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Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twelver Shi ism

Ranging from the time of the infallible Imams to the contemporary era, this book provides a comprehensive overview of Shi i religious and political authority, focusing on Iran and Lebanon, without limiting the discourse to Khomeini s version of an Islamic state. Utilizing untapped Arabic and Persian sources, Hamid Mavani provides a detailed, nuanced, and diverse theoretical discussion on the doctrine of lea- dership (Imamate) in Shi ism from traditional, theological, philosophical, and mystical perspectives. This theoretical discussion becomes the foundation for an analysis of the transmission of the Twelfth Imam s religious and political authority vis-á-vis the jurists during his Greater Occultation. Bringing the often overlooked diversity within the Shi i tradition into sharp focus, Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twelver Shi ism discusses what constitutes an Islamic state, if there is such a notion as an Islamic state. Hamid Mavani further explores the possibility of creating a space for secu- larity, facilitating a separation between religion and state, and ensuring equal rights for all. This book argues that such a development is only possible if there is a rehabilitation of ijtihad. If this were to materialize, modern religious, social, economic, political, and cultural challenges could be addressed more successfully. This book will be of use to scholars and students with interests ranging from Politics, to Religion, to Middle East Studies.

Hamid Mavani is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Claremont Graduate University, Department of Religion. Professor Mavani has spent time at the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto, and McGill University, as well as undertaking specialized, theological training at the traditional seminaries in the Muslim world, such as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, and Jordan. His primary elds of interest include Islamic legal reform, women and Shi i law, Islamic theology and political thought, transnational Islam in Asia, Islam and secularity, intra-Muslim discourse, and Muslims in North America.

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Hamid Mavanis Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twelver Shi ism is a timely, judicious, impeccably researched, and vastly learned con- tribution to our evolving understanding of the thorny issue of authority in Islamic political thought. More than thirty years after Ayatollah Khomeini made his speci c reading of political authority in Shi ism the cornerstone of an Islamic state, and at the world-historic moment when Arab revolutions have once again brought that issue to the forefront of our critical attention, Professor Mavanis learned book takes a clear and critical angle that will clarify and enrich our encounter with political Islam.Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, USA

The major contribution of the study is in the eld of contemporary Shi ite politics. Through a meticulous examination of the classical theological and traditional sources Dr Hamid Mavani has demonstrated that Shi ite religious leadership in Iran and Lebanon is engaged in setting the course of Shi ite history in modern times. Contemporary Shi ite history, as Dr. Mavani has shown, is an intricate of amalgam of pragmatics and multidimensional response to the Shi ite futuristic thought about its role in the unfolding of the partnership between religion and politics. More pertinently, the study opens a fresh window of assessing Shi ite political thought in the context of modern nation-state. No student of comparative politics and religious leadership can a ord to ignore this stimulating contribution to the study of Shi ism in Iran and Lebanon. Abdulaziz Sachedina, Professor and Endowed IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies, George Mason University, USA

Hamid Mavani examines Twelver Shi i views on political activity and lea- dership during the continued absence of the Hidden Imam from the very earliest years of the faith to the present. While he addresses the rise of wilayat al-faqih, the doctrine that underpins the Islamic Republic s present political paradigm, he is also careful to detail alternative contemporary views on authority oered by both Arabs and Iranians, a number of whom are not as well known to western readers as they might be. Mavanis contribution is an excellent, most welcome and very timely reminder of the complexity of past and, especially, contemporary Twelver Shi i discourse in general and Twelver discourse on political authority in particular.Andrew J Newman, Reader in Islamic Studies and Persian, University of Edinburgh, UK

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Routledge Studies in Political Islam

1. The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran Political Islamic groups in Iran (1941 61) Seyed Mohammad Ali Taghavi

2. The Political Thought of Sayyid Qutb The Theory of Jahiliyyah Sayed Khatab

3. The Power of Sovereignty The Political and Ideological Philosophy of Sayyid Qutb Sayed Khatab

4. Islam and Political Reform in Saudi Arabia The Quest for Political Change and Reform Mansoor Jassem Alshamsi

5. Democracy in Islam Sayed Khatab and Gary D. Bouma

6. The Muslim Brotherhood Hasan al-Hudaybi and Ideology Barbara Zollner

7. Islamic Revivalism in Syria The Rise and Fall of Ba thist Secularism Line Khatib

8. The Essence of Islamist Extremism Recognition through Violence, Freedom through Death Irm Haleem

9. Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twelver Shi ism From Ali to Post-Khomeini Hamid Mavani

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Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twelver Shi ism

From Ali to Post-Khomeini

Hamid Mavani

01 June 2017 Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twelver Shi ‘ ism From Ali to

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First published 2013 by Routledge

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Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Mavani, Hamid. Religious authority and political thought in Twelver Shi ism : from Ali to post-Khomeini / Hamid Mavani. p. cm. (Routledge studies in political Islam; 9) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Imamate. 2. Shiah Doctrines. I. Title. BP166.94.M28 2013 297.61 dc23


ISBN13: 978-1-138-93373-6 (pbk) ISBN13: 978-0-415-62440-4 (hbk)

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1 The Ethos of Shi ism


2 Approaches to the Imamate: Traditional, Theological, Philosophical, and Mystical


3 Mode of Succession and Imam s Policy vis-à-vis the Rulers


4 Shi i State Models during the Major Occultation


5 Khomeini s Concept of Governance and its Critique


6 The Case for Secularity in Islam: Traditional and Foundational Ijtihad








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It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge those of my friends, mentors, and colleagues who have helped me over the years and were instrumental in enhancing the quality of this work. At McGill University, I bene ted greatly from Professors Herman Landolt, Robert Wisnovsky, Rula Abisaab, and Mehdi Mohaghegh. I am also grateful to Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, Professor Emeritus at Temple University and Faculty Associate at Hartford Seminary, and Professor Lynda Clarke at Concordia University for their encouragement and guidance. My profound thanks are due to Professor Abdulaziz A. Sachedina at George Mason University for his guidance and incisive comments through various stages of this work. Professor Zayn Kassam at Pomona College has been a source of great strength and a role model for intellectual humility. I have truly enjoyed the intellectual conversations with her from which I beneted greatly. She applied her incisive and sharp intellect when reading di erent versions of my work with care and speed, in spite of her many other com- mitments, and o ered valuable and priceless suggestions on enhancing the quality of my work. I remain in nitely indebted to her. During my studies and many research trips to Iran, I bene ted greatly from

a number of eminent scholars, especially Shaykh Ahmad Amini-Naja , who provided me with invaluable advice and guidance at every step. His formid- able erudition was co-joined with impeccable hospitality and kindness. I am greatly indebted to him. Other scholars include Ayatollahs Ali al-Hosein al-Milani, Muhyi al-Din al-Mamakani, Muhammad Rida al-Mamakani, Abd al-Aziz Tabataba i (d. 1996), Murteza Farajpor, Ahmad Ishkawari, Muhammad Reza Ja fari (d. 2010), and last, but certainly not least, Ahmad Madadi. To all of them, I extend my deep appreciation and gratitude. Special thanks are due to Dr. Ali al-Oraibi, who was generous with both his time and expertise. He read parts of this work and oered valuable sug- gestions for its improvement. Dr. Mohammed Amini-Naja improved my

understanding of certain aspects of the biographical ( rijal) literature. I extend my thanks to both of them. I am immensely grateful to Sayyed Mohsen Mousawi for graciously and promptly providing me with relevant sources on

di erent subjects and to Sayyed Ali Tabataba i for his help in gaining access

to various libraries in Iran.

Acknowledgments ix

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I take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of my research assistants: Ms. Chase Knowles for gathering the relevant research material for the last chapter and Mr. Jeremiah Bowden for proofreading the entire manu- script with care and diligence. Chapter 6 relies upon an article titled The Case for Secularity in Islam, which appeared in the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture. 1 I also received a great deal of support and cooperation from Kathryn Rylance and Sarah Douglas at Routledge and from Jaya Dalal, the copyeditor who read the manuscript with great care and precision. I am very grateful to all of them. I convey my thanks to the two blind reviewers for their insightful remarks and useful critique, which I have tried to incorporate to the best of my ability. However, I alone am responsible for any aws and errors. I have used M. A. S. Abdel Haleems translation of the Qur an throughout this work with minor modications, if warranted. The upper case Iin the word Imam is used to refer to the infallible Imam in Shi ism, whereas the smaller case i is employed in its lexical meaning of a leader (imam) in some minor or major capacity. Finally, all the dates are given in the Common Era (CE). My son Ehsaan (12) and daughter Sarah (9) helped me by reading the text aloud so I could compare it with the copy-edited version to detect any remaining spelling and/or grammatical errors. I thank them for this and for their love. My parents have been a constant source of support and encour- agement in my studies and research from the inception and remain so today, for which I am grateful. I dedicate this work to the one who has consistently stood by me during many challenges and heartaches of life and sacri ced much to see this book come to fruition: my wife Mahbubeh Etehadi.


1 The Case for Secularity in Islam,Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, 13/1 (April 2011): 3446.

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Shi i political thought has witnessed a spectrum of opinions on governance ranging from complete avoidance and disavowal during the Twelfth Imam s occultation to mandatory participation and adoption of political models from monarchy to democracy. All of them are extrapolated from the doctrine of Imamate, since the jurist s charismatic authority is inextricably bound to that of the Twelfth Imam (a.k.a. the Mahdi) as his indirect deputy during the lat- ter s occultation. This reality underlines the doctrine s importance in for- mulating the Shi i worldview and its implications for the concepts of temporal and sacred authority. There is no comprehensive analytical work on the dif- ferent methodologies and approaches used to study the Imamate and the various state models put forward by Shi i scholars, derived from the doctrine of Imamate, on the form of an Islamic state during the messianic Imam s absence. The present study will attempt to redress this shortcoming by ela- borating upon the approaches employed by scholars to deal with the Imamate and wilaya / walaya according to the traditional, theological, philosophical, and mystical understandings that shaped their particular conceptions of poli- tics and Islamic state. These categories are, of course, not totally independent nor mutually exclusive. The approaches and terminologies should not distract the reader from realizing that the Shi i scholars primary purpose, regardless of when they wrote, was to underline the Imam s central and pivotal role, for without his presence Earth would be annihilated ( la-sakhat al-ard ). 1 The messianic Imam s prolonged concealment created a leadership vacuum that prompted the jurists to question to whom his religious and political authority had been delegated. Although the ulama gradually developed the concept of the jurists general deputyship ( al-niyabat al- amma ) to collectively regard themselves as his indirect deputies, there has always been serious dis- agreement and dissent on the nature and scope of this authority. The majority of Shi i jurists argue that their activity is limited to expounding Islamic ordi- nances and adjudicating personal and religious matters. As for public and political a airs, these were considered to be the sole prerogative of the Twelfth divine guide, who would restore peace and justice before the end of terrestrial life. In all probability, the discussion and formulation of di erent state models and the scope of the jurisconsult s political authority would have

