Muhammad Husayn Na'ini

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Muhammad Husayn Na'ini
Personal Information
Full NameMuhammad Husayn Gharawi Na'ini
Well-Known AsMirza Na'ini, Muhaqqiq Na'ini
ResidenceNa'in, Isfahan
Studied inIsfahan, Samarra
Burial PlaceShrine of Imam 'Ali (a), Najaf
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsJahangir Khan Qashqa'i, Mirza al-Shirazi, Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, Akhund Muhammad Kazim Khurasani, ...

Muḥammad Ḥusayn Gharawī Naʾīnī (Arabic: محمد حسین غروی نائینی) (b. 1276/1860- d. 1355/1936) was a Shi'a jurist and expert in principles of jurisprudence of the 14th/20th century and a supporter of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran. He studied in Isfahan, Samarra, and Najaf under great scholars, such as Jahangir Khan Qashqa'i, Mirza al-Shirazi and Akhund al-Khurasani. After Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Shirazi, he and Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani undertook the duty of Marja'iyya. He is mostly famous by his opinions in principles of jurisprudence. He was a commentator of al-Shaykh al-Ansari's school of thought. Sayyid Abu l-Qasim al-Khoei is his most important student. Accompanying Mirza al-Shirazi in Tobacco Protest, supporting Akhund al-Khurasani in Constitutional Revolution and uprising against British colonialism are his most important political activities. He wrote his famous book Tanbih al-umma wa tanzih al-milla as advocacy of Constitutional Revolution and opposing the imperialism.


Muhammad Husayn Gharawi Na'ini was born to a cleric family in 1276/1860 in Na'in, Iran. His father, Shaykh 'Abd al-Rahim, and his grandfather, Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id, were both Shyakh al-Islam (the grand Shaykh) of Isfahan, who were chosen for this position by the governors of the city at their time.

Muhammad Husayn started his education as a child in his hometown. At the age of 17 and after passing the primary studies, his father took him to Isfahan, where he studied under Shaykh Muhammad Baqir Isfahani, Mirza Abu l-Ma'ali Kalbasi, Mirza Muhammad Hasan Hizar Jiribi and Jahangir Khan Qashqa'i in various fields, such as jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, Arabic and Persian grammar and Mathematics. In Isfahan, he resided in his teacher's (Shaykh Muhammad Baqir Isfahani) house.

In 1303/1885-6 he moved to Iraq and went to Seminary of Samarra, where he participated in teaching sessions of Mirza Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi, the leader of Tobacco Protest. He became a close companion to Mirza al-Shirazi. Toward the end of Mirza's life, he transcribed Mirza's lessons and Mirza would consult him about important political and social issues.

After the demise of Mirza al-Shirazi in 1312/1895, he studied under Sayyid Muhammad Fisharaki for a while. But after the disintegration of Seminary of Samarra, eminent students of Mirza al-Shirazi moved to different cities. Likewise, Na'ini moved to Karbala and after a while, in 1314/1896-7, he moved to Najaf, where he attended the teaching sessions of Akhund Mulla Muhammad Kazim Khurasni. Soon he became one of Akhund's close companions and a member of his Ifta' (issuing fatwa) council. He continued his scholarly, political and social activities along with Akhund for years.

Muhammad Husayn Na'ini passed away at noon on Saturday, Jumada I 26, 1355/August 14, 1936, at the age of 82, in Najaf. He was buried in one of the rooms surrounding the courtyard of the Holy Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a).

Moral and Spiritual Characteristics

Aqa Buzurg Tihrani said, "he was a God-fearing, pious, righteous person who was inattentive to luster and to positions of this world." His students have talked about his piety, righteousness, pure spirit, affability, mercy, humility and humbleness. In Samarra and Najaf, he was in touch with Mulla Husayn Quli Hamadani and his emanate students, such as Sayyid Ahmad Karbala'i. Whenever he traveled from Samarra to Najaf, he visited Akhund Hamadani in his house. Sayyid Ahmad Karbala'i chose him as his executor in his will.

