SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad al-Hakeem, one of Iraq’s most senior Shia clerics, died on Friday from a heart attack in the holy city of Najaf, Iraqi state news agency INA reported.
Al-Hakeem, born in 1934, is one of four Grand Ayatollahs who teach at the Hawza, the religious seminary of Najaf, alongside Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
He died at the age of 87 at al-Hayat hospital in Najaf, according to INA.
AFP cited a source close to Hakeem’s office as saying that he died after undergoing a surgery three days ago.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said in a tweet that Hakeem was “one of the most prominent [figures] of the Islamic nation who combined knowledge with work in consolidating the values of justice, faith, love and peace.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad described him as a symbol of “peace, love, and harmony across the region”.
“We ask God to bless him with His abundance of mercy. Please accept our sincere condolences and sympathy on this great loss.”