Preface xi

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remained theoretical had it not been for Shah Isma il s proclamation of Twelver Shi ism as his new empire s religion in 1501, for this forced the ulama to address political realities. This, along with the Usuli school s triumph over the Akhbari school, which allowed the former to expand the role of reason and rationality in religious discourse and expand their scope of authority, gradually culminated in Ayatollah Khomeini s (d. 1989) concept of the jur- isconsults full- edged and absolute authority, which is embedded in the Shi i conception of Imamate. He contends that the jurisconsult has been charged with leading an Islamic state based upon rational and textual evidence. Khomeini s proposed model of governance has received a disproportionate amount of attention in the post-1979 period. This sometimes obscures the fact that his theory was simply one among many others that have been advanced by Shi i scholars. Thus, it cannot be considered the accepted or the authoritative model of governance in Shi ism and moreover it represents a sharp break with tradition. Other paradigms exist, such as those presented by Ayatollahs Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980), Muhammad Husayn Fadlalla (d. 2010), Hosein Ali Montazeri (d. 2010), Salehi Najafabadi (d. 2006), Muhammad Mahdi Shamsuddin (d. 2001), Mehdi Haeri Yazdi (d. 1999), Mohsen Kadivar, Muhammad Mojtahed Shabestari, Muhaqqiq Damad, Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush, and other eminent Shi i jurists and scholars. All of these merit serious consideration due to their nuanced understanding of the range of opinions on this issue and for playing a pioneering role in proposing di erent political paradigms which constitute an integral part of the Shi i political thought. Not only have they provided a methodical and innovative understanding of governance during the messianic Imam s occultation, but they have also put forth creative ideas to reform Islamic legal theory ( usul al-qh ) in order to expand the nature and scope of intellectual deduction ( ijtihad ) in Shi i Islam. They do so by incorporating other elds of knowledge so as to provide appropriate responses to modern exigencies. These responses take into account the complexity and sophistication of the issues impinging on social, economic, and political aspects of human relations while remaining fully aware that ethics permeates the entirety of Islamic legal injunctions. 2 For example, Soroush has had a substantial in uence on the political discourse of Irans reform movement, which is seeking a state model compatible with secularity. To that end, he has advocated the reform and rethinking of the philosophy of law in order to produce a new approach and methodology, rather than con ning the discourse to the extant Islamic jurisprudence, which allows only minor changes via invoking various legal tools and devices. 3 Dr. Tariq Ramadan has reached the same conclusion regarding Sunni legal theory: it requires a transition from adaptation reform to transformation reform. 4 He is convinced that following the former path will result only in cosmetic changes while preserving the fossilized edi ce:

Contemporary qh literature frequently refers to maslahah (common and public interest), hajah (need), and darurah (imperative necessity) to

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xii Preface

explain how the new challenges of our time should be faced. The point is to adapt to the new realities of the world while taking into account the common interest and necessities and imperatives of the time. 5 (emphasis added)

Many prominent scholars have all rigorously and methodically studied Khomeini s concept of governance. 6 What is lacking, however, is a methodical

exposition of the Imamate as put forth in the traditional disciplines of Qur an

and hadith along with in theology, philosophy, and mysticism; the develop-

ment of Shi i political thought during the occultation, the justi catory basis of which is derived from the doctrine of Imamate; the crystallization of

alternative political models oered by eminent Shi i jurists and philosophers;

and the interplay of the foundational principles of ijtihad , theology, ethics,

intellect, hermeneutics, epistemology, history, modern sciences, anthropology,

linguistics, and egalitarian justice in an attempt to reconstruct Islamic thought

and Islamic legal theory to provide a basis for a civil society that accom-

modates pluralism with a separation between church and state, and to address the contemporary challenges associated with governing a modern state.

To this end, this book consists of six main chapters that can be divided into

two parts. The rst three focus on the pivotal doctrine of Imamate along with

the mode of succession of the divine guides and indirect deputization of the jurists during the Mahdi s occultation. This represents its foundational and justi catory basis of their claim to have been entrusted with certain powers formerly vested in the Imam. Some jurists view themselves as having been endowed with divine legitimacy and enjoying the same scope of authority as the infallible Imam in setting up and governing an Islamic state, since they are the occulted Imam s logical substitutes. The other group, which is in the

majority, uses the same data but arrives at a very di erent conclusion: while jurists do have a role to play during this period, their authority is limited to judgeship and issuing of legal rulings. In other words, they have no direct involvement with the state apparatus. The latter three chapters oer a systematic and sustained treatment of applying this mandate in the form of di erent models proposed in terms of the relationship between religion and state. The ensuing analysis, which is not limited to Khomeini s paradigm of wilayat al-faqih , covers various innovative

and creative formulas oered to carve out a space for secularity and rehabi-

litate ijtihad so that modern challenges in the social, economic, political,

and cultural domains can be addressed.

Chapter 1 deals with the concepts of wilaya / walaya , which consist of the

legislative guardianship ( al-wilayat al-tashri iyya ) and creative authority or cosmic guardianship ( al-wilayat al-takwiniyya ) enjoyed by the Imams. The

love and a nity to which they are entitled, as well as their status as the pos-

sessors of esoteric ( batin ) and hidden (ghayb ) knowledge and as exclusive

authoritative interpreters of the Quran rmly grounded in knowledge(Q. 3:7),

are also discussed. Chapter 2 examines the systematized, evolved, and

Preface xiii

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institutionalized disciplinary approaches (traditional, theological, philosophi- cal, and mystical) used by scholars in their study of the fundamental doctrine of Imamate. The approaches have a direct impact in de ning the extent and scope of power and authority enjoyed by the jurisconsult. An exponent of a mystical reading of Imamate, such as Ayatollah Khomeini, would be inclined to expand the jurisconsult s scope of power and authority due to the mystical cosmic vision, in contrast to one who espouses a primarily traditional or theological perspective such as Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim al-Khu i (d. 1992). Since the intellectual trends and currents that crystallized these approaches did not occur in a vacuum, it is necessary to inquire into those methods of inquiry that evolved within a particular socio-historical and political milieu that had an obvious in uence on the doctrine. This must be borne in mind to avoid presenting it as ahistorical and no more than an essentialized, mono- lithic, homogenous, and static phenomenon instead of portraying it as the dynamic process of renement and consolidation that it is. Chapter 3 tackles the issue of succession after the Prophet s death and the manner in which the Imams conducted themselves vis-à-vis the temporal rulers of their time to calibrate the scope of public sovereignty during the Twelfth Imam s absence. On what basis did Ali assert that only he was entitled to be the Prophet s successor? If this was based on divine decree, was there any role for human agency and free-will to accept or reject him as the caliph? The evidence seems to suggest that Ali considered his caliphate valid only if the people gave him their allegiance ( bay a ) voluntarily. In other words, the legitimacy of his cali- phate, not Imamate, rests on public assent and, as such, constitutes a form of a social contract ( qarardad-e ijtima i). Thus it follows that the supreme jur- isconsult ( wali al-faqih ) who claims his authority and legitimacy from the infallible Imam is likewise subject to the will of the people in obtaining a mandate to rule over them. Chapter 4 delineates the various state models proposed by eminent Shi i scholars, ranging from models where there is no privileged status for the jurists to one in which their legitimacy and authority emanates from the divine source and therefore the individual or the public in general has no choice and cannot oer any advice because the supreme jur- isconsult is not accountable to them. The jurists and scholars base their arguments from jurisprudential, theological, philosophical, and extra-religious frameworks to present state models which allow for public sovereignty and challenge the notion of divine sovereignty inhering in the jurisconsult. Chapter 5 is devoted to a detailed and critical examination of Khomeinis concept of wilayat al-faqih. Beginning with a circumscribed mandate and authority with only a supervisory role, it gradually evolved into a full- edged and comprehensive authority in the political realm that could even transcend the Sharia if it was deemed to be in public interest. Just what constitutes this general welfareand how it is measured remains nebulous and vague. Finally, Chapter 6 interrogates whether it is possible to carve out a space for secular- ity based upon the Islamic tradition, one that does not compromise either its integrity or its coherence. Is the oft-repeated claim that Islamic culture does

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xiv Preface

not distinguish between religion and politics, and thus inherently lends itself to an undemocratic and authoritarian system of governance, valid or not? Ayatollahs Shamsuddin, Haeri, and Kadivars new, creative, and dynamic

models of ijtihad and the relationship between religion and state will be explored and tested to see if they open up a space for secularity such that all citizens, especially women and minorities, would enjoy equal rights and human dignity under an Islamic state, if there is such a notion of an Islamic

state: 7 Wael Hallaq writes in his recently released book: [T]he Islamic state,

judged by any standard de nition of what the modern state represents, is both an impossible and inherently self-contradictory concept. 8


1 The texts, depending upon the approach, use di erent appellations to refer to the divine guide. Among them are hujja , ulu al-amr, al-haqiqat al-Muhammadiyya , al- ta ayyun al-awwal , al-tajalli al-awwal, al- aql al-awwal , al-ruh al-awwal, al-adam al-awwal, al-idafa al-ishraqiyya, amr Allah al-wahid, wajh Allah al-wahid, al-rahmat al-wasia, al-wujud al-munbasit, and al-kalima kun al-wujudiyya.

2 The moral values are the crucial pivot of the entire overall system, and from them ows the law. The law is therefore the last part in this chain and governs all the religious,social, political, and economic institutions of the society. Because law is to be formulated on the basis of the moral values, it will necessarily be organically related to the latter.Fazlur Rahman, Islam and Modernity (Chicago:

The University of Chicago Press, 1982), 156.

3 Ali Abedi Shahrudi, Naser Katouziyan, Sadeq Larijani, Muhammad Mojtahed Shabestari, and Mostefa Malikiyan, Goft o guha-ye falsafe-ye feqh (Qum: Bostan, 2001); and Afshin Matin-asgari, “‘Abdolkarim Sorush and the Secularization of Islamic Thought in Iran, Iranian Studies, 30/1 2 (Winter-Spring 1997): 11213.

4 Tariq Ramadan, Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation (New York:

Oxford University Press, 2009), 3038.

5 Ibid., 31.

6 Such as, Said Arjomand, David Menashri, Hamid Enayat, Nikkie Keddie, Abbas Amanat, Shahrough Akhavi, Hamid Dabashi, Joseph Eliash, Juan Cole, Farhang Rajaee, Sami Zubaida, Vanessa Martin, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Mohsen Milani, Ervand Abrahamian, Daniel Brumberg, Homa Katouzian, and Amr G. E. Sabet.

