In Shia Islam, marjaʿ (Arabic: مرجع; plural: marājiʿ), also known as a marjaʿ taqlīd or marjaʿ dīnī (Arabic: مرجع تقليد / مرجع ديني), literally meaning "source to imitate/follow" or "religious reference", is a title given to the highest level Shia authority, a Grand Ayatollah with the authority to make legal decisions within the confines of Islamic law for followers and less-credentialed clerics. After the Qur'an and the prophets and imams, marājiʿ are the highest authority on religious laws in Usuli Shia Islam.
Women are not only allowed but also encouraged to seek knowledge with out any limitation. Women can reach to highest degrees of knowledge which is known as Ejtihad إجتهاد.We have in our Shia history many women reached to the high degree of Ejtihad. When the women becomes highly learned in Islamic sciences up to Ejtihad, she will not be dozing Taqleed for other Mujtahids but she as a Mujtahidah has to act upon her own verdicts.
The post of Marja' of Taqleed has big burden which is not for any woman to bear with her delicate nature as a female and her physical abilities and circumstances e.g. menstruation cycle, pregnancy, breast feeding etc.
Woman can reach to the highest degrees of Islamic knowledge with out making her facing challenges which are beyond her abilities and comfort.
Islam is not a male dominated religion, as Islam teaches that the human beings are created in male and female (Sura 49, Verse 13). Islam granted the woman since more than 1400 years full rights which were never given to her by any other religion or ideology. Europe till recently, treated with women as incomplete human beings and used to give her less than the salary of similar job man. Women were not allowed to study nor to do business or even own.
Islam put pious women in the highest rank above millions of men. Lady Fatimah (AS) is the best human being after her father Muhammad (SAWA) and her husband Ali (AS).
No Marja and no pious scholar will allow any non Mahram female to kiss or touch his hand directly. It is not allowed and the Marja will never allow it.
Late Sheikh Yusuf Sane'ee and Sheikh Muhammad Is'haaq Fayyaz believe in 13 unless other signs of puberty appear before that, and also Sheikh Ibrahim Jannaati believes in the start of her menses as the sign of her puberty.
There are narrations from Ahlul Bait in this regard like:
- عن امیرالمؤمنین (ع) لایصلین احدکم خلف المجنون و ولدا الزنا وسائل الشیعة
- مَعْرُوفٍ عَنْ أَبِی جَمِیلَةَ عَنْ سَعْدِ بْنِ طَرِیفٍ عَنِ الْأَصْبَغِ بْنِ نُبَاتَةَ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَمِیرَ الْمُؤْمِنِینَ ع یَقُولُ سِتَّةٌ لَا یَنْبَغِی أَنْ یَؤُمُّوا النَّاسَ وَلَدُ الزِّنَا وَ الْمُرْتَدُّ وَ الْأَعْرَابِیُّ بَعْدَ الْهِجْرَةِ وَ شَارِبُ الْخَمْرِ وَ الْمَحْدُودُ وَ الْأَغْلَفُ
- and a narration from Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqer in which he says don't pray behind 5 types of people one of which is a child out of wedlock.
Plus that is the consensus of Shia scholars on this ruling.
The word Imam means Muqtada, a leader and someone whom others follow and set an example in their works. And the Imam of the congregation is the one whom the group and the congregation set as their role model. Therefore, there should not be a defect in the position of the incumbent, although he himself has not interfered in achieving this defect. To explain that, the fact that an illegitimate child is deprived of some social and spiritual positions such as Imamate of the congregation and the authority of Taqlid, etc., which are the contents of some above mentioned narrations, is because of the nature of these positions and it does not mean deprivation of salvation on the Day of Judgment, for example, a blind person can not be in charge of some positions or a person who is very forgetful can not be a judge even if he has not committed the slightest sin in his life, having a good memory is one of the conditions of a judge. But these deprivations have nothing to do with one's felicity or unhappiness(i.e. bad end), and so is that with the illegitimate child, and our proof is that in the same narrations, the illegitimate child is placed next to the insane and the leper, etc., even though someone is not crazy or is not leper by their own will.
From a social point of view, being an illegitimate is also a kind of defect and does not lead to reputation, because on the one hand, illegitimacy is the product of a shameful act, and on the other hand, most of the illegitimate children have not shown an acceptable record throughout history, and this is certain that in holding some positions, a person should be away from the characteristics and traits that cause hatred and distance from people, even if those characteristics have been imposed on him without authority.
