Wilayat-I Faqih: Shi’a Islam Doctrine, From Naraqi to Khomei

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Wilayat-I Faqih: Shi’a Islam Doctrine, From Naraqi to Khomei

Postby Jaff Sassani » Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:58 am

Re-Publishing this article from Kurdish Media below with our comment


These papers below are focusing on the root and origin of the thought of “Wilayat-I Faqih” in the Shi’a-sim. The lacks of freedom in Islamic world for the people to read and speak out freely like western countries are the reason for Islam to exist without dispute; otherwise we will had many different religions now just like western countries.

The Jewish people introduced the Christianity religion in Europe; the Roman Empire adopted the Christianity religion or what they are called now “Judea Christian religion”. The Roman Emperor adopted the Christianity religion as official religions to fight the influence of Mehr (Mitra) and Zoroastrians religions because originated from the land of enemy the “Airyanem Vaejah Nations” or called Iranian now.
The Semitic Jewish people made themselves the chosen people by “God” to be holy to the Aryan people in west. And enjoy the superiority over the populations now because of Christianity religion.

In the Islamic world their cousin the Semitic Arab Sayyied people made themselves the chosen people by “God” to be holy to the Airyanem Vaejah people in Mesopotimia and Asia where the first Monotheist Mehr (Mitra) religion or sun worship religion and later on the reformed Mehr (Mitra) religion of the Zoroastrians religions has been destroyed to almost none existence.

The Semitic Jewish and Arabs steal our religions and ideas to create their own virsions called (Judea, Christian and Islam) to control the thought and thinking of our world.

Today the western people are free to think, read, do research and understand the truth. They are no longer believed of what the Jewish wrote for them because they can think free without persecutions. Majority of people are no longer very religious in the west. They believe “God” in their own choice without believing of Jewish recipes any more.
We hope that our people will be free like western people that “Sayyied Arabs families” are not chosen people by “God”. And hope our world will be free to think without persecutions then you can see how many people will believe in Islam.

We are all created equal by our creators. If there are chosen people by “God”, then they could had four eye, ten ears and not eating food, live on air plus their DNA will be different from other human being.
Let fight Sayyied Arab families in our land to be free and live in peace and stable region.


From Naraqi to Khomeini: The Origination, Growth, and Realization of Wilayat-i Faqih - Part One


• KurdishMedia.com - By Kamal Soleimani
• 09/08/2009 00:00:00

Note: This is rather a long paper, written about two years earlier. For its emphasis on some anti-clerical aspects of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, the paper overlooks the Revolution’s racist and Personalising tendencies.

From Naraqi to Khomeini: The Origination, Growth, and Realization of Wilayat-I Faqih

As a result of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the subsequent formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, many believe him to be the originator of Wilayat-I faqih. However, this is not the case. Rather, the concept has a relatively long history in the modern era. As such, Part I of this paper discusses the roots of ‘Usuli School, the historical context that provided grounds for its growth and then the domination of the Safavid and Qajar periods. In addition, Part I examines Wilayat-I faqih as in its nineteenth century socio-historical context and as defined and interpreted by Mulla Ahmad Naraqi a prominent nineteenth century Shi‘I scholar (1771- 1829). Part II utilizes Kashf-I Asrar and The Islamic Government, two books written by Khomeini prior to the Iranian Revolution as a means of analyzing how he revived and expanded Naraqi’s concept. Also, at the end, Khomeini’s interpretation and expansion of Wilayat-I faqih after the Revolution will be briefly discussed.

