Abd al-Husayn Amini

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Abd al-Husayn Amini
Personal Information
Full NameAbd al-Husayn Amini
Well-Known AsAllama Amini
Birth1320/1902-3, Tabriz
Studied inTarbiz, Najaf
DeathRabi' II 28, 1390/July 3, 1970 in Tehran
Burial PlaceAmir al-Mu'minin library, Najaf
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsSayyid Abu l-Hasan IsfahaniMuhammad Husayn Na'iniAbd al-Karim Ha'iri YazdiMuhammad Husayn Gharawi Isfahani

ʿAbd al-Ḥusayn Amīnī (Arabic: عبدالحسین امینی) (b. 1320/1902-3 - d. 1390/1970), known as ʿAllāma Amīnī the author of the well-known book al-Gadir, was a Shi'a jurist, muhaddith, theologian, historian, codicologist and one of the great Shi'a scholars in the fourteenth/twentieth century. Beside writing numerous important scholarly works, he also established in the city of Najaf the Amir al-Mu'minin Library, which includes 42,000 books in different languages, of which there were about 4,000 manuscripts, 400 photographic copies, and 750 film copies.

Birth and Childhood

'Abd al-Husayn Amini, the son of Mirza Ahmad Amini was born in Tabriz in 1320/1902-3.[1] His father was a religious leader in Tabriz. His grandfather Mullah Najaf 'Ali, was known as Amīn al-Sharʿ (the Protector of the Shariah); hence his family name was called "Amini".

'Abd al-Husayn Amini started his education in the schools of Tabriz and after memorizing the Qur'an and finishing the elementary level, started his studies of jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence and took part in the classes of scholars like Sayyid Muhammad Mawlana, the author of Misbah al-salikin, and Sayyid Mortada Khusrushahi and Shaykh Husayn, the author of Hidayat al-Anam[2].

Migration to Najaf

Amini migrated at the age of 22 from Tabriz to Najaf and took part in the classes of prominent scholars, such as Sayyid Muhammad Firuzabadi (d. 1345/1926-7) and Sayyid Abuturab Khwansari (d. 1346/1927-8).[3]

License for Ijtihad and Riwaya

Amini got the permission for ijtihad from some marja's like Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani, Muhammad Husayn Na'ini, Muhammad Husayn Gharawi Isfahani[4] and Shaykh Abd al-Karim Ha'iri Yazdi[5]. Regarding the death date of these marja's (between the years 1355/1936-7 to 1364/1944-5), one can see that Allama Amini has gotten the permission for ijtihad and hadith transmission, before the age of 35. Having gained this permission (for ijtihad and hadith transmission), he returned to Tabriz, but after a short while, he went back to Najaf again.[6]



Al-Gadir fi' l-kitab wa' l-sunnat wa l-adab

'Allama Amini's magnum opus is the book 'Al-Ghadir fi l-kitab wa l-sunnat wa l-adab (The Ghadir in the Book, the Sunnah, and Literature), a book on verifying Imam 'Ali's immediate Imamate and Caliphate (after the Prophet (s), based on the Event of Ghadir and analyzing the chains of transmission and indication of the Al-Ghadir Sermon.[7] 'Abd al-Husayn Amini has spent forty years of his life writing this eleven-volumes book, and to find the documents of the Event of Ghadir, went all the way into the libraries in Iraq, Iran, India, Syria and Turkey to conduct his research.[8] According to Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi, quoting Amini himself, he has read up to 10,000 books to be able to write the book al-Ghadir. [9] The first to the ninth volumes of the book al-Ghadir have been published in Najaf in 1364/1944-5. The whole compilation of eleven volumes have been published in 1372/1952-3 CE in Tehran.[10] This anthology includes twenty volumes, of which only eleven have been published.[11]

