Nuri, Fazlallah (1843–1909)

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NURI, FAZLALLAH (1843–1909)

Hajj Shaykh Fazlallah b. Mulla ˓Abbas Mazandarani Tehrani, commonly known as Fazlallah Nuri, was born in the village of Nur in Mazandaran. He was a prominent Iranian Shi˓ite scholar and the marja˓-e taqlid (source of emulation) of Tehran at the turn of the twentieth century. He studied in Najaf with Mohammad Hasan Shirazi and reached the rank of mujtahid at a young age.

Nuri actively participated in the constitutional revolution of 1905–1906. He played a controversial role in the events of the revolution, first supporting and then turning against constitutional government. Nuri agreed with his opponents on the necessity of the rule of law and restrictions on the tyrannical power of the king. Being cognizant of the dangers of a secular constitution to Islam and the Shi˓ite ulema, however, he declared constitutionalism incompatible with Islam. Instead, he advocated the mashrutah-ye mashru˓ah, that is, a constitution based on the laws of Islam.

Nuri published his argument against constitutional government in several treatises including Nizam nameh-ye islami (Islamic constitution), Tadhkirat al-ghafil wa irshad al-jahil (A reminder to the negligent and guidance for the ignorant), and Lawayih (Letters) in which he argued that mashrutah (constitution) was against the precepts of Shi˓ite Islam. He became the most outspoken critic of the constitution of 1906–1907 and the most ardent opponent of the constitutionalists. Nuri's agitation against constitutionalist forces brought him into conflict with them, who captured and finally hanged him in Tehran in July 1909.

See alsoReform: Iran ; Revolution: Islamic Revolution in Iran .


Nuri, Fazlallah. "Two Clerical Tracts on Constitutionalism." In Authority and Political Culture in Shi˓ism. Edited by Said A. Arjomand. Translated by Hamid Dabashi. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.

Mohammad H. Faghfoory