Part 1. ’Usulism and mujtahids’ power

The disappearance or Occultation[1] of the Twelfth Shi’I Imam signifies a fatal disruption in divine leadership for the Twelvers. This new situation, with all its grave consequences, left the Twelver Shi’I community on their own, without a leader. Shi’I Islam's evolution, existence, and quasi-dependence around and on a charismatic leader[2] left the group as a headless body. In turn, contradiction and confusion arose in the various communities’ approach to temporal political authority, which further devolved itself in a kind of quietism because “a shadow of illegitimacy was bound to cover all worldly striving and activities, [particularly and]above all those related to government”[3] As Shi’ism needed a doctrinal and religious justification for its existence, particularly in defending itself as an alternative against the ruling Sunni majority, the ‘ulama (the learned men of the religion) came forward as guardians. “The prolonged absence of the Imam…facilitated the formulation of Shi‘ite ideology and jurisprudence”[4] by enabling and requiring the ‘ulama to utilize their skills and knowledge as debaters and guardians of the community’s past and the Imams’ traditions so as to play a uniquely significant and expanded role.[5] In arguing that the Imam was alive but hidden and inaccessible to all, the ‘ulama paved the way for new groups to emerge and claim access to the Imam in various fashions. In such an atmosphere, “inspired claimants [could] assume on his behalf a role variously defined as deputyship (niyaba), gateship (bab), or guardianship (wilaya).”[6] In times of Lesser Occultation (873-939 A.D., the twelfth Imam’s first period of disappearance) there were four special deputies (an-nuwwab al-khassa) who played a mediating role between the Imam and the community. In times of the Greater Occultation (the second period of the Imam’s disappearance, 939 A.D. onwards), in addition to transmitting hadith and issuing fatawa (religious verdicts), ‘ulama gained the role of mutakallim (theologian) whose main task, in the Shi’I case, was justifying the imamate after the death of the Prophet. With the continuation of the Imam’s occultation ‘ulama gradually expanded their roles and claimed to represent the Imam in greater scopes. For instance, the ‘ulama of Jabal ‘Amil[7] region added niyaba ‘amma (general vicegerency) of the Hidden Imam to the previous roles of the Shi’I ‘ulama. The keyword, as Kazimi Mousavi points out, was the word general (‘amma), since it made the position available to all the Twelvers.[8] Naturally, the ‘ulama were the real beneficiaries of this new position since, because of their knowledge, they were deemed to be the most qualified members of the community in representing the Imam. Algar maintains that, “… from the Safavid period onward that one may meaningfully talk about the existence of a body of Shi’I ‘ulama.”[9] However, as early as the tenth century and with the end of the era of the special deputyship, some members of Shi’I ‘ulama such as Shaykh Mufid(d.1022) and Shaykh al-Tusi (d. 1075) fully developed the notion of the learned men’s representation of the Imam’s authority. Also, the schools of Hilla and Jabal ‘Amil did some important work in that direction by claiming some of the functions of the Imam, such as declaring jihad, collecting khums(one fifth), and zakat( religious tax), for the‘ulama. Such action set a precedent for the ‘ulama’s to claim the vicegerency of the Hidden Imam because this conduct entwined “the doctrine of vicegerency (niyaba) to the principle of delegation of charismatic authority of the Imam, namely wilaya.”[10] In turn, these connections and their relation to key Shi’I doctrinal terms such as wilaya, imama, and ghaybeh (occultation) persuaded some scholars to assert that wilayat-I faqih is inherent (or implicit) in the Shi’I doctrine whose origin dates back to the period when the first group of Muslims claimed to be the divinely designated leader after the Prophet. For instance, Dabashi states that, “the doctrinal development of wilayat-I faqih, the long before its institutional crystallization in the Islamic Republic, is the chief nucleus of that characterization of Shi’ism: ‘By what authority?”[11]
With the emergence of Safavid rule, Shi‘ism transformed from a dominated religion into the state religion. As the Shi’I ‘ulama began to enjoy the support of the state and became an indispensable part of the structure of its political authoriy, Shi’I jurisprudence flourished and a great amount of Shi’I juridical work became available.[12]In turn, “the novel notion of the Imami mujtahid emerged in the form of an office, although it was imbued with the informality inherent to Shi’ism.”[13] The rank of Mullabashi (the head of all the ‘ulama of the country) is an example of an official position conferred upon the ‘ulama, and was an integral part of the state hierarchy during the Safavid reign. Despite Algar’s assertion that the relationship between the Safavids and the clergy existed tentatively,[14] if not obscurely, this was not in fact the case. Algar claims that the relation between the religion and the state was an ambiguous one in that period. In fact, during the Safavid era, the state and the ‘ulama worked hand in hand in converting Iranians to Shi ‘ism and further enabled such conversion by funding, sponsoring, and legally supporting the emigration of ‘ulama from Jabal ‘Amil in order to accelerate the conversion process.[15] The growth and transformation of the institution of Ijtihad (juridical deduction) became possible through the inseparable cooperation between the state and the ‘Usuli School (the rationalist branch of the Twelvers’ jurisprudence). At the time, the institution of Ijtihad not only had a missionary function but also was an institution for legitimization of the temporal power. It came into being in a certain socio-political environment, during Safavid reign, formed a new tradition in the Shi’I culture in its dealing with the temporal power. This interaction and cooperation between the state and the ‘ulama took place to the extent that both the ‘ulama and the kings were granting one another various religious titles. These included the shadow of God, the vicegerent of Imam, the mujtahid of the time ( mujtahid-e ‘asr). They did all this to increase the legitimacy of both the religious and the political establishment. This mutual complementing and granting religious titles in the time of the kings such as Shah Tahmasub, Safavid king, and Fat‘ali Shah, Qajar king, allowed Kazimi Mousavi to believe that the real inventors of wilaya-I faqih were these kings.[16]
In the Safavid era, with the Usuli School dominance, the direction of the Shi’I political thought was shifted toward the temporal power. The strong ties between the religious and the political power had no precedent in the Shi’I history. Shi‘ism, which had been the minority’s religion, did not have any provision for governance.[17] It had been formed as a minority religion and was antagonistic to non-infallibles political Authority. However, now ‘Usulism was acquiring both legitimacy for itself and for the political power through the expansion ‘ulama’s authority. This new environment, in which the ‘ulama had strong bonds with the political power, in turn led the ‘Usulis to form a more politically oriented hierarchy. In Henry Corbin words Shi ‘ism for the first time, during the Safavid era, gave birth to the official clergy.[18] A new entity was introduced to power of the state, “… a body of Shi’I ‘ulama emerged who, although equally deprived of ultimate authority, gradually acquired, through the exercise of a practical function, a de facto authority within the community.”[19]
What Arjomand calls a caesaropapist in Safavid period,[20]a combined religious and political power that was represented by the king and supported by ‘ulama, was interrupted by the collapse of the Safavid rule. However, the demise of the Safavids did not result in the destruction of the clerical hierarchy. The institutional dimensions of the clerical order had grown large and emerged stronger than ever before in the Qajar period—especially with this dynasty’s desperate need for legitimacy. Shi’ism regained its previous respect and “as an ideology, Shi’ism was the most important aspect of Qajar political legitimacy.”[21]
By the Qajar era, the ‘ulama had already monopolized all the rights for interpretation of the Shari’a[22]and therefore they were capable of granting the religious legitimacy to the state. This was especially true because the Qajar kings were very eager in showing their adherence to Shi’ism; they lacked the legitimacy of the Safavids. Consequently, the ‘ulama grew strong enough to emerge as the state’s competing power. The existence of a dual power, one that was vested in the ‘ulama (the religious Scholars) on one hand and the temporal on the other, was much apparent. This dualism is reproduced in the juridical works and socio-political stance of the ‘ulama in this period. As Arjomand maintains;
with the destruction of the edifice of the Safavid caesaropapist state and the renunciation of its basis, and with the reestablishment of the Shiite hierocracy in the early decades of the nineteenth century, a separation of political and hierocratic domination congruent with the normative logic of Twelver shi‘ism within the polity had in fact come into the existence.[23]
This situation in the early nineteenth century opened a way for the ‘ulama’s unprecedented involvement in political, social and even economical affairs. The more ‘ulama interfered in the temporal affairs, the more Shi’I juridical work manifested such interference and increased the‘ulama’s ability to compete with the state. Evidence of this can be seen in the Mulla Ahmad Naraqi’s interpretation of the scope of fuqaha’s (singular faqih: “juristconsult”) power by way of claiming complete wilaya for the faqih. As mentioned earlier, ‘Usuli ‘ulama’s juridical work generally reflects their willingness to dominate, or at least to contest, the state’s power and impose certain limitations on its way to rule. In order to interpret this dramatic shift in Shi‘I jurisprudence one should put it in its socio-historical context. As Dabashi, in discussing wilaya-e faqih and Naraqi’s works, asserts, “on the whole, the question of wilayat-I faqih does not receive specific or extensive treatment in the early history of Shi‘I juridical development. This issue assumes priority with Naraqi; and this, of course, has to be understood in the context of Mulla Ahamd’s social background.”[24]
Despite some important internal heterogeneity, Naraqi’s and his contemporary colleagues in the ‘Usuli School expanded some earlier juridical concepts and branded some new ones, whereby they broadened their judicial territory and claimed an extraordinary political power for the clerical class. Thus, the fiqh (jurisprudence) in the Qajar period becomes more political in nature and as Algar describes; “Ijtihad in this sense was little used, if at all, and correspondences of it were more political and social than doctrinal. The guidance given to the community was less toward understanding of the faith than toward ‘ulama’s political self-assertion.”[25] ‘Ulama in this period invented the Ijtihad- taqlid dichotomy to keep the common people in an active connection with their contemporary mujtahids. They also were very active in the socio- economic arena that created an important economic link between the people and the mujtahids. They publicly entertained different views regarding the relationship between the ‘ulama and the temporal power and offered various solutions of how to deal with political affairs in the time of the Occultation. Some of those views will be discussed in the following segments.

