A Glimpse at the Major Shi'a Seminaries, Part 2

Rasoul Imani Khoshkhu
Translated by Fatemeh Soltan Mohammadi


Part I of this series focused on the Islamic seminaries of Basra, known for its role in the science of Hadith; Baghdad, the center of advancements in jurisprudence, theology, and deductive reasoning; and Najaf, one of the most important institutions of academics and ijtihad in the history of Shi‘a academia. This part presents information on the revival of ijtihad in the Seminary of Hillah and introduces its prominent scholars, such as Najib al-Din Muhammad Ja’far, Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, Sayyid bin Tawus, and Allamah Hilli.

It also introduces the Seminary of Kazemayn where the renowned Shaykh Mufid studied; the Seminary of Samarra, where Shi ‘a theology was taught, along with alerting the Shi‘a of their political responsibilities and providing them with a culture of supplication (dua) and pilgrimage (ziyara); and the Seminary of Karbala, where the highly proficient scholar Abdullah bin Ja’far Humayri the teacher of renowned scholars Ali bin Babiwayh and Muhammad bin Ya’qub Kulayni studied.

The Islamic Seminary of Hillah

The establishment of the Islamic seminary of Hillah is simultaneous with the establishment of the city of Hillah itself towards the end of the fifth century Hijri. Factors such as its large Shi‘a population, its educated founders, the formation of a Shi‘a government at its inception, and unstable political conditions in adjacent areas are reasons for its growth, and its Islamic seminaries were the leading Shi‘a seminaries for three centuries1.

After the downfall of the Khwarezmid Empire by the hands of the Mongols, Mongol ruler Hulagu Khan attacked Iraq in 551 AHto expand the empire and took over Baghdad. This event led to the decline of the Islamic seminaries of Baghdad and Najaf. The seminary of Hillah, which remained unharmed by the Mongols’ attacks due to wise policies adopted by the scholars of the town, was revived and was able to introduce and provide the Shi‘a world with renowned scholars.

This flourishing period thrived from the time Baghdad was attacked in the sixth century to the ninth century Hijri; afterwards, with the revival of the Najaf seminary, the seminary of Hillah faced a downturn. Although it was still considered to be one of the active seminaries of Iraq, it was not able to gain back the strength it had in the first period.

The revival of ijtihad in the Islamic Seminary of Hillah

One of the characteristics of the Hillah seminary was its dynamism and vitality and steadfastness against decline and emulation. This is unlike the seminary of Najaf in the period after Sheikh Tusi which was so heavily influenced by the great scholarship and spiritual characteristics of Sheikh Tusi that for several centuries, his views were adopted by successive scholars.

It was only due to innate talent and matchless courage of Muhammad ibn Idris2 the author of al-Sara’ir that ideas of Sheikh Tusi were seriously challenged and criticised. After ibn Idris, his method of ijtihad was continued in the later centuries by other religious scholars of the seminary of Hillah and finally reached its peak towards the end of the eighth century through the hands of Allamah Hilli.

The great scholars of the Hillah Seminary

The following are some of the seminary’s great scholars:

1. Najib al-Din Muhammad Ja’far, known as Ibn Nima3, Muhaqqiq al- Hilli, Shaykh Sadid al-Din4, and Sayyid Ahmad bin Tawus and his brother, Radhi al-Din.

2. Ja’far bin Muhammad bin Ja’far bin Abu al-Baqa’ Hibatullah, of Allamah Hilli’s teachers.

3. Najm al-Din Ja’far bin Hasan bin Yahya, known as Muhaqqiq al- Hilli5 was one of the renowned jurists of Hillah and Allamah Hilli’s teacher where through writing books6, he helped with growth of science of usul and accelerated the movement of ijtihad in the Hillah seminary. He also took a great step in expanding jurisprudential texts with his Shara’i al-Islam fi Masa’il al-Halal wa al-Haram where he examines recounted sayings, their implications, and their effects.

For this reason, this book has been used in the seminaries up until the present years, and to this day, many commentaries and interpretations have been written on it, including Jawahir al-Kalam, an encyclopedia in Shi‘a jurisprudence. Some of his other works include al-Mu‘tabar fi Sharh al-Mukhtasar, which after Shaykh Tusi’s al-Mabsut, is counted as the second comparative and demonstrative work on Shi‘a jurisprudence.

4. Radi al-Din Ali bin Sa’d al-Din Musa, known as Sayyid bin Tawus7 was of the learned and pious jurists of Hillah where asceticism (zuhd) and worship (ibadah) were his recognizable characteristics.

