Sayyid Mahmud Husayni Shahrudi

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Sayyid Mahmud Husayni Shahrudi
سید محمود حسینی شاهرودی 01.jpg
Personal Information
Religious AffiliationTwelver Shia
Place of BirthShahrud
ResidenceShahrud, Mashhad, Najaf, Samarra
Studied inMashhad, Najaf
Death17 Sha'ban 1394/September 5, 1974
Burial PlaceHoly Shrine of Imam Ali (a), Najaf
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsMuhammad Kazim Khurasani
Muhammad Husayn Na'ini
Diya' al-Din al-'Iraqi
StudentsSayyid Muhammad Shahrudi
Socio-Political Activities
Protest against the Pahlavi government in response to the event of Faydiyya, Establishment of the Hajj Ba'tha (mission/representation).

Sayyid Maḥmūd Ḥusaynī Shāhrūdī (Persian:سید محمود حسینی شاهرودی) (b. 1301/1883-4 - d. 1394/1974) was a Shiite religious authority in Najaf and the father of Sayyid Muhammad Husayni Shahrudi. He was a student of Mirza Na'ini and Aqa Diyaʾ al-ʿIraqi. He reached the position of Shiite authority after Sayyid Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani. Mirza Naʾini referred to him as “Dhu l-Shahadatayn” (literally: holder of two testimonies) and asked his opinion before giving a permission of ijtihad to his students. Moreover, Aqa Diyaʾ ʿIraqi and Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani sent their students to him to give them a test of ijtihad.

During his authority, Sayyid Mahmud Husayni Shahrudi built mosques, Husayniyyas, and seminary schools in Kabul and some Iranian cities, renovated the seminary schools of Bukharaʾi and Qazwini in Najaf, established a Hajj mission (or representation), and objected to the Pahlavi government in reaction to the event of Faydiyya. Moreover, the walk from Najaf to Karbala became popular during his authority.

Among other things, he wrote essays on jurisprudential issues and the principles of jurisprudence as well as the lectures by Aqa Diyaʾ al-ʿIraqi and Mirza Naʾini. His own lectures on the jurisprudential rulings of the prayer were written by Sayyid Muhammad Ja'far Murawwij under Yanabiʿ al-fiqh and was published in four volumes.

The book al-Imam al-Shahrudi al-Sayyid Mahmud al-Husayni is a biography of Sayyid Mahmud Shahrudi in Arabic written by Sayyid Ahmad Husayni Ishkawari (b. 1350/1931-2). In July 2021, a conference was held in the tribute of Husayni Shahrudi under “ʿAlim Dhu l-Shahadatayn” (The scholar with two testimonies) in Mashhad, Qom, and Najaf.


Sayyid Mahmud Husayni Shahrudi, the son of Sayyid 'Ali, was born in 1301/1883-4 in Qaleh Abdollah, a village near Bastam, Shahrud. According to Sayyid Ahmad Husayni Ishkawari (b. 1350/1931), a Shiite scholar of manuscripts and bibliographer, Shahrudi’s lineage goes back to Zayd b. al-Imam al-Sajjad (a). Shahrudi’s father was a farmer, and his grandfather, Sayyid ʿAbd Allah, was an ascetic scholar. There are supernatural anecdotes about Sayyid ʿAbd Allah.


Sayyid Mahmud Shahrudi had three sons:

  • Sayyid 'Ali (b. 1347/1928-9): He attended his father’s lectures and was in charge of his father’s office.
  • Sayyid Husayn (b. 1360/1941-2): He attended the advanced level (Kharij lesson) of his brother Sayyid Muhammad and wrote the lectures.

Sayyid Mahmud Shahrudi died on Sha'ban 17, 1394/September 5, 1974 at the age of 94. He was buried in the Holy Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a) in Najaf.

Scholarly Life

Shahrudi learned the preliminaries in Bastam, and then went to Mashhad, where he learned the course of the intermediary level and taught Kifayat al-usul in the seminary of the city.

In 1328/1910-1, Shahrudi went to Najaf, where he attended the lectures of jurisprudence and the principles of jurisprudence by Akhund Khurasani. In the meanwhile, he taught al-Shaykh al-Ansari’s al-Rasa'i and al-Makasib. He attended Akhund Khurasani’s lectures for about eighteen months, and after Akhund’s death on Dhu l-Hijja 20, 1329/1911, Shahrudi moved to Samarra, but very soon he returned to Najaf, where he attended a whole course of the principles of jurisprudence by Aqa Diya' al-'Iraqi. Moreover, he attended Mirza Na'ini’s lectures and was among his closest students. Mirza Na'ini regarded highly of him, as he did not issue certificates of ijtihad for his students before he consulted Shahrudi. It is said that Na'ini counted his testimonies as those of two just persons, which is why Aqa Diya' al-Din al-'Iraqi and Sayyid Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani referred to him as "Dhu l-Shahadatayn" (holder of two testimonies), and sent their students to him to give them tests of ijtihad.