7 Abdullahi A. An-Na im argues that a society can be Islamic but not a state. Abdullahi A. An-Naim, Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari a (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), 2.

8 Wael Hallaq, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernities Moral Predicament (Boston: Columbia University Press, 2012), book jacket.

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In 632, the Prophet made his rst and only obligatory pilgrimage to Makka, commonly known as the Farewell Pilgrimage. During it he informed the public that his ministry had ended and he would soon be returning to His Lord. Of great signi cance for the Shi is is his statement at Ghadir Khumm, in which he introduced Ali as the wali of the Muslim community. The Shi is regard this event and the employment of the term wali in reference to Ali as incontrovertible proof, testament, and explicit evidence that he had desig- nated Ali as his successor and trustee. It would be inconceivable, according to them, for God, the possessor of Bene cence and Wisdom, to allow the Seal of the Prophets to pass away without making any provision for a successor to attend to the young community s religious and temporal concerns. The Sunnis do not dispute the veracity of this historical incident; however, they interpret it as no more than an admonition to the assembled Muslims to show the proper respect and honor due to Muhammad s cousin and son-in-law, espe- cially since there was some bickering going on regarding the formula of dis- tribution of the war spoils adopted by Ali after the expedition to Yemen. With the termination of prophethood and perfection of the Scripture, there was no need for further divinely appointed persons. Thus, according to the Sunnis, the Prophet had not designated a successor or provided a set of prin- ciples or a method for identifying the community s ideal leader because the Qur an had already invoked shura (consultation) in their a airs. This was later supplemented with ijma (consensus). These two divergent interpreta- tions of succession were ultimately crystallized into two major expressions of Islam: Sunnism and Shi ism.

The Crisis of Succession

The Muslim community was confronted with a major crisis of authority and leadership upon the Prophets death: Who would succeed him as ruler? Essentially, three groups asserted their right to rule: (a) the Muhajirun, who claimed precedence because they belonged to the Prophet s tribe and had been among the earliest converts; (b) the Ansar, who based their claim on having befriended Muhammad by o ering him refuge and asylum when both

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2 Introduction

his life and his mission had become endangered. Without them, they declared, nascent Islam would have been terribly handicapped or even extinguished; and (c) the Legitimists ( ashab al-nass wa-l-ta yin), who believed that the Pro- phet had explicitly appointed Ali due to his early conversion, outstanding merits, strong defense of Islam, and their close kinship. After a protracted discussion, Abu Bakr was chosen for this position for several reasons: He was a close and elderly Companion, Muhammad s father-in-law, and an early convert whom Muhammad had chosen to accompany him during his migration ( hijra ) from Makka to Madina. Umar, a close condant of Muhammad and second caliph, was well aware of the problematic nature of this impromptu assembly. Nevertheless, he believed that God had averted the evil consequences of not consulting the community beforehand. Accordingly, he warned the Muslims not to use this format as the norm when choosing a successor to himself, because any pledge ( bay a ) oered in such a manner would have no legal validity. Moreover, those parties who involved themselves in such an undertaking would be sentenced to death:

It has reached me that one of you has said: By God, if Umar b. al-Khattab were to die, I would swear allegiance to so-and-so [ fulan ]. 1 Let no one be seduced into saying: The oath of allegiance for Abu Bakr was a falta [hasty a air], yet it succeeded. It was indeed so, but God has warded oits evil ( waqa sharraha ).2 The central and pivotal evidence advanced by the Shi is in favor of Ali s succession is the Prophet s proclamation at Ghadir Khumm that Ali was the mawla (patron, master, leader, and friend) 3 of the community. 4 The Shiis inter- pret this word as explicit evidence of Ali s ocial designation as the Prophet s successor in both the political and religious spheres, and even more so, as Muhammad was commanded, according to the Shi is, to so designate him by Q. 5:67. The Sunnis accept this incident s veracity but interpret it as no more than an attempt to defuse some of the Companions discontent and dis- pleasure with Ali s distribution of the spoils of war after having returned from an expedition to Yemen. In their opinion, Muhammad was only reminding them that his cousin and son-in-law was entitled to a certain amount of respect and honor. Subsequent Sunni scholars argued that it was unimagin- able that the overwhelming majority of the Companions could disregard such a clear and explicit statement of succession: How is it conceivable that it was right for the Companions of the Messenger to agree on something unsound and fail to act according to the statute which had come down to them? 5 The Shi is have responded that numerical strength cannot become the criterion in a tribal society, where decisions are made by tribal leaders rather than indi- vidual Muslims. This is also attested to by the Qur an, which deprecates the majority s opinion as a legitimizing tool. 6 The Sunnis have asserted that Muhammad s directive for Abu Bakr to lead the congregational prayers during his acute illness toward the end of his life was an implicit appointment of his successor. The Shi is dispute this on the grounds that he had given explicit instruction to his Companions, including Abu Bakr and Umar, to set



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out on a military campaign against the Byzantines under the leadership of Usama b. Zayd. Dr. Ali Shariati (d. 1979), envisioned the issue of succession as one in which inheres the entirety of Shi ism:

The Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.), upon his last pilgrimage, appointed Hazrat Ali as his successor. Why was he not elected later on? In my opi- nion, this is a very fundamental question. The whole of Shi ism can be found in the answer. 7

The Doctrine of the Imamate

Mohammed A. Amir-Moezzi, a contemporary scholar at the Sorbonne, sug- gests that the Imamate is the pivot around which all other fundamental Shi i doctrinal issues revolve. He adds that Shi i political thought cannot be understood without a profound comprehension of this crucial doctrine, for such a knowledge gap only distorts our understanding of the weltanschauung of early Imamism: The true axis around which [the] Imamate doctrinal tra- dition revolves is that of Imamology, without the knowledge of which no other great chapter, as is the case with theology or prophetology, could be adequately studied. 8 The classical Shi i theory of religious and political authority envisions the Prophet s charisma as having been transferred to the infallible divine guides starting with Ali. Shi i scholars expounded, elaborated, and systematized the doctrine of Imamate by using transmitted ( al-dalil al-sami ) as well as rational arguments (al-dalil al- aqli ) that are independent of revelation to prove the necessity of the Imam s existence and Gods designation of him, along with proofs of his personal characteristics, function, and scope of authority. The doctrinal controversy surrounding the nature and extent of his authority and the mode of succession have been the prime factors behind the pro- liferation of Islamic sects and splinter groups. While there is general con- sensus on the necessity of a leader (Imam) 9 to provide guidance after the Prophet s demise, there is no consensus on his quali cations, the scope and nature of his authority, and the mode of his selection. The Shi is insist that the Imamate is one of Islam s fundamentals and that, as such, it is just as important as prophethood ( nubuwwa ) and a necessary continuation. Shi i exegetes and traditionists argue that the Imams station is higher than that of all prophets, except for the distinguished ones ( ulu al- azm ): Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. This is based on Q. 2:124, in which Abraham is given the title of imam after fullling the divine directive: When Abra- ham s Lord tested him with certain commandments, which he fullled, He said, I will make you a leader [imam] of men. Abraham asked, And will You make leaders from my descendants too? God answered, My pledge does not hold for those who do evil. ’” Abraham s plea that a similar honor be

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4 Introduction

vested in his descendants was con ned by God to those who are just and non-oppressive, suggesting that this post is granted on the basis of merit and sound character as opposed to lineage. In their exposition of the creed, Shi i scholars divide the principles of religion ( usul al-din ) into ve tenets and place the Imamate at the center; the others are divine unity (tawhid), divine justice ( adl ), prophethood, and the Day of Resurrection ( yawm al- qiyama ). 10 In contrast, the Sunnis do not even consider Imamate to be a principle ( asl ). 11 The Imam s unique position with respect to his cumulative, inherited knowledge, as well as his role as the infallible, inerrant guide and leader, all imply that he is the ultimate authority as regards expounding the religious law, doctrine, and practice, as well as spiritual mentorship. His authority is viewed as an extension of Muhammad s prophetic authority in the sense that he is the living embodiment of the Qur an, its interpreter and its executor. The only di erence is that he does not receive revelation; however, they are described as muhaddath (spoken to by the celestial being via sounds in their ears [ naqr -l-asma ]) or mufahham (instructed by angels; caused to under- stand) because they receive knowledge transmitted through ilham (inspira- tion). 12 Thus revelation continues but in a di erent form and, as such, blurs the concept of nality and seal of prophethood. 13 Both the Sunnis and Shi is base their respective worldviews on Islam s two primary sources: the Qur an and the hadith literature ( sunna ). For the former, the Prophet s Companions ( Sahaba ) constitute the chief medium through which the prophetic message was preserved and transmitted; for the latter, the sole channel is the unerring ( ma sum ) divine guides (the Imams), whose accounts of the prophetic message and interpretations of the Qur an are considered authoritative. In this sense, they are extensions of the prophetic authority and personality such that their authenticated sayings ( qawl ), actions ( l ), and unspoken or tacit approvals ( taqrir ) are considered part of the sunna . 14 The major di erences and disputes within the community demonstrate the Imamate s doctrinal importance: The greatest dispute, indeed, in the com- munity has been that over the imamate; for no sword has ever been drawn in Islam on a religious question as it has been drawn at all times on the question of the imamate. 15 The contemporary scholar Wilferd Madelung writes: No event in history has divided Islam more profoundly and durably than the succession of Muhammad.16 Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji (d. 1661) maintains that Umar b. al-Khattab brought this di erence into the open when he refused to allow a pen and a piece of paper to be brought to the Prophet, as per the latter s request. At this time the Prophet was severely ill and close to death. According to Lahiji, the Prophet knew that he would not recover and thus wanted to write his last will and testament. Umar, however, argued that he had been overcome by pain and, thus, had become delirious and, moreover, that the Qur an was complete and that this ought to be su cient for the Muslims. 17 Later Sunni attempts to feign that there was little or no dissent on the matter of succession by presenting a picture of complete harmony and