Reaching a high level in mysticism as well as meeting the Twelfth Imam, were some of his greatest achievements which were verified by many contemporary scholars and scholars who came after him. Nonetheless, in addition to his level of spirituality, he had a great deal knowledge, even though his particular viewpoint in regards to sciences such as jurisprudence and theology8 set him apart from others, and although he had reached the level of ijtihad, he would not issue juristic rulings (fatwas).

On the other hand, he was proficient in the science of narration and the study of the stars (ilm al-nujum; astronomy). He authored a book on the lives of the astronomers called, “Faraj al-Mahmum fi Tarikh Ulama’ al- Nujum.”

5. Sayyid Jamal al-Din Ahmad bin Musa bin Tawus9. His popularity is mostly due to his efforts made in the field of prophetic narrations and biographical evaluation (rijal). His most important works in the field of biographical evaluation is the book Hal al-Ishkal fi Ma’rifi al-Rijal which contains the most important information about Shi‘a rijal. He was the one who proposed classification of hadiths into four categories: authentic (sahih), approved (hasan), reliable (muwaththaq), and weak (da‘if). This classification was welcomed by other scholars and is still used.

6. Hasan bin Yusuf bin Mutahhar Hilli, known as Allamah Hilli10 was a renowned Shi‘a jurist and scholar; it was through him that Shi‘a jurisprudence flourished.

Allamah Hilli was a prolific author in the fields of jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, philosophy, logics, biographical evaluation, Qur’anic exegesis, narration, the science of Arabic syntax (ilm al- nahw), supplications and other various books in which some believe its total to be over five hundred volumes11.

His most important works are in the fields of jurisprudence12, principles of jurisprudence13; theology14, biographical evaluation15, Qur’anic exegesis16, and philosophy and logic17.

One of Allamah’s important initiatives was his positive response to the request of the Mongolian ruler, Uljeitu (Khodabandeh), and his migration to Iran and taking advantage of the political atmosphere to spread and present Shi‘a Islam. After converting to Shi’ism, Uljeitu (Khodabandeh) summoned a large group of scholars from Hillah and Iraq, including Allamah Hilli and his son Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin, to Iran and provided a school in Soltaniyyeh for Allamah to teach Islamic studies.

He also provided a traveling school (madrasah sayyarah), with the management and supervision of Allamah, in order that it could travel with the ruler to various areas for other areas to make use of his presence and valuable knowledge. The books Nahj al-Haq wa Kashf al-Sidq, Minhaj al-Kirama, and Kashf al-Yaqin fi Fadha’il Amir al- Mu’mineen were written upon Uljeitu’s request.

Coexistence and heartfelt interactions with scholars of different Islamic sects, while standing firm in his principles and Shi‘a beliefs was another important characteristic of the Allamah.This very act is what led scholars and students from other sects to gather in his traveling school18 which was instituted by Uljeitu (Sultan Muhammad Khodabandeh19) to study and teach.

Some scholars from the Sunni school of thought such as ibn Hajar Asqalani in Lisan al-Mizan20 and Safdi Shafa’i in ‘Ayan al-Asr and ‘Awan al-Nasr have praised him. Safdi considers Allamah Hilli a sign (ayah) of God that no writer is capable of describing all his good attributes21.

The Islamic Seminary of Kazemayn

The city of Kazemayn is situated northwest and eight kilometres of Baghdad. After the completion of the city of Baghdad by Mansur Abbasi in the year 149 AH, he commanded a graveyard be built north of the city for him and his family. This graveyard was later known as the “Quraysh” graveyard or “the graveyard of Bani Hashim.” After the martyrdom of Imam Kazem (a) and Imam Jawad (a), their holy bodies were buried in this very graveyard; and it was this event that led the Shi‘as to travel to this city to visit these two Imams. Through building their homes, the first towards making the city of Kazemayn were taken.

After Baghdad was defeated by Mu’izz al-Dawla22 in 334 AH, the city of Kazemayn was rebuilt and reconstructed by him. He constructed a big courtyard around the holy shrines and built small chambers around the courtyard for Shi‘a scholars and seminarians to reside in. On the eastern side, he constructed a partition (maqsurah23) for publicly-held classes and named it “madras24.”

One of his other initiatives was expanding Buratha Mosque and constructing an Islamic center beside it. Buratha is the name of a mosque with an ancient history25 situated between Kazemayn and Baghdad. The training of great scholars like Shaykh Mufid took place there.

Another personality which played a role in the expansion and development of the academic environment in Kazemayn was al-Nasir Li Dinillah26, an Abbasid Caliph.

Due to his services to the Shi‘a faith and his kindness towards the Shi‘a, in several historical records, some have claimed he was Shi‘a27. In 608 AH he commanded - just like the system in Baghdad – that academic discussions take place in the chambers in the holy shrine of Imam Musa al-Kazem (a) and it was during the same time that he ordered Masnad Ahmad bin Hanbal be taught by a Shi‘a scholar named Safi al-Din Ma’bad bin Muhamamd Musawi. The first topic taught by him in this book and in this location was Masnad Abu Bakr and the event of Fadak28.

