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'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri Yazdi

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'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri Yazdi
'Abd al-Karim al-Ha'iri - Portrait.jpg
Personal Information
Birth Mihrjird, Yazd, 1276/1860
Studied in Ardakan, Yazd, Karbala, Samarra, Najaf
Death Dhu l-Qa'da 17, 1355/January 29, 1937 in Qom
Burial Place Shrine of Lady Ma'suma (a)
Scholarly Information
Professors Al-Akhund al-Khurasani, Mirza Husayn Nuri, Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi
Students Sayyid Sadr al-Din al-Sadr, Mirza Hashim Amuli, Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini and ....
Socio-Political Activities
Foundation of Qom Seminary, Evolution of the learning methods in Shi'a Seminary

Shaykh ʿAbd al-Karīm Ḥāʾirī Yazdī (Persian: شیخ عبدالكریم حائری یزدی) (b. 1276/1860- d. 1355/1937) was a Shi'a marja' and the founder of Islamic seminary of Qom which was under his leadership from 1340/1921 till his demise.

He studied for many years in the seminaries of Samarra, Karbala, and Najaf. In 1915 , he returned to Iran and was in charge of the Seminary of Arak. Upon the invitation of the scholars of Qom, he migrated to that city in 1921, and established the seminary of Qom and was in charge of the seminary up to his demise.

As the head of the seminary, he always looked for an organized program for having more prominent and advanced Shi'a Seminary. Evolution of the learning methods in Hawza, specializing different sections of fiqh, widening the scope of student's knowledge and even learning other languages, and in short, training mujtahids and scholars were among his main plans.

He avoided taking the responsibility of marja'iyya[1] and after demise of Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi in 1337/1919, rejected the invitation to travel to al-'Atabat al-Muqaddasa and become marja' and said that his duty is staying in Iran. Nonetheless, by the rise of his reputation in Qom, he was chosen as the marja' by many Iranians as well as some from other countries.

He was reluctant to participate in political issues and even in the disputes over Persian Constitutional Revolution he did not take side. But due to his social status, he was forced to play a more active role in politics. He objected to Kashf-e Hijab and thus until his death, tensions mounted between him and Reza Shah.

Some of his students such as Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini, Muhammad 'Ali Araki, Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpaygani, Sayyid Kazim Shari'atmadari, and Sayyid Ahmad Khwansari became marja's in the next years. He was always looking for providing comfort and convenience for people. He established Sahamiyya Hospital and supported the building of Fatimi Hospital in Qom to help the public services.

Birth and Lineage

He was born in Meybod (a city in Yazd province of Iran) in a village called Mihrjird.[2] He was brought up in a none-cleric household , however, his father was described as a religious and pious Muslim.[3]

Education in Iran

His aunt's husband , Mir Abu ja'far found 'Abd al-Karim highly talented and thus took him back to his hometown Ardakan when he was a child and placed him in a traditional religious school (Maktab). He soon lost his father and had to stay with his mother in Mihrjird for a while.[4] Then He moved and took up residence at the Muhammad Taqi Khan seminary known as Khan seminary in Yazd. He started his formal Islamic studies by learning Arabic literature from scholars like Sayyid Husayn Wamiq and Sayyid Yahya Buzurg known as Mujtahid-i Yazdi.[5]

Migration to Iraq

To continue his studies he migrated to Iraq together long with his mother in 1881. He first went to Karbala for about two years to study essential knowledge of jurisprudence and its principles (Usul al-fiqh) under the supervision of Fadil Ardakani.[6] Then he left Karbala for Samarra to obtain his knowledge from Mirza Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi.[7]

His educational course in Samarra' lasted about 12 years (1883-1894). He spent the first two years to finish high level studies of fiqh and usul under Shaykh Fadl Allah Nuri, Mirza Ibrahim Mahallati Shirazi and Mirza Mahdi Shirazi and then joined the classes of some of the leading Islamic teachers of those days, such as Sayyid Muhammad Fisharaki and Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi and attended the classes of Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi for a period of time.[8] He was granted ijaza (permission) for narrating hadith by Mirza Husayn Nuri.[9]

Sayyid Muhammad Fisharaki and Ha'iri moved to Najaf some months after the demise of al-Sayyid Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi,[10] where Ha'iri took part in the classes of Fisharaki and al-Akhund al-Khurasani.[11] He also took care of his teacher, Fisharaki in the last years of his life.[12]

Return to Iran

After Fisharaki's demise he returned back to Iran in 1898 and established series of classes in Sultanabad (now Arak).[13]