Amir al-Mu'menin Library

The public library of Amir al-Mu'menin in Najaf was inaugurated on the 18th of DhulHijja 1379 AH/June 13, 1960 CE by 'Allama Amini and at the presence of some of the leading figures of the Shi'a Seminary of Najaf, including Agha Buzurg Tehrani. This library included 42,000 books in different languages, of which there were about 4,000 manuscripts, 400 photographic copies, and 750 film copies.[12] 'Allama Amini, the founder of it, has donated all the books of his personal library – which were around five to six thousand books – to the Amir al-Mu'menin Library. His son, Muhammad Hadi, has given away 1,000 of his personal books to this library.[13] While collecting due hadiths and documents required to write his book on the Ghadir Incident, 'Allama Amini visited many libraries in the Muslim world. The largest library of Najaf at his time had just 4ooo books, and this very shortcoming made him establish a large library in this city.[14] In the year 1373 AH/ 1953-4 CE, at the age of 53, he began collecting the needed book.

Views and Goals

Ijtihad and Marja'iyya

Allama Amini's Tomb, Najaf
  • Abd al-Husayn Amini believed that ijtihad (religious, spiritual authority) is beyond one's authority and for that, a "delegation of fatwa (religious verdict)" consisting of authoritative, courageous and well-informed scholars should be established. He did not regard as sufficient for the marja' of the Shi'a world – who should be universal – to write a risala (a manual of Islamic law). He criticized those who accepted the position of the Shi'a marja'iyya without qualifying, and regarded it as a crime which would ruin all Shi'a values.[15]
  • He believed that one should distinguish between the titles of being a mujtahid, the author of a risala, and being the "marja'/ leader of the Shi'a world" and that among the prerequisites for the qualification of a marja', beside the famous prerequisites (of maturity, intelligence…) there should be other conditions.[16] Amini believed, knowing the fact that there were hundreds of intellectual, philosophical, educational, economic and military movements in the world, one could not sacrifice the scientific, legislative, social and political heritage of Ali (a) and his decedents by giving it to the hands of those who have just spent some years of studying jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence at the Shi'a Seminary, and that this important task could not be left to the hands of some coward, close-hearted, narrow-sighted, frozen and closed-minded, unenthusiastic people.[17]

Criticizing the Religious Books

Amini was against publishing books that did not have authentic historical sources and were not based on ijtihad and firm reasoning. Regarding some of the religious books published at his time, he said: "The Farsi books that have been published during these years on the life of Shi'a Imams should all be thrown into the water (thrown away)".[18]

Criticizing Some of the Mourning Ceremonies

Although Amini was very much interested in the mourning ceremonies for Imam al-Husayn (a) and mourning convocations for other Imams and that in such religious convocations and gatherings felt very much saddened and grieved (upon the remembrance of the suffering of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and other Imams), yet was not content with them and was very critical of many of them – due to the banality of some of them and the fact that some of the lecturers had no knowledge of the hadith and the religious knowledge, were not pious enough and were unaware of the life of the Shi'a Imams and the history of the incidents in their lives and the reason behind their conflicts with the oppressing powers of their times and about the Shi'a revolutionary culture. He suffered from and was troubled by them all. And was deeply discontented by the undocumented and undue statements of the preachers and the base and banal words of the dirge-reciters. 'Allama Amini once said: "I was taking part in one of Tehran's major convocations. In the middle of the sermon – although it was very improper to do so – I stood up and left the gathering because I would regard it as haram (religiously forbidden) sitting there and listening to those words".[19]


Abd al-Husayn Amini believed that visiting the Imams' shrines and their descendants, contrary to what Shi'as nowadays understand, should have more educational productivity. Thus, one of his first tasks was to publish one of the most authentic texts on the Shi'a ziyara rituals called Kamil al-Ziyarat. Another publication by him was the book Adab al-Zair, describing the due rituals for visiting the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a) shrine.[20]

Unfulfilled Tasks

In the introduction of his book in memory of Allama Amini, Hakimin mentions that apart from all that Allama Amini had carried out, there were other tasks that he did not manage to fulfil during his lifetime. Some of these tasks were:

