Taj al-'Ulama'

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Taj al-'Ulama'
Personal Information
Full NameAli Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Dildar Ali Naqawi
Well-Known RelativesSultan al-'Ulama
DeathRabi' II 4, 1312/October 5,1894
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsMuhammad Ali Lucknowi, Muhammad Abbas Shushtari, and Ahmad Ali Ahmadabadi

ʿAlī Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Dildār ʿAlī Naqawī Naṣīr Ābādī (Arabic: علی محمد بن محمد بن دلدارعلی نقوی نصیرآبادی) (b. 1262/1846 - d. 1312/1894), well-known as Tāj al-ʿUlamāʾ (Arabic: تاجُ الْعُلَما), was a Shi'a jurist and usuli and an active author ascribed to Indian subcontinent. He has authored numerous theological works defending Shi'a. Moreover, he has criticized the dominant Akhbari thought in India by applying a moderate Akhbari approach.

He also was active in political and social affairs and India's confrontation with British colonialism. In order to build the campaign up, he wrote and translated the Urdu language, which was extremely effective in unifying Indian Muslims.


He was born in a knowledge-loving family of faqihs in Nasir Abad Lucknow (center of the current province Uttar Pradesh in India). Sultan al-Ulama', his father, was a great scholar of his age. Some have mentioned his father by titles like mujtahid of the age, or religion prompter. His ancestor was Dildar Ali, who was prominent and knowledge-loving as well.


Taj al-Ulama' was taught the preliminary sciences by great scholars such as Muhammad Ali Laknuwi prominent as Qa'imat al-Din, Muhammad Abbas Shushtari, and Ahmad Ali Ahmadabadi. After that, his father taught him jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, and some transmitted and rational sciences. He set out for Iraq to visit 'Atabat and to benefit from its great scholars after his father had passed away (1284/1867-8 or 1285/1868-9). He received some great men's accolades and respect like Mirza Ali Naqi Tabataba'i due to his great advance in science and authoring various works.

He also met some Shi'a scholars and got the permission for the transmission of hadiths from them such as Zayn al-'Abidin al-Mazandarani, 'Ali Bahr al-'Ulum, al-Radi al-Najafi, and Husayn Fadil Ardakani. Based on the dates he got the permission of narrating hadiths, which lasted only from Shawwal to Dhu l-Qa'da, it appears that he lived there less than a few months. Seemingly, he returned to his hometown after this expedition, and set out for Hijaz for hajj in later times.

Social and Scientific Character

Even though there is not definite data about his scientific character in references, his works in different fields represent his great social and scientific status in Indian society. Aqa Buzurg has referred to him along with al-Sayyid al-Murtada, al-Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi, Qutb al-Din al-Rawandi, and al-Turayhi when mentioning Qur'an and exegesis status among Shi'a. It signifies his great degree of knowledge. He also trained some Usuli mujtahids, against Akhbari ones, and authored some books concerning this topic.

In addition to training many pupils, whose name have been mentioned in references, he was Imam of congregational prayers in Baq Nawwab mosque until he passed away in Lucknow.

Enlightenment of Intellectual Scene

He is active in any intellectual field. For instance, he criticized Akbaris by applying a moderate Akhbari approach. He disagreed with Sayyid Ahmad Khan Hindi's thoughts and modernizing religion by writing some works. Taj al-Ulama' tried to vaccinate Indian Muslim society against the treats of the presence of other religions' followers in Muslims environment.

Campaigning against British Colonialism

He was active in social scenes and believed that unarmed campaigning against British colonialism would help.

Promoting Urdu Language

In last years of nineteenth century, the British government had been attempting to consolidate Hindu language; on the other hand, Muslims wished to preserve the Urdu language. Communities like Supporting Urdu Community by Sayyid Ahmad Khan and The Society of Defending Urdu and similar societies were made in Lucknow to consolidate the Urdu language. Taj al-Ulama' took part in this social collective action by authoring in Urdu and translating this language.


Fiqh and Usul Works

  • 'Imad al-ijtihad. This book revolves around discursive jurisprudence and is considered the most notable work of his in jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence. He confronted the commonplace Akhbari attitude in India in this work by applying a moderate approach.