These claims from this person prove that he is a liar. He has been appointed and financially supported by our enemies to create dispute and cause trouble among the followers of Ahlul Bayt. Fortunately, his lies are clear for our community and after spending huge amounts of money which is been injected by our enemies,he hardly has any considerable following.
He claimed that he is son of imam Al-Mahdi, while people of Basra where he belongs to, know the name of his father and grand father and his family tree and confirm that he is a liar.
There are special websites and social media groups refuting his lies.
When your Marja' has not issued a Fatwa (verdict) on a specific matter, you can refer to the second Marja' who is next highest in the degree of knowledge according to most senior Ulama of the Hawza.
There is some discussion of this topic here: https://www.al-islam.org/ask/is-it-the-case-that-only-men-are-allowed-to...
The main reason why it is unlikely that a woman will become a marja' today is not theoretical, since there may be many approaches to Islamic law, but rather is practical. That is, there are social forces that would push a woman off of the path of becoming a marja', and women do not have the same networking, educational, or social support that men have and which people need to succeed in any field. (Although some Iranian women become mujtahids and there are structures in place in Iran to facilitate that, less so in other countries although it occurs in other countries also.) Furthermore, women who are religiously conservative are generally encouraged to avoid positions of public leadership or to avoid being publicly visible.
Maybe in the future it will be different.
However, it is worth considering that there are many forms of religious and spiritual leadership. While we focus mostly on the role of the marja' as the chief jurist, or chief legal expert, people require guidance and leadership in many areas of life, including family matters, spiritual guidance, ethics, politics, charitable work, and so forth. Some marja's do offer guidance in these areas also but not all do, as it is not possible for one person to specialize in every single thing or to do every single thing at one time. Furthermore, even within the Islamic sciences, there are other areas of expertise that are also important such as tafsir. So it is also valuable to become a leader or expert in other areas of religion, not only jurisprudence/law.
Taqleed is based on the logical necessity for the non expert to refer to the expert.
This is followed in every field of knowledge in life. All human beings practically follow this fact in every matter. Religious day to day rules are not an exception. Non experts in religious studies need to follow the experts. We believe that every religious act must be based on real evidence. Evidence is known to the experts who spend long time in studying and researching the Islamic sources ( Quran, Hadeeth, Aql and Ejmaa'). People must refer in religious matters to the most learned Islamic scholar who is called al-'Alam.
From the time of the Prophet (SAWA) and the Ifallible Imams, Muslims who lived in places far away from them, were ordered to refer in religious matters to the scholar in their area.
Taqleed is obligatory on non experts in religious studies (non Mujahid or non Muhtaat). With out Taqleed, non expert will practice religious acts with out authentic evidence and this is not accepted in Islam.
Allah is The Absolute Wise and He has the Full Knowledge about everything and everyone. All rules in Islam are based on the absolute Wisdom and Knowledge and Mercy of Allah which aims for the interest of man and human kind.
illegitimately born child has no fault to be punished for, and he should be saved from social criticism. This might be one of the reasons that such person should not be exposed in public as leader of prayers or leader of society ( Marja' of Taqleed).
Keeping him away from regions leadership might be also for avoiding legitimising the sinful act from which he was born and not encouraging people to commit it.
Finally, we say that Allah is The Most Just, Most Wise, Most Merciful and He Knows the full reasons, but we firmly believe that it is always for the interest of man and mankind.
Every Muslim needs to have authentic evidence that he is acting upon the orders of Islam in every religious act and deed. Such evidence can not be available to non professional person unless he relies on the verdict of professional scholar (Mujtahid). That is why Taqleed is compulsory on every non professional Muslim otherwise his religious deeds will be with out supporting evidence, which means that it can be not correct.
When you follow the most learned scholar, you will not be responsible if he makes an error as your responsibility is just to act upon the verdict and evidence derived by the most learned scholar.
No, it is not sufficient to ask one trustworthy person about which Marja to follow. He must be a high caliber 'Aalim (scholar), yet his witness alone is not sufficient because witness should come from two high caliber 'Aalims.
Majority of the Shia Muslims today follow in Taqleed, Ayatullah al-Udhma Sayyed Ali al-Husaini al- Sistani. This is because of the fact that majority of Shia scholars in the Hawza of Najaf Ashraf, Qum, Mashhad and other places, believe that Ayatullah Sistani is the most knowledgeable among Shia high caliber scholars (Mujtahids). No doubt, there are other Maraaji' in Iran and Iraq who have lot of followers in Taqleed, but Ayatullah Sistani is the most followed Marja' in this time. May Allah protect him and prolong his life, and all the Maraaji'.