  • Establishing the Dar al-ta'lif (The House of Authors).
  • Establishing a foundation for investigating the publications on Islam worldwide.
  • Publishing and distributing many of the books written by the Islamic scholars, which had remained only in manuscripts.
  • Striving to spread deeper understandings among the seminary students and encouraging them to set off and travel around the world and get to know about the actual life, global issues and the science of the time.
  • Editing and modifying and carefully and broadly supervising the religious books; so that by time only those who possessed both sufficient and technical knowledge and were qualified – not any layperson, claiming so – would write about the faith and religion.
  • Rectifying the religious convocations and monitoring what they would teach people.[21]

In the Eyes of the Prominent Figures

Shia' Scholars

  • Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani, in his appreciation of the book Martyrs of Virtue, regards 'Allama Amini as the herald of knowledge and ethics and the champion of the Islamic intellectual movement, and adds that he, with his interesting innovations and creativities, has surpassed the authors preceding and contemporary to himself, and has left behind some very precious scientific, historical, literary and ethical works.
  • Muhammad Husayn Gharawi Isfahani, known as Kampani, in a commentary on Allama Amini's first book, besides appreciating and praising the book, also exalts the intrinsic capabilities of Abd al-Husayn Amini and regards him as having high talent in writing and the virtue of saying and seeking the truth.
  • In commenting on the book Martyrs of Virtue in 1353 AH/ 1934-5 CE, Aqa Buzurg Tihrani has regarded Amini as the true manifestation of faith, the beauty of religion, and a man of piety, and has regarded his book as a masterpiece for the (Islamic) community.

Sunni Scholars

  • Muhammad 'Abd al-Ghani Hasan Misri, one of the Sunni scholars, has composed a poem about him. In this poem, he stresses the fact that although Amini's tone was caustic during the discussion, he was very gentle in behaviour. He also asks God for high rewards and merits for Abd al-Husayn Amini, merit as high as the greatness of Amini's defence of the Ghadir.[22] [23]
  • Muhammad Sa'id Duhduh, one of the great Islamic scholars of Halab, in a part of his letter to 'Allama Amini writes: “You have indeed inherited a kind of style and ethic from the Family of the Prophet, the kind of which could be found in hardly anyone, except for some few righteous and pious people.[24]

Moral Traits

Some of the students and relatives of 'Allama Amini have numerated his moral traits as follows:

  • Piety: according to Muhammad Rida Hakimi, Amini was so passionate in performing prayers and religious rituals and mustahab (recommended) prayers and reciting the Qur'an. He would even perform night prayers and the dawn prayers, would recite a complete juz' of the Qur'an, along with reflecting on the meanings.[25]
  • Righteousness: Although he had resided in Najaf for 40 years, he didn't have a house of his own.[26] Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi has regarded Amini as the best example for the Qu'anic verse: "They strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic" (5:54).[27]