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accord among the Companions, especially during the reign of the rst two caliphs, cannot be sustained and are tendentious. 18 Numerous works by both Sunni and Shi i scholars have been written in defense of or in opposition to this concept. As a case in point, al-Qadi al-Baydawi (d. 1286) asserts that imamate is one of the most crucial issues dealing with the fundamentals of religion. Dispute or disagreement on this matter would entail disbelief ( kufr ) and innovation ( bid a ). 19 Likewise, the Hana scholar Muhammad b. Mahmud Asrushani (d. 1234 or 35) writes that anyone who does not accept Abu Bakr s imamate should be viewed as an unbeliever (kar ). 20 On the Shi i side, Shaykh Mu d (d. 1022) opined that the Sunnis are unbelievers who have been misled ( kar dall ) and deserve to dwell in hell re for eternity for failing to a rm the divine guides wilaya . 21 In his view, so great is the repugnance or revulsion for those who deny the explicit designation of Ali s succession that all Shi is are forbidden to provide funeral rites to Sunnis. If, however, one is forced to do so on account of precau- tionary dissimulation ( taqiyya ), then one should utter a curse ( la n ) on the deceased after reciting the fourth glori cation (takbir ) in the prayer for the dead ( salat al-mayyit ). 22 The essence of the Imamate s embryonic form, along with the leitmotifs of being the Prophet s legatee ( wasi ) and inheritor ( warith ) in spiritual and tem- poral a airs, 23 can be gleaned from Husayn b. Ali s (the Third Imam) letters. In response to the Kufans and Basrans persistent appeals, after Yazid s assumption of the caliphate in 680, that he lead and guide them toward the truth ( al-haqq wa-l-huda ) and throw o the yoke of Syrian domination, he writes:

who is an imam (ma al-imam ) except one who acts according to the Book ( al-hakim bi-l-Kitab ), one who upholds justice (al-qa im bi-l-qist), one who professes the truth (al-dain bi din al-haqq) and one who dedicates himself to [the essence of] God (al-habis nafsa-hu ala dhat Allah)? 24

He forcefully attributes his exclusive entitlement to the rank of Imam to his having inherited the Prophet s charisma; however, he was not in favor of rupturing the community over the issue of leadership:

We are his family ( ahl ), those who possess his authority ( awliya ), those who have been made his trustees ( awsiya ) and his inheritors (wuratha ); we are the ones who have more right to his position among the people ( ahaqq al-nas ) than anyone else. Yet, our people sel shly laid claim to this exclusive right of ours and we consented [to what they did] since we hated disunion and desired the well-being [of the community]. However, we know that we have a greater claim to that right, which was our entitlement ( mustahaqq alay-na ), than those who have seized it. 25

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6 Introduction

Shi i doctrine considers the Imam as one endowed with both religious and political authority. Yet his religious leadership is not contingent upon his being accepted as the community s ruler. As such, his wilaya is independent of his political oce, which means that he is entitled to demand obedience on the basis of this spiritual authority. This distinction is important to keep in mind so as not to reduce the Imam s role to no more than being the com- munity s leader, a person whose mandate is primarily political (establishing a just and an ethical order) or to view his Imamate as dependent upon being empowered with the capacity to actualize this political vision.

Denition of Imam

Both Sunnis and Shi is employ the word imam in its common ordinary meaning: the man who leads the congregational prayer or an eminent scholar (e.g., Sunnis refer to al-imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and Shi is refer to Shaykh al-Mu d as al-imam al-faqih al-muhaqqiq ). Among the Shi is, however, this term has a speci c technical meaning that is not found in Sunni Islam, one that confers an element of divine grace on the leader and considers him to be designated by a divine decree. 26 For example, Allama Hilli proclaims:

Imamate is a universal authority ( riyasa ) in the things of religion and of the world belonging to some person and derived from ( niyaba ) the Pro- phet. 27 Shams al-Din Isfahani (d. 1345) writes: Imamate means deputizing a certain person on behalf of the Prophet to implement the Islamic legal rul- ings and to preserve the social order. The entire community must follow this person. 28 Sunni theology, which uses imam and khalifa interchangeably, accords them only a limited scope of power and authority and no divine designation or any special characteristics. Instead, its focus remained on the leader s ability to preserve stability and order, especially from the latter part of the Umayyad period. 29 For example, Abu al-Hasan al-Mawardi s (d. 1058) de nition claims the Caliphate is therefore an institution which represents the mission of Muhammad, and the chief duties of the caliph are the safeguard of religion and the proper organization of general polity. 30 Sa d al-Din al-Taftazani opines: [It is] their vicegerency (niyabatuhum) of the Messenger in maintaining religion so that it is incumbent on all peoples to follow. 31 In summary, there are four major di erences between Shi i and Sunni conceptions of Imamate:

1 Shi is assert that the Imam s appointment is like that of the Prophet s and thus rests with God; Sunnis assert that this designation rests with the people or a select council. 32

2 Shi is assert that the Imamate, like prophethood, is one of the religions fundamentals ( usul al-din ); Sunnis argue that it is no more than a second- ary matter of religion ( furual-din ). In other words, the latter consider designating this person to be a matter of collective responsibility ( wajib

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kifa i ). Thus, if a qualied person or a group selects an imam, everyone else is absolved from this duty. 33

3 Shi is assert that the Imam should be infallible, as was the Prophet; Sunnis say that whosoever proclaims the declaration of faith with certain conditions can be an imam; therefore, infallibility is not a requirement. 34

4 Shi is assert that God designated Ali as the Prophets successor, that he is to be followed by a chain of 11 Imams from the progeny of Husayn b. Ali, and that they are all proofs of God; Sunnis claim that God did not expli- citly designate any successor and that the number of imams is not limited to 12. 35

The Proof of Gods (Hujjat Allah) Mandatory Presence at All Times

The Imam, whether accessible to the public and recognized or not, is regar- ded as the pivot and the pole that sustains the world. If he were to be absent for even a moment, every other existing being would forfeit the cause of their existence and perish: The earth would perish without the presence of an Imam. 36 The aim and purpose of his existence is not limited to providing guidance in the religious and temporal domains such that, if he were inac- cessible or people were to deny his station, then the purpose would be ren- dered void, as is the case with the twelfth messianic Imam. Rather, the aim of his existence is far loftier than mere outward guidance. The Imams are the aim and purpose for the world of creation and, through the luminosity of their light ( nur ), people are guided toward the truth and brought out from darkness; they are the cause of opening the doors of God s Mercy. 37 In addition, the Proof of God (the Imam) is the custodian and protector of the Divine Laws and guides the public toward the right path. Consequently, on the Day of Judgment no one will have an excuse or a reason to complain to God that He failed to send a guide to them. This is in stark contrast to the Sunni conception of an imam/caliph, whose primary function is to administer the polity and implement legal rulings. This person, who does not have a divine imprimatur, can be deposed if he is found guilty of egregious violations or neglects his duties as the ruler. 38 The Imam is an expression of God s Grace and Benevolence ( lutf ). His presence is mandated, based on rational grounds and scriptural texts, 39 because he draws people closer to obedience ( ta a ) of God and distances them from disobedience (ma siya ) in an attempt to achieve their perfection. 40 God, who is Wise and Just, commands human beings to do that which is virtuous and to refrain from vices because God, who is just, does not engage in evil ( qabih ). Good and evil are moral/ethical categories that have an objective existence and can be deduced by human reason at a universal level. They are not arbitrarily given an ethical value based exclusively on Divine Will, for reason has prior knowledge of what is good and what is evil at a general level:

Both [good and evil] are rational categories because even in the absence of revelation, the excellence of magnanimity and the wickedness of oppression

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8 Introduction

are known 41 and that God is far removed from every evil act and from being remiss in what is incumbent. 42 God does not act arbitrarily and whimsically without a de nitive purpose and, as such, His actions fall under the category of goodness ( husn ) and are far removed from evil/abominable ( qubh ). This is because He acts with wisdom, is self-su cient, and possesses perfect and comprehensive knowledge that prevents Him from erring. Ayatollah Ja far Sobhani writes that this

principle of the intellect s determination of good and evil/abominable, a cen- tral problem in moral theology, is an extremely important and vital one because on it rests the proofs for several necessities: seeking cognizance of God through reason; God must be above futile and non-purposive acts;

a responsible person must be endowed with religious obligations ( takalif );

prophets must be commissioned; demonstrative proofs in the claimant to prophethood must be sought; knowledge must testify to the validity of the one who claims prophethood; the end of prophethood and the continuity of the religious ruling s validity; con rming the foundational principles of ethics and their permanence; the necessity of wisdom in trials and tribulations; and God being a just entity who does not oppress. 43

In contrast, Ash ari theologians espouse the view that whatever God wills

to be good is considered virtuous because it is His command, not because the

act has any inherent value. Likewise, whatever God decrees to be evil is given this ethical value on the basis of scriptural proofs and, as such, no act that is so designated can have any innate value or be discovered by resorting to intellect. God, the ultimate source of morality, the Omnipotent and Sovereign One, can compel His subjects to act as He wills because they have no right to demand that He operate within certain parameters: He cannot be called to account for anything He does, whereas they will be called to account (Q. 21:23). In other words, prior to revelation there is an amoral space and no moral valuation can be assigned to any act by recourse to reason or its inherent nature. 44

In general terms, the early Sunnis adopted Ash ari theology and the Twel-

ver Shi is adopted the rationalist-naturalist theology of the Mu tazilis, which accorded to reason the capacity to discover universal moral and ethical values. They argued that, based upon divine justice and wisdom, law and ethics are so interrelated that God s decree has to have a moral underpinning, for if He were to act without an objective ( gharad ), this would constitute a

de ciency and invite blame ( dhamm ).

Based on this framework that a just and wise God distances Himself from evil deeds and is motivated to do goodness to facilitate humanity s growth and perfection, it follows that humanity was assured of continuous divine guidance in the form of human conscience, scriptures, and the presence of an infallible leader to achieve this goal. Human beings, who are free agents and accountable, need a perpetual and ongoing inducement and motivation to carry out the religious obligations ( al-takalif al-shar iyya ) that have been imposed on them. Consequently, God s attributes of justice ( adl ) and

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benevolence ( lutf ) would ensure this uninterrupted guidance and commu- nication with the people, even after the Prophet s death, by designating a series of infallible Imams as authoritative expositors of his teachings. In other words, there remained a need for a hujja from God, a man who would be sent as an act of benevolence ( lutf ) since He wants to advance human welfare, so long as the religious obligations ( takalif ) imposed by Him remain in force. As a result, the concepts of taklif, lutf, adl , husn , qubh , and huda (perpetual guidance) are all interrelated and therefore crucial for understanding the doctrine of Imamate.