Some other works of his are:

  • Risalat al-hikamiyya
  • A treatise about Friday prayer (salat al-jumu'a)
  • A treatise about retaliation (qisas)
  • Mas'alat al-riba'iyyah
  • Manasik al-hajj
  • Wiqayat al-dhimar
  • Irshad al-sami'in ila ahkam al-din
  • Al-matn al-matin: He has explained his notion and definite idea about dust and smoke. He believes these two do not make void the fasting. Muhammad Husayn al-Shahristani criticized this book in his work al-sharh al-mubin. Taj al-Ulama' wrote al-ta'liq al-aniq to defend his opinion. This collection all together has been printed in lithography way.
  • A treatise about permissibility of food.
  • Fasl al-khitab
  • Gohar-i shabchiraq

Theological Works

His theological works fall into several categories:

Critical Works on Modern Approach towards Religion

He was in disagreement with what was noticeable in Sayyid Ahmad Khan's attitude under the title of human nature and naturalism, and Ahmad Khan's totally rational attitude towards principles and foundations of religion. This point of view was prominent as naturalism. Taj al-Ulama' authored two works to criticize this attitude:

  • Hawashi l-Qur'an (published) for criticizing Sayyid Ahmad Khan's notions in the book Tafsir al-Qur'an wa huwa l-huda wa l-furqan.
  • Al-Ihtijaj al-'Alawi or Zarbat-i 'Alawiyyah (Persian) for castigating naturalistic ideas.

Works in Disagreement with People of the Book

In addition to the sessions he held for finding fault with people of the book, he authored some works concerning this subject; of these works, are:

  • Al-Ihtijaj al-'Alawi, a debate with the followers of other religions and sects
  • Criticism of Priest 'Imad al-Din
  • Risalat fi l-samm al-yahudiyyat li-l-nabi
  • Al-Sawlat al-'Alawiya li-l-dhabb 'an al-millat al-Muhammadiyya (Persian)
  • Criticism on the Christianity, 'Imad al-Din muladh al-mu'minin
  • Lahn-i dawudi which was written to dispute Naghma-yi tanburi, written by a Christian.
  • Yahudiyya
  • Al-Ithna 'ashriyyat fi bisharat al-Ahmadiyya (blessing news about Prophet Muhammad (s) in Bible)
  • 'Adimat al-mithaliyyat fi tajwiz al-taswir ghayr al-mujassam (a debate about the justifiability of depicting prophets' portraits)

Other Kalam Works

  • Al-Zad al-qalil (published in 1328/1910) about topics like tawhid and 'adl
  • Jawab al-masa'il al-Zanjabariyya about the purity of Adam (a)
  • Tariq al-nijat fi ba'z al-masa'il al-kalamiyya (Persian)
  • A kalam treatise on the issue of shaving the head

In Urdu Language

As mentioned earlier, in order to build up the unity of Indian Muslims, he promoted the Urdu language. Consequently, Taj al-Ulama' authored some works in Urdu and translated some works into Urdu. Some of his works and his translations are:

  • Translation of Qur'an
  • Translation of prayer concepts
  • Translation of Alfyyia which was written by al-Shahid al-Awwal
  • Al-Irshadiyya (al-Mawa'iz al-junfuriyya)
  • Tuhfat al-wa'izin
  • Durr-i bi-baha
  • A commentary on al-Ziyarah al-nahiya
  • Preaching of Akbarpuriyya
  • Preaching of Jawadiyya
  • Preaching of Yunisiyya

His works in Urdu primarily revolve around preaching and ethics.

Political Works

Taj al-Ulama', the same as Sayyid Ahmad Khan, believed in an unarmed campaigning against the British government. He felt the flaws in the political and governmental attitude of Indian Muslims. Therefore, he authored some works about this issue:

  • The boredom causing Islamic presidency to be weak, and its cure
  • Strange issues about politics of societies (about politics and government)
  • A treatise about jihad being unwarrantable during Imam al-Mahdi (a)'s absence
  • Risalat al-jahadiyya about jurisprudence

Other Works