Books Published about 'Abd al-Husayn Amini

  • The Epic of Ghadir, written by Muhammad Rida Hakimi, a commentary and critique of the book Al-Ghadir by 'Allama Amini – that also deals with his life.
  • A Quarter of Century with 'Allama Amini (Memoirs), written by Husayn Shakiri.
  • Accompanying Khidr, written by Husayn Shakiri. He was an associate of 'Allama Amini and in this 117 page-book has accounted in details on the life and trips of 'Allama Amini.
  • In the Memory of 'Allama Amini, under the supervision of Sayyid Jafar Shahidi and Muhammad Rida Hakimi. An anthology of articles written by seminary and university figures on 'Abd al-Husayn Amini. Sahidi and Hakimin dedicated the first 28 pages of the book to the life of Amini. They then followed 20 articles with different topics written by the Shi'a Seminary scholars and the academic figures.
  • The Confidant of the Shari'a (Memoirs), the special journal issued in the book launch ceremony of the book Al-Maqasid al-'Illiya fi l-Matalib al-Sunniya written by different authors and published by the Muhaqqiq Tabataba'i Foundation in 2012-3 in Qom.
  • The Salute of the Drop to the Sea-like Heart of Ghadir, a poem by Mahdi Akhawan Thalith (famous Iranian poet) about 'Allama Amini.
  • Allama Amini the Inexhaustible Peacemaker, written by Ali Rida Sayyid Kibari, including the biography of 'Abl al-Husayn Amini.
  • Allama Amini the Sip Drinker of Ghadir, written by Mahdi Lutfi in 256 pages, including the biography of 'Allama Amini.
  • A Historical Trip, a report on the one-month trip of 'Allam Amini to Isfahan.
  • Al-Hujja al-Amini Taba Thara; a recently discovered biography of 'Allama Amini, written by Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq Bahr al-Ulum.
  • Some Remarks on the Book Al-Maqasid al-'Elliya, written by Hasan Ansari.
  • The Chronicle of Allama Amini's Life, written by 'Abd al-Husayn Tali'i.
  • A Guide in Researching on Allama Amini and His Works, written by Salim Gandumi.


Allama Amini passed away at Friday noon on Rabi' II 28, 1390/July 3, 1970. Some have regarded the cause of his death at the age of 70 – despite having a robust and healthy body – due to severe study and his total dedication to writing and taking care of the library task. In his will, Amini has requested that one be chosen as his representative to go to Karbala for ten years. He also has willed that for ten years, mourning ceremonies be held on the demise anniversary of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a).


  1. Sayyid Mustafa Husayni Dashti, Ma'arif and Ma'arif, vol. 2, p 550.
  2. Sayyid Mustafa Husayni Dashti, Ma'arif and Ma'arif, vol. 2, p 550
  3. Sayyid 'Ali Rida Sayyid Kibari, Allama Amini, Ghawwas-i Ghadir, p. 43-44.
  4. 'Ali Rida Sayyid Kibari, Allama Amini, Ghawwas-i Ghadir, p. 43-44.
  5. 'Ali Rida Sayyid Kibari, Allama Amini, Ghawwas-i Ghadir, p. 43-44.
  6. 'Ali Rida Sayyid Kibari, Allama Amini, The Diver of Ghadir, p. 43-44.
  7. The Encyclopedia of Shi'a Islam, vol. 12, p. 39.
  8. The Encyclopedia of Shi'a Islam, vol. 12, p. 39-40.
  9. Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi, The Development of the Shi'a Faith and Amini as the Reviver of the Faith.
  10. Sayyid Mustafa Husayni Dashti, Ma'arif and Ma'arif, vol. 2, p 551.
  11. Mahdi Lutfi, Allama Amini, The Sip Drinker of Ghadir, p. 62.
  12. Mahdi Lutfi, Allama Amini, The Sip Drinker of Ghadir, p. 63.
  13. Mahdi Lutfi, Allama Amini, The Sip Drinker of Ghadir, p. 63.
  14. Mahdi Lutfi, Allama Amini, The Sip Drinker of Ghadir, p. 63.
  15. Hakimi, The Myth of Ghadir, p. 289.
  16. Hakimi, The Myth of Ghadir, p. 290.
  17. Hakimi, The Myth of Ghadir, p. 294.
  18. Hakimi, The Myth of Ghadir, p. 297.
  19. Hakimi, The Myth of Ghadir, p. 298-299.
  20. Hakimi, The Myth of Ghadir, p. 304.
  21. In The Memory of Allama Amini, p. 31.
  22. The Myth of Ghadir, p. 295; Shakiri, A Quarter of a Century with 'Allama Amini, p. 318.
  23. In the Memory of 'Allama Amini, p. 31.
  24. The Translation of al-Ghadir, vol. 1, p. 21.
  25. The Myth of Ghadir, p. 551.
  26. A Quarter of a Century with 'Allama, p. 283.
  27. The Myth of Ghadir, p. 481.