Zohreh Sefati

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Zohreh Sefati
Personal details
Spouse(s) Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Ahmadi Faqih
Religion Islam (Shi'aTwelver)

Zohreh Sefati is a female Ayatollah (Mujtahida). She was born in Abadan, Iran in 1948. Sefati is a member of the Women's Socio-Cultural Council and a representative to the Supreme Council of Cultural Reforms. Sefati was raised in a religious family. She studied her high school level subjects at home before attending theology school in 1966. Sefati took preliminary lessons in jurisprudence, literature and Islamic sciences in Abadan.[1] In 1970, she left to attend Qom Theology School to continue her studies.[2] She was a student of renowned scholars such as Ayatollah Shahidi, Ayatollah Haqqi, Ayatollah Ali Meshkini and Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Ahmadi Faqih (who was her husband).[3]

Sefati achieved the highest jurisprudence degree (Ijtihad), an accomplishment made only by a small number of women. Her Ijtihad degree was approved by several ayatollahs, including Ayatollahs Ali Yari Gharavi-Tabrizi (a student of Ayatollah Naeini), Safi Gulpaygani, Fazel Lankarani, and Mohammad Hassan Ahmadi Faqih.

Sefati has also co-founded a theology school for women in Qom, which later became known as Maktab-e Tawhid.[4] Sefati was one of the 3,000 exemplary women commended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and received (and accepted) a plaque of honor from the president in October 2006.

Sefati has two brothers. One is Gholāmḥusayn Ṣefātī-Dezfūlī (1952–1977) who was a member of the radical anti-capitalist group “Manṣūrān.” Her other brother, Īraj Ṣefātī-Dezfūlī (b. 1940), represented the city of Abadan in the first and fifth Majlis (Iranian parliament) and was a member of the Majlis’ Supreme Audit Court.

Sefati and some male jurists, such as Yousef Saanei, believe a female mujtahid can become a source of emulation (a marja), i.e. that both men and women can perform taqlid (emulation) of a woman mujtahid. Most Shiite mujtahids, however, believe that women cannot become marjas.


  1. ^ Zindagīnāmah (biography), http://www.sefaty.net/Index.asp?HoorRobot=Biography.asp.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Muḥammad Badīʿī, “Guftugū bā Faqīh Pizhūhandah Bānū Zuhrah Ṣifātī (Interview with the Researcher Jurist, Lady Zuhrah Ṣifātī)”, Keyhan Farhangī, No. 199, April 2003, 6. Available online at http://www.noormags.com/View/Magazine/ViewPages.aspx?numberId=1131&ViewType=1&PageNo=8.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ See Mirjam Künkler and Roja Fazaeli, ‘The Life of Two Mujtahidas: Female Religious Authority in 20th Century Iran’, in Women, Leadership and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority, ed. Masooda Bano and Hilary Kalmbach (Brill Publishers, 2012), 127-160.http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID1884209_code1321417.pdf?abstractid=1884209&mirid=1
  4. ^ ""El islam no hace diferencias entre mujeres y hombres"" EL PAIS, 12.6.2006. http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2006/06/12/actualidad/1150063201_850215.html

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