Scholarly Life

He started teaching in Najaf during the life time of Akhund al-Khurasani. More than 300 students of Akhund participated in his sessions. Although Na'ini is famous for his Usuli (relating to principles of jurisprudence) opinions and is regarded as "the reviver of 'Ilm al-Usul", he was an expert who had independent opinions in other fields, such as jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, mathematics, ethics and mysticism. In Najaf, his class was counted as one of the most crowded circles, which was attended by many eminent and gifted Hawza students due to his deep understanding and analysis of subjects and the complexity of his researches.

During his studies in Isfahan, Samarra and Najaf, he attracted the attention of his teachers. He received the certificate of narrating hadiths from two famous scholars: Hajj Mirza Husayn Tihrani Najafi, the son of Hajj Mirza Khalil, and Shaykh Muhammad Taha Najaf. He also gave some of his students this certificate and also the certification of Ijtihad.

Many scholars praised him. Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin said, "he was a great scholar, a jurist, an usuli, a philosopher, a mystic, a litterateur, a worshiper and a teacher." Mudarris Tabrizi said, "He was one of the greatest contemporary Shi'a scholars and jurists and was well-known for his abundant researches and plentiful subtilizations. After the demise of Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi and Shaykh al-Shari'a Isfahani, Mirza Na'ini and Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani undertook the duty of Marja'iyya. It is said that his Marja'iyya was more popular among the students and scholars of seminary as Isfahani was among the public. After that he passed away, Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani became the only Marja' of Shi'a.

It is said that he had no fear criticizing his opinions so it was common for him to change his opinions about an issue over the time.


In Isfahan

In Samarra

In Najaf

Akhund Muhammad Kazim Khurasani: Na'ini did not participate in his public sessions; rather he attended in the private sessions held in Akhund's house for resolving complicated issues. It is said that he was a student of al-Shaykh al-Ansari; however, considering the fact that he was 7 when al-Shaykh al-Ansari passed away (in 1281/1864) this report is false.



Many work have left from Na'ini; some of which he has written and other are the transcriptions of his teaching sessions written by his eminent students. The works that he has written are:

  • Tanbih al-umma wa tanzih al-milla : he wrote this book for supporting the Constitutional Revolution in Iran. Akhund al-Khurasani and Mulla 'Abd Allah Mazandarani wrote comments on this book. It is said that after the demise of Akhund, he collected as many as possible copies of this book and eliminated them.
  • Wasila al-najat (practical Islamic law)
  • Hawashi 'Ala al-'Urwat al-wuthqa (glosses on al-'Urwat al-wuthqa)
  • Risala al-salat fi l-libas al-mashkuk
  • Risala fi ahkam al-khalal fi l-salat
  • Ajwaba masa'il al-mustaftin
  • Risala fi nafy al-darar
  • Risala fi l-ta'abbudi wa al-tawasuli

Transcriptions of his teaching sessions:

  • Munyat al-talib fi sharh al-Makasib, transcribed by Musa Khwansari Najafi
  • Kitab al-salat, transcribed by Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali Kazimi Khurasani
  • Al-Makasib wa al-bay' , transcribed by Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Amuli
  • Ajwad al-taqrirat , transcribed by Sayyid Abu l-Qasim Musawi Khoei
  • Fawa'id al-Usul , transcribed by Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali Kazimi Khurasani

There is another work called Malahiz al-nuriyya fi mawa'iz al-huduriyya which is the transcription of his teachings in ethics.

Political Thoughts

Tanbih al-umma wa tanzih al-milla (informing the nation and purifying the religion) contains his political viewpoints. By mentioning verses of the Qur'an and some hadiths in this book, Na'ini tries to oppose despotic regime and teachings and to proves the legitimacy of the constitutional system. Literally, "Tanbih al-umma" means informing the Islamic nation of the essentials of Islam, and "tanzih al-milla" means purifying the religion of Islam from despotism. In this book, he divides governments to just and unjust and counts the constitutional government as an unjust one; but not as much as despotism. So when constitutionalism and autocracy are the only options we must support constitutionalism as its disadvantages and corruptions are less; and this is "repelling worse by bad."

