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Short description: "Seghatoleslam" name description

Seghatoleslam, also spelled Seqat-ol-eslam, or Thiqat ul-Islam, is an honorific title within the Twelver Shia clergy. Historically, it denoted a scholar who had completed a certain level of religious education but had not yet attained the highest authority in the religious hierarchy, known as Ayatollah.[1] In the recent past, it was typically conferred upon individuals who had completed Islamic seminary levels 1 and 2, obtaining a degree in Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) and theology (Usul al-din).[2] The title also signifies a trustworthy person respected by Muslims, reflecting a specific level of seminary knowledge.[3][4]


The term Seghatoleslam [Persian: ثقت الاسلام], [Arabic: ثقة الاسلام] is derived from two Arabic words: ثقة, meaning trustworthy, and Islam [Arabic: اسلام] referring to the Islam's religion. Consequently, the title can be translated as Trustworthy of Islam.[5][6][7]

In Usulist, a branch of Islamic Biographical Evaluation, there is issuing a fatwa is only permissible by trusting the words of authenticated narrators, and Seghatoleslam designates narrators whose justice and trustworthiness have been explicitly verified.[8]

Seghatoleslam as a religious title

In Shia Islam, Seghatoleslam was historically viewed as a precursor to the higher title of Ayatollah,[1] as achieving Ayatollah status required additional years of study and research beyond the Seghatoleslam degree.[9]

Although the majority of Iran's population is Shia Muslim, the use of the title Seghatoleslam is not widespread in Iran. It was, however, utilised in other countries with substantial Shia Muslim populations, such as Iraq.[10][11]

It is essential to note that the application of religious titles in Shia Islam is not uniform, and variations exist in how these titles are employed and understood in different contexts.

The title Seghatoleslam was initially used for Muhammad ibn Yaqub al-Kulayni (864 -941),[12][13] the compiler of al-Kaafi. According to Mudir Shanachi (fa), "al-Kulayni was known as Seghatoleslam in his time".[14]

Difference between the titles Ayatollah, Hujjatoleslam, and Seghatoleslam

The conceptual evolution of titles for Shia Islam clerics in Iran has changed over time. Seghatoleslam, once used for the students in preliminary stages, was previously the title of eminent scholars.[15] Some titles, like Grand Ayatollah, became prevalent and are exclusively applied to Maraji, meaning religious scholars who are references for others. At different times, the title Akhund, was used for great scholars such as Akhund Molla Mohammad Kazim Khurasani or Akhund Molla Mohammad Baqer Majlesi.[16] These titles in seminaries are conventional, without a specific institution awarding them.[17]

In the past, Seghatoleslam referred to scholars at level 1 and 2.[18] Presently, the primary objective of the level 1 and 2 courses is to teach Arabic literature, including grammar, semantics, eloquence. Students are also familiarised with basic subjects such as Logic and Jurisprudence, usually from the books like Jame-ol Moghaddamat,[19] al-Mughni, and Suyuti.[3]

The duration of the taught course typically spans three years for the Arabic literature course, along with an addition three years for the Logic and Jurisprudence courses.[4]

In earlier times, Seghatoleslam was a title bestowed upon distinguished scholars, such as Sheikh Muhammad ibn Yaqub al-Kulayni or Sheikh al-Saduq.[12][13] However, this title is not presently used in seminaries in Iran.[18]

Hujjatoleslam refers to students at level 3. During this stage, books like Mo'alem al-Usul[20] or Usul al-Istinbat,[21] Al-Mujaz,[22] Usul al-Fiqh Muzafar,[23] Rasa'il,[24] and Kafiya tol-Usul[25] are usually taught. Additionally, Jurisprudence books such as Sharh Lom-e[26] and Makaseb are included in the curriculum.[3]

The duration of the taught course typically spans four years.[4]

Upon entering the next stage (advanced level 4) and reaching the kharej (advanced courses of the seminary) study level, students are conferred the title Hujjatoleslam Wal-Muslemin. This stage is regarded as the highest course of seminary courses, aiming to produce mujtahids in the fields of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) or theology (Usul al-din). The goal is to develop the ability to derive rulings from authentic sources [books[27] (Qur'anic sciences), Sunnah, wisdom, and consensus]. This stage usually does not rely on specific textbooks but is structured around the sufficiency of principles in Jurisprudence and Jawaher al-Kalam,[28] Tahrir al-Wasila, and Urwa tol-Wosgha[29] in Jurisprudence. It is essentially a research-oriented course.[3]