Travel to Iraq

Ha'iri moved back to Iraq mainly because he did not have the final say in running the Hawza of Arak which was destabilized due to political excitement of The Iranian Constitutional Revolution (mashruta).[14]

He again made his way to the circle of students of al-Akhund al-Khurasani and attended the classes of al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi, but soon he traveled to Karbala to be away from the dispute between supporters of the Mashruta and its oppositions.[15]

Hai'iri stayed in Karbala for 8 years which is why he's been called "Ha'iri" (people of Karbala who live in al-Ha'ir al-Husayni) and to show neutrality in Mashruta dispute, he started teaching a book by Al-Akhund al-Khurasani (a pro-Mashruta figure) and a book by Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi (an anti–Mashruta figure).[16]

Second return to Iran

While Ha'iri was in Karbala he received many invitations from Arak to return. Finally in 1915[17] he went back to Arak and spent 8 years teaching fiqh and usul in addition to running the hawza.

After demise of al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi, Ha'iri received a letter from Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi in which he was asked to come back to Najaf to be the supreme marja' but he refused, saying it's his duty to stay in Iran, and showed concern over Iran's circumstance and Iranian intellectual degeneration.[18]

Establishing the Seminary of Qom

Congregational prayer lead by Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri in the holy Shrine of Lady Fatima al-Ma'suma (a) in early years of his residence in Qom

In 1918 he decided to go to Mashhad to visit the holy shrine of Imam al-Rida (a). On his way he stopped in the city of Qom for a few days where he got familiar with the conditions of the hawza over there.[19]

Following the invitation from some of the scholars in Qom and also to visit Lady Ma'suma's shrine he traveled to Qom again in 1921 where he was embraced with warm hospitality of the scholars and the people, and faced their request to take residence there. He seemed hesitant first but eventually with the insist of Muhammad Taqi Bafqi and after performing an istikhara (seeking guidance from God) he decided to settle in the holy city of Qom. The decision led to formation of the hawza of Qom which is why he was latter called "Ayatollah-i Mu'assis" (the founder Ayatollah).[20]

Many of Ha'iri's students such as Sayyid Ahmad Khwansari, Sayyid Ruhollah Khomeini, Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpayigani, and Muhammad 'Ali Araki transferred to the hawza of Qom along with Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Khwansari who already accompanied him.[21]

Presence of Sayyid Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani and Muhammad Husayn al-Na'ini in Qom for 8 months due to deportation from Iraq[22] in 1923, contributed to the stability of the Seminary of Qom.[23]

Following popularity of the hawza of Qom many teachers and students from different seminaries came to Qom and hence the number of students reached 1000.[24]


Ha'iri not only didn't show interest in becoming the marja', but also, in fact, he escaped it by leaving Iraq, however many people who looked for a marja' after demise of Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi and Shaykh al-Shari'a al-Isfahani and Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi emulated him within 1918-1920 while he was in Arak.

After Ha'iri went to Qom, due to his popularity, he attracted attentions of more muqallids to the extent he was chosen as the marja' by many Iranians as well as some from Lebanon and Iraq.[25]

Teaching Method

Ha'iri was inspired by Mirza Shirazi in teaching and used the method of Samarra School. In this approach after bringing up the topic, different views along with the arguments would be discussed, then the opinions of the students were requested and the teacher would come to a conclusion considering all views around the issue and finally he would rather let the students challenge the final conclusion.

Ha'iri would also brings up next day's topic beforehand so the students could study the lesson before the class. He believed discussions of the Principles of Jurisprudence (Usul al-fiqh) should become both brief and practical. Thus he tried to keep in mind the idea while authoring his book Durar al-usul. He also managed to teach a complete course of usul in only 4 years.[26]


Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim al-Ha'iri benefited from many famous teachers, some of whom are as follows:


There were many scholars under Ha'iri, some of whom later reached Marja'iyya. The following are some of his students:

Evolution of the Methods in Hawza

Main responsibility of Ha'iri was running the newly established Hawza in Qom and he would see it as his most primal duty. This attitude had an impact on his social and political life. Given the fact that he was familiar with great Hawza in Najaf, Samarra and Karbala, he knew the advantages and drawbacks of leadership of each hawza and with the help of his experience in Hawza of Arak, he always looked for an organized program for having more prominent and advanced hawza. Evolution of the learning methods in Hawza, specializing different sections of jurisprudence, widening the scope of student's knowledge and even learning other languages, and in short, training mujtahids and scholars were among his main plans.[29]