Polarized Scholarly Opinions

Amir-Moezzi employs the earliest extant sources from the divine guides to sustain his thesis, as did Henry Corbin, that early Shi ism, in contrast to the post-occultation tradition that he terms theological-juridical rational Ima- mism, 45 was essentially an esoteric doctrine from which all other aspects of Shi i doctrine are derived. 46 He arrives at this conclusion by selectively retrieving material from these early sources and translating key Arabic phra- ses in a way that makes them t his theoretical framework. For instance, he renders the hadith of the Seventh Imam, Ma rifat al- ilm bi-l- aql , 47 as recognition of sacred knowledge. In another case, he translates the state- ment of the Sixth Imam, Al-aql dalil al-mu min , 48 as hiero-intelligence is the guide of the initiated Imamite. The Sixth Imam s phrase taken from al-Ka, Qad walada-na Rasul Allah , 49 is translated as The prophetic/ Imamic Light is in me,and in the same hadith the phrase wa ana a lamu Kitab Allahis rendered as I have the ilm , the initiatory Knowledge, of the Qur an. 50 Finally, his translation of the passage on humanity s tripartite division, namely, Yaghdu al-nas ala thalatha sunuf: alim wa muta allim wa ghutha fa nahnu al- ulama wa shi atu-na al-muta allimun wa sa ir al-nas al-ghutha is given as follows: People are divided into three categories: the spiritual initiator, the initiated disciple, and the dross carried o by the waves. We [the imams] are the spiritual initiators, our supporters are the initiated disciples, and the others are the dross of the waves.51 In contrast to this overemphasis on Shi ism s suprarational esoteric tradi- tion, 52 other scholars have advanced arguments and proofs demonstrating that the Imamate is primarily political in nature. This obsession with and excessive emphasis on their political function, as well as the attribution of political connotations to every aspect of Shi ism, reached its climax in the writings and statements of Khomeini, who regarded divine politics (siyasat-e khoda i) and religion (din ) as synonymous with the jurisconsult enjoying a scope of authority equivalent to that of the infallible divine guides. In many respects, the jurisconsult became the Imam s functional replacement during the Greater Occultation. Such statements of political activism are striking and strange coming from Khomeini, given that his background and emergence to prominence is

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10 Introduction

conjoined with his penchant for gnosis and philosophy. 53 His students relate that he made a conscious decision to discontinue his classes on these subjects for almost ten years so that he would not be targeted or discredited by the seminary due to his disposition toward mysticism and philosophy. If he had not focused on juridical subjects, his stature would have been down- graded and he would have found it much harder to become a marja al-taqlid (source of exemplary conduct). His works on mysticism were published post- humously so that his reputation as, rst and foremost, a jurist would not be tarnished. Contrast the program of action he laid out in his 1970 Najaf lec- tures on Islamic government with the bewildering assessment made in 1978 by William Sullivan, United States ambassador to Iran during the shah s reign: Khomeini would be likely to return to Iran as a consequence of a religious-military accommodation and would play a Gandhi-like role. 54 At around the same time he was formulating and articulating his concept of wilayat al-faqih in Najaf in 1970, his student, close con dant, and spiritual heir Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari (d. 1980) was elucidating the concepts of walaya and wilaya in Tehran, albeit from an exclusively mystical perspec- tive that was free of any contemporary political relevance. 55 In contrast, Khomeini refers to the mystical notions of insan-e kamil (the perfect human) and jihad-e akbar (the greater struggle) but gives them a political signi cation to buttress his arguments for establishing an Islamic government. 56

Guidance or Governance?

The dispute over the succession and the many subsequent polemical works may lead one to conclude that the Imamate is con ned to governing and administering the Muslims a airs. In fact, its raison d être is to provide authoritative guidance ( hidaya ), not governance ( hukuma ), designed to lead humanity to prosperity, felicity, and perfection in this life and the Afterlife. 57 Accordingly, the divine guide is not required to assume a political post to validate his spiritual station. While one component of his function is related to administering the divine law as a legitimate ruler, he cannot employ force or coercion to do so because his status di ers from that of a political leader. Ali refrained from imposing himself and asserted that were it not for the covenant God made with the scholars to provide guidance, he would never have entangled himself in politics. 58 He exhibited his disdain for political power and rulership for its own sake, after having objected vociferously to being passed over in favor of Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman, because he worried that the pre-Islamic tribal values had reasserted themselves and would prevent him from reforming the community. This explains his reluc- tance to assume the caliphate after Uthman was murdered. 59 On a number of occasions he is reported to have said that there was no merit in expressing an opinion when it was known that the people would only ignore it: La ray li-man la yuta.60

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Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, however, maintains that the spiritual and poli- tical domains are organically connected with each other and, as such, cannot be compartmentalized or considered mutually exclusive:

It is not possible, therefore, to imagine the Imams relinquishing the poli- tical aspect without renouncing Shi ism altogether. What contributed to the idea that they had abandoned the political aspect of their leadership was their seeming failure to mount military action to overturn the pre- vailing narrow military sense. But there are many explicit utterances by the Imams which make it plain that an Imam is always ready to take the military course, provided he found enough assistance and the capacity to realize the Islamic objectives beyond the military campaign itself. 61

The Nature and Scope of Religious Authority

In the discourse on religious authority, a logical starting point is the Qur anic verse on authority: O believers, obey God, and obey the Messenger and those in authority ( ulu al-amr ) among you … ” 62 The Qur an does not de ne ulu al-amr. Consequently, the Sunnis understand it as referring to the caliphs and their designated appointees, 63 whereas the Shi is have invariably under- stood it as denoting an obligation to render unquestionable devotion and obedience to the infallible divine guides. This is based upon their divinely sanctioned designation ( nass ) and divine knowledge (ilm ), which comprises inherited knowledge, access to the Books (Jami a , Mushaf Fatima , and Jafr ) that contain valuable information, and through contact with God via an inter- locutor (e.g., the angels). 64 These distinctive features, which have no Sunni counterpart, form the basis for perpetuating the Muhammadan charismatic authority within the Shi i theory of authority. 65 Ali s status was never on par with that of Muhammad, since he was not a recipient of revelation or a Scripture; however, he was distinguished above the other eminent prophets ( ulu al- azm ) 66 for possessing the seal of universal wilaya in his person and by virtue of his explicit designation ( al-nass al-jali ) as Muhammad s successor via divine dispensation. In this sense, he was a char- ismatic leader who exercised the authority of the extraordinary and perso- nal gift of grace (charisma), the absolutely personal devotion and personal condence in revelation, heroism, or other qualities of individual leadership.67 Since the Shi i theory of authority conceives of the Imamate as a con- tinuation of prophethood, the scope of authority and the claim to absolute legitimate obedience enjoyed by the infallible Imams are identical with that of Muhammad, with the exception of direct access to divine revelation ( wahy ) or bringing forth a new message or Scripture. They are gifted with both the zahir (apparent, manifest, exterior) and batin (hidden, interior) aspects of Islam with their true interpretation. 68 Thus the Shiis do not conceive of the Prophets charismatic authority as being segmented into di erent domains, but rather

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12 Introduction

as inhering in the person of the inerrant divine guide, who thus perpetuates the Muhammadan charismatic legacy that is not subject to routinization. 69 This legacy s continuity and permanence was guaranteed by the Twelfth divine guide s (a.k.a. the Twelfth Imam and the messianic Imam) occultation. This gure, who will reappear at the end of time to usher in an era of global peace, justice, and equity, led Henry Corbin to remark that Shi ism is the only religion that has permanently preserved the relationship of divine gui- dance between God and humanity forever, and continuously perpetuates the wilaya . 70 The locus of authority among the Shi is undeniably resides in the Prophet and, by extension, the 12 infallible Imams, who are viewed as the legatees and inheritors of prophetic charisma and knowledge. In terms of religious authority and leadership, the messianic Imam s prolonged concealment and inaccessibility resulted in a vacuum that was gradually lled by the ulama who, basing themselves on rational and traditional evidence, claimed to be his indirect deputies. The traditionalist school of thought, which gained ascen- dancy and in uence at the outset of his occultation in 874 and remained dominant until the tenth century, asserted that there is no room for reason and rationality, or any critical and analytical thought, as regards religious discourse during the Imam s absence. They cited hadiths attributed to the Imams that condemned Sunni hermeneutical procedures of analogical deduction ( qiyas ) and independent inquiry ( ra y ). As a result, even ijtihad acquired a negative connotation and was used in a pejorative sense by Shi i scholars until the twelfth century on the grounds that it was no more than a deduction based on conjecture and personal judgment. 71 This denunciation of analytical thought created a climate that was not conducive to engendering a creative and innovative reinterpretation of the revelatory texts. Instead, the primary focus was on collecting and preserving the hadiths from the Prophet and the Imams in order to glean guidance from them. During this undertaking, the texts were not to be engaged with ration- ally and the validity of the transmitters, who reportedly conveyed them from the infallible divine guides, was not to be questioned. In the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, however, traditionalists faced a serious challenge from Shaykh Mu d, Sharif al-Murtada (d. 1044), and other eminent scholars whose skillful arguments weakened the traditionalists and brought the rationalists to the fore. Shaykh Muhammad b. Hasan al-Tusi (d. 1067) is credited with nding a balance and a synthesis between both schools. This trend toward reviving ijtihad was cemented by Allama Ibn Mutahhar al-Hilli, who established its epistemology and legitimacy in his works on usul al-qh by arming a clear-cut epistemological division of knowledge between certainty (ilm qati) and probability (zann) in Shii jurisprudence. He also insisted upon the need for mujtahid s. Accordingly, Imami scholars from Muhaqqiq al-Hilli (d. 1277) onward gradually transitioned from the principle of certitude in deriving legal norms to probable opinion. This was formally embraced in the fourteenth century by their acceptance of Allama Hilli s ijtihad . 72

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Muhammad Amin al-Astarabadi (d. 1626 27), however, objected to this development. Basing his claims upon hadiths from the Imams, he called it an innovation and a prohibited practice on the grounds that rational analysis and the principles of usul al-qh could, at best, produce only personal con- jectures. Given that certainty can be attained only from the statements attributed to the infallible Imams (viz., hadiths) that everyone can fathom, there is no need to develop a special class of scholars or mujtahids. This new traditionalist school, known as the Akhbari, 73 eventually became dominant in almost all Shi i seminaries, for the majority of the jurists subscribed to it. Thus there was no place for mujtahid s to engage in independent reasoning. 74 The Akhbari school sustained its supremacy for only a few decades, for the eminent scholar Muhammad Baqir al-Bihbahani (d. 1790 91) revived rationalism (the Usuli school) in Shi i jurisprudence and the legitimacy of using reason in deriving legal rulings. This stance gradually became the dis- tinctive mark of Shi ism: ijtihad was both permissible and considered a per- petual imperative, as it was indispensable for dealing with novel issues and contingencies. Had the Akhbaris triumphed, any discourse on a state model or reevaluating those legal rulings pertaining to contemporary times in order to reform them, if warranted by the spirit of the revelatory texts and the faculty of reason, would have been impossible. Even within the Usuli context this endeavor is a daunting undertaking, for the scholarly culture in which it functions assumes that di erent legal rulings are based on human nature and thus allows only limited scope for modication over time and changing circumstances.

