FĀL-ASĪRĪ, Ḥājj Sayyed ʿALĪ-AKBAR, prominent mojtahed of Shiraz (1256-1319/1840-1901; Encyclopædia Iranica | Articles). Born in Asīr, a village in the Galadār district of Fārs, he studied religious sciences there under Shaikh Moḥammad Asīrī before coming to Shiraz in the 1270s/1850s to study with Ḥājj Shaikh Mahdī Kojūrī, from whom he eventually received a license as a mojtahed (Fasāʾī, ed. Rastgār, II, p. 912). He married the daughter of Ḥājj Mīrzā Ḥasan Šīrāzī, the leading mojtahed of the time. In Shiraz he led the prayer at Wakīl Mosque, where he regularly preached, and for years he wielded great influence in the religious, political, and social affairs of the city. He was an arrogant man of fiery temper, who considered himself superior to all his peers of the time. He was harsh, bitterly blunt, and ruthlessly intolerant. He enforced the šarīʿa precepts to the letter according to his own willful interpretation. He attacked the shops and residences of Jews and Christians, flogging them, destroying their stock of wine, and even threatening to massacre their entire community. He frequently attacked musicians and dancers, had their hair cut off, and smashed musical instruments (Saʿīdī, ed., pp. 139-40, 337-39, 406, 409). In 1317/1899 he and his followers destroyed the mausoleum built by a Zoroastrian philanthropist called Ḵosrow over the grave of Ḥāfeẓ, despite the fact that a number of religious leaders of the city, including Fāl-asīrī himself, had been paid off by Ḵosrow and had issued permission for the work. When the government decided to have the mausoleum rebuilt, Fāl-asīrī threatened to destroy it again and again “even if the shah were to rebuild it a thousand times over” (Saʿīdī, ed., pp. 582-83).
Fāl-asīrī was an active opponent of the tobacco concession (see CONCESSIONS) and instigated a riot in Shiraz against it. As a result he was arrested, packed off to Bušehr, and then sent to Basra (Algar, p. 207). In protest, his followers sought sanctuary (see BAST) in the Wakīl Mosque, and a number of them died in clashes with security forces. (Saʿīdī, ed. pp. 378-79; Molkārā, pp. 183-84; Amīn-al-Dawla, pp. 149-50). Fāl-asīrī met Sayyed Jamāl-al-Dīn Asadābādī/Afḡānī (q.v.) in Baṣra (Amīn-al-Dawla, p. 151). According to Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana (Rūz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, pp. 876-77), Fāl-asīrī was the real instigator of the protest movement and it was he who persuaded his father-in-law to issue a fatwā forbidding the use of tobacco, which eventually caused the cancellation of the concession. Fāl-asīrī returned to Shiraz in triumph in 1309/1892. He died in Shiraz on 29 Rabīʿ II 1319/15 August 1901 and was buried there near the Ḥāfeẓīya. On the day of his death the bāzārs of Shiraz were shut down (Saʿīdī, ed., p. 646).
Fāl-asīrī had many opponents who accused his sons and son-in-laws of abusing his influence. He was once exiled to Isfahan in 1304/1886 for instigating a riot. Despite a letter from several religious leaders certifying his insanity, the governor of Isfahan, Masʿūd Mīrzā Ẓell-al-Solṭān, received him with honor and the shah sent him gifts from Tehran (Saʿīdī, ed., pp. 266, 273, 275-77, 285; Pīrzāda, I, pp. 36-38, 88-89).
Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):
ʿAbbās Mīrzā Molkārā, Šarḥ-e ḥāl-e ʿAbbās Mīrzā Molkārā, ed. ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982.
H. Algar, Religion and State in Iran 1785-1906: The Role of the Ulama in the Qajar Period, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1969, pp. 200-1, 210-11.
Mīrzā ʿAlī Khan Amīn-al-Dawla, Ḵāṭerāt-e sīāsī-e Mīrzā ʿAlī Ḵān Amīn-al-Dawla, ed. H.ṟ Farmānfarmāʾīān, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963.
Bāmdād, Rejāl II, pp. 430-31.
N. Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Iranian Tobacco Protest of 1891-1892, London, 1966, pp. 67-69, 71-73, 88-89.
Moḥammad-ʿAlī Pīrzāda Nāʾīnī, Safar-nāma-ye Ḥājī Pīrzāda, ed. Ḥ. Farmānfarmāʾīān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1342-43 Š./1963-64.
ʿA.-A. Saʿīdī Sīrjānī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya: Majmūʿa-ye gozārešhā-ye ḵofyanevīsān-e Engelīs dar welāyāt-e janūbī-e Īrān az sāl-e 1291 tā 1322 qamarī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983. E
. Teymūrī, Taḥrīm-e tanbākū yā awwalīn moqāwamat-e manfī dar Īrān, Tehran, 1328 Š./1949.
Figure 1. Alī-Akbar Fāl-asīrī. After Saʿīdī Sīrjānī, ed., Waqāyeʿ-e ettefāqīya, facing p. 584.
(Manṣūr Rastgār FASāʾī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: January 20, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. IX, Fasc. 2, pp. 169-170