Appointment or Election

Question No. 24

Is the Islamic State based on appointment by the Legislator or election by people? In the former case, can we believe in any role for people in affirmation or denial of the Islamic State?

In Shiite political thought, the “Authoritative Guardian” is appointed by the Legislator. However, it does not mean that people have no role in affirming or denying the government, for the Authoritative Guardian has no right to impose his own views on people in establishing the government and exercising his authority.

Thus, the Islamic government is formed with the people’s consent. There are numerous evidences for this idea. For example, Imam Ali reports from the Prophet that “The Prophet said to me: ‘Oh, Abu Talib’s son! You are responsible for the Guardianship of my community. If they confer you the power safe and sound, agreeing upon your sovereignty contentedly, take on the guardianship of their affairs; otherwise, leave them at that’”.1

Imam Khomeini, replying the Secretariat of Leaders of Friday Prayer, writes on the scope and the nature of “Muslim scholar’s Authority”:

“[The Authoritative Muslim scholar] enjoys authority in all forms. But, guardianship of the Muslim’s affairs and establishing a government depends on the opinion of majority of Muslims. This has been mentioned in Constitution as well, and called in the early years of Islam ‘paying homage to the Muslims’ guardian’”.2

  • 1. Ibn Tavous, Kashf al-mahja, p.180.
  • 2. Document no. 657, the Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works, quoted by Mustafa Kavakibiyan, Mabaniy-e mashru’iyyat dar nizam-e wilayat-e faqih, p.258.