Historical Overview of the Major Shifts in the Ulamas Political Involvement

Over time, the ulama s involvement in state a airs has undergone funda- mental shifts and developments, ranging from political dissociation or quiet- ism to actively promoting a particular form of government. According to Ayatollah Muhammad Mojtahed Shabestari, the Qur an does not prescribe any particular form of government; some scholars have favored a shura -based model because the Qur an states that previous prophets followed that parti- cular model, as well as hereditary succession. As such, both could not be con- sidered normative. In his view, the Qur an is more concerned about the nal outcome establishing a just and egalitarian society than with the means of attaining that goal. The form of government, therefore, is left to public choice and may di er according to time and place: If we study the Qur an carefully, we see that the fundamental criterion it lays down for government is not a particular form or type which it does not even present as a religious con- cern but justice 75 and legal opinions are not the criteria of justice, but justice the criterion for legal opinions; to put it another way, fatwa s are the instruments of justice. 76 As illustrated in this case, the distinction between eternal principles and the historical models generated as a result of their

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14 Introduction

implementation in a particular historical period is crucial. While the former is immutable and trans-historical, the latter is mutable and context-bound. As such, one would be mistaken to idealize the Makkan, Madinan, or Abyssinian period for all times and circumstances and attempt to replicate it in a di erent context and time, for doing so would blur the distinction between the immutable principles and their historical realization in a particular context and circumstance. A skeletal chronology for the pre-modern period would begin with the foun- dational period (seventh tenth centuries CE), the period from the Prophet s demise, and end with the shift of emphasis from traditionalism to rationalism in the works of Shaykh Mu d (toward the end of the tenth century). This rational trend was a logical progression, given the period s intellectual climate and the fact that one of the major bodies of hadith literature, that of Muhammad b. Ya qub al-Kulayni (d. 940), had already been compiled. It appears that the Shi i scholars were anticipating the messianic Imam s quick return from his occultation. However, his prolonged absence and inaccessi- bility created a vacuum in leadership and authority that the jurists tried to ll by serving as his indirect deputies. This period may be called the revision/ critique/appraisal period (eleventhsixteenth centuries CE), during which the scholars focused on providing a rational basis to the Islamic disciplines and a greater impetus to rely on ijtihad , along with the assertion of the ulama s authority. The latter occurred when the Safavids proclaimed Shi ism the reli- gion of their empire in 1501. A number of works written in this period deal with holding the Friday congregational prayer and initiating jihad during the Twelfth Imam s occultation. The majority opinion was that the jurists scope of power and authority was circumscribed to hisba , which includes such functions as issuing legal opinions on juridical issues, implementing the penal code ( hudud ) and discretionary penalties ( ta zir ), inviting people to right- eousness and discouraging them from committing abominable acts, instituting congregational prayers (especially the Friday prayer), supervising endow- ments and collecting religious dues, and having limited authority over people and properties (e.g., a discretionary mandate over children, orphans, people of unsound mind, endowments, and unclaimed property). In the absence of a quali ed jurist who can assume these responsibilities, the relevant authority devolves upon those Muslims who possess the ethical attribute of justice ( udul al-mu minin). The basic principle is that under normal circumstances, no one has any authority (wilaya) over another person or her property. Such an attitude toward the role of the clergy in politics by many of the religious scholars aroused Khomeini s disgust and invective that would characterize them as super cial, ignorant, and treacherous with a call to the enlightened clergy to smash in the teeth of this brainless lot with their iron stand trample upon their heads with courageous strides. 77 Muhaqqiq Karaki (d. 1533) and Muhaqqiq Ardebili (d. 1585) were the rst scholars to ask whether the jurist has a mandate on political issues. Gradu- ally, the jurist s station and prestige reached such a stage that the rulers

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sought their endorsement and approval before assuming the throne or declaring jihad. Mulla Ahmad Naraqi (d. 1829), the rst systematic articulator of the jurists guardianship, cited textual proofs and evidence. His views were contested by various scholars, among them Shaykh Murtada Ansari (d. 1864). At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the rationalists (Usulis) theo- logical ascendancy was eclipsed by that of the traditionalists (Akhbaris), who allowed no scope for reason in matters of religion and rejected the laity s emulation ( taqlid ) of a jurist. This ended with a triumphal return of the Usulis toward the end of the eighteenth century. The next phase, the era of constitutionalism in the twentieth century, was characterized by the ulama s e orts to limit the ruler s powers by way of a constitution to ensure that the legislation approved conformed to Islamic dictates. The jurists assumed only a supervisory role in this model, because they opined that all forms of government were imperfect (due to the messianic Imam s concealment) and that any form of government may constitute usurping his exclusive right to govern. The phase of aspiring to establish an Islamic state began with Khomeini, who joined the political discourse in 1944 by publishing Kashf al-asrar. In it, he severely criticized and refuted Ahmad Kasravi, a former clergyman who had become a vociferous critic of the clerical institution and Islam, not to mention an ardent supporter of the shah and his arbitrary and despotic mode of governance. He called for a supervisory role for the jurists, but without any direct involvement in the state apparatus, to ensure that the country is gov- erned within the framework of Islam which promotes the maximum public welfare and bene t. This stance is very similar to the one taken by the Con- stitutionalists, such as Mirza Hosein Na ini (d. 1936). With the progression of time he became a vocal critic of the regime. He berated the shah for granting immunity to American personnel and their dependents without a reciprocal arrangement for the Iranians: Even if the Shah himself were to run over a dog belonging to an American, he would be prosecuted. But if an American cook runs over the Shah, the head of state, no one will have the right to interfere with him. 78 Khomeini was exiled in 1964, rst to Turkey and after

a few months later to Najaf, Iraq, which had a long tradition of Shi i scho-

larship. In 1970, he presented a series of lectures on his view of an Islamic state in which authority devolves upon the jurisconsult as the Mahdi s indirect deputy, the one entrusted with implementing the Islamic legal rulings and serving as the public s guardian and custodian. 79 In his Najaf lectures of

1970, Khomeini proclaimed: The governance of the faqih is a rational and

extrinsic matter; it exists only as a type of appointment, like the appointment of


guardian for a minor. With respect to duty and position, there is indeed no


erence between the guardian of a nation and the guardian of a minor. 80

This mindset was reinforced after the revolution by such gures as Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati, chair of the Guardian Council: The people of Iran are considered in [view of Islamic] law, as orphans and minors, and Islamic scholars and clerics are their guardian and parents, who have to see to all of

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16 Introduction

their needs.81 Khomeini further expanded that persons scope of power and authority in 1988 with his theory of the jurisconsults full- edged authority, according to which the jurist enjoyed the same authority as the infallible divine guides and had the discretionary authority to temporarily abrogate such primary Islamic injunctions as the daily prayers and the Ramadan fast. Thus we observe that the ulamas initial passive and withdrawn attitude toward politics was followed by one of questioning the monarchy s legitimacy and subsequent attempts to reduce the inevitable illegitimacy by constraining the ruler s power through a constitution. Acceptance of ijtihad 82 and taqlid , 83 along with the process of deputization available through general deputyship ( al-niyabat al- amma ) and special deputyship ( al-niyabat al-khassa ) of the Twelfth Imam as a correlate to the process of designating the divine guides, facilitated this transference of charisma. This process eventually culminated in the full- edged authority of the jurisconsult ( al-wilayat al-mutlaqa li-l-faqih), as expounded upon by Khomeini. 84 The most recent phase of critical interrogation of wilayat al-faqih that sought di erent paradigms in which the public would have sovereignty and the leaders would be held accountable, commenced after the election of Muhammad Khatami as the president in 1997; 85 it gained greater urgency after the disputed and suspicious 2009 presidential elections that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power with a massive victory of 62 percent of the votes. The government s high-handed and brutal handling of the peaceful protesters has moved the ensuing movement from questioning the integrity of the election results to challenging the Islamic state s very legitimacy.

Contemporary Challenges to a Historical-Critical Study of the Imamate

It would not be an exaggeration to state that the Imamate s centrality in the Shi a worldview has resulted in great sensitivity and apprehension among the Shi is and their traditional scholars whenever it is subjected to scrutiny and critical historical analysis. The result has been a minimal tolerance for dissent, in contrast to deliberations on prophethood (nubuwwa ) or even God s unity ( tawhid ). 86 This reality led H. Landolt to remark:

It is for these reasons that walayah , and not the profession of monothe- ism ( tawhid ) as in Sunni Islam, appears as the principal pillar of Islam in the classical collections of Shi i traditions, both those of the Ithna Ashariyah, or Twelvers (e.g., al-Kulayni, d. 940), and those of the Fati- mid Isma iliyah (e.g., Qadi al-Numan, d. 974), who follow a common line of imams up to Ja far al-Sadiq (d. 765). 87

Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlalla of Lebanon was severely censured and rebuked by some of the religious authorities at the Qum seminary

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( howze ) for critically reassessing the divine guides infallibility ( isma ); histor- icizing the interpretation of the Ghadir Khumm hadith; scrutinizing the divine guides al-wilayat al-takwiniyya (comprehensive and creative author- ity); calling for a reevaluation of the purported historical incident in which Fatima, the Prophet s daughter, is reported to have su ered a miscarriage due to Umar s storming open her house s front door; his views on gender justice and other issues; and contesting the rulings of previous jurists, even if it is claimed that they had reached consensus on a particular issue. This break from tradition, this questioning of well-established theological, legal, and historical positions, resulted in virulent fatwa s against him from Ayatollahs Wahid Khorasani, Fazil Lankarani (d. 2007), Bashir Husayn Naja , Husayn Nuri Hamadani, Muhammad Taqi Behjat (d. 2009), Taqi Qummi, Jawad Tabrizi (d. 2006), and other leading jurists. Tabrizi referred to him as one who has been misled and thus causes people to deviate from the path of truth, namely, Shi ism. Others accused him of being an apostate and a heretic, an agent of America scheming to create havoc and disarray within the Shi i world. Ayatollah Behjat denounced him for being a bona de Wahhabi pre- pared to compromise Shi ism s integrity in order to accommodate Sunnism. Supposedly, his ultimate goal was to bring about the Shi ism s disintegration from within through his strong advocacy of ecumenism between the two schools in the pursuit of mutual tolerance and understanding. Ayatollah Ali Sistani allegedly questioned Fadlalla s scholarly credentials upon his procla- mation of himself as marja . 88 Eminent jurists have also tacitly approved the publication of several books written to refute Fadlalla s views and method- ology, by remaining silent during the vitriolic discourse and denigration launched against him. 89 A major catalyst leading to this vociferous campaign of ostracism and excommunication was his call for greater scrutiny and rigor in examining the historical sources, especially the incident of Fatima s reported miscarriage. Apparently, Umar acted in this rash manner after his persistent demands that Ali come outside and pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr were ignored. This campaign against Fadlalla also had other contributing factors: his stance on the infallibility of the Prophet and the Imams as well as the practice of self- agellation during Muharram to commemorate Imam Husayns martyrdom on the plains of Karbala, Iraq. He held that the divine guides are infallible and insulated from committing errors while functioning as guides and leaders in transmitting (tabligh ) Islam or in matters that require reection; however, they may be susceptible to inadvertent error ( khata ) or forgetfulness (sahw) in other matters, such as in their private lives or in performing the ritual prayers. If this were to happen, it would not bring any discredit upon them. 90 Shaykh Saduq (d. 991) argued that the prophets and Imams were protected from minor and major sins, but that such protection did not extend to being distracted while praying. According to him, the sign of the exaggerators ( ghulat ) of faith is their denial that the prophets can be distracted during prayer. 91 Fadlalla ruled that