Maraji’[26]and Taqlid[27]

Until the thirteenth century, the role of mujtahid had not been formally accepted by Shi’I jurists. As mentioned earlier, this was an important step taken in the course of juridical work by the Twelvers’ fuqaha. In the early periods of Safavid, there was still traditional understanding of faqahat (juridical reasoning). Majalisi, for instance, recounts an interesting hadith, which shows how in the time prior to the existence of the School of Hilla, the term faqih and ‘alim lacked all the modern and pre-modern times’ complexities; especially the in the period characterized by the domination of the ‘Usuli school. According to Majlisi the Prophet had said, “God will resurrect him on the Day of Judgment as an ‘alim and faqih anyone from my community memorize forty hadith(s) essential to him for his .”[28] Also, Kulayni’s book, Man La yahDaruhul Faqih, was written based on the idea that a book as such would suffice for a believer in fulfilling his religious obligations with direct connection with a faqih being unnecessary. As indicated earlier, in the thirteenth century this approach to faqahat (juridical reasoning) began to change with the development of the notion of Ijtihad ( juridical induction). Ijtihad involves a monopolizing process of juridical deduction that leaves no room for other juridical work produced by those who do not follow this school of thought and its methodology in their juridical work. This was done to increase the distance between the fuqaha and the rest of the people and to provide a basis for the superiority of the former over the latter. Kazimi Mousavi asserts that the thirteenth century jurists of Hilla School such Muhaqiq and ‘Allama “adopted the long lasting principle of Ijtihad not only to justify the legality of jurists’ methodological attempts, but rather to distinguish their status from the commoners.”[29]
From sixteenth century onward, the ‘ulama were faced with a new era in Shi’I history that made them expand the horizon of fiqh in order to justify the Safavid Shi’I state and, “…to provide immediate guidance in matters of practice.”[30] At the same time, they had to justify their status in the community. For that, they resorted to representation of the Hidden Imam. Therefore, the Shi‘I ‘ulama have always justified their spiritual leadership and their prestige by referring to their doctrine of vicegerency of the Imam and the ’Usuli School in particular utilized this notion to fulfill the Hidden Imam’s role in the followers’ daily life.[31] For example, Shaykh ‘Ali Karaki, the official vicegerent of the Safavid king declared that, “the upright Shi’I faqih should replace the Imam in all affairs wherever it can be done.”[32]From the early Safavid period onward, the increasing distance between the ‘ulama and the common people took a dramatic pace. Thus, as the ‘ulama’s power increased, so did their followers’ new limitations and obligations. The common person was forbidden from questioning or discussing religious or juridical matters with the ‘ulama. Majlisi recounts a hadith that states, “to engage in religious disputation is forbidden to those without the learning possessed by the ‘ulama .”[33] The people became divided into two groups: a) mujtahids, those who knew and could not act according their own judgment, and b) muqallids, those who should follow judgment of the ‘ulama.[34]This situation helped the ‘ulama to move forward step by step in monopolizing the juridical interpretation of the religious’ sources. Ulama gradually established their hierarchy with great sensitivity and structured their relation with the people, as their muqallids, in a way that left no free space for people to think. In the Qajar era, every member of the community had to be either a mujtahid or a muqallid, and kings were included. Accordingly, the entire community would depend on the ‘ulama’s judgment while “the direction given by ‘ulama was primarily political.”[35] The mujtahids made it an absolute incumbency upon their muqallids to follow their ruling. In the event of following a new mujtahid, the muqallid had to do so in as part of a total rupture with the previous mujtahid’s rulings. The followers were forbidden to follow the rulings of a deceased mujtahid.[36] These new methods were introduced at the time that the ‘ulama had become a new class and the issue of religious schooling very much had become a hereditary privilege for the sons of ‘ulama, while it was becoming increasingly hard for others to enter the rank of this new class.[37]
’Usulism in its essence was a religious attempt by the ‘ulama to justify their noticeable presence in the society,[38] and to secure the active connection between mujtahid and muqallid. For this aim, ‘ulama came up with new methods and formulas that could keep the muqallid-mujtahid connections strong and viable. For instance, they asserted that taqlid (following) of a living mujtahid was preferable to that of a deceased one even if the muqallid himself did not know the living mujtahid. It would suffice to hear of him from a trustworthy person. Or if the follower was incapable of comprehending the living mujtahid’s book, he could follow the mujtahid through the help of others’ by using the mujtahid’s book. Furthermore, the muqallid must conform to the practices of the living mujtahid and to any changes in his ruling.[39] Thus, a living mujtahid was in complete control of the followers and since the followers did not have any right to question and were obliged to follow him no matter whether the mujtahid might have changed his position on an issue.

‘Ulama and Economy

By the nineteenth century the‘ulama’s interference was visible in all aspects of social life in Iran. Their work was not limited to the justification of their spiritual dominance. Some of the prominent fuqaha were deeply involved in the economic enterprises. Collecting zakat and the Imam’s share, has been the ‘ulama’s focus since the tenth century. Probably, the share of the Imam was the most important factor that gave birth to the clerical hierarchy. It was these kinds of economic resources that helped the body of the Shi’I ‘ulama remain economically independent. As Amanat argues; “by supervising most of the public endowments and by receiving alms, the ‘share of the Imam,’ and other religious dues, they maintained a considerable financial leverage outside the traditional zone of government intervention.”[40] Over time, this collection of money created a hierarchical body by connecting maraji‘ to the common people through the mediatory function of the lower ranking ‘ulama or mullahs. These economic connections between the people and the ‘ulama was tantamount to an exchange of goods and services since the ‘ulama were providing spiritual guidance in exchange for receiving alms and other types of economic help. Thus, this was “the strongest chain liking the maraji‘- mulla relationship, which seems to have been the structure of collecting the Imam’s share.”[41] In addition to the economic gain from collecting zakat and the Imam shares, ‘ulama administered the vaqf’s (inalienable foundations), certified legality of deeds, and administered the religious courts[42]. Unlike during the Safavid era, in which only one type of court system existed, throughout the Qajar period ‘ulama administered their own type, and refused to recognize that of the state.[43]The aggressiveness of some of the prominent ‘ulama, in their economic pursuits was astonishing. For instance, Shaykh Ja‘far Najafi who called Fat‘ali Shah a servant and gave him permission to get involved in a war with Russia, “did not hesitate to use coercion” in collecting zakat.[44] Lending money and charging a high interest rate, despite the categorical prohibition of usury in the Qur’an, was another issue that Aqa Najafi and the like were known for. “In the second half of the nineteenth century, the hoarding of grain by ‘ulama such as Hajji Mulla Ali Kani and Mirza Aqa Javad further illustrates that on occasion, venality overcomes religion.”[45]

