Al-Sayyid Ismāʿīl al-Ṣadr (Arabic: السيد إسماعیل الصَدر) was a Shi'ite scholar and marja' in the fourteenth/twentieth century and the head of the al-Sadr Family. He studied in Isfahan, Najaf, and Samarra. He was a student of Mirza Shirazi. He and some other scholars of Najaf issued a fatwa of jihad against the invasions of Russia, Britain, and Italy on Islamic territories.

Al-Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr
Personal Information
Well-Known Relativesal-Sayyid Sadr al-Din al-Sadral-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadral-Sayyid Musa al-Sadr
Place of BirthIsfahan
ResidenceIsfahan, Najaf, Samarra and Kadhimiyya
Studied inNajaf, Samarra
DeathJumada I 3 1338/February 4,1919
Burial PlaceKadhimiyya, Iraq
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsMirza Shirazi • Shaykh Radi


Al-Sayyid Isma'il b. Sayyid Sadr al-Din's lineage goes back to Ibrahim al-Asghar b. Musa b. Ja'far (a). His father was from Jabal Amel who immigrated to Iraq and then to Isfahan after the Sedition of Jazzar Pasha.

Al-Sayyid Isma'il was born in Isfahan in 1258/1842-3. His father died when he was just 6 years old, and then he was raised by his brother, Sayyid Muhammad 'Ali, known as Aqa Mujtahid. He studied Arabic literature and parts of usul al-fiqh and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) with his brother. After his brother's death when he was 14, he studied the rest of fiqh with Muhamamd Baqir Razi Isfahani, the son of the author of Hidayat al-mustarshidin. In 1281/1864-5, he went to Najaf in order to attend the lectures of al-Shaykh al-Ansari, but al-Shaykh al-Ansari died before he arrived in Najaf. So in Najaf, he attended the lectures of al-Shaykh Radi al-Najafi and Mahdi Kashif al-Ghita'. After his hajj travel in 1282/1865-6, he contracted a disease and thus, he returned to Isfahan. In Isfahan, he was highly honored by people, but in 1294/1877-8, he left Isfahan under the pretext of visiting a village, and then went back to Iraq in order to continue his studies. In 1300/1882-3, he visited Khorasan and then went back to al-'Atabat al-'Aliyat. After the death of Shaykh Musa Al Sharara in Jabal Amel, people there invited him to go to Jabal Amel, but he rejected the invitation. He stayed in Iraq for about 20 years and studied fiqh and usul al-fiqh with Mirza Shirazi in Najaf and Samarra. Mirza Shirazi left his teaching chair in the last ten years of his life to three of his students: Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr, Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, and Sayyid Muhammad Isfahani. He stayed in Samarra until 1314/1896-7, two years after the demise of Mirza Shirazi. He then moved to Karbala and started teaching there. He was followed by a group of Shi'as in Iran and Iraq as a marja'. Late in his life, he went to Kadhimiya. He died on Jumada I 3, 1337/February 4, 1919. According to another account, he died on Jumada I 12, 1338/February 2, 1920. He was buried in a chamber in the Shrine of Kadhimayn.

He came to be known as "al-Sadr" because Mirza Shirazi had two students called "Sayyid Isma'il", and in order to distinguish them, he referred to him as "al-Sadr" because of his father's name, Sadr al-Din.

Al-Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr was a pious ascetic person. He was good-tempered, pious, humble, and never sought fame. He walked alone and did not like anyone to accompany him. He was very cautious in his fatwas.

Family tree of al-Sadr Family
Muhammad'Abd al-KarimMuhammad 'AliMirza Ja'farMusa al-SadrHadi al-Sadr al-Kazimayni'Isa al-Sadr
Al-Sayyid Hasan al-Sadr
Abu Ja'far Khadim al-Shari'aAbu l-HasanHusaynIsma'ilAqa Mujtahid
HaydarMuhammad JawadMuhammad MahdiSadr al-DinMuhammad Jawad
Isma'ilBint al-HudaMuhammad BaqirAbu l-HasanMuhammad Ja'farMuhammad Sadiqal-Sayyida Baygum Agha al-Sadr al-'Amili
HaydarHasanJa'farSalamMuhammad MahdiMuhammadMa'suma Baygum
Muqtada al-SadrSayyid Muhammad Husayni Bihishti
Imam Musa SadrRida'Ali
HamidSadr al-DinIbn 'Ali


Al-Sayyid Isma'il had four sons all of whom were scholars.