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18 Introduction

self- agellation is prohibited because self-in icted harm, no matter how insigni cant, is impermissible and, moreover, conveys a negative image of Islam to the general public. Instead, one ought to keep the Ahl al-Bayt s 92 message alive by showing one s loyalty and devotion to them by implement- ing their teachings, way of life and conduct, and virtues in one s personal life. He wrote of his awareness that many jurists deem self- agellation permissible and that some even consider it recommended. 93 His assertion that the ziyarat-e Ashura is of questionable and dubious authenticity only aggravated the crisis further. This ziyara , which is recited on the day of Imam Husayns martyrdom (Muharram 10), contains curses against the rst three caliphs in a convoluted manner but does not mention their names. Given that the Sunnis revere these caliphs, demonizing them is a source of great strife and animos- ity. The conservative and traditional circlessystematic campaign against him has been dubbed the sedition prompted by Fadlalla ( fetne-ye Fadlalla ). He died in July 2010, after a prolonged illness, at the age of 75. In reaction to this critical approach to the Imamate, Ayatollah Hasan Zadeh Amoli, a prominent scholar in Qum, put forth a sentimental, reac- tionary, and somewhat radical proposal: the testimony of faith that Fatima is the Prophet s daughter and also infallible ( ma sum ) should be added to the call to prayers ( adhan ) as an expression of one s devotion to her. It would not, however, be considered an integral part of the adhan , but rather as something added, just as Ali s name was added, in the hope that God would be pleased ( raja and tabarruk ) with this act. When it was asserted that doing so would be an innovation ( bida ), he responded that such a charge would be inaccurate because he was not claiming that this new testimony constitutes part of the adhan . Rather, this insertion would be analogous to people send- ing benedictions and blessings upon Muhammad when they hear his name mentioned in the adhan . Furthermore, he argued, such a thing is neither viewed as unacceptable in all schools of thought nor does it interrupt or rupture the adhans ow ( mawalat ). The formula he proposed was ashhadu anna sayyadita-na Fatima bint rasul Allah, ismat Allah al-kubra wa hujjat Allah alay hujaj (I bear witness that the revered Lady Fatima is the daughter of the Messenger of God, infallible, and a proof of God over the other proofs [i.e., the 12 divine guides]) after the testimony that Ali is the beloved of God. 94 Dr. Abdulaziz A. Sachedina, holder of the IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University has been the target of a similar systematic propaganda campaign to bar him from addressing the Muslim community. His books on the concept of the Mahdi (the awaited savior) and religious pluralism, along with his articles and tran- scribed speeches, were presented to Sistani in Najaf during August 1998. Sache- dina attempted to defend his writings and statements; however the Ayatollah, who was not prepared to engage in any lengthy discourse with him, suggested that he draft a statement in which he would voluntarily undertake not to write or give an opinion on Islam. Sachedina declined this request on the grounds

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that working under such constraints would both compromise the integrity of his conscience and scholarship and prevent him from functioning eectively in the academy. The Ayatollah was prepared to pay half of Sachedina s salary if he would resign from the university. As the parties could not reach a satisfactory compromise, Sistani admonished the community not to provide Sachedina with a platform from which he could speak on Islam or consult him on such matters, and made it categorically clear that the professor had been led astray by his academic research out of love for the material world and his ego. 95 The Shi i community, especially the Shi i Khojas, interpreted this admonition as a binding edict or a legal ruling ( fatwa ) that had to be implemented on the grounds of emulation ( taqlid ). 96 The translation into Persian and subsequent circulation of Dr. Hossein Modarressi Tabataba is English-language Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shi ite Thought 97 (Darwin Press: 1993) among tradition- alist scholars in Iran engendered a swift reprimand and rebuke for his critical analysis of the Imamate and questioning of several sensitive issues (e.g., the Imams infallibility and comprehensive knowledge in the Seen and the Unseen realms). The severity and profound impact of this censure appear to have prompted Modarressi to add a foreword to the revised version of the Persian translation (published in 2007), in which he recounts his adversariesunethical practices and lack of civility and states that any traits of arrogance, self-righteousness, and dogmatism prevent scholars from engaging in an open discourse without fear of persecution and demonization. He laments this state of a airs, for it is clearly antithetical to the scholarly climate and culture that reigned during the early Islamic era, a time when diverse opinions were embraced under the rubric of ijtihad and the awareness that existing historical accounts and hadith reports were replete with errors inadvertently made by the scribes as well as intentional fabrications designed to serve a particular interest group. 98 In his estimation, constructive criticism is imperative and constitutes the basis upon which knowledge and understanding may be advanced; however, it should remain con ned within the boundaries of professionalism and moral decency so that it will not degenerate into slander and character assassina- tion. Intellectuals who never alter their opinions on academic issues are, in all likelihood, trying to avoid and/or ignore any fresh and critical research or else are terri ed of any potential backlash from the laity. In such a scenario, the public ends up leading ( pishwa ) the scholars on the basis of sentiment and fervor, rather than the scholars leading the laity based on their knowledge, wisdom, and moderation. 99 Some courageous jurists have decided not to capitulate to public pressure. For example, Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim (d. 1970) prohibited striking one- self with a sword or knife (qam-e zadan ) in commemoration of the tragedy of Karbala, 100 and Mulla Habibullah Kashani (d. 1921) was declared an unbeliever ( kar ) merely for ruling that protected religious minorities ( ahl al-dhimma) are ritually pure (tahir). 101 Mulla Muhammad Taqi Nuri (d. 1838),

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20 Introduction

father of the author of the major hadith work Mustadrak al-wasa il al-Shia and a jurist of good repute, was stigmatized as a person of lax morals and one who engages in debauchery ( fasiq ) merely for ruling that smoking during the day while one is fasting does not break ( muftir ) the fast s validity. 102 Even though some of these issues are marginal and do not deal with core beliefs, the public s anger can be merciless and prone to exploitation by demagogues against the dissenting jurist. Given this reality, some of them opt to remain silent when confronted with sensitive or emotive issues. Modarressi argues that his approach, writing as an outsider seeking to cri- tically analyze the Imamate based upon the historical accounts, should not be confused with a confessional approach, for he is not trying to explicate and interrogate his own religious worldview ( mabani-ye aqidati ). 103 He has not the slightest doubt of this doctrine s authenticity and in the presence of the Twelfth Imam, both of which constitute pillars of the Shi i belief system. As a matter of fact, he believes he has had the honor of feeling this Imam s presence by the Grace of God. 104 But he does see a hazard: Shi ism might drift away from the path of moderation if the Imamate discourse becomes emotional rather than being limited to rational proofs, explicit Qur anic texts, and authentic hadiths. In the not too distant past, Dr. Ali Shariati realized that his rising fame and following placed his speeches and writings under the traditionalists close scrutiny to ensure that they conformed to the orthodox opinion. In parti- cular, his statements on the Imamate and succession; khums (religious dues), an important source of revenue for the religious establishment; the concepts of infallibility, intercession ( shafa at ), and dissimulation ( taqiyya ); and the utility of grieving over the tragedy of Karbala were viewed as problematic. The ensuing pressure was so great that he produced 22 statements to clarify his view on the Imamate, stated that he believes wholeheartedly in the suc- cession and wilaya of Ali and the other 11 Imams, and addressed many other issues. Remarkably, he made it vividly clear that unconditional obedience to the infallible divine guides is due to their access to divine grace and revelation. Thus jurists, who are not infallible, cannot demand that the public follow them uncritically and unquestioningly; rather, they should be consulted only on matters related to their expertise. Finally, the society s form of government and method of choosing its leader rests with the public during the Twelfth Imam s concealment because such matters have not been explicitly vested in the jurists. 105 This position is analogous to that of Lebanons Muhammad Mahdi Shamsuddin.

SunniShii Strife

Recent are-ups in Sunni Shi i sectarian tension in Kuwait and Bahrain are due to Shaykh Yasser Habib s derogatory remarks about Ayesha, one of the Prophet s wives, as an enemy of God. In 2003 he was imprisoned in Kuwait for cursing Abu Bakr, Umar, and Ayesha. Upon his release and pardon by

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the amir in early 2004, he ed to England. 106 In this recent encounter, the Kuwaiti government quickly revoked his citizenship, underlining the great esteem and reverence in which the Sunnis hold Ayesha. The rector of Egypt s al-Azhar University also expressed his dismay and revulsion. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quickly sought to defuse the crisis by ruling: We prohibit insulting the symbols of our Sunni brothers, as well as accusing the wife of the Prophet of what a ects her dignity and honor. Moreover, it is forbidden to insult any of the wives of the prophets and especially their master the Great Prophet [Muhammad]. 107 Iran has been at the forefront of attempting to minimize the sectarian ani- mosity in its external (secondary) discourse to consolidate its strength with the Sunnis in its confrontation with the West. However, its inner (primary) discourse favors the intensi cation of sectarian identity and otherizing all Sunnis, both at home and abroad. For example, the country s Sunni lea- ders have often complained of persecution and a lack of religious freedom as well as government interference in their childrens religious education and in setting up their seminary curriculum. 108 This con icting stance and dual policy is also reected in Khomeini s Last Will and Testament, which begins with the oft-repeated hadith of Ghadir Khumm advanced by the Shi is as categorical proof in favor of the Prophets explicit designation of Ali as his successor. 109 The unconditional love ( mahabba ) and obedience ( taslim ) of the Imams ( walaya ), along with dissociating oneself from those who are inimical to the Ahl al-Bayt ( tabarri ), are central pivots in the Shi i worldview and, as such, the sectarian ssures will persist. In the past, state leaders have both magni ed and minimized sectarian di erences for the purpose of expediency and promoting vested interests. It is worth noting that Fadlalla of Lebanon issued a similar decree in March 2008 and again in September 2010 as part of his e orts to encourage rapprochement and mutual respect by distancing each party from divisive and fragmentary practices and issues that only increase mutual hatred and animosity. 110 The preachers excesses and exaggerations ( ghuluww ) are frequently moti- vated by a desire to satisfy and appease the laity, many of whom are steeped in sectarian polemics, which produces a culture of fervent mutual demoniza- tion and dehumanization. The Sunnis, who view Shi i practices as adulterat- ing Islam and bordering on polytheism, issue fatwas that the latter are unbelievers, polytheists, innovators, and unpatriotic because their loyalty is, in the nal analysis, to Iran. 111 The Shi is reciprocate by condemning them for usurping Ali s right of succession and injuring and harassing Fatima, whose displeasure, in the hadith reports, is said to be equivalent to displeasing the Prophet. This issuance of fatwas of unbelief against each other is known as takr. In this ongoing polemical discourse, the issues of succession and the Ima- mate are used to determine whether one is a believer or not. For example, Muhammad Baqir al-Wahid al-Bihbahani (d. 1205) categorically states that those who deny ( munkir ) the Imamate and do not love ( mawadda ) the divine