Propagation of the ‘ulama’s rule

From Muhaqiq Hilli (13th century) onward ‘ulama, gradually increased the scope of their authority. Whereby, in the nineteenth century, the issue of whether the faqih has the right of a complete monopoly over political power became one of the ‘ulama’s main preoccupations in their juridical debate. In the Qajar period, the level of the ‘ulama’s discussion on politics and entertaining the idea of the state— mujtahid relation was unprecedented. The fiqh and juridical scholarship has become more political in nature. Some parts of the traditional scholarship was abandoned and the ’Usuli ‘ulama were not only generally anti-philosophy at the time of Qajar reign, but they had become hostile toward the traditional theological (kalam) studies as well. Among the new generation of fuqaha and the students of Bihbahani (d. 1790), with the exception of Bahr al-Ulum (d. 1797), all the ‘ulama were against the study of kalam.[46] It is fair to say ‘Usulism generally focused on the subjugation of the common people through the expansion of the taqlid- Ijtihad dichotomy and the annexation of newer economic and political domains. Even those mujtahids who have been recognized as somewhat moderate, such as Ansari, cannot easily be considered different from the rest when it comes to the issue of taqlid. Ansari was also among those ‘ulama who claimed that “all the actions of Muslims, including performances of the Islamic duties, such as prayer and fasting, are avoided if they are not rendered according to the instructions of a superior mujtahid.”[47]
Prominent ‘ulama of the time generally viewed themselves as sources of legitimacy. Abul ‘al-Qasim Qomi (d. 1817) clearly revoked some rights that were generally assumed to be the king’s during the Safavid time. For instance, Qomi asserts that the king is the lieutenant of God as opposed to vicegerent of the hidden Imam as claimed by the Safavid shahs and this way ‘ulama’s exclusive connection to the Imam was secured.[48]‘Ulama reserved exclusively for themselves any relations with the Imam, which increased their stature. Due to the ‘ulama’s exclusive right of representation of the Imam, the Qajar kings had to compromise their authority in order to get ‘ulama’s consent to put forth certain policies. Shaykh Ja‘far Najafi, for instance, gave Fat’ali Shah the permission to exercise his role as a king in exchange for the Shah’s promise of assigning each army brigade one Imam Jama‘at, or prayer leader.[49] Also, Ha’iri reports that the Shaykh went so far as to call the Shah, “a servant who confessed his status of being a servant.”[50]
Sheikh Ja’far ibn Ishaq Kashfi (d. 1850) claimed that both kingship and Ijtihad belong to the vicegerent of the Imam and that they have originally been the same but over time this division between the two had become irreversible. Kashfi claimed that Ijtihad is the knowledge of the religion and the kingship is its implementation. He also declared that the ‘ulama are reluctant to claim the kingship not because they are not rightful people to hold the office, but rather because such a claim may incite sedition and anarchy. Also, he was the first ‘alim to define the leadership as a preparation for the return of the Imam.[51]
The existing duality in governing the country that resulted from the rule of mujtahid and the king was also reflected in the works of the mujtahids. Since none of the parties could totally outperform the other, and the ulama, such as Kashfi, had to justify the existence of the two competing powers; they resorted to juridical explanation. However, no matter how much these kinds of theoretical approaches might have given semi legitimacy to the Qajar State they were not signs of the ‘ulama’s resignation or surrender. Kashfi was not all satisfied with the existing duality, but he had accepted it because otherwise, he believed, there would be anarchy and sedition. The ‘ulama unwillingly approved of this duality only to prevent a greater evil. They thought any attempt to unify the temporal and religious power under the rulership of the ‘ulama might have caused political unrest and anarchy.
Although the state was not under the direct control of the ulama there still were incidences in which ‘ulama tested its will and power. On occasion, ‘ulama forced the kings to adopt certain policies or to get involved in wars against his will; i.e., Sayyed Ja‘far Kasif al-Ghita forced the king to wage jihad against the Russians. Similarly, ‘ulama throughout the Qajar reign disregarded the state courts’ validity as a sign of their defiance of the state’s power. Some of the ulama such as Baqir Shafti went well beyond the informal boundaries between the state and ulama’s power and personally implemented Shar‘I penal codes ( hudud) and executed people. Mulla Ahamad Naraqi ousted two of the appointed governors by the state.[52]
Naraqi was a bold example of ‘ulama who strove to find a doctrinal solution for this duality. He reinterpreted the term wilayat-I faqih and expanded its commonly accepted limited meaning of ‘ulama’s wilaya for orphans and people with physical and mental disabilities and reconstructed it as a political concept. Naraqi for the first time claimed that doctrinally‘ulama’s power is equivalent to the one of the Prophet and the Imams. It is true that his views were challenged by his own student, Shaykh Murtada Ansari, but the whole debate manifests the degree of mujtahids’ obsession with political power in the nineteenth century.
It is important to note that, in many ways, both Khomeini and Muntazeri followed Naraqi’s line of argument in the next century (the twentieth). For instance, the following lines of Naraqi’s juridical thoughts constitute the foundation of Muntazeri’s argument in a book he authored on the same issue more than a century later. Naraqi states that there are many Shar‘I laws with social implications that cannot be implemented without a ruler and that the faqih is the only competent person to execute those laws because, first, there is consensus among the fuqaha regarding the existence of these laws, and second, since these Shar‘I laws and regulations cannot be implemented without a ruler, it is the faqih’s duty to do the implementation of those law because he is the most qualified person among the most qualified group for rulership. He further argued that, the faqih is certainly authorized to exert wilayah, while the ability of others to do so is far less certain. [53] Muntazeri in his book, Dirasatun fi Wilayat il Faqih we Fiqhi ad-Dawl al- Islamiya, repeats Naraqi’s argument by asking whether it is possible for Islamic laws to be implemented without the existence of an Islamic government?[54]
In the discussion on the absolute wilaya of the faqih, Naraqi refers to a variety of hadith(s) (plural) to show the unique place of the ‘ulama in religious doctrine. As Dabashi maintains; “…Mulla Ahamad proceeds to enumerate nineteen different hadith(s) in support of wilayat-I faqih: among them, that ‘the learned men…are the successors of the prophets’; and ‘the ‘ulama’ of my people are like the prophets before me.”[55] Although the reliability of some of these hadith(s) such as the Maqbula (accepted tradition) of ‘Umar b. Hanzala and the Mashhura (generally known tradition) of Abu Khadija have been methodically and syntactically questioned,[56] they still have been used as the strongest evidences by the supporters of wilayat-I faqih in the last two centuries of the faqih’s absolute authority.