Political Life

There are many examples in Ha'iri's life to prove his disinterest in politics. It seems His resignation from political activities which was shocking to some and even drew strong reactions, arose from his temperament rather than his expediency.[30]

He did not involve in political scene before coming to Qom either. For instance, there were a number of scholars who left Najaf and Karbala for Kazimayn in 1911 (coincided with Ha'iri's arrival in Karbala) and stayed there for about three months to protest against foreign invaders. Historical sources mentioned the name of great scholars took part in the event such as Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, Shaykh al-Shari'a al-Isfahani, al-Na'ini, Sayyid Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani and Aqa Diya' al-Iraqi,[31] but there is no proof of Ha'iri's participation. Therefore Ha'iri and his teacher Fisharaki can be considered among the scholars who not only weren't active in political affairs but rather to escape from political controversies.[32]

He had to deal with political affairs in last years of his life due to his social position. The most important challenge in those years was his relationship with Reza Shah (founder of Pahlavi dynasty). They had a relatively positive relationship at the time Reza Shah was a brigadier general.[33] When Rida Khan came to power, their relationship was not negative nor positive.[34] But when Reza Shah began controversial policy of Kashf-i Hijab (strictly enforced the ban on observation of Hijab by women) in 1935 to the end of Ha'iri's life (1937) tensions mounted between him and Reza Shah.

Following that policy Ha'iri sent a telegram to Reza Shah in July, 1935 declaring the present state of affairs against Shari'a and strongly demanded prevention of ongoing conditions.[35] Hence, he broke his relations with Reza Shah and was placed under high surveillance.[36]

Some believe Ha'iri's endeavor to protect the Hawza was the most important reason to avoid coming to the political scene and confronting Iranian government in some political incidents. In their views, Ha'iri consciously and wisely didn't interfere in governmental affairs, because he thought opposing Shah's decisions could only lead to disbandment of the Hawza. Therefore, with the help of his wisdom, foresight and patience he managed to protect not only the Hawza, but Shi'ism in Iran.[37]


Ha'iri did not author many books considering his positions during his residence in the city of Qom. However there are valuable works by him in five categories:

  1. Books: He authored five books; Durar al-Fawa'id, Kitab al-Nikah, Kitab al-Rida', Kitab al-Mawarith, and Kitab al-Salat[38]
  2. Commentary on juristprudentioal books: Commentary on al-'Urwat al-wuthqa by Al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim al-Yazdi and Anis al-Tujjar by Muhammad Mahdi Naraqi[39]
  3. Writing lectures of his teachers: He wrote note lectures of Fisharaki on usul[40]
  4. Lectures: These books are written and revised by his students out of his lectures such as Risalat al-ijtihad wa l-taqlid, Kitab al-bay' and Kitab al-tijara all by Muhammad 'Ali Araki and also note lectures by Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpaygani and Mirza Mahmud Ashtiyani[41]
  5. Manuals of Islamic law and Fatwas, such as Dhakhirat al-ma'ad, Majma' al-ahkam, Majma' al-masa'il, Muntakhab al-rasa'il, Wasilat al-najat, and Manasik-i Haj.[42]

Personal Qualities

Al-Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri was friendly, pleasant and reasonable without histrionic gestures or hypocrisy. He was very careful about how to use the money given to him as Islamic tax ( e.g. Khums and Zakat). His asceticism and simplicity was exemplary throughout his life.[43]

He was always looking for providing comfort and convenience for people. He established Sahamiyya Hospital and supported the building of Fatimi Hospital in Qom to help the public service.[44]

He had special attention for the students of Hawza and resolving their problems. He would sometimes personally visit students in their dormitories and rooms to know about their educational progress and encourage the dedicated ones.[45]

He loved the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and he used to recite elegy in the mourning ceremonies of Muharram when he was young in Samarra. He established the tradition of mourning for Lady Fatima (a) from 1st to 3rd of Jumada II in Iran. He promoted mourning sessions rather than Ta'ziya rituals and tried to stop the narration of illegitimate narrations in mourning ceremonies.[46]

Ha'iri's funeral in Qom in January 1937.


