The Ijazat of Fathers to Their Sons

By Sayyid Muhammad Mehdi Rafipour
Translated by Hadi Rizvi

Among the contemporary jurists, there are cases where jurists who were fathers, attested to the Ijtihād1 of their children, and have confirmed their juristic abilities.

Some cases that immediately come to mind are:

1. The ijāza2 of ijtihād given by the late Allamah Mulla Mahdi Naraqi (d.1209) to his son, Allamah Mulla Ahmad Naraqi (d.1245).

2. The ijāza of ijtihād given by the late Allamah Mulla Ahmad Naraqi to his son, the late Mulla Muhammad Naraqi (d.1297).

3. The ijāza of ijtihād given by the late Ayatullah Al-Udhma Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Mamaqani (d.1323) to his hardworking son, the late Ayatullah Al-Udhma Shaykh Abdullah Mamaqani (d.1351).

4. The ijāza of ijtihād given by the late Ayatullah Al-Udhma Sayyid Mahdi Shirazi (d.1380) to the late Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Shirazi (d.1423).

5. The ijāza of ijtihād given by the late Ayatullah Al-Udhma Fadhil Lankarani (d.1428) to his son Shaykh Muhammad Jawad Fadhil.

6. The ijāza of ijtihād given by the late Ayatullah Al-Udhma Musawi Ardabili (d.1438) to his son Sayyid Ali Ardabili.

7. The confirmation of Ayatullah Al-Udhma Wahid Khorasani of his son, Muhsin Wahid’s ijtihād (I heard about this matter a number of times from my teacher, the late Mujtahidi Tehrani, but I’m not aware of whether Ayatullah Wahid has confirmed this in writing as well or not).

Three points:
1. Confirming/giving ijāza for ijtihād is something that has become common in the past few centuries. That which has commonly existed since the past as a sign of recognition of an individual’s educational capabilities, was the ijāza of narrating.3 Senior scholars would use various terms and titles to clarify the level and rank of a student (e.g. the ijāza of Fakhr Al-Muhaqiqīn for Shahīd Awwal).4

2. In reality, reaching the stage of ijtihād does not require an ijāza from another individual. Instead, ijāzāt play the role of identifying and validation in the seminaries and society.

3. The dates mentioned above are all lunar-Hijri dates.

Qom, 21/08/97


  1. The inferring of legal precepts from the sources of Shi’i law (See An Introduction to Shi’i Law, Hossein Modarressi Tabataba’i).(Translator’s Note – TN)
  2. Lit: authorization, licence (Vajda, G., Goldziher, I. and Bonebakker, S.A., “Id̲j̲āza”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition). Used here to refer to the practice of one Jurist giving another the permission to practice Ijtihād. (TN)
  3. See: Shi‘i ‘Ulama and Ijaza During the Nineteenth Century, Nobuaki Kondo.
    The Ijāza from Yūsuf Al-Baḥrānī (D. 1186/1772) to Sayyid Muḥammad Mahdī Baḥr al-‘Ulūm (D. 1212/1797-8), Robert Gleave.
    Shi’i Scholars of Nineteenth-Century Iraq: The ‘Ulama’ of Najaf and Karbala’, Meir Litvak. (TN)
  4. Bihar Al-Anwar, Majlisi, v.107, p.178.

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