Likewise his Shi‘a vizier, Mu’yid al-Din Qummi, made efforts in developing the infrastructure of Kazemayn, some of whom were building a school and ‘House of the Qur’an’ (Dar al-Qur’an) for Shi‘a orphans and Alawites beside the tomb of Imam Musa bin Ja’far (as) to learn how to write and read the Qur’an29.

Because of its close proximity to the Baghdad seminary, the Islamic seminary of Kazemayn was influenced by the scholars and great intellects of that city and greatly affected by the city of Baghdad’s academic expansion and decline; nevertheless, in the recent centuries, many great scholars have resided in this city. Through teaching and training seminarians in their offices and homes across the city, they have made brighter the academic status of Kazemayn in comparison with other Shi‘a seminaries. Some of the aforementioned cases are:

1- Residence of Sayyid Muhammad Ali Hibat al-Din Shahristani; Bayt Sayyid Muhsin ‘Araji30;

2- Residence of Shaykh Ahmad Balaghi Kadhimini31 who Shaykh Muhammad Jawad Balaghi from Najaf is of this family;

3- Aal Mudhaffar who Shaykh Muhammad Hasa Mudhaffar, Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Mudhaffar, and Shaykh Muhammad Ridha are of this family;

4- Residence of Sayyid Haydar32 who Sayyid Mahdi Haydari, who is of the great academics and jurists of Iraq of the earlier centuries who called people to fight (jihad) against England, in the first world, is of this family;

5- Residence of Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Khalisi33 who is related to Ali bin Madhahir the brother of Habib bin Madhahir and Ayatullah Shaykh Mahdi Khalisi, was considered and jurists during his time, is of this family;

6- Residence of Shibr who is a decedent of Sayyid Abdullah Shibr34, a Shi‘a scholar and owns many written works;

7- Residence of Sayyid Ismaeel Sadr35;

8- Residence Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Aal Yasin36 who is one of the residence in Najaf and Kadhimayn37.

The Islamic Seminary of Samarra

The beginning of the growth and development of academia in the city of Samarra and its significance as one of the main academic centers in the Shi‘a world is simultaneous with the arrival of Imam Hasan al- Askari to this city. Imam Hadi’s twenty-year presence 38in Samarra made it the center of attention amongst the Sh‘ia from all regions of the Islamic society.

Meanwhile, Imam Hadi, through adopting specific methods, personally meeting with specific confidants, and writing to his representatives and agents (wakil) who from four major regions in which Shi‘as were gathered - Baghdad, Mada’in, and Kufa; Basrah and Ahwaz; Qum and Hamedan; and Hijaz and Yemen, he would respond to religious questions and issue Divine knowledge.

Other than containing guidelines to the Shi‘as’ political responsibilities and alerting them of the political situation of the society and rulers of the time, these correspondence contained ideological and theological questions and answers; as the Shi‘a center held intellectual guidance and responding the Shi‘a people’s ideological needs with importance.

For example, there was correspondence between Muhammad bin Ali Kashani and Imam Hadi in regards to the doctrine of Oneness [of God] (tawhid39) and the Imam’s response to a question regarding the topic of determinism (jabr) and full power (tafwidh)40.

The school of Imam Hadi (maktab) held the following curriculum: 1) the study of the Qur’an 2) Shi‘a theology 3) the culture of supplication (dua) and pilgrimage (ziyarah), and 4) holding a definitive stance against political and religious enemies41.

Given the incident of some type of Sufis during the time of Imam Ali al-Naqi, who drew people away from political participation and true worship, with issuing the culture of supplication and pilgrimage and with the genuine Shi‘a gnosticism, the Imam fought oppression and identified the enemies, and reminded the people of the importance of loving the family of the Prophet (Ahl-ul Bayt42).

After the martyrdom of Imam Ali al-Naqi in 254 AH, Imam Hasan al- Askari took on the imamate and leadership of the people (ummah). However, because of the extreme restrictions in the political atmosphere, the strengthening of the Mahdaviat, and monitoring the Imam’s interactions and correspondence, his presence in Samarra was as influential as the time of his father in expanding Shi‘a knowledge and divine understanding.

During the time of Imam al-Mahdi and the period of the minor occultation, since this city had made the Abbasid ruler sensitive towards it, the Imam’s special deputies resided in the city of Baghdad; this very act made Baghdad the center of attention, making Samarra less central.

The revitalization and recentralization of the Islamic Seminary of Samarra is due to the very capable and distinguished jurist and soldier of his time, Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi’s43 migration to Samarra.