Ha'iri had five children; two sons named Murtada and Mahdi and three daughters who was married to Muhammad Tuysirkani, Ahmad Hamadani and Sayyid Muhammad Muhaqqiq Damad.[47]


Ha'iri passed away on Dhu l-Qa'da 17, 1355 (January 29, 1937) after 15 years of residence in Qom. There was a superb turnout for his funeral despite the government restrictions. Ayatollah Sayyid Sadiq Qummi performed his funeral prayer and his body was buried in Balasar Mosque in the Holy Shrine of Lady al-Ma'suma (a).[48]


  1. The position of being marja'
  2. Bamdad, Sharh-i hal-i rijal-i Iran, vol.2, p.275
  3. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.13-14
  4. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.20-21
  5. Mursalwand, Zindiginami-yi rijal wa mashahir-i Iran, vol.3, p.59
  6. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.23-24
  7. Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, pp.80.82
  8. Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, pp. 87-88; pp.93-94
  9. Habibabadi, Makarim al-athar, vol.6, p.2118
  10. Sharif Razi, Ganjini-yi danishmandan, vol.1, pp.283-284
  11. Ustadi, Yadnami-yi ayatollah Araki, p.51
  12. Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, p.39; pp.87-88
  13. Ustadi, Yadnami-yi ayaollah Araki, pp.44-51
  14. Muhaqqiq Damad, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, pp.43-44; Sadra'i Khu'i, Ayatollah Khoei; yek qarn warastigi, p.17; Nikuburish, 'Amalkard-i siyasi-yi Ayatollah Haj Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri, pp.46-47; Bamdad, Sharh-i hal-i rijal-i Iran, vol.2, p.275
  15. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatoullah-i mu'assis, p.55
  16. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.55-56
  17. Safwat Tabrizi, Zindiginami-yi ayatollah 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri, p.73
  18. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Tabaqat, qism 3, p.1164; Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, p.56; Sadra'i Khu'i, Ayatollah Araki; yek qarn warastigi, pp.17-18
  19. Sharif Razi, Ganjini-yi danishmandan, vol.1, p.286
  20. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Tabaqat, qism 3, p.1159; Fayd Qumi, Ganjini-yi athar-i Qom, vol.1, pp.331-334; Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.58-59
  21. Ustadi, Yadnami-yi Ayatollah Araki, pp.54-64
  22. Interview with Ayatollah Tabasi, Hawza Magazine, Issue 34, 1368 SH.
  23. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Tabaqat, qism 3, pp.1160-1161; Safwat Tabrizi, Zindiginami-yi Ayatollah 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri, p.77
  24. Ustadi, Yadnami-yi Ayatollah Araki, pp.77-78
  25. Mustawfi, Sharh-i zindigani-yi man, vol.3, p.601; Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, pp.18,76
  26. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.74-75; Muhaqqiq Damad, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, pp.50-55
  27. Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, pp.39,80,82,87
  28. Sharif Razi, Ganjini-yi danishmandan, vol.1, pp.59,87,88
  29. Husayni Zanjani, Al-Kalam yajurr al-kalam, vol.1, p.124; Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, p.47Muhaqqiq Damad, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, pp.67,68,87,88,92
  30. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.61-62; Ha'iri, Hawza Magazine, pp.161-162
  31. Nizam al-din Zadi, Hujum-i rus wa iqdamat-i 'ulama-yi din barayi hifz-i Iran, pp.154-155
  32. Shakuri, Marja'i durandish wa sabur, p.116; Amini, Ihtimam, p.198
  33. Dawlatabadi, Hayat-i yahya, vol.4, p.289
  34. Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, p.64
  35. Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, p.83
  36. Ha'iri Yazdi, Sirr-i dilbaran, p.65
  37. Sharif Razi, Ganjini-yi danishmandan, vol.1, pp.29-30, 53-54; Amini, Ihtimam, p.198
  38. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.103-105
  39. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Al-Dhari'a, vol.2, p.453; vol.20, p.15; vol.22, pp.405-406; vol.25, p.87
  40. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Al-Dhari'a, vol.4, p.378
  41. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, p.105
  42. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Al-Dhari'a, vol.2, p.453; vol.20, p.15; vol.22, pp.405-406; vol.25, p.87
  43. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.52-54; Muhaqqiq Damad, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, pp.47-48
  44. Ittila'at Newspaper, 1310 SH, Farvardin 30-31
  45. Muhaqqiq Damad, Interview with Hawzah Magazine, pp.41-42
  46. Karimi Jahrumi, Ayatollah-i mu'assis, pp.48-50; Radawi, Haj Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim wa saman wa saman dadan bi tabliqat-i dini, pp.151-154
  47. Fayyadi, Zindiginami wa shakhsiyyat-i ijtima'i siyasi-yi Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri, pp.114-115
  48. Husayni Zanjani, Al-Kalam yajur al-kalam, vol.1, p.107; Amini, Mururi bar zindigi-yi Ayatollah 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri, pp.20, 36-37


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