Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki

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Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki
Personal Information
Full NameAli b. al-Husayn b. Abd al-Ali
Well-Known AsAl-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki, al-Muhaqqiq al-Thani
Well-Known RelativesMir Damad (grandson)
BirthJabal Amel, Lebanon in 865/1460-1 or 870/1465-6
ResidenceLebanon, Iraq, Iran
Studied inLebanon, Iraq
DeathNajaf in 940/1534
Burial PlaceHoly Shrine of Imam Ali (a)
Scholarly Information
Professors'Ali b. Hilal al-Jaza'iriMuhammad b. Dawud b. Mu'adhdhin al-Jazini

ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAbd al-ʿĀlī al-Karakī al-Jabal ʿĀmilī (Arabic: علی بن الحسین بن عبدالعالي الکَرَکي العاملي), well known as al-Muḥaqqiq al-Thānī (Arabic: المحقّق الثاني) or al-Muḥaqqiq al-Karakī (Arabic: المحقّق الکرْکي), (d. 940/1534) was a famous Shi'a jurist of Safavid era. He immigrated from his hometown, Jabal Amel, to Iraq and then to Iran at the invitation of Shah Isma'il Safavi. He played an important role in propagating and spreading Shi'a beliefs in Iran. He was an expert in jurisprudence and his works were very well received by following jurists. His most famous book is Jami' al-maqasid fi sharh al-qawa'id. He has notable opinions about Wilayat al-Faqih.

Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki trained eminent students such as: al-Shaykh 'Ali al-Minshar, al-Husayn b. 'Abd al-Samad al-Harithi and al-Sayyid Ni'mat Allah al-Jaza'iri. Most of the jurists and scholars of the 9th/14th and 10th/15th centuries were his students.


Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki was born in Karak Nuh, a village in Jabal Amel, Lebanon in 865/1460-1 or 870/1465-6. His name was 'Ali and his title was Nur al-Din.


He had two sons and two daughters. His oldest son, al-Shaykh 'Abd al-'Ali, was a great scholar and lived in Kashan, Iran. His other son was Hasan. One of his daughters got married in Jabal Amel and had a son named Mir Sayyid Husayn Husayni, who lived in Ardabil, Iran and taught Islamic subjects and became Shaykh al-Islam of the city, and people referred to him for their religious issues. His other daughter married Mir Shams al-Din Muhammad Astarabadi in Iran and gave birth to a boy which later was known as Mir Damad -one of the most important teachers of Mulla Sadra.[1]

Education and Scholarly Position

Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki traveled many times and studied under many scholars, such as: 'Ali b. Hilal al-Jaza'iri, Muhammad b. Dawud b. Mu'adhdhin al-Jazini, al-Sayyid Haydar al-'Amili, and Abi Yahya Zakariyya al-Ansari (a Sunni scholar).

After primary education, he entered the Islamic seminary of Karak, where he studied under Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Khatun, Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Jazini, Shams al-Din Muhammad Ahmad al-Sahyuni, and 'Ali b. Hilal al-Jaza'iri. After that, he went to Meiss El Jabal and became a teacher in its seminary. Al-Shahid al-Thani was a student in that seminary and studied Shara'i' al-Islam and Qawa'id al-Ahkam under al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki.[2]

Al-Karaki, also, studied for a while in Jbaa, Lebanon. Afterward, he went to the seminary in Jabal Amel and then to the one of Damascus and then to Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). He also studied and did some researches in al-Khalil (Hebron). Afterward, he went to Egypt, wherein he entered a Sunni seminary. After 909/1503-4, he emigrated to Iraq and in 916/1510-1 moved to Iran.[3]

In one of his writings, al-Shahid al-Thani referred to al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki as "al-Imam", "al-Muhaqqiq", "al-Munaqqih", "the rare person of his time" and "Precious pearl of the time".

Many of his contemporary and later scholars such as al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili, al-'Allama al-Majlisi, al-Sayyid Hasan al-Sadr, and Sayyid Ni'mat Allah al-Jaza'iri eulogized his vast knowledge and extreme piety.


He aslo benefitted from some Sunni scholars:

  • Abi Yahya Zakariyya al-Ansari (d. 926/1519-20)
  • Kamal al-Din Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Abi Sharif al-Qurashi (d. 923/1517-8)[4]



Jami' al-maqasid

He authored around seventy-one books and treatises in which the Jami' al-maqasid is the most famous work which is a commentary on the book Qawa'id al-ahkam written by al-'Allama al-Hilli. It is one of the greatest and best jurisprudential scripts in Shi'a. About this book, Sahib Jawahir says, "A Mujtahid who has Jami' al-maqasid, Wasa'il al-Shi'a and Jawahir, does not need any other books for understanding and deducting jurisprudential verdicts."

Emigration to Iran

Shi'a scholars who lived in Ottoman Empire territory suffered a lot of pressure and restriction imposed by the Ottoman government due to the on-going war and conflict between the Ottoman empire and Safavid Dynasty. These restrictions caused many Shi'a scholars to emigrate to Iran.

Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki was among the scholars who traveled to Iran in the second decade of the 10th/15th century and probably at the invitation of Shah Isma'il Safavi.[6] After 15 years, he moved to Iraq because of the Battle of Chaldiran, and inattention of Shah Isma'il to political and cultural issues and scholars' positions.[7]

After Shah Isma'il, al-Muhaqqiq's spiritual and scholarly characteristics caused Shah Tahmasb Safavi to ask him to return to Iran. It is said that Shah Tahmasb was very fond of his characteristics and his scholarly status[8] and after his return to Iran gave him the position of Shaykh al-Islam, which was the highest religious position in the country at that time. Shah Tahmasb, also, authorized him to interfere in governmental issues. Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki gets the most of this special opportunity to deal with some issues in the Shah's court and to spread the teachings of Shi'a school of thought and to consolidate Shi'a principles in the Safavid territory.[9]

Some scholars were appointed as Shaykh al-Islam after al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki, but none of them had his power and influence on the Safavid court. Baha' al-Din al-'Amili and al-'Allama al-Majlisi are two eminent personalities who became Shaykh al-Islam after him.