Ayatullah al-Uzma Haj Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi44, who after the passing of Shaykh Ansari in 1281 AH, he took on the authority and leadership of the Shi‘as. In 1287 AH, he was honored to go to Mecca for pilgrimage where he initially intended to live next to the Holy Prophet, but after visiting the city of Najaf he decided to move to Samarra which during that time the population was predominantly Sunni. In Sha’ban of 1290 AH, he migrated to Samarra.

With Mirza Shirazi’s migration to Samarra, after many years the Islamic seminary of this city once again returned to its academic status and became a center for teaching and training those seeking Islamic sciences and knowledge taught by the Ahlul-Bayt45.

Allamah Muhaqqiq Shaykh Aghabozorg Tehrani, in his al-Dhari’ah, reports the number of Mirza Shirazi’s students - who also did research in his seminary - to be over five hundred46.

The method and format of Mirza Shirazi’s teaching in Samarra, inspired by Shaykh Ansari’s the method of ijtihad, made the spirit of research and academic criticism strengthen in his students and seminarians; and his calm composure in listening to the students’ views and giving them courage to present their opinions and participate in debates and discussions, he presented a new method in educating and teaching seminaries, and this became a well-known method in the Seminary of Samarra47.

One of the important achievements in Shi‘a history where the seminary of Samarra and Mirza Shirazi himself played a role was in the termination of the agreement that would place all tobacco products at the disposal of British companies. This crucial measure taken was due to Mirza Shirazi’s historical issue - otherwise known as the tobacco boycott48 - which resulted in preventing the colonizers from getting their hands on Iran’s national wealth and revealing the power and influence of the Shi‘a jurists to the world.

Mirza Shirazi passed away in 1312 AH at the age of 82, and after being moved to the city of Najaf, he was buried in the holy shrine of Ali bin Abi Talib (as). The Islamic seminary of Samarra continued its academic progress; and with the guidance and management of some of Mirza’s top students including Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi49 and Sayyid Hasan Sadr50, they continued to educate seminarians and publish the knowledge taught by the Ahlul-Bayt (s)51.

However, the seminary of Samarra’s expansion, after the passing of Mirza Shirazi was short-lived, and after the migration of great scholars like Muhammad TaqiShirazi and Sayyid Hasan Sadr to Karbala and Kadhimiyya, the Samarra seminary’s period of decline arrived.

In the recent years, to revive the Islamic seminary of Samarra, the largest Islamic and academic center was constructed adjacent to the shrine of the two Imams (Askarayn) and in the remaining area of Mirza Shirazi’s seminary under the supervision of the administration of religious leaders.

The Islamic seminary of Karbala

In 61 AH, the land of Karbala witnessed the innocent martyrdom of Imam Husayn - the grandson of Prophet Muhammad – along with his children and his loyal companions, as well as the burial of their holy bodies in this land filled with agonies (karb) and afflictions (bala’). With the grace of the Shi‘as residing beside the holy shrine of the Imam, it became a place for narrating and publishing hadiths and cultivating and teaching their knowledge; thus, became one of the central seminaries in the Shi‘a world.

One of the expert Shi‘a narrators who resided in this city during the minor occultation and spent considerable time narrating traditions of the Ahlul Bayt is Abdullah bin Ja’far Humayri52.

A highly proficient narrator and scholar of Qum, he was the teacher of prominent intellectuals such as Ali bin Babiwayh, Muhammad bin Ya’qub Kulayni, and Muhammad bin Quluyyah. He traveled to Iraq to visit the holy shrines of Amir al-Mu’mineen and Aba Abdullah al-Husayn, and after staying in the city of Karbala for a time period, he returned back to Qum53. He was also a prolific author; one of his works was Humayri’s Qarb al-Isnad54, a collection of 1,378 traditions from Imam Sadiq, Imam Kadhim, and Imam Rida.

During the major occultation, the Islamic seminary of Karbala witnessed great scholars who traveled to Karbala from neighboring cities such as Hillah and Najaf to teach. They include Ahmad Ali bin Ahmad bin Abbas Najashi (372-450 AH), author of a famous biographical evaluation book; Imad al-Din ibn Hamza Tusi55; Sayyid Fakhar Muadd Haeri56; Sayyid Abd al-Karim bin Tawus Fakhar Musawi57; Shams al-Din Muhammad bin Makki, known as the First Shahid; and ibn Fahd Hilli58.

One of the most important events in the history of Karbala Seminary was the debate between the Usulism and Akhbarism. The appearance of the Akhbarism movement and the dispute arisen between those for and against it was of the crucial events that took place in the history of Islamic Shi‘a seminaries that greatly affected the Karbala seminary.

