Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani

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Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani
Well-known AsMirza Hasan Ashtiyani
Well-known RelativesMirza Ahmad Ashtiyani
Place of BirthAshtiyan, Markazi province
DeathSeptember 12, 1901
Burial PlaceShrine of Imam Ali (a)
ProfessorsShaykh al-Ansari, Mulla Asad Allah Burujirdi, Sayyid Shafi' Japilaqi
WorksBahr al-fawa'id fi sharh al-fara'id, Risalat fi l-ijza', Risalat fi nikah al-marid.
ActivitiesIn charge of Endowments of Marwi Seminary School, Protested against the granting of tobacco concession to a British company

Muḥammad Ḥasan Āshtīyānī (b. 1248/1832- d. 1319/1901), known as Mīrzā Ḥasan Āshtīyānī, was a Shiite jurist and scholar. He moved to Najaf in 1265/1848-9 and attended the lectures of al-Shaykh Murtada al-Ansari. When al-Ansari passed away in 1281/1865, he returned to Tehran and was the first jurist who propagated the views of al-Shaykh al-Ansari in Tehran.

Since his return to Iran until his death, he was an authority for Shari'a rulings. In the last few years of his life, he was in charge of all endowments that were traditionally administered by the most knowledgeable scholar in Tehran, such as the endowments of Marwi Seminary.

Mirza Hasan and a number of other well-reputed scholars protested against the granting of tobacco concession to a British company by Nasir al-Din Shah of Qajar. He tried to warn people about the economic disadvantages of the concession, as well as its cultural and social threats. This led to the issuance of Mirza Shirazi's fatwa of the forbiddance of tobacco. As a consequence of protests, Nasir al-Din Shah eventually repealed the concession.

Ayatollah Ashtiyani died in Tehran on Jumada I 28, 1319/September 12, 1901 at the age of seventy one.


Mirza Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani was born in 1248/1832 in Ashtian in Markazi province. His father died when he was three years old. In 1261/1845-6, he migrated to Borujerd at the age of thirteen.[1] He studied Arabic literature, jurisprudence, and principles of jurisprudence for four years attending the lectures of Mulla Asad Allah Burujirdi. He started teaching some courses, such as al-Mutawwal, when he was a teenager. Along with his studies with Mulla Asad Allah Burujirdi and teaching in the Islamic seminary of Borujerd, he was also a student of Sayyid Shafi' Japilaqi for about eighteen months.[2]

In 1265/1848-9, he migrated to Najaf, where he attended the lectures of scholars such as al-Shaykh al-Ansari. Since he was too young, he usually sat behind a curtain. However, one day he made a comment on al-Ansari's remarks. Thus, al-Ansari found his extraordinary talent. His progress was so fast that he soon became one of the closest students of al-Shaykh al-Ansari. Because of his good articulation of the issues, he presented al-Ansari's lectures for others and wrote them down. Thus, he came to be known as "Lisan al-Shaykh" (al-Shaykh's tongue).

After al-Shaykh al-Ansari's death (in 1864), Ashtiyani went to Tehran. He was the first jurist who propagated al-Shaykh al-Ansari's new research, particularly his technical ideas about principles of jurisprudence, in Tehran. Thus, seminary students flocked to his lectures from all places. In Tehran, he held the position of the leader-clergy because of his superiority over other jurists.

In 1311/1893, Ashtiyani performed his hajj pilgrimage. He also traveled to Samarra, where he was warmly welcomed by Mirza Shirazi and seminary students of the city.

Islamic Seminary of Tehran

Marwi seminary in Tehran

In 1281/1864-5, Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani returned to Iran and lived in Tehran after obtaining the scholarly degree of ijtihad. He was gradually acknowledged as being superior to other scholars in Tehran.[3] He established a seminary school in Tehran and taught jurisprudence. Notwithstanding this, he was not negligent of social circumstances. Thus, he came to be well-reputed among people of Tehran and other parts of Iran.[4] Since his return to Iran until his death, he was the authority of Sharia rulings.[5] In the last few years of his life, he administered all endowments that were traditionally administered by the most knowledgeable scholar in Tehran, such as the endowments of Marwi Seminary.