The taught course at this stage typically lasts a minimum of four years.[4]

In the past, the title Hujjatoleslam Wal-Muslemin was used for Maraji, such as the Risalah of the late Ayatollah Hossein Borujerdi was published under the title Hujjatoleslam Wal-Muslemin Hossein Borujerdi, or, for example, Muhammad al-Ghazali, had this title in the past.[30] However, today these titles hold a different meaning.

Ayatollah refers to an individual who has successfully completed the kharej course (advanced courses of the seminary) and reached the level of Ijtihad. Ijtihad implies the ability to independently derive rulings using legal and principled evidence and foundations.[3]

There are two types of mujtahids: the bounded mujtahid, who is proficient in specific chapters of Fiqh, and the absolute mujtahid, who is proficient in all chapters of Fiqh.[31]

Apart from completing advanced studies, an individual must teach a kharej course (advanced courses of the seminary) of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) or theology (Usul al-din) for several years to attain the title of Ayatollah.

Seghatoleslam as a family name in Iran

While Seghatoleslam is primarily a title in Shia Islam,[32] it can also be used as a family name in some Iranian families. This practice aligns with the common cultural phenomenon where individuals use titles as family names or adopt religious or cultural terms reflecting their identity as their family name.[7][33]

The utilisation of Seghatoleslam as a family name is relatively uncommon and mostly confined to Iran / Persia. In other countries, even those with significant Shia Muslim populations,[10][11] people tend to adopt other family names that mirror their cultural or ethnic identity.[34]

Notable Seghatoleslam family in Iran

Individuals with the Seghatoleslam family name may be residing in Shiraz, Tabriz, or other parts of Iran / Persia, considering it is a distinct family name in the region. Notable family members in Iran include:

