Mīrzā Habīb Allāh Rashtī (b. 1234/1819 – d. 1312/1894) was a famous Shi’a jurist (faqih) and marja’ in Qajar period.
He was born in Amlash a village near Rasht, Iran. He was a top student of Muhammad Hasan Najafi and Shaykh Ansari and the teacher to great scholars such as: Muhammad Kazim Yazdi, Aqa Diya’ ‘Iraqi, Mirza Husayn Na’ini and Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfahani, who preferred his class to other scholars of his time like Mirza Hasan Shirazi and Muhammad Husayn Kuhkamari. His most important book is Bada’i’ al-afkar.
His father was Mirza Muhammad ‘Ali Khan son of Jahangir Khan Quchani Gilani, one of the most famous Shi’a scholars in his time. His ancestors were originally from Quchan, who were forced to move to Gilan in early 11th/17th century. He was born in 1234/1819 in Amlash a village of Gilan provence, Iran.
- Muhammad Rashti; was the eldest son and his mother was Ma’suma Arbab, Mirza Rashti’s first wife.
- Isma’il Rashti; his mother was Kulthum, Mirza Rashti’s second wife.
- Ishaq Rashti; was born in Najaf, his mother was Kulthum, Mirza Rashti’s second wife.
In his childhood, he studied the Qur’an at home. When he was 12 he went to Langarud a city in Iran and then to Rasht for studying Islamic studies. Afterward, he continued his studies in Islamic seminary of Qazwin, where he participated in fiqh and usul al-fiqh class of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karim Irawani. He became mujtahid at the age of 25 and for 4 years people of Amlash referred to him to get their religious inquiries answered. In 1263/1847 he arrived at Najaf and participated in the class of Muhammad Hasan Najafi. After the demise of Najafi in 1266/1850 he participated in Shaykh Murtada Ansari’s class.
Shaykh Abdul Karim Irawani
Shaykh Muhammad Hassan Najafi
Shaykh Murtaza Ansari
Among his students, some became marja’, some became leader of socio-political movements in their hometowns and some become great and famous teachers and researchers in seminary. Some of his most famous students are:
- Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi
- Aqa Diya’ ‘Iraqi
- Mirza Husayn Na’ini
- Shaykh Fadl Allah Nuri
- Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Isfahani
- ‘Abd al-Ghani Badkubi’i
- ‘Abd Allah Mazandarani (Langarudi)
- Mir Bahr al-‘Ulum Rashti
- Sayyid Abu l-Qasim Ishkivari
In principle of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh):
- Bada’i’ al-afkar
- Risalat fi al-did wa al-‘iqtida al-amr bi shai’ al-nahi ‘anh wa ‘adamih
- Al-ta’adul wa al-tarajih
- and …
In jurisprudence (fiqh):
- Al-hashiyah ‘ala al-Makasib
- Hashiyat ‘ala al-Nukhba
- Hashiyat ‘ala Najat al-‘ibad
- Hashiyat ‘ala Manhaj al-rashad
- and …
- Kashif al-zalam fi hall mu’dalat al-Kalam
In Qur’an exegesis (tafsir):
- Commentaries on Tafsir Jalalayn.
Scripts of His Classes
Many of his students have written down his classes, some of which are:
- Sayyid Mirza Hasan Hamadani
- Sayyid Sadiq Qummi
- Shaykh Hasan Tuysirkani
- Shaykh Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad Ja’far Bahari Hamadani
- Sayyid Abu al-Qasim b. Ma’sum Husayni Ishkivari
- Mirza Baqir b. Mirza Muhammad ‘Ali
His especial moral characteristic made him a pious personality, who was famous for his asceticism. He always remembered Allah and seize any opportunities to recite the holy Qur’an or prayers and supplications.
He was so careful and cautious that he could not easily answer the questions, that he was asked, without complete research. He was so respectful toward Mirza Shirazi that he encouraged people to ask their question from him and to be his followers (muqallid).
Although he was the top student of Shaykh Ansari, after Shaykh’s demise, he did not take shar’i funds (khums and …). And never showed the slightest desire to become a marja’ even when his students insisted on his becoming a marja’, he directed them to Mirza shirazi.
Mīrzā Habībullah Rashtī passed away on Thursday Jumada II 14, 1312/December 13, 1894 in Najaf and was buried in one of the rooms around the courtyard of the holy shrine of Imam ‘Ali (a).