Campaign against Tyranny

Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani was a leader of the Tobacco Movement. When Nasir al-Din Shah (b. 1247/1831- d. 1313/1895) granted the tobacco concession to a British company in 1307/1890, he faced protests by Mirza Hasan Shirazi and some other well-reputed scholars. He talked with the Shah and the chancellor and explicated the economic disadvantages of the concession.

When Mirza Shirazi issued the fatwa of the forbiddance of tobacco, the Shah wrote a letter to Ashtiyani and angrily asked him to take an action to revoke Mirza Shirazi's ruling. Ashtiyani told him that there was nothing he could do and that Mirza Shirazi's ruling is in place until the concession is repealed. Nasir al-Din Shah asked Ashtiyani to either leave Tehran or publicly smoke hubble-bubble, and he chose to leave Tehran. All prominent scholars in Tehran were prepared to leave Tehran together with Ashtiyani. However, when people learned about this, they rioted and attacked the royal palace. As a result, thirty people were killed and injured, but they successfully prevented the banishment of Ashtiyani from Tehran. Eventually, Nasir al-Din Shah gave up and repealed the tobacco concession.


Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani had four sons and one daughter:

  • Murtada Ashtiyani (d. 1365/1945-6): a prominent teacher in seminary schools. He played a crucial role in the story of the Russian bank and events leading up to the repeal of its concession. He also participated in the Constitutional Movement of Iran.
  • Mustafa Ashtiyani (d. 1327/1909): he was with people in the Constitutional Movement. He was assassinated in his house near the Shrine of Abd al-Azim al-Hasani at the age of forty two.
  • Mirza Hashim Ashtiyani (1369/1949): he was elected as a representative in the National Consultative Assembly of Iran (Majlis) from the third term through the eighth.
  • Mirza Ahmad Ashtiyani (d. 1395/1975): he was a philosopher and jurist in Tehran. He wrote sixty two books and essays. He was the administrator of the Marwi Seminary in Tehran when he died.
  • Fatima: she married the son of her paternal uncle, Mirza Ja'far, known as Mirza Kuchak Ashtiyani (or Little Mirza Ashtiyani). Mirza Mahdi Ashtiyani was her son.


The writings of Mirza Hasan Ashtiyani in the form of books, essays, and commentaries on other books include:

  • Bahr al-fawa'id fi sharh al-fara'id, which counts as one of the best commentaries on al-Rasa'il by al-Shaykh al-Ansari (he wrote the commentaries when he was attending al-Shaykh al-Ansari's lectures. According to Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, of forty commentaries written on al-Shaykh al-Ansari's al-Rasa'il, this is the richest, the best, and the most useful).
  • Risalat fi l-ijza'
  • Risalat fi nikah al-marid

In the Views of Scholars and Biographers

Ashtiyani was renowned throughout Iran because of his scholarly methods, his rhetoric, his novel ideas, and his accounts of the views of al-Shaykh al-Ansari.

His student, Sayyid Muhammad Tunikabuni, says, "… I think if al-Shaykh Murtada al-Ansari was alive, he would acknowledge that there could not be a more adequate and complete account of his views, and this is confirmed by scholars who attended al-Shaykh's lectures."


He died in Tehran on Jumada I 28, 1319 (September 12, 1901) at the age of seventy one while reciting Ziyara al-Jami'a al-Kabira. His corpse was temporarily kept in the Shrine of Abd al-Azim al-Hasani until it could be moved to Najaf. His son, Murtada Ashtiyani, says, "after eight months we thought his corpse was dry and light, we took the corpse out in order to move it to al-Atabat. We saw that the corpse was still intact without any changes. Even the swell on his left thigh at the time of death did not diminish a bit." Finally, his corpse was moved to Najaf and was buried adjacent to Shaykh Ja'far Shushtari's grave.


  1. Āqā Buzurg Tihrānī, Ṭabaqāt aʿlām al-Shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 389; Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 5, p. 27.
  2. Āqā Buzurg Tihrānī, Ṭabaqāt aʿlām al-Shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 390; Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 5, p. 37.
  3. Zindigānī wa shakhṣiyat-i Shaykh Anṣārī, p. 265.
  4. Āshtīyānī, Sīmā-yi Āshtīyān, p. 49.
  5. Tafaḍḍulī, Mahīn and Ādhar. Farhang-i Buzurgān-i Islām, p. 494.


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  • Majalla-yi Masjid 41
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