  1. Mirza Ali Aqa Seghatoleslam Tabrizi[35] (January 19, 1861 – December 31, 1911) was an Iranian nationalist who lived in Tabriz City, Iran, during the Persian Constitutional Revolution and was a reformist Shia cleric.
  2. Mohammad Ali Seghatoleslam Isfahani[36] (1854 – 1900) was an Iranian Shia clergyman who lived in Isfahan, Iran. He was one of the great scholars and jurists of his era in Isfahan City (Isfahan province) and had complete knowledge and expertise in all branches of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh).[37]
  3. Seyed Abdullah Seghatoleslam[38] (July 3, 1868 – July 8, 1962) was an Iranian Twelver Shia clergyman who lived in Isfahan City, Iran, and Najaf, Iraq. He was engaged in teaching and authoring books in Najaf City and left valuable works in Islamic sciences.[39]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Definition of AYATOLLAH" (in en). 
  2. Akhlaq, Sayed Hassan (15 May 2023) (in en). The Making of Shia Ayatollahs. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Incorporated. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-7936-5516-5. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "حوزه علمیه (مراحل تحصیل) - ویکی فقه". 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "نظام درسی حوزه علمیه" (in fa). 
  5. Ibn Durayd, Abūbakr Muḥammad b. Ḥasan (24 April 2012). Baʿlbakī, Ramzī Munīr. ed (in en). Lisān al-ʿArab. Beirut: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-16121-4. 
  6. "معنی ثقة" (in fa). 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Anvari, Hassan (2007) (in fa). فرهنگ بزرگ سخن (3 ed.). انتشارات سخن،. p. 2033. ISBN 978-964-372-556-3. Retrieved 5 May 2023. 
  8. Mudir Shanachi, Kazim (2017). کتاب درایه الحدیث. Ghom, Iran: دفتر انتشارات اسلامی جامعه مدرسین حوزه علمیه قم. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-964-470-365-2. 
  9. Zavabeti, Mehdi (1980). پژوهشی در نظام طلبگی (1 ed.). Tehran: بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب. p. 202. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Shia Muslims Population".,estimates%20its%20in%20the%20range%20of%20400%20Millions.. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Shia (Shi'a) Muslim Countries". 23 May 2018. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Rayhanat al-adab (book)" (in en). 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Mousavi-Bojnourdi, Kazem (8 April 2023) (in en). Encyclopaedia Islamica (2 ed.). Brill. p. 260. ISBN 978-90-04-16121-4. 
  14. Mudir Shanachi, Kazim (1983) (in Arabic). کتاب علم الحدیث (1 ed.). Ghom, Iran: دفتر انتشارات اسلامی جامعه مدرسین حوزه علمیه قم. pp. 75. ISBN 978-964-470-197-9. 
  15. متینی, جلال (1983). "بحثی دربارهء سابقهء تاریخی القاب و عناوین علما در مذهب شیعه" (in fa-IR). IranNamag 4 (1). Retrieved 2 May 2023. 
  16. "نظر مراجع تقليد درباره القاب علمي روحانيون". نور پرتال. 15 July 2014. 
  17. "القاب "آیت الله"، "حجت الاسلام" و "ثقه الاسلام" چه تفاوتی دارند؟ | پایگاه خبری تحلیلی انصاف نیوز" (in fa-IR). 9 April 2022. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "آشنایی با القاب حوزوی" (in fa). 22 November 2023. 
  19. "جامع المقدمات (کتاب) - ویکی فقه". 
  20. عاملی, شیخ جمال الدین حسن بن زین‌الدین. "معالم الدین و ملاذ المجتهدین - ویکی فقه". 
  21. حیدری, سید علی نقی. "اصول الاستنباط - ویکی فقه" (in Arabic). 
  22. سبحانی, شیخ جعفر. "الموجز فی اصول الفقه‌ - ویکی فقه" (in Arabic). 
  23. مظفر, محمد رضا. "اصول الفقه‌ (مظفر) - ویکی فقه" (in Arabic). 
  24. انصاری تستری نجفی, مرتضی بن محمد امین. "فرائد الاصول (کتاب) - ویکی فقه". انتشارات جامعه مدرسین. 
  25. خراسانی, محمد کاظم. "کفایة الاصول - ویکی فقه" (in Arabic). انتشارات مؤسسه نشر اسلامی قم. 
  26. عاملی, سعید زین الدین بن علی بن احمد بن تقی. "الروضة البهیة (کتاب) - ویکی فقه". انتشارات داوری. 
  27. "کتاب (علوم قرآنی) - ویکی فقه". 
  28. نجفی‌, محمدحسن‌. "جواهر الکلام فی شرح شرائع الإسلام‌ (کتاب) - ویکی فقه". مؤسسه تاریخ عربی. 
  29. کاشف الغطاء, محمّد حسين. "العروة الوثقی - ویکی فقه". 
  30. Mousavi-Bojnourdi, Kazem (1960–2009) (in en). Encyclopaedia Islamica (4 ed.). Leiden: Brill. p. 237. ISBN 978-90-04-16121-4. Retrieved 2 May 2023. 
  31. Moussavi, Ahmad Kazemi (17 June 2016). "The Institutionalization of Marjae Taqlid in the Nineteenth Century Shiite Community". AthareBartar 83 (1994): 279–299. Retrieved 3 May 2023. 
  32. "حجت الاسلام کیست؟ آیت الله به چه کسی می گویند؟" (in fa). khabaronline. 5 June 2011. 
  33. "فرهنگ سخن" (in fa). 24 December 2021.,%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%88%D9%85%DB%8C%20%D9%88%20%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%B5%D8%B5%DB%8C%20%D9%87%D9%85%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C%20%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF.. 
  34. "A Complete List of Muslim Last Names + Meanings - FamilyEducation" (in en). 
  35. "Ali Thiqat al-Islam Tabrizi" (in en). 
  36. "تولد مرحوم ثقة الاسلام حاجی شیخ محمدعلی اصفهانی". فرهیختگان تمدن شیعه. 
  37. "محمدعلی ثقه الاسلام اصفهانی". 
  38. "آیت اللّه ثقة الاسلام" (in fa-IR). سایت رسمی سادات میرمحمدصادقی. 9 June 2020. 
  39. "عبدالله ثقة الاسلام". 

