Mīrzā Muḥammad Taqī al-Shīrāzī known as the Second Mīrza or the Mirza the Junior, was a Shiite authority or marja’ and the political leader of the Independence Movement in Iraq in nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Mirza al-Shirazi which was Know as Second Mirza born in 1256/1840 in Shiraz, Iran.
Mirza al-Shirazi migrated to Iraq, where he first resided in Karbala, and then moved to Samarra with his teacher, Mirza Hasan al-Shirazi, also known as the First Mirza. After the First Mirza, he undertook the administration of the Shiite Seminary of Samarra and was followed by some Shiites, but after Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi’s death, he was the mostly followed Shiite authority.
Mirza al-Shirazi was the leader of Iraqi Shiites in the Independence Movement; he supported the movement by issuing fatwas, letters and sending his sons to the fight.
Education and Shiite authority
Muhammad Taqi was Mirza Muhibb ‘Ali’s son, Mirza Muhammad ‘Ali’s grandson, and the nephew of Mirza Habib Allah (Qa’ani, the famous poet of the Nasir al-Din Shah’s period). He was born in Shiraz in 1256/ 1840-1841 and in 1271/ 1854-1854, he resided in Karbala.
Shirazi attended the lectures of Zayn al-‘Abidin al-Mazandarani, Fadil al-Ardakani and Sayyid ‘Ali Taqi al-Tabataba’i. In 1291/ 1874-1875), he moved to Samarra together with his friend, Sayyid Muhammad Fisharaki and their teacher, Mirza Hasan Shirazi, known as the First Mirza or Mirza the Senior. In those years, on behalf of Mirza Hasan al-Shirazi’ he delivered lectures for his students through his own style.
After the death of the First Mirza in 1312/ 1894-1895, Shirazi undertook the administration of the Shiite Seminary of Samarra. He stayed in Samarra until the Safar month of 1336/ November 1917-1918. He then went to Kadhimiya and after a while he moved to Karbala where he taught and wrote for the rest of his life. After the death of Sayyid Kazim Yazdi in 1337/ 1918, he was a Shiite authority who had many followers.
Sayyid Ali Naqi Tabatabei
Ayatollah Fazil Ardakani
Mirza Muhammad Hassan Shirazi
Shaykh Aqa Bozorg Tehrani
Shaykh Abd al-Karim Ha’iri
Shaykh Muhammad Jawad Balaghi
Aqa Husayn Tabtabaei Qomi
Sayyid Jaml al-Din Mousawi Golpayegani
Shaykh Muhammad Kazim Shirazi
Shaykh Muhammad Ali Shah-Abadi
Fatwas of Jihad
In 1329/ 1911 after the invasion of Northern Iran by Soviet forces and the killings of people who struggled for independence, Mirza Shirazi issued a fatwa to the effect that it is an obligation to resist the Soviet aggressors. Early in World War I in 1332/ 1914-1913 when the allies launched war against the Ottoman government, Mirza Shirazi along with other prominent scholars of Iraq issued statements about the obligation of jihad against the invasion of Allies on the Ottoman territories.
Mirza Shirazi’s migration to Karbala facilitated the coordination among scholars of Karbala and Najaf, as well as contacts with nomads for resistance against the occupiers.
After the occupation of al-Faw by British military forces, that preluded the occupation of Iraq, Mirza Shirazi issued three other fatwas of jihad when he was in Samarra, calling all the nomads and Muslims to resist the occupiers. He also sent his son, Shaykh Muhammad Rida Shirazi, to the battlefields in Kadhimiya as his own voice.
Establishing the Organization of the Islamic Association
When the World War I and the occupation of Iraq by British forces ended in 1336, the British planned to manipulate elections in order for their puppet government to be elected. This gave rise to objections by Shiite authorities and scholars of Iraq. In Karbala, Shaykh Muhammad Rida, Mirza Shirazi’s son, founded an organization called the “Islamic Association” whose members were prominent Shiite clergies such as Sayyid Hibat al-Din al-Shahristani, Abd al-Karim ‘Awwad, Husayn Qazwini and others. They campaigned against the British patronage and for the liberty of Iraq. In his support of this movement, Mirza Shirazi issued a fatwa on Rabi’ I 20 , 1337/ December 24, 1918 to the effect that no Muslim has the right to elect a non-Muslim as ruler.
Mirza Shirazi tried to highlight the ideal of the independence of Iraq and the resistance to its occupation by the British at Arabic and international levels.
- He and some other scholars sent a letter to Sharif Husayn, the ruler of Hijaz, and asked him to support the independence movement of Iraqi people.
- He sent another letter to Amir Faysal in Damascus and asked him to not only support the Iraqi people but to take action in broadcasting the occupation of Iraq through free media around the world and start dialogues with European and American officials.
- He also sent a letter, co-written with Shaykh al-Shari’a Isfahani, to the president of the US. At that letter, they informed him about the tendency of Iraqi people to elect an independently Arabic and Islamic government. They also said that Iraqis want a Muslim king who complies with the national parliament, in power.
- Soon after the Islamic Association began its activities, British authorities decided to arrest its members. In Dhu l-Qa’da 1337/ August 1919, six members of the Association were arrested and sent to Baghdad, and from there they were expelled to India. When Muhammad Taqi learned about this event, he wrote a letter to Arnold Wilson, the British commissioner of Iraq. In that letter, he expressed his complaint over the behavior with six members of his association and asked for their freedom. In his reply, Wilson tried to justify their punishment. When Mirza Shirazi received his letter, he became disappointed and said that he will migrate to Iran in order to issue a fatwa of jihad against the British forces. When the news spread, many scholars from Najaf, Kadhimiya and other cities wrote letters expressing their desire to accompany Mirza Shirazi in his migration to Iran. This led to the return of people from exile to Iran within four months.