Components of His Political Thought

Political Participation

He defines the political participation as the pillar of Islamic government. He thought that the basis of the real Islamic government is the participation of all people. In addition, in order to prevent an Islamic government from turning to despotism the executive must be monitored by a special committee, which is monitored by people, and when people skip their duty the government would eventually turn to a despotism. According to Na'ini, having absolute power will lead to despotism; so the power must be limited by monitoring article and, most importantly, by participation of people in political affairs, including electing the parliament members. As limiting the power of individual in Islamic government is obligatory its preliminaries, such as political participation, are Wajib.

Separation of Powers

According to Na'ini's viewpoint the ideal Islamic government is based on consultation. In the structure of such a governing system, rulers protect the interest of people as trustees and hold accountable for it, rather than possessing their interest like what the autocrats do. Hence it is necessary to separate the powers within the government, so that each power can organize its duties within a sound framework. Then assign them to qualified agents of each part. at the same time observe their actions.

Freedom and Equality

Freedom and equality was one of slogans during the Constitutional Revolution in Iran, which was common both among constitutionalist scholars and the intelligentsia. Na'ini defines and interpret the meaning of freedom and equality in the frame of the relation of Islamic laws and constitutionalism; so his definition of freedom is accordant to that of his contemporary scholars, such as Akhund al-Khurasani. Na'ini believed that freedom is liberation from the obstacles to human spiritual development, obstacles that cause him to fail in his spiritual evolution and hence the real freedom is manifested in worshiping God.

Civil Rights

In his book Tanbih al-umma , he counted the rights of citizens in a non-despotic government as follow: 1- Freedom 2- Equality 3- Participation 4- Monitoring 5- Financial security 6- Security of family 7- Housing security 8- The right to privacy 9- Having full ownership of properties 10- The right to hold legal gatherings and protests.

Parliament and Law

According to Na'ini, the law must be the basis of the society. Majlis, which is a legislative body of the country, must stop injustice, oppression and wrong, and spread justice and right. Whenever a Majlis is stablished on this way its enactments are approved. People also have to pay close attention to find the qualified and just representatives and vote for them.

Approbative Supervision

Like his teachers, Na'ini believed that passing a law by Majlis representatives is not sufficient for it to be count Islamic; rather great scholars must confirm that the passed law is not against religious teachings and laws, and afterward they can be implemented in the Islamic country.


Unlike some of the opponents of constitutionalism, who blindly rejected every thing related to the West, he believed that there is no problem to take the good thing of the West -including law, knowledge and technology- as many of these principles and knowledge were basically sent down by God in previous religions or even in Islam.

Socio-political Activities

His socio-political personality is defined by his connection to Mirza al-Shirazi in Tobacco Protest, his friendship with Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi from his early youth in Isfahan to the time he lived in Samarra and his cooperation with Akhund al-Khurasani during the Constitutional Revolution. In addition, his activities in the fight against the British colonialism and Russian invasion and in the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Nation, which led to his exile, are other important aspects of his socio-political life.

Tobacco Protest

During the Tobacco Protest, Na'ini always stood besides Mirza al-Shirazi. It is reported that he asked Shaykh Hasan Karbala'i, his old classmate and close friend, to write a comprehensive report about the Tobacco Protest, which is called Tarikh al-dukhaniyya.

Constitutional Revolution

Na'ini was the closest advisor to Akhund al-Khurasani during the Constitutional Revolution. He prepared the draft of telegrams and public statements for Akhund al-Khurasani, Mirza Husayn Khalili Tihrani and Mulla 'Abd Allah Mazandarani during the Constitutional Revolution. This position incurred enmity of his scholarly and political rivals and enemies toward him.