As mentioned earlier, Naraqi believes that unless there is a clear religious text to prove otherwise, ‘ulama have the same wilaya as the Prophet and the Imam. Naraqi states that the Prophet and the Imams have the right of wilaya (guardianship) over people, which is precisely the same as God’s right of wilaya over people. This right is exclusive to the Prophet and the Imams. However, he claims that there are cases where people other than the Imams have been given similar rights over others. For instance, the faqih’s wilaya over other people, such as a husband over his wife or a master over his slave and so forth. Naraqi bases his claim about the authority for ‘ulama on his interpretation of the following hadith(s): 1) “‘ulama are the heirs (waratha) of the prophets” 2) “‘ulama are the trustees of the prophets”. 3) Maqbula ‘Umar b. Hanzala: “I have appointed him [‘alim] as a hakim over you.” [57] And 4) Mashhura of Abu Khadija that Seventh Imam says: “I appoint him [‘alim] as a judge over you.” [58]
Naraqi recognizes no limit to the faqih’s authority or wilaya, as he claims that a) “‘ulama have the right of guardianship over people wherever there is such a right for the Prophet and for the Imams in Shari‘a unless indicated otherwise by Shari’a or ijama,’ and b) the Faqih has the indispensable right of wilaya in all the religious and non-religious affairs of God’s servants.”[59]
Ansari, a pupil of Naraqi, did not believe in such unlimited authority for the fuqaha and as Dabashi states; “as opposed to Naraqi’s (1771- 1829) view, Ansari (d. 1864) is quite specific about the juridical nature of wilaya , and this is supported by clear characterization of any claim to political authority as that of the (hidden Imam).”[60] For instance, Ansari’s[61] interpreted waratha to mean that ‘ulama are the heirs of the prophets in spreading their knowledge—not heirs of their authority. Also, if they are the heirs of the prophet in the restricted sense of the word it means ‘ulama have been designated by them.[62] Such a designation is divine in its nature and in contrast with the Shi’I belief that no one’s leadership is divine other than that of the Prophet and the infallible Imams. According to Ansari’s understanding of the other hadith that describes the ‘ulama as the trustees of the Prophet, it has even more limited use and there are more restrictions for its application in the political sense. Ansari strongly disagrees with any interpretation that somehow equates the function of fuqaha with that of the prophets and the Infallible Imams since the first are common human beings and the latter are protected by God from being led astray[63]. As it was pointed out by Sachedina, “…scholars differentiated between the position of a prophet and that of jurist, however exalted the latter’s position might be, because whereas it is possible for the latter to ‘enter the world’ and become a sinfully deviant, such a thing is impossible for a prophet who must be obeyed in all the time.” [64] Based on his understanding of the tradition, Ansari did not believe that fuqaha had authority similar to the Prophet’s authority. He argued that if they had this authority, they would have to be infallible or be the recipients of God’s revelation and thus sinless beings. However, if the Prophet’s function is generalized, it will extend to every individual Muslim, jurist, and non-jurist, equally. However, if there is a request from a jurist to take leadership responsibility for the welfare of his society, the faqih is allowed to take such a responsibility as a qualified member of the community and not as his exclusive right. Thus, political, as opposed to juridical wilyaya, is not an exclusive right but based on the community request of a jurist if he is deemed qualified to lead. Therefore, the faqih cannot claim any “legal and moral authority over the property or life of the other members of the community.”[65]
Regarding the twelfth Imam’s saying: “ask those who transmit our hadith(s) at the time of ‘unexpected occurrences”,[66] Ansari believes this saying too “lacks sufficient evidence to establish total discretion of the jurist over the lives and property of believers.”[67]Also, he differentiates between the role of a jurist who deduce the laws and issues fatwas and a sultan who leads the Muslim community. “Ansari recognizes the interdependence of the wilaya and saltana (kingship) in the ‘enjoining of good and forbidding evil’ in human society and realizes that the saltana has been invested in the Shi’I sultan, not in the jurist.”[68]
The word hokm and hakim were used in the hadith strictly in relation to the issue of judgment and arbitration. However, modern fuqaha and religionists, including ones with more political ambitions such as Naraqi, have usually tried to impose a new meaning on the word hokm when they interpret the Qur’anic verses and hadith(s). As Kazimi Mousavi maintains, the meaning of hakim as ruler does not conform to Qur’anic usage and ‘it is farfetched’ to think it was used this way in the time of Imam al-Sadiq.[69] Naraqi was well aware of this and therefore argued that the meaning of the word hokm is not limited to judgment and arbitration; entomologically its meaning is much broader and includes all kinds of rules and duties. Moreover, he claims that there is no Shar‘I confirmation to believe that the word hokm only means arbitration and judgment.[70]
Naraqi claims that the ‘ulama are the rulers of the Muslim society. He states that his intention in writing about wilayat-I faqih was “… to explain the wilaya of the ‘ulama, who are the rulers of the Islamic community in the time of the Imam’s occultation.”[71] In another context, he claims that ‘ulama are the authority in every issue and maintains; “now, if a person says with regard to these issues [related to the trade that were discussed earlier in the book] that we should refer to the ruler (hakim), in response we say; it is certain for every social and economic[72]… matter we should go to the faqih because he is the source of all the religious affairs…”[73] Despite these assertions by Naraqi, some scholars such as Arjomand and Kazimi Mousavi claim that his views are essentially juridical. Dabashi, in criticizing Arjomand, characterizes such remarks as ‘problematic’. [74] Dabashi provides two reasons illustrating how Arjomand overlooks the political nature of Naraqi’s discussion: firstly, Naraqi places the ‘ulama’ after the Prophet and the Imam and superior to all men; he does so by resorting the two hadith(s) that he quoted: the first introduces fuqaha as authorities over kings, and the second indicates that ‘ulama have been granted the same wide range of the Prophet and Imams’ authority. Secondly, Dabashi concludes that within the Shi’I context in particular, “that legal and political are peculiarly metamorphical. Based on this metamorphic nature of the relationship between the legal and political, it is not all together difficult to understand the political use and extension into which the doctrine has been put by certain jurisconsults.”[75]
The nineteenth century ‘ulama’s juridical work was dominated by their political views and Naraqi’s views surpassed all other juridical works in terms of the scope of the authority he claimed for the faqih. His views were awaited for over a century in order to get renewed attention and to be realized despite the great blow to the clerical thought in its totality by the Constitutionalism (mashrutiyat).

