Al-Sayyid Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani Arabic: السيد علي الحسيني السيستاني), or Sayyed Ali Hosseini Sistani (Persian: سید علی حسینی سیستانی), commonly known as Ayatollah Sistani in the Western world, born August 4, 1930, is an Iranian Usuli marja in Iraq and the head of many of the seminaries (Hawzahs) in Najaf.
Sistani was born in 1930 to a family of religious clerics; his father was Muhammad Baqir al-Sistani. Sistani himself claims to have been born in Mashhad, Iran, however there are disputes whether or not he was born in Mashhad or in Sistan then moved Mashhad as a child due to Iran not issuing birth certificates in its eastern provinces (now known as Region 5) until decades later. Sistani began his religious education as a child, first in Mashhad in his father's hawzah, and continuing later in Qom. In 1951, Sistani traveled to Iraq to study in Najaf under Grand Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei. Sistani rose to the Usooli clerical rank of 'mujtahid' in 1960. At the unusually young age of thirty-one, Sistani reached the senior level of clerical accomplishment, or ijtihad, which entitled him to pass his own judgments on religious question
He is described as the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shia Muslims and senior-most cleric in Shia Islam
According to a report of Shabestan news agency one of the greatest grand scholars of Shia world Ayatollah Syed Ali Sistani has sent a condolence message to the family of Ayatollah Hashmi Rafsanjani.
The content of condolence letter is something like this
Respectable Mr. Muhammad Hashmi, Peace be upon you!
The death of your brother Haj Sheikh Akbar Hashmi Rafsanjani was a cause of grief for us. I offer my condolences to your family and pray for the departed soul. May almighty Allah bless him with high rewards in his life hereafter!
11 Rabi ul Awwal, 1438 Hijri
Syed Ali Hussaini Sistani