The rise of the Safavid Dynasty in Iran; entrusting important Islamic positions to narrators and Akhbari scholars; the domination of the Asharites and the People of Hadith (Ahl al-Hadith) on the Islamic seminaries of Mecca and Medina (haramayn) in Hejaz; the rebellion of the Kharijites in Bahrain; and the migration of Bahraini scholars to Iran and Iraq are the factors that caused the Akhbari movement to halt and trigger the Usuli movement to become the focus in the eleventh and twelfth century Hijri, the seminary of Karbala59.

Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani60 was among the Ahkbari scholars who went to Iran after the Kharijites’ revolt in Bahrain in 1126 AH. He afterwards moved to Iraq, and finally resided in Karbala. He was the author of the valuable al-Nadhira fi Ahkam al-Itrah al-Tahira. Through building the grand mosque situated to the western courtyard of Aba Abdullah al- Husayn, and leading and teaching in it, he established his school of thought in Karbala - the Akhbari school - in which he was a representative of.

Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani’s classes began in the Karbala seminary which had attracted many seminarians and had successfully taken hold of its intellectual atmosphere and the Usuli scholars’ attention, where the moment they felt danger with regards to the obstruction of the principle of ijtihad, because of the growth of Ahkbari beliefs, they debated and ultimately publicly declared their disagreement with Shaykh Yusuf’s Akhbari movement led by Wahid Behbahani.

Muhammad Baqir Isfahani, known as Wahid Behbahani61, was a progeny of Shaykh Mufid and the grandson the first Allamah Majlisi. After moving to Najaf and studying the rational and transmitted sciences (ulumma’qulwamanqul) under the scholars of that seminary, he returned to Behbahan and wrote books62 rejecting Akhbarism.

In the year 1159 AH, he left Behbahan for Najaf, but afterwards thought the seminary lacked academic vigorousness necessary to be a well-rounded teacher. He later resided in Karbala and took on the headship of that seminary63. He owned over seventy books and mentored students such as Allamah Bahral-Ulum, Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi Shahristani, Shaykh Ja’far Kashif al-Ghita’, Mirza Qumi, and Mulla Mahdi Naraqi, in which after him, they took Usulism to its zenith and achieving the qualifications of ijtihad, they took on the juristic leadership of the region.

Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani’s arrival to Karbala and his teaching of Ahkbari principles in the seminary where usuli jurist Wahid Behbahani led began a deep academic discussion that led to the public disagreement of the two instructors of the seminary. Even though at times these differences became very obvious64,Yusuf Bahrani’s calm reaction in face of Wahid Behbahani and his students’ complaints and objections65 led to a peaceful academic and friendly coexistence between the two views.

This was to the point that after Shaykh Yusuf Behbahani’s demise in Karbala, there was a magnificent funeral and all the Islamic seminaries of Karbala and Najaf were closed and Wahid Behbahani himself did the prayer for his body.

The thirteenth century Hijri coincided with an important political and social initiative from the Karbala seminary, and that was the issue of a fatwa against the colonialist Britian by the second Mirza Shirazi. Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi66, who was one of Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi’s67 exceptional students in the city of Samarra, after his death in the year 1312 AH, for twenty-four years taught and mentored seminarians in Samarra. He then moved to Kadhimiya and then afterwards resided in Karbala. Muhammad Taqi Shirazi’s last years in Karbala, which coincided with World War I, were the golden years of his fruitful life and a time where he played an influential role in major political and social changes.

In 1332 AH, England declared its hostility towards the Uthmani government and intended to seize Basra. Hearing the plea for help from the people of Basra, the scholars of Iraq rose to their defense, whom amongst them was Mirza Shirazi from the seminary of Karbala, and issued a fatwa declaring resistance against foreign aggression. This initiated a movement and revolution known as “The 1920 Iraqi Revolt,” and concluded with Britain leaving Iraq.

After Iraq’s independence, the second Mirza Shirazi, along with people such as Ayatullah Shaykh Mahdi Khalisi, Ayatullah Sayyid Mustafa Kashani, Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shahristani, Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad TabatabaiYazdi, and Mirza’s own son Muhammad Ridha decided to take the Iraqi revolution towards an independent government ruled by a Muslim individual.

For this reason, in response to Britain’s intent to impose one of its own agents for the presidency of Iraq, he issued his famous fatwa with the following text: “No Muslim has the right to choose a non- Muslim to govern and rule over the Muslim people68.”

Britain’s resistance against accepting the popular demands of the Iraqi people and preventing them from deciding for their own future, which was at times accompanied with exiling the leaders of the movement69, prompted Mirza Shirazi to issue a fatwa, allowing armed defense against British government forces:

Demanding your rights is obligatory on the Iraqi people and it obligatory upon them to observe peace and calmness in response to the people’s request. In the event that Britain refuses to accept the people request, it is permissible for them to resort to defensive forces70.

