Karaki, Shaykh ?Ali

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Nur al-Din Abu˒l-Hasan ˓Ali b. al-Husayn b. ˓Abd al-˓Ali al-Karaki, also known as al-Muhaqqiq al-Thani (d.1533), was an Arab Twelver Shi˓ite jurist from Karak Nuh in present-day Lebanon, who acquired the scholastic tradition of Jabal ˓Amil in Syria and stood in the intellectual line of descent from Muhammad b. Makki (d.1384), who was known as al-Shahid al-Awwal (the First Martyr). Al-Karaki was the first major Shi˓ite scholar to emigrate from Jabal ˓Amil to Najaf in Iraq during the sixteenth century and from there to Safavid Iran (1501–1736), where Shah Isma˓il (r. 1501–1524) appointed him shaykh al-Islam. He implemented the Ja˓fari (Twelver Shi˓ite) legal rulings, observed the previously suspended Friday prayer, and tried to draw Shi˓ism out of its scholastic puritanism to fit the Safavid state structure. In 1532, and as a visible sign of al-Karaki's eminence at the court, Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524–1576) issued a royal decree declaring him the deputy (na˒ib) of the imam and the seal of jurisconsults (khatam almujtahidin), thus undermining the position of the Iranian sadrs, chiefs of the Safavid religious administration who adjudicated in criminal and religious matters. Shah Tahmasp also conferred on al-Karaki extensive land holdings as a hereditary waqf (religious endowment). Al-Karaki's ardent defense of the Shi˓ite faith earned him the nickname "inventor of the Shi˓ite religion." Among his descendants was the seventeenth-century Iranian jurist and philosopher Mir Damad.

See alsoEmpires: Safavid and Qajar ; Isma˓il I, Shah ; Shaykh al-Islam ; Shi˓a: Imami (Twelver) ; Tahmasp I, Shah .


Arjomand, S. A. "Two Decrees of Shah Tahmasp Concerning Statecraft and the Authority of Shaykh ˓Ali al-Karaki," In Authority and Political Culture in Shi˓ism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.

Arjomand, S. A. "The Mujtahid of the Age and the Mullabashi: An Intermediate Stage in the Institutionalization of Religious Authority in Shi˓ite Iran." In Authority and PoliticalCulture in Shi˓ism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.

Rula Jurdi Abisaab