ĀQĀ NAJAFĪ QŪČĀNĪ, SAYYED MOḤAMMAD ḤASAN B. MOḤAMMAD (1295-1362/1878-1943), religious authority and constitutionalist. He was born into a peasant family in the village of Ḵarva near Qūčān and received his early education there. His father urged him to continue his studies, and despite the son’s reluctance, took him in 1890 to Qūčān, where he joined the city’s small circle of religious learning. He pursued a traditional education in Qūčān for the next three years, in Mašhad for two years (1893-95), and in Isfahan for five years (1895-1900). In Isfahan Āqā Naǰafī studied logic, oṣūl, philosophy, and feqh under Āḵūnd-e Kāšī, Shaikh ʿAbd-al-Karīm Gazī, Mīrzā Jahāngīr Khan, Qašqāʾī and Shaikh Moḥammad-Taqī Āqā Naǰafī respectively. Āqā Naǰafī then moved to Naǰaf, where he attended lectures on feqh and oṣūl by Āḵūnd Mollā Moḥammad-Kāẓem Ḵorāsānī and Mīrzā Fatḥallāh Šayḵ-al-šarīʿa Eṣfahānī and on Islamic philosophy by Shaikh Moḥammad-Bāqer Eṣṭahbānātī. While in Naǰaf, Āqā Naǰafī lived a pious life of extreme poverty; his early expenditure amounted to approximately 38 tomans. By the age of thirty (1908), he felt that he had reached the degree of eǰtehād; his views on religious matters were close to those of his principal teacher, Āḵūnd Ḵorāsānī, for whom he maintained particular respect throughout his life.
During the Constitutional Revolution of 1324-27/1906-09 Āqā Naǰafī supported Ḵorāsānī’s constitutionalist cause. In 1326/1908, he wrote ʿOḏr-e badtar az gonāh in support of it. When Ḵorāsānī set out for Iran with many of his followers to protest Anglo-Russian involvement (1327/1909 and again in 1329/1911), Āqā Naǰafī was at his side (A.-H. Hairi, Shīʿīsm and Constitutionalism in Iran: A Study of the Role Played by the Persian Residents of Iraq in Iranian Politics, Leiden, 1977, pp. 87-96, 114-20). He remained in Naǰaf until the death of his father in 1338/1919. He then returned to Qūčān, where he was soon recognized as a religious authority and where he stayed for the rest of his life. In two separate incidents in 1925 and 1942, the lives of the people of Qūčān were threatened by hostile forces sustained by certain local adversaries from Boǰnord. Āqā Naǰafī is said to have played a major and decisive role in keeping the opposing factions from bloodshed (R. ʿA. Šākerī, Joḡrāfīā-ye tārīḵī-e Qūčān šāmel-e Qūčān-e qadīm (Ḵabūšaw) wa Qūčān-e ǰadīd, Mašhad, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 70, 79).
Āqā Naǰafī wrote a number of books, none of which seems to have been published until recently. The most important for the history of modern Iran is his autobiography, Sīāḥat-e šarq (ed. R. ʿA. Šākerī, Mašhad, 1351 Š./1972), which covers the period from his birth to 1928; it offers detailed accounts of the political activities of the Persian residents of Iraq during the Constitutional Revolution. Another book, Sīāḥat-e ḡarb (ed. R. ʿA. Šākerī, Mašhad, 1349 Š./1970), is written in the form of a memoir but deals with ethics and life after death. Āqā Naǰafī’s other works include Šarḥ-e tarǰama-ye resāla-ye toffāḥīya-ye Arasṭū (1935), Ṣafarī kūtāh be ābādīhā-ye aṭraf-e Qūčān, Šarḥ-e doʿā-ye ṣabāḥ (1327/1909), and Šarḥ-e kefāyat al-oṣūl-e Āḵūnd Mollā Moḥammad-Kāẓem Ḵorāsānī.
See also Ḥ. M. Šarīf Rāzī, Ganǰīna-ye dānešmandān VI, 1354 Š./1975, pp. 220-22.
Originally Published: December 15, 1986
Last Updated: August 9, 2011
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Vol. II, Fasc. 2, p. 180