Zayn al-'Abidin Mazandarani

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Zayn al-'Abidin Mazandarani
زین العابدین مازندرانی.jpg
Personal Information
Full NameShaykh Zayn al-'Abidin b. Muslim Barfurushi Mazandarani Ha'iri
Place of BirthBabol
ResidenceBabol,Karbala, Najaf
DeathDhu l-Qa'da 1309/June 1892
Burial PlaceHoly Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a)
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsSa'id al-'Ulama' Mazandarani, Sayyid Ibrahim al-Musawi al-Qazwini, al-Shaykh al-Ansari, Muhammad Husayn Ha'iri Isfahani, Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi, Shaykh Ali b. Ja'far Kashif al-Ghita'

Shaykh Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn b. Muslim Bārfurūshi Māzandarānī Ḥāʾirī (b. 1224-1809/d. 1309-1892) was a Shiite marja' in thirteenth/nineteen and fourteenth/twentieth centuries. His best-known teachers were Sa'id al-'Ulama' Mazandarani, Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi, and al-Shaykh al-Ansari. He supported and guided Ithna 'ashari Khojas.


Birth and Lineage

Zayn al-'Abidin was born in Mazandaran in the city of Barfrouch (today's Babol). His father was Muslim Barfurushi Mazandarani.


Mazandarani died in Dhu l-Qa'da 1309/June 1892 and was buried in the Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a) at the gate of Qadi l-Hajat. There are different accounts of the day of his death: Dhu l-Qa'da 13, 17, and 19/June 9, 13 and 15.

It is quoted by Sayyid Muhsin Amin that Zayn al-Abidin turned sick on Saturday and died the next day.

Scholarly Life


Zayn al-'Abidin began his studies in Barfrouch (Babol). In Rajab 1250/November 1834, he migrated to Karbala and then in 1258/1842, he went to Najaf. It is said that his teacher, Sa'id al-'Ulama', accompanied him in his latter migration. Some of his teachers from whom he received permissions for the transmission of hadiths include:


Students of Zayn al-'Abidin include:


He wrote some works, including:

  • Zinat al-'ibad in Persian and Arabic with commentaries by Akhund Khurasani, as well as two major and minor essays of fatwas under Zinat al-'Ibad al-Kubra and Zinat al-'Ibad al-Sughra with commentaries by his son, Shaykh Husayn.
  • An essay on rituals of hajj.
  • An essay on irtidad (apostasy or disaffiliation from Islam).
  • Zad al-'Uqba (fatwas by Shaykh Zayn al-'Abidin collected by Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Hindi).
  • Mafatih al-jinan (his essay of fatwas in Urdu).
  • Zad al-muttaqin (an essay of fatwas by him and Mirza Shirazi).
  • Shaykh Zayn al-'Abidin wrote letters to prominent figures in India in which he praised Mir Hamid Husayn and his writings. His endorsement of Abaqat al-anwar appears in volume four of Waqa'i' al-ayyam.


After the death of the al-Sayyid Ibrahim al-Musawi al-Qazwini, he was recognized as the marja' of many Shi'as in Iraq, Iran, and India. His essay of fatwas was repeatedly published at the time. The number of his followers was so great that, according to Fisharaki, he came to be known as the Ka'ba and the Qibla. Sayyid Muhsin Amin, who went to Iraq in 1308/1890-1, has enumerated prominent scholars and marja', referring to Zayn al-'Abidin Mazandarani as the great marja' in Karbala.

Support of Ithna'ashari Khojas

A group of Ithna'ashari Khojas led by Doji Jamal met with Ayatollah Mazandarani and asked him to send a clergy to Mumbai. Thus, at his command, Mulla Qadir Husayn went to Mumbai in 1873 and Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Mar'ashi Shushtari was sent to Zanzibar.

In the Views of Great Scholars

Mazandarani was praised for his worship and asceticism and characterized as "worshiping ascetic shaykh" by prominent Shiite figures, including Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi in al-Kuna wa l-alqab and al-Fawa'id al-radawiyya, Aqa Buzurg Tihrani in Tabiqat a'lam al-Shi'a, Muhammad b. Sulayman Tunikabuni in Qisas al-'ulama', Sayyid Muhsin Amin in A'yan al-Shi'a, Muhammad Hirz al-Din in Ma'arif al-rijal, Mu'allim Habibabadi in Makarim al-athar, and so on.

Tunikabuni characterized him as possessing the "ultimate degree of asceticism and piety". It is said that he strongly avoided worldly property and his food mostly consisted of bread, vinegar, and rice. He was well-known for his extraordinary commitment to recommended actions and nawafil.

He was allegedly highly regarded of by Nasir al-Din Shah, and with the Shah's intercession, Mazandarani was exempted from compulsory military service by the Ottoman government.

Children and Family

Most of Mazandarani's sons followed their father's lead and became clergies:

  • Shaykh Husayn succeeded his father in marja'iyya after his death.
  • Shaykh 'Ali, known as Shaykh al-'Iraqayn, the author of Fihris al-jawahir (index of Jawahir al-kalam).
  • Shaykh Muhammad
  • Shaykh 'Abd Allah, who, contrary to his father, joined Sufis and became a great Sufi master.