Though the demise of the second Mirza Shirazi in 1338 AH, the intensification of British interference, and the start of trend in exiling revolutionary leaders, dampened the revolution’s passion and vigor, yet the Iraqi scholars’ mighty resistance and specifically Mirza Shirazi’s resistance against foreign influence, once again it showed the power and influences of Shi‘a religious establishment (marja’iyyah) in mobilizing people forces against the colonial domination of Islamic countries to the heads of colonialism and specifically the British government.

In the fourteenth century Hijri, the Islamic seminary of Karbala saw many outstanding personalities. One of the great scholars of this century, from Karbala, who was considered the patriarch of the Shirazis in this city, was the pious and learned scholar, Ayatullah Sayyid Mahdi Shirazi71.

He, who was one of Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi and Sayyid Muhammad Kadhim Tabatabai Yazdi’s students, after travelling to and living in the cities Samarra, Kadhimiyya, and Najaf, he returned to Karbala and in 1366 AH after the passing of Ayatullah al-Udhma Haj Agha Husayn Qummi, the religious establishment of the Shi‘a was passed on to him72.

Part III of this series will focus on the Seminaries of Jabal Amel, Isfahan, and Mashhad.

  • 1. Jawadi, Qasim and Hasani, Sayyid Ali, “A Historical Analysis of the Islamic Seminary of Hillah” in the journal of Shi‘a Studies, Number 21
  • 2. Born 589 AH
  • 3. Died 645 AH
  • 4. Father of Allamah Hilli
  • 5. 602-676 AH
  • 6. Such as al-Ma’arij al-Usul and Najh al-Wusulila Ma’rifa Ilm Usul
  • 7. 589-664 AH
  • 8. Even though the Sayyid was certainly as mujtahid who considered jurisprudence to be the pathway for understanding Islamic legal laws (ahkam) and reviving the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh), but he did consider engagement in jurisprudence as much as needed sufficient. He also showed interest in contemplating theological issues and believed theology made the path more difficult for people. However, he wasn’t absolutely against theology and at times allowed it. Jawadi, Qasim Jawadi and Sayyid Ali Hasani, ibid.
  • 9. Died 673 AH
  • 10. Died 826 AH
  • 11. Sadr, Sayyid Hasan, Ta’sis al-Shi‘a al-ulum al-Islam, pg. 27.
  • 12. al-Mukhtalif al-Shi’ah fi Ahkam al-Shari’ah, Tadhkirah al-Fuqaha’, Tabsira al-Muta’alimin fi Ahkam al-Din, and Qawa’id al-Ahkam fi Ma’rifa al-Halal wa al-Haram
  • 13. Tahdhib al-Wusul ila Ilm al-Usul and Nihaya’ al-Wusul ila Ilm al-Usul
  • 14. Manahij al-Yaqin, Kashf al-Murad fi Sharh Tajrid al-‘Itiqad, Anwar al-Malakut fi Sharh al- Yaqut, Minhaj al-Kiramah fi al-Imamah, and Nahj al-Haq wa Kashf al-Sidq
  • 15. Khulasa al-Aqwal fi Ma’rifa al-Rijal and Kashf al-Maqal fi Ma’rifa al-Rijal
  • 16. Nahj al-Iman fi Tafsir al-Qur’an and al-Qawl al-Wajiz fi Tafsir al-Kitab al-‘Aziz
  • 17. al-Qawa’id wa al-Maqasid, al-Jawhar al-Nadhid, Idhah al-Maqasid, Nahj al-Irfan, Kashf al- Khafa min Kitab al-Shifa, and al-Isharat ila Ma’ani al-Isharat
  • 18. “Madrasah Sayyarah” was established by Sultan Khodabandeh after Allamah Hilli’s suggestion. Since the is was custom that the Mongol rulers would reside in Maragheh and Soltaniyyeh during the warm seasons and in Baghdad in the cold seasons, and because Sultan Khabandeh would take scholars with him on his travels and since he really like Allamah Hilli, he suggested that he join him. Rejecting this offer was not a good idea because it was possible the enemy and jealous crowed would falsely read into the matter and use it against the Allamah. On the other hand, the Allamah didn’t want to be completely under the ruler’s authority and fall behind form his own academic activities. For this reason he suggested the traveling school which was approved by the ruler and through this means Allamah was able to provide publications in Shia beliefs and understandings and train numerous students. Rabbani Golpaygani, Ali, Imamiah, Kayhan Andishah, number 54, 1373.
  • 19. Uljaitu (659-695 Shamsi) was the eight ruler of the Ilkahnid Dynasty where after the death of Ghazan it was passed down to the Mongol Uljeitu in Iran. Uljeitu who was baptized as a Christian, with the name Nicholas, later on in his life converted to Buddhism and later accepted Islam, becoming a follower of Abu Hanifa’s school of thought and chose the Islamic name, Muhammad Khodabandeh, for himself. Afterwards he converted to Shia Islam and after debating with Allamah Hilli and Nidham al-Din Muraghe’ee, he stayed firm in his belief. John Andrew Boyle, The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 5, translation Hasan Anousheh, pg. 376.