Fatwa of the prohibition of employment in the Patronage Office of Britain
In 1338/1919, a new campaign against the British occupation was pressed. This time, as the first step, Mirza Shirazi issued a fatwa on Jumada II 9, 1338/ march 1, 1920 in which he prohibited the employment in British Patronage Office for Muslims. As a result, many staffs working for this office left their job quickly.
A short time before that, there was a secret meeting in late Jumada I, 1338/ February 1920 in Najaf at the request of Mirza Shirazi. A great number of scholars, leaders of the middle Euphrates and chiefs of nomads attended the meeting. They decided to launch a large-scale attack against the British occupiers by militia.
In Sha’ban 15, 1338/ May 3, 1920, there was a top secret meeting in Mirza Shirazi’s house under his initiative. Participants settled on a fixed plan to overthrow the British occupiers by a revolution. They finally swore on the holy Qur’an that they are ready to respond to the call of Islam and the country and to comply with the commands of their leader.
Following some movements by Muslim revolutionaries in Baghdad, the British governor of the city, Balfour, summoned the main figures of the movement to his office. One of these leaders, Ja’far Abu l-Taman, wrote a letter to Mirza Shirazi and asked for his help.
In his reply, Mirza Shirazi said:
We are delighted about the unity of people in Baghdad and the movement of scholars and heads of the city in pursuit of their legitimate rights and sacred goals. May God reward you and your brothers for your efforts and may God make our dream of independence a reality (Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Nuqaba’ al-bashar, vol. 1, p. 263).
Calling the Iraqi people to demonstrations
When the demonstrations in Baghdad escalated and one was killed by British occupiers, Mirza Shiraz sent a message to the Iraqi people in Ramadan 10, 1338/ May 29, 1920.
The “Hars al-Istiqlal” (the Protection of Independence) Party published his message broadly and circulated it in Baghdad, Kadhimiya and other parts of Iraq. On Ramadan 10, 1338/ May 29, 1920 fifteen prominent figures in Baghdad went to Wilson (the British commissioner of Iraq), as representatives of people, to negotiate about their legitimate rights. Prominent figures of Karbala and Najaf did the same as well. When Mirza Shirazi learned about this, he wrote letters to these representatives and advised them to be courageous in demanding the rights of the Iraqi people.
Banishment of his son
The British occupiers decided to arrest the heads of anti-British movements, in particular Shaykh Muhammad Rida, the son of Mirza Shirazi who they thought was the leader of these movements in the middle Euphrates. The British governor of Hillah was commissioned to arrest the leaders of these movements. With the help of his numerous forces, he surrounded the city and its entrances. In order to justify his actions, he wrote in a letter to Mirza Shirazi. In his letter, he said that his actions are meant at protecting the city from any harm and arresting the lawbreakers who intended to steal people’s possessions and and murder them. In response, Mirza Shirazi wrote in a letter with the handwriting of Shaykh Mahdi Khalisi and threatened the governor that if he withdraws from negotiations, he (Mirza Shirazi) will ask people to abandon the peaceful demonstrations and, therefore, he would be responsible for all the unpleasant consequences of it.
However, British occupiers sought to terrorize people anyway. They arrested Shaykh Muhammad Rida and eleven revolutionary activists. Later and as punishment, they sent them to Hengam island for exile. This action stirred up more revolutionary feelings among people and ignited the flames of rage of people in the middle Euphrates.
Historic fatwa of prohibiting the surrender to the British forces
According to Khalisi Zada, some letters have been received from heads of tribes to the effect that the British forces had sent troops in order to arrest them and that there was no way other than resistance or surrender. Mirza Shirazi ordered Khalisi Zada to reply to these letters that if British forces insisted on the violation of people’s rights and broke a war against them, then it is an obligation for them to defend themselves with all their power and it is prohibited to surrender to the British forces, and if the British refused to accept their requests, then they are permitted to defend themselves.
When Mirza Shirazi’s letter passed on, a bloody war broke between the nomads and tribes on one side, and the British forces on the other.
Mirza Shirazi found the conditions appropriate for a nation-wide revolution against the occupiers. Thus in response to questions about the permissibility of using weapons against the occupiers he issued the fatwa that it was an obligation to use weapons in defense against the occupiers. Moreover, he distributed a fatwa among all Muslims and called them to resist the British occupation and force them out of all the Islamic territories.
Supervision of Karbala
When Karbala was liberated by revolutionary forces on Shawwal 29, 1338/ July 16, 1920 people of the city went to Mirza Shirazi’s house and talked to him about the governance of the city. After the talks, they decided that the city should be governed by two councils: the Highest Council of War and the Scientific Association. Mirza Shirazi supervised both councils.
- A commentary on al-Makasib by Shaykh Murtaza Ansari
- An exposition of al-Urjuzat al-rida’iyya by Sayyid Sadr al-Din Amili
- Risala al-khilal
- Al-Qasa’id al-fakhira fi madh al-‘itra al-tahira (poems in the praise of Ahl al-Bayt (as)
- An essay concerning the Friday Prayer
- A collection of Persian poems mostly in the praise of Ahl al-Bayt (a). His penname was “Gulshan”.
Mirza Shirazi died on Dhu al-Hijja 13, 1338/ August 28, 1920 in Karbala at the age of eighty. Shaykh al-Shari’a Isfahani offered the prayers on his dead body and then he was buried in the southern chamber of the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a). However, the author of Rayhanat al-adab claims that Mirza died at the age of eighty six. When he died, most Shiite cities called for mourning ceremonies for him city-wide. Poets composed poems in his elegy.