Theoretically, the most consistent political writing about Constitutional Revolution is written by Na'ini. His book Tanbih al-umma wa tanzih al-milla is the result of his efforts in explaining and studying the aspirations of constitutionalism. He has tried to prove that the bases of constitutionalism are found in Islamic teachings. For proving his theories in this book he also has mentioned some instances from Islamic history.

Akhund al-Khurasani and Mulla 'Abd Allah Mazandarani have approved his opinions in this book by their letters which is published at the beginning of the book as their comments. Na'ini and other constitutionalist clerics were to accompany Akhund al-Khurasani who had planed to travel to Kazimiyya and then to Iran in order to strengthen the foundation of constitutionalism and leading the fight against the colonialists and invaders, when Akhund passed away suspiciously and his plan was foiled. Three weeks after the demise of Akhund, scholars went to Kazimiyya and choose 13 people, including Na'ini. These people founded a commission and vowed to be loyal in fighting the invaders. The commission of scholars sent many telegrams to Iran demanding that the Iranian government must ask the Russian forces to leave Iran immediately and threatened that otherwise the scholars will move to Iran. They also asked the tribal leaders in Iran to unite against the invaders. Eventually, the scholars of Kazimiyya received a telegram from the scholars of Tehran reporting the relative calm in Iran and a telegram from Wuthuq al-Dawla saying that Muhammad Ali Mirza have left the country and asking the scholars gathered in Kazimiyya to return to their towns.

Foreign military attack on Iran, killing the Russians in various cities in Iran and opposition of the anti-constitutionalism scholars isolated the constitutionalist scholars. Not only did Na'ini stop his political activities, he did not talk about constitutionalism any more. Even, according to a report he collected all the copies of his book, Tanbih al-umma . When he and some Iraqi scholars were exiled to Iran due to their opposition to British government, he stayed in Qom and did not speak about constitutionalism and adopted the policy of appeasement toward Reza Shah.

Fight against Foreigners

In 1330/1911-2 when Russian forces invaded the northern borders of Iran, Na'ini along with other scholars of Najaf led by Mulla 'Abd Allah Mazandarani got prepared to go to Iran. Likewise, during the World War I and after declaration of fight against Britain in Iraq in 1333/1914-5, he was among the scholars who got ready to fight against the invaders.

Iraqi Islamic Movement

During the Islamic Movement of Iraqi nation, he accompanied Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani. After that Malik Faysal rose to power by the British and formation of the Cabinet and announcement of the general election of Constituent Assembly, Na'ini along with other scholars opposed and boycotted the election. Faysal and his foreign supporters who realized that conducting election in such time is impossible employed force and exiled Shaykh Muhammad Khalisi Zadi and Sayyid Muhammad Sadr to Iran and then, in 1341/1922-3, exiled Mahdi Khalisi, the leader of the movement, to Hijaz. When Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani and Muhammad Husayn Na'ini protested against the exile of Khalisi they were exiled to Iran as well.

Ayatullah Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim Ha'iri, the founder of Seminary of Qom, warmly welcomed the scholars of Najaf and canceled his teaching sessions and asked his students to participate in Na'ini's sessions. The scholars of Najaf stayed in Iran for a year, eventually a delegation form Iraq traveled to Iran and asked them to return to Iraq.

Condemning Insulting to Clergy

After that some hooligans, instigated by some political parties, insulted the leader of Tobacco Protest, Mirza al-Shirazi, Mirza Hasan Ashtiyani moved to Mashhad as a protest. In Najaf, Na'ini prepared a protesting letter, which was signed by four great marja's: Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Mamaqani, Al-Sayyid Isma'il al-Sadr, Shaykh Muhammad Taha Najaf and Akhud Mulla Muhammad Kazim Khurasani. He also sent a letter to Ashtiyani empathizing with him.