Further reading

  • Calmard, Jean. (2009). "Ayatollah". In Esposito, John L. (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195305135.001.0001.
  • Glassé, C. (2013). The new encyclopedia of Islam. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 71. ISBN:978-0-7591-0189-0
  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Dabashi, Hamid; and Vali, S. (1989). Expectation of the Millennium. SUNY Press. ISBN:978-0-88706-844-7
  • Golkar, S. (2017). Clerical militia and securitization of seminary schools in Iran. Contemporary Islam, 11(3), pp. 215–235. doi: 10.1007/s11562-017-0384-8.doi:10.1007/s11562-017-0384-8|10.1007/s11562-017-0384-8}}. S2CID 151998952.
  • ‌AncientFaces. (n.d.). Seyed Zeinolabedin Seghatoleslam biography. [online] Available at: Seyed-Zeinolabedin-Seghatoleslam-192886125 [Accessed 08 Apr. 2023].
  • Momen, M. (2015). Shi’i Islam. Simon and Schuster. ISBN:978-1-78074-788-0
  • Wikishia. (n.d.). Thiqat al-Islam. [online] Available at: [Accessed 08 Apr. 2023].
  • Hosseini, Seyed Mohammad Hassan. (2014). Commemoration ceremony of the late Ayatollah Seyed Ali Seghatoleslam Arsenjani. [online] Available at: [Accessed 08 Apr. 2023].
  • Momen, M. (1985). An Introduction to Shi’i Islam: the history and doctrines Twelver Shi’ism. New Haven; London: Yale University Press. ISBN:978-0-300-03499-8
  • ‌Wikipedia. (2023). Mirza Ali Aqa Tabrizi. [online] Available at: [Accessed 08 Apr. 2023].
  • Zaare, Jafar. (2014). A panegyric upon Seyed Zeinolabedin Seghatoleslam. [online] Available at: [Accessed 08 Apr. 2023].
  • Ebrahimi, M.H. (2020). Saeedieh School (a collection of articles on the history of Saeedieh School in Arsenjan- Biography and life of the Seghatoleslam families). 1st ed. Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran: Islamic Reserves Council (in Persian Language) - ISBN:978-622-7435-53-5
  • Hermann, Denis. (1 May 2013). "Akhund Khurasani and the Iranian Constitutional Movement". Middle Eastern Studies. 49 (3): 430–453. doi:10.1080/00263206.2013.783828. ISSN 0026-3206. JSTOR 23471080. S2CID 143672216.
  • Akhlaq, Sayed Hassan. (2023). The Making of Shia Ayatollahs. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN:978-1-7936-5516-5
  • ‌Anvari, Hassan. (2007). فرهنگ بزرگ سخن (in Persian) (3ed.). انتشارات سخن،. p. 2033. ISBN:978-964-372-556-3.
  • موسسهٔ لغت‌نامهٔ دهخدا و مرکز بین‌المللی آموزش زبان فارسی. (n.d.). معنی ثقة. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 May 2023].
  • ‌ (n.d.). Definition of AYATOLLAH. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2023].
  • Bearman, P.J., International Union of Academies and Al, E. (1986). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition. Leiden E.J. Brill -≪&Gt. ISBN:978-90-04-16121-4
  • World Shia Muslims Population. (n.d.). Shia Muslims Population. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2023].
  • Ibn Durayd, Abūbakr Muḥammad b. Ḥasan (24 April 2012). Baʿlbakī, Ramzī Munīr (ed.). Lisān al-ʿArab. Beirut: Brill. ISBN:978-90-04-16121-4
  • Mudir Shanachi, Kazim. (2017). کتاب درایه الحدیث. Ghom, Iran: دفتر انتشارات اسلامی جامعه مدرسین حوزه علمیه قم. pp. 112–113. ISBN:978-964-470-365-2
  • Mudir Shanachi, Kazim. (1983). کتاب علم الحدیث (in Arabic) (1 ed.). Ghom, Iran: دفتر انتشارات اسلامی جامعه مدرسین حوزه علمیه قم. p. 75. ISBN:978-964-470-197-9