The Shi'a religious establishment in the al-Hawza al-Ilmiyya (religious academy) was divided between traditional scholars who advocated indifference or aloofness from politics and activists who advocated involvement. The latter organized themselves into the Jama'at al-Ulama' in Najaf to counter anti-religious trends in society. Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr was at that time a young scholar and was not considered an official member of the Jama'at al-Ulama' which was made up mainly of elders and well-known mujtahids. He was able, however, to exert influence on the group through his father-in-law Shaykh Murtaza Al Yasiyn, who was acting president of the group, and through his older brother, Isma'il al-Sadr, a mujtahid who held a senior position in the Jama'at.
By 1960, Sadr was one of the leading mujtahids in the religious school of Najaf with a distinguished reputation in jurisprudence (fiqh and usul al-fiqh). Sadr's passion for reform was now directed toward the hawza itself. First it was necessary to modernize its curriculum: for the past century and a half, Najaf's hawza had emphasized only fiqh and usul al-fiqh because that was what Najaf was noted for; other Islamic studies were considered minor or unimportant, and the hawza's teachers paid little attention to them. Sadr was also uneasy over the irregular attendance of the students and their neglect of their studies. He felt that students must complete their courses with distinction before they could claim to be religious scholars ('alim) and proposed a new textbook on the grounds that the old ones were not written for students. A textbook, according to Sadr, must take into consideration the student's ability to comprehend the subject only gradually from its basic concepts to its most recent developments. Sadr's plan embraced not only the use of textbooks of the sort used in modern academic institutions, but the establishment of Western-style universities that would hold the student responsible for completing certain courses and passing regular examinations.
-Buhuth fi Sharh al- 'Urvah al' Wuthqa (Discourses on the
-Commentary of al- 'Urvah al-Wuthqa), 4 volumes.-
-Al-Ta'liqah 'ala Minhaj al-Salihin (Annotation of Ayatullah
Hakim's Minhaj al-Salihin), 2 volumes.
-Al-Fatawa al-Wazihah (Clear Decrees).
-Mujaz Ahkam al-Hajj (Summarized Rules of Hajj)
-Al-Ta'liqah 'ala Manasik al-Hajj (Annotation of Ayatullah Khui's Hajj Rites).
-Al-Ta'liqah 'ala Salah al-Jumu'ah (Annotation on Friday Prayer)