  • 20. Asqalani, ibn Hajar, Lisan al-Mizan, vol. 2, pg. 317.
  • 21. Quoted from: Fadhli, Abd al-Hadi, Tarikh al-Tahsri’ al-Islami, pg. 363.:
    العلامة الحلي رحمة اللّه عليه اَية من آيات اللّه العلمية و شخصية فذة ، يعجز الكاتب عن احصاء
    فضائله۔۔۔كان ريض الاخلاق ، حليماً ، قائماً ، بالعلوم حكيماً ، طار ذكره في القطار ، و
    اقتحم الناس اليه و تخرج به اقدام كثيرة
  • 22. Mu’izz al-Dawla (died 356 AH) was of the most popular Buyid rulers who ministered the Abbasid Caliphate and was the commandership of the city of Baghdad. Abul Husayn, Ahmad.
  • 23. “Maqsurah” is the name of an area in the mosque where initially during the time of the caliphs it was structured as a small room with a small opening to the outside and was situated towards the front of the mosque. The leader in prayer or the person delivering the sermon (khatib) would stand their due to security measures. Later on this area joined the indoor area of the mosque, overlooking the mosque’s verandah.
  • 24. Faydh Qummi, Abbas, History of Kadhimayn, pg. 76.
  • 25. It has come in numerous narrations that the Prophet prayed in this holy site and it has been narrated from Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) that: We found out that Prophet Esa (Jesus) prayed at this place and in a narration from Amir al-Mu’mineen it says: Should I tell you what other person prayed here? He said: Yes. The Imam said: Prophet Ibrahim Khalilullah (Abraham). Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 99, pg. 26, bab 3.
  • 26. 575-622 AH
  • 27. Murkhani, similar to Suyuti, Zehbi, and ibn Imad Hanbanli have emphasizes on him being Shia and other Sunni sources, if they haven’t talked about his faith conversely haven’t mentioned him in a good light. Even some of them go as far as to explicitly and implicitly talk bad about him while they say the opposite about other Abbasid caliphs which were Sunni. Ya’qubi, Muhammad Tahir, Shia Caliph al-Nasir Lidinullah, Majaleyeh Tarikhdar Aeeneyeh Pajuhesh, number 28-29.
  • 28. Sibt ibn Jawzi, Yusuf bin Qazghali, Mara al-Zaman fi Tarikh al-‘Ayan, pg. 556.
  • 29. Ya’qubi, Muhammad Tahir, ibid.
  • 30. Died 1227 AH
  • 31. Died 1271
  • 32. Died 1265
  • 33. Died 1286
  • 34. Died 1242
  • 35. Died 1338
  • 36. Died 1308
  • 37. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, pg.230.
  • 38. In historical references, there is a difference of opinion in regards to the number of years Imam Hadi (a) was exiled to Samarra. A group of them (ibn al-Sabbagh, al-Fusul al- Muhimmah, pg. 283) is referenced to that the time of exile was in the year 243 AH. According to this the timeframe in which the Imam (a) resided in Samarra till the time of his martyrdom will be around eleven years. But there are more sources (Tadhkirah al-Khawas, pg. 322; Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 12, pg. 56; Manqib, vol. 4, pg. 401; and Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 50, pg. 206-207) have written the timeframe of the Imams stay to twenty or over twenty years. Bearing in mind that the time of martyrdom of the Imam, according to historians, was in the year 254 AH. The year he was exiled will be 234 AH. Cited from the site Imam Hadi at:
  • 39. Shaykh Saduq, al-Tawhid, pg. 101.
  • 40. Harrani, Hasan bin Ali Shu’bah, Tuhf al-‘Aqul, translation by Ahmad Jannati, Tehran, Intisharat Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, 1363, pg. 468.
  • 41. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, pg. 236.
  • 42. A man named Muhammad bin Husayn says I was with Imam Ali al-Naqi (as) in the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid al-Nabi) when suddenly a group of Sufis entered the mosque and created a circle engaging in dhikr. The Imam said: don’t pay attention to these frauds for they are the successors of Satan and destroyer of the religion’s belief system. Their ascetics are for the comfort of their body and their night prayers (tahjjud) and vigilance through the night is to fish the common people…at that moment, one of the Imam’s companions said: “Wa in kana mu’tarifan bi-huquqikum? (and what if that person admits to your rights?). The Imam gave him a harsh stare and said: Abandon this sort of speech. Don’t you know whoever knows our rights would not object to out orders. Hur ‘Amili, al-Untha ‘Ashriyah, p. 2. It has to be noted that Sufism has been used in different senses throughout the history. At that time, it was used sometimes for the people who did not have a balanced and comprehensive of understanding and practicing Islam.
