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.
Language is never a condition or reason in Taqleed. The conditions of Taqleed are mentioned in the books of Fiqh and in answers of few questions on this website.
Nevertheless, There is one Marja' of Taqleed in Najaf Ashraf who is originally from Pakistan but studied and taught in Najaf Ashraf since mnay decades. His name is Ayatullah Shaikh Basheer Al-Najafi, may Allah grant him and all the Maraaji' long life.
The Marja' of Taqleed must be the most or one of the most knowledgeable scholars in Islamic knowledge who has:
1. Full understanding of the verses of the Holy Quran with the Hadeeths related to the meaning of Quranic verses.
2. Full understanding of all the Hadeeths from the Prophet (SAWA) and his Holy Progeny (Ahlul Bayt)(AS) including the narrations of different meanings and choosing the meaning which is more authentic.
3. Full understanding of Arabic language which is the language of Quran and Hadeeths. With out full understanding of Arabic language the scholar will not be able to reach full understanding of the meanings of Quranic verses and Hadeeths.
Many non Arab scholars understand the Arabic language very well but do not speak it fluently due to no practice or little practice. This does not harm their ability to be a Marja'.
4. The ability and the practice of deriving the Islamic rules from its evidence, which is called Ejtihad. The Mujtahid is the highly learned Islamic scholar who is able to derive the Islamic rule of every matter in Shariah from its evidence in the Four Islamic sources which are: Quran, Hadeeth, Aql ( Reason) and Ejmaa'( consensus).
5. The high degree of God fearing (Taqwa) as one of the most crucial conditions of the Marja' of Taqleed as mentioned in the Hadeeth narrated from Imam Al-Askari (AS) ( Wasa'il al-Shia, Vol.18, P.131).
6. Being male born from valid marriage طيب الولادة.
The ability of giving speech in Arabic is not a condition of A Marja' as far as he has the all the above conditions.
There is no doubt that Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) guides many sincere scholars and believers when ever and where ever it is required. Many of our great Marji's are been guided by the Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) when ever Allah (SWT) wants the Marji’ to be guided by the Imam Al-Mahdi (AS).
No Marji’ tells people that Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) told him or gave him a message to people because this is forbidden during the major occultation, but after the passing away of someMarji’s it can be inspired through authentic sources who lived with him, that he met the Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) and was guided by him in certain matter or situation.
This guidance is not only for some Marji’s but also for many sincere believers all over the world. Those sincere believers who get this great honour will never make it public.
Every believer is responsible to follow the verdicts of the Marja' of Taqleed whom he follows provided that the (Marja') has enough evidence from leading scholars (Ahlul Khobra) that he is a real Marja' of Taqleed.
This is in the verdict (Fatwa) which is binding only on believers who follow that Marja', but if the Marja' Al A'laa issues a Hokm (Order), then the Order is obligatory on every believer whether he follows him or other Marja'.
The Marja' Al-A'la is the Marja' who is been followed by majority of the Shia scholars in the Hawzas (Islamic seminaries and religious knowledge centers). Now a days the majority of scholars refer to Ayatullah Al-Udhma Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani is the Marja' al-A'la.
Every Mujtahid acts upon his own verdicts because Taqleed is not on the Mujtahids but on the public.
The main four Marja's in Najaf Ashraf are:
1. Aytullah Seestani who is followed by the majority of the Shia Muslims all over the world.
2. Ayatullah Sayyed Mohammad Saeed al-Hakeem.
3. Ayatullah Shaikh Eshaq al-Fayadh.
4. Ayatullah Shaikh Basheer al-Najafi.
The Marja' who is been followed by the majority of the Shia is called ( Al-Marja al-A'la) ( The highest Marja).
We have a system of our religious leadership based on highest degree of knowledge and piousness, which is quite different from Vatican.
The Quranic verses regarding timing of obligatory Prayers ( Al-Israa 78 and Hood 114) are very clear that there are three timings only; Fajr and Midday and Maghrib.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) had prayed Zohr and Asr together, and Maghrib and Isha together according to authentic Hadeeths in Saheeh al-Bukhari (Mawaqeet al-Salaah , Hadeeth number 516, 529) and Saheeh Muslim, Hadeeth number 1146, 1147).
We follow the Prophet (SAWA) in each and every matter, and combine when we need to combine but separate the Prayers as well because both ways is allowed.
Many of our Ulama say that combining the Prayers is better while some Ulama say that separating the Prayers is better if you can.
This claim is wrong.
Marja' of Taqleed is a status of the highest knowledgeable Mujtahid, who can be from any country.
Today, you see in Najaf Ashraf four main Maraaje' of Taqleed , but no one asks about the country of birth of them because it has never been a criteria. Same in Qum and other places of Hawzas.
The Marja' of Taqleed does not come through election, selection nor appointment. He reaches to this status of knowledge by his own hard work and dedication and sincerity with the help of Allah (SWT). The scholars in the Hawza are the responsible persons to identify and recognize the level of knowledge of the Mujtahid scholar and whether he is entitled to be Marja' or not. Such high level of scholars give witness that this Mujtahid is a Marje' then people can do his Taqleed.
Every community needs a perfect leadership to guide them to the right and avoid them from the wrong.
Allah The Glorious Has ordered people to follow the prophets then their successors. The last successor of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) who is at present under occultation by order of Allah (SWT) because of certain circumstances. Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) himself ordered the followers of Ahlul Bayt (AS) to follow during his occultation the most learned pious Ulama. (Wasaa'il al-Shia, Volume 27, Page 131.
Some persons misunderstand the meaning of Taqleed and ask about its validity . We invite them to think :
1. Is it possible for any Muslim to claim that Allah, The Most Glorious wants to leave the Ummah with out guide during the occultation of the Infallible Imam ?
2. Who is the best to guide the Ummah better than the most learned about the teachings of Ahlul Bayt (AS) with piousness?
3. Who can guide the Ummah to Islamic rules on new issues during the occultation better that the most learned and pious, who are the Maraaje' of Taqleed?
No community can remain protected from deviation if they do not follow a pious leadership and there is no leadership in the whole world more pious than our Maraaje' of Taqleed who have the maximum knowledge about Islam and highest level of piousness.
No Marja' of Taqleed has the authority to go against the Quran. Quran is very clear that showing the beauty or ornamentation is not allowed (ولا يبدين زينتهن) Al-Noor : 31.
Obligatory precaution means you Must act upon it or refer to the second most knowledgeable Marja' who has a verdict in this matter.