‘Ulama, mashrutiyat (1906-11) and the people

Unfortunately, any study of history will end up being selective and when one angle of it is put in the spotlight, its other angles will be eclipsed. It should be noted that the same is true of the relation between the ‘ulama and the people in Iran. Despite the state oppression and ‘ulama’s perpetual struggle to dominate people and to turn them into mobs of blind followers, there has never been a period without some kinds of resistance to such oppression in the last two centuries in Iran. Moreover, the private life of the people has mainly stood in contrast to the public and the same has been true occasionally about the life of the most prominent ‘ulama. History not only reveals a lot of corrupt economic activities of the ‘ulama like the one of Shaykh Najafi and Shaykh Shafti but, it also shows that in their private life, time to time, they have exhibited different types of behaviors from what they have said and written . For instance, despite his belief in the absolute authority of the fuqaha, Mulla Ahamad Naraqi was very close to Fat’ali Shah, the Qajar king[76]. Also, his association with the poet, Yaghma-I Jandaqi, is well known to a point that when Jandaqi was expected to be punished for drinking wine, it was Naraqi who acted as mediator and saved him from the punishment for the sake of their mutual friendship.[77] Moreover, books such as Waqayi’-I Ittifaqiya account for numerous incidences in which people confront ‘ulama, those who were ‘enjoining the good and preventing evil’, over wine drinking and organizing majalis-I tarab (gathering and parties for dance and music).
Even if unfamiliar with Iran’s modern history, one can discern important manifestations of a wide range of rebellions and dissatisfactions with both religious and non-religious motivations among people. One could easily face a very important unanswered question: Since the government had been the most important force with the ‘ulama in the suppressing movements like Babis’, which was considered a heresy, why was cooperation with such a state so unpopular among the people? Either there was a great deal of the popular dissatisfaction with both the state and the ‘ulama and they must have been equally oppressive, or there was another logic at work. Algar claims that throughout the nineteenth century “despite this lack of explicit national feeling, the peculiar position of Islam in Iran makes it possible to see in the ‘ulama national leaders.”[78] However, there are certain views suggest otherwise and are indicative of public anger and dissatisfaction, even before the Qajar period, in regard to whether the ‘ulama’s cooperation with the rulers provided sufficient grounds for Nadir Shah to take away religious properties administered by ‘ulama. Sir John Malcolm describes that “the popular indignation at the ‘ulama surrounding Shah Sultan Hussayn enabled Nadir Shah to plunder the vaqf without fear.”[79]
There is no doubt that there were important movements of dissent within Shi‘ism itself. Akhbariyun, Sufi and Shaykhi movements were all deeply rooted in the Shi‘I religious tradition and were the greatest enemies of the ‘Usuli domination. Ideas of the ‘Perfect Shi‘a’ and ‘the Forth Pillar’ that were introduced by the Shaykhi branch were a direct challenge to the validity of the mujtahids’ religious statues and claims. Shaykhi teaching was an attempt to bring down the mujtahids to the level of the common Shi‘I faithful; not only to strip them of any extraordinary qualities but to revoke their self-claimed intermediary position between the faithful and the Hidden Imam. The notion of the Forth Pillar is a direct contradiction with the general vicegerency of the ‘Usuli mujtahid since it directly connects certain followers to the Hidden Imam. Therefore, the mujtahid is disqualified from representing the Imam. “For Shaykhys, on the other hand, the mujtahid was not an adequate intermediary between the community and the Hidden Imam: a more authoritative incarnation of divine guidance was necessary.”[80] Thus, the nineteenth century ‘Usuli mujtahids’ increasing desire for power faced a doctrinal challenge by both Sufis and Shaykhys. Shaykhism in turn gave birth to Babism. Babism attracted a number of important religious figures who strongly resented the mujtahids. The will for change among the people was very strong and these movements were in one way or another a response to the general will for change and reform and as Amanat rhetorically asks, “is it fair to suggest that Babism was an unfinished Reformation that perished in inception?”[81]
The most significant event at the end of nineteenth century Iran, namely the Constitutional revolution, clearly exposes the heterogeneous nature of the society as opposed to the one for which mujtahids were striving. Although the Orientalists generally regarded ‘ulama as the leader of the Constitutional Movement[82], the reality is that the whole movement was a step back for the ‘ulama, even if they have led the Movement, the Movement per se was offering and opposite direction to the ‘ulama’s earlier claims for domination.
Moreover, peoples’ expectations of the Constitutional Revolution were different and despite some prominent ‘ulama’s participation, their slogans by no means reflected the ‘ulama collective desire in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Peoples’ expectation for a new system was apparent when they repeated that “mashrutiyat and mashru‘yat are the same, government according to the law of Islam, justice and equality according to science and civilization.”[83] No matter how much the above statement shows confusion on the side of many participants in the Revolution, it nevertheless illustrates some degree of popularity for modern political views among Iranians. Also, the Constitutional Revolution that caused a division among ‘ulama is revealing. The discourse of the sameness of mashru’yat and mashrutiyat helped the secular monarchy of Pahlavi that always pretended to be modern at the expense of the ‘ulama’s power. Therefore, it is not surprising that Algar concedes that the presence of a new discourse was determinant “… to a decline of the social and political role of the ‘ulama,” whose participation in the movement itself was significant in that it worked “…to reduce the influence of the clerical classes on politics and society.”[84]
The Constitutional Revolution was the end of an era in which the state and ‘ulama, despite their long lasting rivalries, were ready to cooperate to silence voices of dissent. Constitutionalism should be viewed as a defeat for both clerical power and religiously legitimized monarchy. Thus, one can suppose that the immediate victorious force was not the state, but it was a new entity, which, though fragile, was a product of the inauguration of a new era in the Iranian political consciousness. It is important to emphasize the birth of a new entity – a view which contrasts with the opinion of those, like Algar, who connect the ‘ulama’s defeat only to the internal contradiction of the religious doctrine and “the function assigned by Shi’I Islam to the ‘ulama and its refusal to provide the state with any theoretical justification.”[85] Amanat’s account of people’s feelings and their view of themselves seems more realistic as he states:
Emerging out of the turmoil of the eighteenth century, the Shi’ites of Iran no longer cherish with confidence their earlier self-image as ‘the saved nation.’ Their complacent view of themselves had already begun to fade with the fall of the Safavids, when both temporal and religious symbols of Shi’ism were submerged under the weight of hostile forces. The mid- nineteenth-century European intervention only helped to exacerbate this protracted crisis of confidence.[86]
Although, the religious contradictions were not insignificant, this issue has never been a strong factor in completely preventing the ‘ulama from acquiring political power in the past few centuries of Iranian history. Therefore, Algar’s statement that “intervention in political affairs to gain permanent control thereof never appears to have been even a distant aim of the ‘ulama”,[87] does not seem to be the case. Some of the ‘ulama not only were implementing hudud (Islamic penal laws) and collecting zakat by force, but they had their own armies, which consisted of brigands. Also, throughout the nineteenth century, ‘ulama refused to recognized ‘urfi, costmary, courts and they kept their own court competing with the state courts.[88] Accounts as such ignore the effect of anti-clerical views propagated by Shaykhi’s and Babi’s and the Iranians’ acquaintance with modern ideas of governance and justice. The ‘ulama’s political intentions in 18th century are indisputable and were a culmination of a historical process. As indicated earlier, Shi’I ‘ulama from the Greater Occultation onward, except for the infallibility, gradually claimed all attributes of the Hidden Imam for themselves. They started with special deputyship and added the general deputyship and later exercised all of the Imam’s duties. The‘Ulama’s theoritization of imitation (taqlid) and their ever-increasing request for unlimited obedience was punctuated by wilayat-I faqih. Wilayat-I faqih in turn necessitates the believers’ collective political submission, which encountered different types of rebellious movements that, at least temporarily, put an end to the mujtahids’ pressure at the end of nineteenth century.