Religious and Social Activities

Supported by the Safavid government, al-Karaki tried a lot to spread Shi'a in Iran. His major activities were: propagating and spreading Shi'a and its teachings, consolidation, and establishment of religious Shi'a institutes, forbidding the evil, and clearing the Iranian society form anti-religion symbols. Probably, it was after his fatwa that the government closed some centers and institutes involved in anti-Islamic action.[10] He also tried to change the sufi attitude within Safavid Dynasty.[11]

In his time, most people did not know much about Shi'a beliefs and Islamic laws. They did not have access to jurisprudential books except for the 1st volume of Qawa'id al-Ahkam -written by al-'Allama al-Hilli- which was used for studying and teaching Islamic jurisprudence.[12]

By authoring books and treatises on ethics, jurisprudence, and other Islamic topics, al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki enriched and revived Shi'a seminaries and helped to spread the knowledge of Ahl al-Bayt (a). He cared a lot about the improvement of seminaries. Annually, he took 70 thousand dinars (gold coin) from Shah Tahmasb and spent it on educating seminary students.[13]

Al-Sayyid Ni'mat Allah al-Jaza'iri said that he had seen some of his letters and orders to regional governors of the country. According to his report, in these letters, al-Karaki described the way that government agents should treat people and the rules of taking taxes and the amount of it. He also had added that each city and village should have a leader to perform congregational prayer and teach people Islamic laws and rituals. It is said that by his effort "Ashhad ann 'Aliyyan Wali Allah" ( I bear witness 'Ali is the wali of Allah) and "Hayy 'ala Khayr al-'Amal" (Hurry toward the best of deeds) were put back in Adhan again and were heard from minarets.[14]

Opinion about Wilayat al-Faqih

Al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki writes about Wilayat al-Faqih (guardianship of the jurist):

"… the seed of government of abased people shall be sown in the hearts, and steps shall be taken to fulfill it. We believe that the qualified faqih must rise and undertake the leadership of the Islamic society authoritatively and firmly. He shall introduce Islam as an important political and social thought, and as a perfect system to govern humankind. The Infallible Imams (a) had the same governmental authority of the Prophet (s), likewise, a qualified faqih is a representative of Imams and has the governmental authority they had."
"Shi'a scholars and jurists unanimously believe that a just, trustworthy and qualified-for-issuing-fatwa faqih is a representative of Shi'a Infallible Imams; and during the period of the Major Occultation, they have their authority in governing the society -however, some Shi'a scholars excluded [from his authority] execution and executing of Hadd."[15]


He passed away in 940/1534 at the age of 75 in Najaf and was buried in the shrine of Imam 'Ali (a).


  1. Dawani, Mafakhir al-Islam, vol.4 p.449-450
  2. Al-Shahid al-Thani, al-Tanbihat, p.28
  3. Dawani, Mafakhir al-Islam, vol.4 p.414
  4. Muhajir, al-Muhajira, p.121-122
  5. Dawani, Mafakhir al-Islam, vol.4 p.434
  6. Ja'fariyan, Safawiyya az zuhur ta zawal, p.98
  7. Puramini, Safawiyan namad-i iqtidar-i Iran, p.116
  8. Dawani, Mafakhir al-Islam, vol.4 p.422
  9. Tunikabuni, Qisas al-'ulama, p.347
  10. Musawi, Hakim Istarabad, p.11-12
  11. Mutahhari, Ashnayi ba 'ulum-i Islami
  12. Dawani, Mafakhir al-Islam, vol.4 p.440
  13. Rumlu, Ahsan al-tawarikh, p.85
  14. Al-Bahrani, Lu'lu'at al-bahrayn, p.151; Khwansari, Rawdat al-jannat, vol.4 p.361
  15. Ja'fariyan, Din wa siyasat dar duriye safawiyya, p.32,312


  • Bahrani, Yusuf al-. Lu'lu'at al-bahrayn. Najaf: Dar Nu'man, 1345
  • Dawani, 'Ali. Mafakhir al-Islam. Intisharat Markaz Asnad Inqilab Islami, 1386
  • Gulshan abrar. Qom: Intisharat Sazman Tablighat Islami, 1379
  • Ja'fariyan, Rasul. Din wa siyasat dar dura-yi safawiyya. Qom: Intisharat Ansariyan, 1370
  • Ja'fariyan, Rasul. Safawiyya az zuhur ta zawal. Mu'assisa Farhangi Danish wa Andishiyi Mu'asir, 1378
  • Khwansari, Muhammad Baqir. Rawdat al-jannat
  • Muhajir, Ja'far. Al-Muhajira l-'amiliyya. Beirut: 1410
  • Musawi, Sayyid 'Ali. Hakim Istarabad
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  • Rumlu, Hasan Biyg. Ahsan al-tawarikh. Tehran: Intisharat Asatir, 1384
  • Shahid al-Thani al-. Al-Tanbihat al-'illiyya fi waza'if al-talat al-qalbiyya. Mashhad: Majma' al-Buhuth al-Islamiyya, 1371
  • Tunikabuni, Mir Ahmad. Qisas al-'ulama. Intisharat 'Ilmi Farhangi, 1386