Scholarly Life

Al-Sayyid Isma'il did not leave written works. He only wrote commentaries on Muhammad Mahdi Naraqi's Anis al-tujjar and al-Shaykh al-Baha'i's Jami' 'Abbasi.


  • His brother, Sayyid Muhammad 'Ali,
  • Muhammad Baqir Isfahani,
  • Mahdi Kashif al-Ghita',
  • Shaykh Radi Najafi,


  • Musa Kirmanshahi Ha'iri,
  • Sayyid Mirza 'Ali Shirazi,
  • Sayyid Husayn b. Sayyid Ibrahim Fisharaki,
  • Muhammad Husayn Tabasi,
  • Muhammad 'Ali b. 'Abbas Hirawi Khurasani,

Political and Social Activities

The Fatwa of Scholars in Najaf about the Unity of the Muslims

"When we saw that disputes among the five Muslim sects, which are not concerned with the principles of the religion, was leading to the fall of Islamic states and the dominance of foreigners, the fatwas of great mujtahids, that is the heads of Ja'fari Shi'as as well as Sunni mujtahids agreed on the necessity of appealing to the bond of Islam in order to protect the universal religious word and defend the Muhammadi sharia, as God, the Mighty and Revered, said in the honored verse: "And hold fast to the Bond of Allah all together". It was agreed that all Muslims unify in the protection of the Islamic territory and the defense of all Islamic kingdoms, both Ottoman and Persian, against the aggressions of foreign states and the invasions of crusader kingdoms. Our opinions were all unified on the protection of the Islamic territory and on devoting all of our power and influence to this cause".

Supporting Shirkat-i Islamiyya (Islamic Company) in Isfahan: Shirkat-i Islamiyya in Isfahan was founded in 1316/1898-9 in order to provide textiles needed by Iranians and to resist dependence on foreign imports. Aqa Najafi Isfahani and his brother, Aqa Nur Allah Najafi Isfahani, were among the founders of the company. Scholars issued statements to support the company and encourage people to purchase domestic products. Akhund Khurasani, al-Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr, Mirza Husayn Nuri, Haj Mirza Khalil, Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi, Muhammad Gharawi Sharabyani, Muhammad Husayn Mamaqani, and Shaykh al-Shari'a Isfahani announced their support for the company.

Fatwa of Jihad against the Russians: when Russia invaded Iran, a telegraph was sent by al-Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr, Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, and Shaykh 'Abd Allah Mazandarani on Safar 22, 1330/February 11, 1912 to Persian territories:

… The land's nomads and tribes, who are the defense powers of the state and the nation, … should not allow the humiliation of captivation by the foreigners and misery of the khans of Caucasus, Turkistan, and the like …

Fatwa of Jihad against Italy after its invasion on Libya: al-Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr as well as Akhund Khurasani, Shaykh 'Abd Allah Mazandarani, and Shaykh al-Shari'a Isfahani issued a statement asking Muslims to defend the Islamic territories.

Russian invasion on Iran and Italian invasion on Tripoli will result in the disappearance of Islam, Shari'a, and the Qur'an. All Muslims are obliged to gather together and ask their respective governments to prevent the illegal aggressions of Russia and Italy. As long as the huge sedition is not defeated, they should avoid comfort and lodgment and consider this Islamic movement as a jihad on the path of Allah, like warriors of Badr and Hunayn.

Fatwa of Jihad against the British invasion on Iraq: at the beginning of the World War I in 1914 when the Allies declared war against the Ottoman government, al-Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr and other Iraqi scholars and great authorities declared jihad against the aggressions of the Allies on Ottoman territories.