Read part two now: From Naraqi to Khomeini: The Origination, Growth, and Realization of Wilayat-i Faqih - Part Two

• KurdishMedia.com - By Kamal Soleimani
• 09/08/2009 00:00:00

From Naraqi to Khomeini: The Origination, Growth, and Realization of Wilayat-i Faqih - Part Two

• KurdishMedia.com - By Kamal Soleimani
• 09/08/2009 00:00:00

2. The Islamic Government

In essence The Islamic Government is not much different from Kashf-i Asrar in terms of its logic, its theological underpinning and in terms of recognizing the ‘ulama as the only group who have the right to rule.
In the era of post-Constitutional Revolution, when a mujtahid as prominent as Fazlulla Nuri, who defended mashru’a, was hanged in 1909, the consequences of claiming a total political authority for the clerics could instigate a great deal of skepticism especially for an unknown mujtahid like Khomeini at the time of Kashf-i Asrar’s writing. Even decades later, when he wrote The Islamic Government, Khomeini was well aware of the possible unacceptability of his views to the public and feared that his defense of the ‘ulama’s authority may not be welcomed. Therefore, he tried to prepare his audience to accept his claim regarding his proposed religious state in advance, and he accused his audience of being too influenced by shirk (idolatry) and non-Islamic culture. Thus, as Abrahamian states, Khomeini expects skepticism on the part of his followers of wilayat-i faqih, and he warns them that the " ‘true Islam’ might sound strange.” [112]
Despite the continuity of his views in The Islamic Government, Khomeini changes the ways of presenting of his ideas for the following reasons: firstly, Khomeini’s master, Brujerdy, whose stance against the Shah was characterized by compromise and who had put a “ban on political involvement”[113] for the clergy, had deceased. After the death of Ayatollah Brujerdi, Khomeini had become a prominent voice against the secular regime of Muhammad Reza Shah; [114] secondly, apparently A Thousand Years’ Secrets had caused a great fear and uproar among the‘ulama and this was most likely a reason for Khomeini’s convoluted language in his first book. Kazim Qazizadeh, a cleric himself and a researcher in The Presidential Center for Strategic Studies, discusses the difficulties Khomeini felt at the time of writing Kashf-i Asrar. He argues that the hostile political environment created by the book, A Thousand Years’ Secrets, was influential in Khomeini’s vagueness about the political role of fuqaha. He states that those who, “… think the Imam’s views regarding wilayat-i faqih have evolved later, have a grave misunderstanding of the circumstances in which the theory was introduced”; [115] lastly, Najaf granted Khomeini a better environment to speak his mind more clearly and write The Islamic Government.[116] In Najaf, Khomeini felt freer to be bold about his intentions and there “… the freedom of speech was afforded to him especially by the hostility between the Iranian and the Iraqi governments.”[117]
To a great extent, Khomeini’s first book Kashf-i Asrar was unknown in Iran. However, The Islamic Government is Ayatollah Khomeini’s most known work regarding a political system in Islam. In the latter work, Khomeini asserts that wilayat-i faqih is both rational and conventional as it is the designation of a guardian for juveniles. There is no difference between the guardians for juveniles and for adults in terms of their positions and their duties.[118] He states that there are many present-day fuqaha who are just, knowledgeable and qualified to hold the position of wali faqih. Thus, if any of them tries to establish an Islamic government it will be incumbent upon people to obey him.[119]He describes the scope of such a government’s authority by emphasizing that an Islamic government has a limited authority; even the Prophet Muhammad’s authority was limited.[120] Khomeini attempts to equate the scope of the ‘ulama ’s political power with Muhammad’s as he declares “This is a wrong and baseless assumption that the revered prophet (pbuh) had anymore authority than exalted Amir( Ali) or his authority in turn was any more than a faqih’s.”[121] Later, Khomeini differentiates the al-Rasuul (the prophet) and the Imams from fuqaha for the formers’ absolute superiority over every other human being (‘ulama included) and with that he places the‘ulama in a level below the Imams but with equal authority. Without explaining how the‘ulama’s power can be equivalent with their absolute superiors’, Khomeini contends that no ‘alim can relieve another one from his position as a reason for their inferiority to the Imams.[122] However, he does not offer any solution for a possible situation in which there might be a claim to authority by a number of ‘ulama at once who may refuse to accept the legitimacy of the other ‘ulama’s rule. Also, there may be dispute among the ‘ulama over the form, limits and scope of the Islamic government itself, as was the case after the Revolution in Iran.
In The Islamic Government, Khomeini leaves no room for different interpretations and he clearly states that Islam inherently opposes monarchy and that it had come to abolish such hereditary systems.[123] He claims a total political authority for ‘ulama as he states: “Muslim ‘ulama are authorities over all the matters.” [124]In the second work, Khomeini rejects kingship in its totality even if the king is someone with a military background and obedient to the ‘ulama,[125] with the Sunni countries perhaps exempted.[126]
As mentioned earlier, when it comes to the issue of political authority there is a great similarity between the two in terms the evidences and traditions (hadith) that have been used in the books. To support his theory, Khomeini uses the same materials that were used earlier in Kashf-i Asrar and in the indirect debate between Naraqi and Ansari. “Imam [Khomeini] has resorted to the same hadith(s) that others have used in their writings and therefore there is nothing new in his employment of those hadith(s) for wilayat-i faqih.”[127] However, in The Islamic Government, in addition to the traditions, Khomeini often revisits a verse in the Qur’an (4: 59) that reads: “O you who believe, you shall obey God, and you shall obey the messenger [al-Rasuul], and those in charge [‘ulil-amr ] among you [minkom]. If you dispute [tanaazu‘] in any matter, you shall refer it to God and the messenger, if you do believe in God and the Last Day. This is better for you, and provides you with the best solution.” Khomeini analyzes the term ’ulil-amr with extensively and with great care. However, as it was pointed out earlier in discussing the word hokum, he neglects parts of the verse that cannot be reconciled with his interpretations as he equates the ‘ulama with God Himself or his prophet in having a final say in any dispute among the believers. Khomeini interprets the term ’ulil-amr in a way that serves his project. Contrary to the common Shi’i belief, by which no one can be ’ulil-amr other than the infallible Imams, Khomeini introduces fallible ‘ulama as the ’ulil-amr. He comes up with various translations for the word, which are overall confusing and contradictory. For instance, “God obligates obedience to those in the government (’ulil-amr) as He says: uti‘u ’ulil-amr”;[128] ulil-amr are “those who lead you and administer your government”;[129]“ The Imams are ’ulil-amr”;[130]“According to our religion the Imams are ’ulil-amr”[131] and so forth.
For Sunnites the word ’ulil-amr probably has never had a clear definition. For instance, one of the earliest Sunni commentators of the Qur’an, at-Tabari, the renowned commentator (d. 311/923), provides us with numerous translations of the term such as: appointed military commanders by the prophet, kings [salaatiin], fuqaha, scholars [ahlul-‘ilm], people[ahl] of fiqh and knowledge, sages [ahlul ‘aqli] and the people of fiqh, the companions of the prophet, Abubakr and ‘Omar, and rulers [’umara’] and governors (wulat).[132]
On the contrary, Shi‘ites have generally believed that ’ulil-amr are their infallible Imams. For instance, among the early Shi’i commentators Tusi (d. 460/1075 ) and Tabarsi (d. 548/1153) both defend that ’ulil-amr must be the infallible Imams and both of them quote and reject Sunni commentators translation of ’ulil-amr to be ‘ulama or ’umara’. Both Tusi and Tabarsi reject these views on the basis that God will never commend the believers to obey a fallible person along with his prophet.[133]