Many scholars attended the lectures of Sayyid Mahmud Shahrudi, including Sayyid Muhammad Husayni Shahrudi, Sayyid Jawad Al 'Ali Shahrudi, Sayyid Muhammad Ja'far Murawwij Jaza'iri, Muhammad Rahmtai Sirjani, 'Ali Azad Qazwini, Muhammad Ibrahim Jannati, Muslim Malakuti, Javad Tabrizi, and Sayyid Kazim Ha'iri.


Shahrudi attained the degree of ijtihad at the age of 35 during the time of Mirza Naʾini and Sayyi Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani. During their lifetime, he refused to publish his essay of fatwas, referring people to those scholars. After Sayyid Abu l-Hasan al-Isfahani’s death in 1365/1946, he assumed the position of Shiite authority, and in 1366/1947, the essay of his fatwas was published in Najaf and Tehran. After the death of Ayatollah Burujirdi and Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim, his authority became more widespread.


  • Establishment of seminary schools in Faruj (Mahmudiyya Seminary School), Zahedan, and Fuman
  • Reconstruction of the Seminary School of Bukharaʾi and Seminary School of Qazwini in Najaf
  • Construction of mosques in different Iranian cities, such as Bojnurd, Taybad (Tayyibat), Kalaleh, Ramiyan, and Jajarm
  • Establish of education centers: during his time, educational centers in Najaf were supported by Iranian and Iraqi governments, and given the monarchial government in Iran and the dictatorial regime of Iraq, many seminary students refrained from registering their children in those education centers. The education center he established covered all grades from elementary to high school in two curricula: Persian and Arabic.
  • Construction of a residential town for seminary students: The town was built in an area of approximately 124000 square meters near the mausoleum of Kumayl b. Ziyad between Najaf and Kufa. He had plans to build one hundred residential units, a clinic, and an education center in that area. Many buildings were constructed in his life time and others were built after his death by his sons until they were deported from Iraq in 1980.
  • Procession to Karbala: during his authority, the ceremony of on-foot procession to Karbala became popular among seminary students of Najaf. Reportedly, he walked from Najaf to Karbala 260 times.

Establishment of a Hajj Mission

Since 1346/1927-8, Ayatollah Shahrudi sent a group of people to the Hajj rituals in Arabia to answer to people’s jurisprudential questions, which was known as the Religious Mission for Hajj. In 1345/1926-7, together with the members of his team of istifta' (replies to inquiries for fatwas) in the Hajj rituals, where he learned that such a mission was a necessity. On that journey, Shahrudi was welcomed by people as well as political and religious figures such as the ruler of Medina, the brother of the Arabian ruler.

Reaction to the Event of Faydiyya

According to Sayyid Husayn, Sayyid Mahmud Shahrudi’s son, his father condemned the raid by Pahlavi agents on the Seminary School of Faydiyya in 1342/1923-4, sending a number of telegraphs to Iranian people and scholars. There is also a telegraphy from Imam Khomeini to him on April 1, 1963, in which he expresses his wonder about the slaughter of the clergies in Qom and the silence of the Muslims over the event.


Sayyid Mahmud Shahrudi wrote many works, including:

He also wrote essays on cleanliness, tayammum (a kind of dry ritual purification), wudu' (a ritual cleaning of parts of the body), the clothes of the person who performs prayers, the prayers of a traveler, khums, zakat, hajj, inheritance, definition of the principles of jurisprudence, the principle of hand, the principle of no harm, and rijal. Moreover, he wrote commentaries on many books, and published an essay of his fatwas. The book, Yanabi' al-fiqh, includes his advanced lectures on the rulings of prayers written by Sayyid Muhammad Ja'far al-Jaza'iri. The book was published by Al al-Murtada in four volumes in Qom.

Conference for the Tribute

A conference for the tribute of Sayyid Mahmud al-Husayni al-Shahrudi was held under 'Alim Dhu l-Shahadatayn (a scholar with two testimonies) in July 2021 in Mashhad, Qom, and Najaf. On July 8, 2021, a conference of tribute was held in Shahrud. The call for papers of this conference is published in Persian, Arabic, English, and Urdu in a number of countries.


There are works written in Arabic and Persian about Sayyid Mahmud Husayni Shahrudi, including:

  • Al-Imam al-Shahrudi al-Sayyid Mahmud al-Husayni, by Sayyid Ahmad Husayni Ishkawari: this is a biographical account of his life written during his own lifetime. The book was published in Arabic in 122 pages.
  • Zindigi wa-mubarazat Ayatollah al-'Uzma Sayyid Mahmud Husayni Shahrudi bi riwayat asnad (Life and campaigns of the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Mahmud Husayni Shahrudi as narrated in the documents) by Davud Qassimpur and Shahin Riza'ei. It was published by the Islamic Revolution Document Center in 1389 Sh/2010 in 352 pages.