Mulla Ali Kani

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Mulla Ali Kani
Personal Information
Full Name'Ali Kani
Studied inTehran, Najaf
Burial PlaceShrine of Abd al-'Azim al-Hasani, Ray
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsShaykh Murtada al-Ansari, Shaykh Hasan Kashif al-Ghita', Shaykh Mashkur Jawlawi Najafi, ...

Mullā ʿAlī Kanī (Arabic: ملا علی کنی) (b. 1220/1805-6 - d. 1306/1888-9), Iranian Shi'a scholar and faqih. He was in charge of religious affairs of Iran, and had a great influence on people and even on Naser al-Din Shah and his court. Despite his great wealth, Mulla 'Ali led a very simple life. He authored several works in different branches of Islamic sciences, including Tawdih al-maqal and a commentary on Jawahir al-kalam.


He was born in 1220/1805-6 in the village of Kan, in northwest of Tehran. His father was a farmer.


After he learned reading and writing, his family did not let him continue his education for nearly twenty years. Eventually, he got their approval and went to one of Tehran's schools. Some years later, he moved to Iraq to study with great scholars there. During the plague in Iraq, between 1244/1828-9 to 1246/1830-1, he left Najaf, but again came back to the city and continued his education.[1]


Kani studied fiqh and usul al-fiqh with


Mulla 'Ali Kani (in center)

Scholars such as

participated in his classes and studied with him.[3]

Religious and Social Position

In 1262/1845-6, Mulla 'Ali returned to Iran and settled in Tehran. He was very knowledgeable in fiqh, usul al-fiqh, rijal, hadith and exegesis.[4] Kani was one of the four great scholars of Iran in that time whom were mentioned by Sahib Jawahir in his letter to Muhammad Shah Qajar. Sahib Jawahir confirmed that those four scholars were erudite and Mujtahid.[5]

Gradually, he gained fame and became an influential and powerful scholar whose commands and fatwas were obeyed by all people even the court of king, Nasir al-Din Shah. In 1282/1865-6, he became the rector of Marwi School. [6] The majority of Iranians followed him in fiqh and most of Tehran's scholars at that time were his student. [7] He held his contemporary scholars in great esteem.[8]

Political Issues

He was aware of political affairs of his time and because of his influence on the people and even the king, he interfered in important events.

Reuter Contract

After the sing of Reuters Contract in 1290/1873-4 (which in practice made Iran a colony of Britain), Mulla ʿAli Kani wrote a letter to the King, Nasir al-Din Shah, and opposed with this contract. He wrote what Reuter gains through this contract even is more than what Britain gained in India. He also wrote that "when there is a flaw in governmental affairs, it is religious scholars' duty to refer to it … whether the king favor this or not and whether tries to correct it or not" and strongly asked the king to cancel the contract and dismiss the prime minister, who was behind signing this contract.

As a result of these objections and even foreign objections to the contract, at last, Nasir al-Din Shah canceled the contract and removed the minister from the office.[9]


In the abovementioned letter Mulla 'Ali also objected severely to the establishment of Freemasonry lodge in Iran.[10]


Mulla 'Ali Kani

Mulla 'Ali Kani was very rich, but had a very simple and unadorned life and always cared about poor and oppressed people. He is described as lenient, generous, pious, and ascetic and about his power and influence it is said that without his approval, no important social issue could occur in Iran. The king of Iran, Nasir al-Din Shah, went to his house to visit him and held him in high esteem.[11]


He had some books in fiqh, including:

He also had works in other fields of Islamic sciences:

  • Idah al-mutashabihat fi tafsir al-kalimat al-mushkalat al-qur'aniat]] which explains difficult words of the Qur'an. [15]
  • "Mawa'iz hasana (i.e. excellent advices) [16]
  • some treatises about usul al-fiqh;[17]
  • Tawdih al-maqal which is about rijal and diraya.[18]


Mulla 'Ali Kani died in Tehran, in 1306/1888-9 and was buried in the shrine of 'Abd al-'Azim al-Hasani in Rey. His funeral was very crowded and even Non-Muslims were participated in the ceremony. In various cities, people hold commemorating ceremonies for him and many poems were told in sorrow of his death.[19]


  1. Kani, p. 302; Kashmiri, vol. 2, p. 23, footnote; Agha Buzurg Tihrani, Tabaqat, p. 1504-1505.
  2. Hirz al-Din, vol. 2, p. 113; Agha Buzurg Tihrani, Tabaqat, p. 1504-1505.
  3. Agha Buzurg, al-zari'a, vol. 4, p. 204; Agha Buzurg, Tabaqat, p. 133; Habibabadi, vol. 3, p. 699; Huasyni, vol. 2, p. 787.
  4. Itimad al-Saltana, al-Ma'athir wa al-Athar, p. 187; Mudarris Tabrizi, vol. 5, p. 98.
  5. Agha Buzurg, Tabaqat, p. 1505.
  6. I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznamih khatirat, p. 133; Ansari, p. 398.
  7. Kani, Tawdih al-maqal, p. 303; I'timad al-Saltana, Al-Ma'athir al-athar, p. 187; Agha Buzurg, Tabaqat, p. 1505; * Musawi Isfahani, Ahsan al-wadi'a, vol.1, p. 101
  8. see: Agha Buzurg, Tabaqat, p. 332-333; Sharif Razi, Akhtaran afruzan Rey wa Tehran, pp. 127-128, 220, 410-412.
  9. Taymuri, 'Asr bi-khabari, p.123-126; Nazim al-Islam Kirmani, Tarikh biydari Iranian, p. 135.
  10. Nazim al-Islam Kirmani, Tarikh biydari Iranian, p. 135.
  11. Itimad al-Saltana, al-Ma'athir wa al-Athar, p.187; Japalaqi burujirdi, Tara'if al-maqal, vol. 2, p. 375; Hirz al-din, Ma'arif al-rijal, vol.2, p 112; Agha Buzurg, "Tabaqat, p. 1505-1506.
  12. Agha Buzurg, Al-Dhari'a, vol. 11, p. 57, 216.
  13. Agha Buzurg, Al-Dhari'a, vol. 3, p. 480.
  14. Agha Buzurg, Al-Dhari'a, vol. 6, p. 58.
  15. Mawsu'at tabaqa al-fuqaha' , vol. 14, p. 433.
  16. Agha Buzurg, Al-Dhari'a, vol. 23, p. 226.
  17. Japalaqi burujirdi, Tara'if al-maqal, vol. 2, p. 375.
  18. Agha Buzurg, Al-Dhari'a, vol. 4, p. 413,498-499.
  19. Agha Buzurg, Tabaqat, p. 1506; I'timad al-Saltana, Ruznamih khatirat, p. 595-596.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from | ملا علي كني in Farsi Wikishia.
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