first and the most important question an intelligent and thinking creature should answer, and select one's way of life accordingly, by free will and rational choice, is whether we are God or servants? If we accept that we are servants, the sign of servitude is to make our will meltdown in Allah's will. Therefore, all affairs in our lives, whether individual, economical, governmental, or political, should be governed by the will of Allah---and obeying the (Iranian leader) Vali al-‘Amr's is similar to obedience to God."
In the 2015 Assembly of Experts elections in Tehran, Mesbah Yazdi failed to retain his seat. Iran's current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described Mesbah Yazdi's defeat as a loss to the country.
However, in the midterm elections of 2019, Mesbah Yazdi ran from the constituency of Khorasan Razavi and returned to the Assembly of Experts.