‘Allameh Tabatabaei (d. 1981) in his voluminous commentary of the Qur’an, argues similarly and states that it is nonsensical to believe that God make incumbent on the believers obedience to ’ulil-amr and at the same time to give people the right to dispute them. Therefore, he thinks that verse allows the believers a dispute with one another, not with the ’ulil-amr. He furthers his argument by repeating a traditional Shi’i belief that God does not obligate the believer to obey fallible people along with their infallible prophet. Thus, he emphatically declares that ’ulil-amr must be infallible.[134]
Tabatabaei carefully repeats, analyzes and attempts to refute almost every argument that had been put forward by those who believe that ’ulil-amr encompasses people other than the infallible Imams, be they ‘ulama, a group of believers, a council or the general Muslim community all together. So, Tabatabaei categorically rejects the interpretation to both obey and dispute ’ulil-amr at once. To Tabatabaei this translation poses a contradiction and God does not order the believers to have such as contradictory stance. He also does not believe in the possibility of disputes among ’ulil-amr themselves since it would indicate that one of them holds a false view and has wrong thoughts, which would preclude him from having to be obeyed. Therefore, he contends that any kind of dispute that may occur, shall not occur among ’ulil-amr- themselves or with them. As the prophet himself, states Tabatabaei, ’ulil-amr- are infallible and they are the final source for any and all disputes among the community of believers and its groups, be they fuqaha, ’umara’, or common people.[135]
On the contrary, Khomeini recognizes both ‘ulama and imams to be the ’ulil-amr, thus contradicting himself. He admits that according to Shi’i religion, ’ulil-amr are the Imams but at the same time he translates the term as the rulers and ‘ulama. He implies that the prophet was a ruler and so were the Imams and then ’ulil-amr are rulers. Then, he claims the ‘ulama are the heirs of the prophet and thus are the only legitimate rulers. So, by resorting to the hadith(s), he strives to prove the ‘ulama’s legitimacy and make a convincing case that ’ulil-amr are the ‘ulama. However, Khomeini fails to explain the vital issue of infallibility and make clear how a Shi’i should believe that infallible and fallible people have the same authority and ought to be obeyed similarly. Thus, he avoids any discussion of the issue of infallibility and escapes having to explain how ’ulil-amr can be both fallible and infallible simultaneously.
The verse preceding 4/59, which mentions ’ulil-amr, discusses the judgment (hokm) and reads, “…whenever you judge ( hakamtum) between people, to judge ( tahkum)with justice…”(4/ 58). As it was seen earlier in Khomeini’s treatment of the word hokm, in the Qur’anic verses of chapter 5, he struggles to stretch its meaning and portray the term hokm as a reference to something similar to a modern political system. Hence, Khomeini emphasizes that the judiciary branch is only one part of the government. Therefore, he claims that hokm encompasses all three branches of the modern governing system.[136] Then, Khomeini presents his various aforementioned translation for the ’ulil-amr, and in this way inserts a new meaning into these terms and expands their scope to suit his strategy.
In his effort to redefine Qur’anic terminology, Khomeini’s treatment of the word tanaazu’ (dispute) is particularly worthy of attention. Khomeini first equates ‘ulama’s authority with the prophet and the Imam and then he reduces the tanaazu’ to the legal dispute between two persons,[137] such as in a) two individuals’ dispute over lending money to each other, in which the ulil-amr serves as judge to solve the dispute, or a case in which b) there might be someone who has stolen another person’s property and in this case it is the public (or state) attorney’s duty to solve the dispute, not the judge.[138]These examples, more than anything, show Khomeini’s unfamiliarity with the work of modern legal systems, in which a prosecutor generally cannot circumvent the judge. Also, it shows his careful attempt to elevate the ‘ulama to a degree that they can never be held accountable. Just as Tabatabaei tries to exempt the Imams from tanaazu’ for their infallibility, similarly, Khomeini reduces the importance of tanaazu’ as something that can only occur among the common citizens; the‘ulama are excluded. He had already pointed out that no ‘alim has an authority over another.[139]Therefore, there cannot be any kind of dispute between them and the people; they will only rule and adjudicate. Khomeini utilizes this verse to legitimize obedience to the‘ulama; he makes no reference to them when he discusses the issue of tanaazu’ in order to show that it can only take place among the subjects. Then, he concludes that tanaazu’ does not exclusively pertain to legal issues but to everything that relates to governing people.[140] To strengthen his argument, Khomeini refers to 4/60 in the Qur’an, which reads, “art thou not aware of those who claim that they believe in what has been bestowed from on high upon thee, as well as in what was bestowed from on high before thee, [and yet] are willing to defer to the rule of the powers of evil [Taaghuut] - although they were bidden to deny it, seeing that Satan but wants to lead them far astray?” Khomeini translates Taaghuut, as an illegitimate political authority, which even if the term could be translated as such in another context, here is not the right interpretation based its sha’n-i nuzuul[141]( revelatory context of the verse). Also, Khomeini’s interpretation implies, as indicated with respect to hokm, that there were two rival political authorities under Prophet Muhammad’s rule since the Qur’an gives a choice to Muhammad to hokm (judge) between people or ignore them or to turn his face (i‘raz), as verse (7/4) reads, “Hence, if they come to thee [for judgment], thou mayest either judge between them or leave them alone…”. It is neither logical nor historically sound that Muhammad ruled one part of the society or ignored the others upon his wish.
It should be noted:
- Khomeini does not seem to address the word minkom( from among you), when the verse refers to ‘ulil-amr. Khomeini with some sort of Platonic view about superiority knowledgeable over others seems to think that the ‘ulama cannot be part of the community of faithful ( alladhiina ’aamanuu), while the Qur’an does make not such a distinction between ’ulil-amr and the rest. Both Khomeini and Tabatabaei, due to their prior ideological convictions, overlook the fact that the verse mentions three entities: Allah, his Rasuul, and the believers (alladhiina ‘aamanuu), which includes the ’ulil-amr since they are just a group from among them (minkom) not for them (la-hum, la-kum, or ’ulil-amri kum).
- It is God Himself and his Rasuul that are recognized to be the final source in the event of any dispute among the believers. The prophet is introduced by the Qur’an an exemplary model in obeying the Qur’an and for the faithful[142] be they ordinary people or those who claim “the right of interpretation of the Divine law.” Muhammad himself, according to the Qur’an, did not follow anything but the Qur’an or revelation.[143] As opposed to Khomeini’s claim, the issue of “the interpretation of the divine law” is not an exclusive right of anyone by the implication of the verse in the Qur’an because the right of ‘referring issues to God and the right of dispute with anyone, other than God and his prophet, has been grant to all believer.’
- Khomeini exhibits his selective approach to the religious sources once again here. This verse is too general to be used to justify‘ulama’s political monopoly since everyone can dispute (tanaazu’) with those in power and question the validity of their judgment based on what God or his prophet have said respectively.
- If one ignores the fact that the Qur’an criticizes the living prophet numerous times, still, according to the Qur’an, the living prophet was the final source of arbitration along with Allah himself. Hence, the reference to al-Rasuul in the verse is a reference to a living pe
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