The evidence for Muslim Scholar’s Authority

Question No. 11

What evidences are there for Muslim scholar’s Authority? Was this idea posed also in the past?

The idea of “Muslim scholar’s Authority” – whether theoretically or practically – has the same long history as shi’ism. Malik Ashtar’s appointment to governorship of Egypt by Imam Ali (as) is a salient example of this. In Shiite jurisprudence, prominent Muslim scholars have posed this idea in different ways. Among these brilliant figures in Shiite jurisprudence are Sheikh Mufid, Muhaqqiq Karaki, Allama Naraqi, Sahib Jawahir (the author of Jawahir al-Kalam); among the contemporary figures, Imam Khomeini was the greatest revival of this idea both in theory and in practice.

Imam Khomeni believed that the idea of “Wilayat-e Faqih” is so axiomatic and self-evident that correct understanding of which will immediately lead to affirming it. Sorrily, because of a centuries-long gap between clerics and politics, due to the dominance of usurping rulers and propagandas against religion by enemies, we need now to present arguments in favor of this idea. Nevertheless, religious scholars have always argued for it, fortifying its bases; Naraqi, for instance, presented nineteen transmitted evidences for it in his ‘Awa’id al-ayyam. Altogether, the evidences which may be adduced for Wilayat-e Faqih are divided into three categories:

First. The merely rational evidences: the evidences therein all minor and major premises are rational;

Second. The merely transmitted evidences: the evidences all inferred from Islamic texts, i.e. Quran and the Sunna.

Third. The combined evidences: a combination of rational and transmitted evidences.

Each of these categories has numerous statements and documents of its own. Here, some of the combined evidences are mentioned:

1. The nature of Islam. Islam is a comprehensive religion encompassing all dimensions of human life – including personal, social, worldly and otherworldly affairs.1

2. The eternality of Islam. Islam is an eternal religion, whose decrees remain in force up to the Judgment Day; “…halalu Muhammad halaun ila yawmi-l-qiyama wa…”2

3. The necessity of Islamic State. The enforcement of political, social and legal rules of Islam is impossible without establishing an Islamic State.

4. The necessity of continuation of Islamic State. The eternality of religious decrees and the need for an Islamic political system for enforcing them results in the necessity of its existence forever.

5. The nature of Islamic State. Islamic State is, by nature, a government wherein religious laws and norms are the criteria for action.

6. The requirements for the ruler. In view of the legal nature of the Islamic State, the ruler therein must necessarily enjoy three elements of [jurisprudential] knowledge (Fiqahat), justice (Idalat), and competence (Kifayat). This is not only inferred from the nature of Islamic State, but also has been stressed in many religious texts.

7. The principle of non-negligence of the Legislator (Qa’idi-ye Lutf meaning “the rule of [divine] grace”). It is impossible for the Devine Legislator to be indifferent toward an essential and most important issue of the qualified leadership and government of the Islamic society, leaving the destiny of the Muslim community indeterminate.

8. Result. God has necessarily chosen the “just Muslim scholar” – competent of and qualified for leadership – as the leader of the community.

  • 1. For further information, see Abdullah Nasri, Intizar-e basher az din; Ali Rabbani Golpayigani, Jami’iyyat va kamal-e din.
  • 2. Usul-e Kafi, 1, p.58.