  • 43. Issuer of the Tobacco Boycott. Some of the important achievements in Shi‘a history where the seminary of Samarra and Mirza Shirazi himself played a role in the termination ofthe agreement that would place all tobacco products at the disposal of British companies. This crucial measure taken was due to Mirza Shirazi’s historical issue, otherwise known as the tobacco boycott, which resulted in preventing the colonizers from getting their hand on Iran’s national wealth and showed the power and influence of Shi‘a jurists to the world.
  • 44. Born 1230 AH in Shiraz and died 1312 AH in Samarra.
  • 45. Aqiqi Bakhshayeshi, Abd al-Rahim, Famous Shi‘a Jurists, pg. 356-357.
  • 46. Tehrani, Aghabozorg, al-Dhari’ah ila Tasanif al-Shi’a, vol. 4, pg. 367.
  • 47. Jannati, Muhammad Ibrahim, Adawar Ijtihad, pg. 394-389.
  • 48. The text of Mirza Shirazi’s fatwa in regards to tobacco is the following: “In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful, From today and on, consumption of tobacco in any way would be considered as declaring was against the master and Imam of Time (as).” Danesh- Nameh Jahan-e Islam, under Ghulam Ali Haddad Adil’s supervision.
  • 49. 1270-1338 AH
  • 50. 1272-1354 AH
  • 51. Shi‘a Seminaries Across the World, pg. 254.
  • 52. 234-300 AH
  • 53. Dawani, Ali, Islamic Figures, vol. 2, pg. 134.
  • 54. Qarb al-Isnad is a collection of narrations which are comprised of narrations that have been narrated from the Imams with fewer transmitters. For this reason, the narrators of this book had to travel great distances to acquire this narrations, so that the narrations are given through a closer transmitter to the Imams.
  • 55. He was of the Shi‘a theological jurists, famous as “Sahib Wasilah,” and of the great scholars of Tus. Because he came after Shaykh Tusi, who shares the same name, teknonym, origin, they would refer to him as Abu Ja’far Thani and Abu Ja’far Muta’akhar. He was contemporary to Shaykh Muntakhab al-Din and was one of ibn Shahr Ashub’s teachers. Ibn Hamza passed away in Karbala and was buried outside Najaf’s city gates. His most important jurisprudential work is al-Wasilaila Nayl al-Fadhila.
  • 56. Died 630 AH
  • 57. Was of the jurists in Hillah who wrote a popular book called al-Hujjah Ali al-DhahibilaTakfir Abi Talib, on the topic of proving Abi Talib’s faith.
  • 58. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, pg. 258-262.
  • 59. Ibid, pg. 262.
  • 60. 1107-1186 AH
  • 61. 1117-1205 AH
  • 62. Some of his book rejecting Akhbarismare: Risalah Hujiyyah Ijma’, Risalah Qiyas, Risalah al-Ijtihad wa al-Akhbar.
  • 63. Dawani, Ali, Wahid Behbahani, pg. 123.
  • 64. After the debates and academic discussions Wahid Behbahani had with Yusuf Bahrani,which lasted for days, in conclusion Wahid Behbahani boycotted his school and along with prohibiting students from participating in his classes, he declared praying behind was null. Shia Seminaries across the World, pg. 265
  • 65. It has been narrated that when Yusuf Bahrani was informed about Wahid Behbahani’s disagreements with him and his boycott on his classes, in response to protesters who demanded his classes be cancelled, he said, “He follows his religious obligation and I follow my religious obligation.” Considering, he would encourage his students to participate in Wahid Behbahani’s classes.
  • 66. 1258-1338 AH
  • 67. The great Mirza
  • 68. Famous Shia Jurists, pg. 285
  • 69. Of the exiled scholars is Shaykh Muhammad Ridha, son of Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, who was exiled to the Hengam Island, in the Persian Gulf.
  • 70. Sadiqi Tehrani, Muhammad, A Look at the Iraqi Islamic Revolution of 1920 and the Role of Islamic Mujahid Scholars, pg. 56.
  • 71. 1308-1380 AH
  • 72. Simultaneous with the marja’iyyah of Sayyid Mahdi Shirazi in Iraq, Ayatullah al-Udhma Sayyid Husayn Burujerdi (ra) held the overall marja’iyyah of Shi‘as.