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22 Introduction

guides are unbelievers who cannot receive zakat or any respect (adam al-ihtiram ); in fact, one cannot even bless them when they sneeze. 112 In his estimation, those who deny the divine guides wilaya are more evil than Christians and Jews and one should not associate with them, for:

[O Prophet], you will not nd people who truly believe in God and the Last Day giving their loyalty to those who oppose God and His Mes- senger, even though they may be their fathers, sons, brothers, or other relations. These are the people in whose hearts God has inscribed faith and whom He has strengthened with His spirit.

(Q. 58:22)

Sharif Murtada s position is similar: cognizance ( ma rifa ) of the Imams is of equal importance and just as necessary as cognizance of prophethood. 113 In his al-Makasib, Shaykh Ansari asserts that one is allowed to gossip and backbite (ghiba ) the Sunnis because they are not entitled to any respect ( ihtiram ) or the rights of brotherhood (ukhuwwa ) on account of denying wilaya. 114 A more recent example can be found in the lecture notes of Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim al-Khu i, where he states that the collective evidence from the hadith, ziyarat , and supplications ( ad iyya ) is so conclusive that it leaves no room for doubt or ambiguity concerning the Sunnis unbelief (kufr ) because they have denied and failed to con rm wilaya ( la shubha kufri-him li anna inkar wilayat al-a imma yujiba al-kufr wa-l-zandaqa ). 115 In addition, one should disassociate and withdraw ( bara a ) from them, for they are the unbelievers ( karun ) and polytheists (mushrikun ) mentioned in the Ziyarat al-jami a : One who opposes you is an unbeliever, one who ghts against you is a polytheist, and one who rebus you will be consigned to the lowest level of hell (wa man jahada-kum kar wa man haraba-kum mushrik wa man radda alay-kum asfal darak min al-jahim ) and whoever acknowledges His Unity accepts it from you ( wa man wahhada-hu qabila an-kum ). 116 Accordingly, one can backbite, slander, and defame, as well as suspect, all of those who fall into such categories. But this opinion does not agree with the hadith reports attributed to the divine guides, in which they classify people as mu min , kar, and musta- d af. 117 The last category applies to those who have not acknowledged their wilaya due to ignorance, rather than due to personal animosity. 118 God will determine the destiny of these weaklings or people of weak perception ( mustad af ) on the Day of Judgment in accordance with His Will, and thus no one has a right to interfere in this divine judgment. 119 The Fifth Imam censures Zurara for maintaining that there are only two categories of peoplebelievers ( mu minun ) and unbelievers ( karun ) and dismisses this short- sightedness as arising from his youth and immaturity. 120 The Imam is thus paving the way for an accommodation with those Sunnis who are not engaged in hostile acts against the divine guides.

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In Muhammad b. Ya qub al-Kulayni s al-Ka , the rst major collection of Shi i hadiths compiled in the early tenth century, the divine guides are pre- sented as being quite tolerant and accommodating toward Sunnis who, out of ignorance, fail to acknowledge their wilaya. The Sixth Imam castigates his disciple, Hashim Sahib al-Barid, for exhibiting the characteristics of the Kharijis in his eagerness to consign people to hell re on account of not accepting the wilaya. In other words, they are portrayed as trying to rein in and control their overzealous supporters. He concludes by underlining the Imams ultimate authority in all matters by reminding his disciples that they can say only that which they have heard from the divine guide: a-ma inna-hu sharr alay-kum an taqulu bi-shay ma lam tasma u-hu minna . 121 Intolerant statements against the Sunnis are not the norm, as they are accorded the status of muslim , but not mumin , 122 in terms of the ladder of

faith. This is how some Shi i scholars bridge the sectarian divide for the sake

of Muslim cohesion and unity in an attempt to maintain social relations with

the larger community. As such, both agree that one enters Islam by con rm- ing one s belief in one God and the messengership of His Prophet, which legitimize intra-Muslim marriages and the consumption of meat slaughtered by each other.

The Saved Sect (al-Firqat al-Najiya)

A hadith of dubious authenticity states that the Prophet reportedly said that

after his death his community will divide into 73 sects, out of which only one

will attain salvation (al-rqat al-najiya ); the rest will perish and be consigned

to hell re. 123 This prompted those polemicists who wrote on sects ( raq ) to

divide groups in such a way that the nal tally would be 73 and, of course, the author s own sect was the savedone. This hadith, which has been recorded

in multiple works and reported through multiple channels of transmission, is

therefore accorded by scholars of both branches a high degree of probable soundness and validity. For instance, al-Tirmidhi, al-Ghazali, al-Suyuti, Ibn Taymiyya, and al-Shatibi consider it to be sound (sahih); Hakim al-Nishapuri, Ibn Kathir, Fayd al-Kashani, and Abd al-Qahhar al-Baghdadi point out that

it has reached us through many independent chains of transmissions ( asanid ).

A critical investigation, however, demonstrates that many of these chains are

weak or contain an unknown person. Moreover, its structure and various wordings reect enough di erence to cast doubt upon its authenticity. The polemical context prevailing after Muhammad s death encouraged the fabrication of such hadiths. Interestingly, some of them enumerate the saved group s characteristics with a precision that perfectly ts the speci c narrator s worldview. As expected, Sunni sources stress the necessity of abiding by those views that have obtained consensus within the community and by those

coming from the Companions: When [Muhammad was] asked which was the one that would attain salvation he replied, Those who follow the sunna and the congregation. He was further asked, What is the sunna and the

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24 Introduction

congregation? He replied, That which I and my companions practice.’” 124 The Shi i versions emphasize the absolute necessity of remaining obedient, loyal, and devoted to the infallible divine guides; to love them and detest their enemies; and not to question their opinions, regardless of whether they are rationally tenable or not. Some of these notions are of much later origin, which suggests that the hadiths dealing with the savedsect were concocted and placed into the Prophet s mouth to give credence and validity to one group and discredit its opponents. Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111) tried to constrain those who were quick to declare their opponents to be unbelievers, even on secondary issues. For him, a true believer must testify to Islam s fundamental doctrines: monotheism ( tawhid ), prophethood ( nubuwwa ), and the Day of Judgment ( qiyama ). This provides a basis to include the Shi is among the believers, even though they disagree with the Sunnis over the succession and Imamate:

Know, however, that error regarding the status of the Caliphate, whether or not establishing this o ce is a (communal) obligation, who quali es for it, and related matters, cannot serve as grounds for condemning people as Unbelievers. Indeed, Ibn Kaysan denied that there was any religious obligation to have a Caliphate at all; but this does not mean that he must be branded an Unbeliever. Nor do we pay any attention to those who exaggerate the matter of the Imamate and equate recognition of the Imam with faith in God and His Messenger. Nor do we pay any attention to those who oppose these people and brand them Unbelievers simply on the basis of their doctrine on Imamate. Both of these positions are extreme. For neither of the doctrines in question entails any claim that the Prophet perpetrated lies. 125

Accommodation e orts notwithstanding, as well as pragmatic e orts by the Shi is to reduce and mitigate the polemical and hostile discourse by con- sidering the Sunnis as muslim but not mumin , the fact remained that these compromises were forced upon the Shi is since they regarded themselves as the privileged and the spiritual elite ( khassa ), as opposed to the common people (amma). Their distinctive and unique sectarian identity and condence in salvi c e cacy through the intercession of the divine guides is based on the all-comprehensive notion of wilaya / walaya . This constitutes the foundation and the basis of their worldview, the importance and signi cance of which is best captured by the fact that walaya was counted as one of the Pillars ( da aim ) if not the Pillar of Islam: 126 Islam is built upon ve elements:

canonical prayers, alms, the fast, pilgrimage to Mecca and walaya . More than the others, it is to the latter that people are called and the people accepted the ( rst) four and abandoned the last. 127 Belief in it is a prerequisite or a key ( miftah ) to the acceptance of one s good deeds and entry into the Grace of God such that, says the Fifth Imam:

Introduction 25

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if a man were to spend the entire night praying and all day fasting, oer all his possessions as alms and all the time he has to making the pil- grimage, but not recognize walaya of the wali of God, in order to undertake all his actions as guided by the latter, well then God would not reward him at all and he is not considered among the people of the faith ( ahl al-iman ). 128

Amir-Moezzi recounts many of the traditions on wilaya from Usul al-kathat are related on the authority of the Fifth and the Sixth Imams and provides a systematic and penetrating understanding of this concept, which eventually became an integral part of the shahada (the triple profession of faith in Shi ism). 129 The centrality and expansive scope of walaya /wilaya of the Imam, which de nes the worldview and ethos of the Shi ism, is the subject of the next chapter.


1 Most likely referring to Ali.

2 Wilferd Madelung, The Succession to Muhammad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 30.

3 S. Hussain M. Jafri, Origins and Early Development of Shia Islam (London:

Longman Group and Librairie du Liban, 1979), 19.

4 Muhammad Mahdi Shamsuddin (d. 2001) provides a new orientation to this events signicance by emphasizing the announcements political dimension: Ghadir Khumm was intended to provide a formula by which the community could establish a just and equitable government and social order. Muhammad Mahdi Shamsuddin, Dirasat wa mawaqif -l-din wa-l-siyasa wa-l-mujtama (Beirut: al- Mu assasat al-dawla li-l-dirasat wa-l-nashr, 1999), 2:357.

5 Sa a al-Din al-Taftazani, A Commentary on the Creed of Najm al-Din al-Nasa, trans. Earl Edgar Elder (New York: Columbia University Press, 1950), 143.

6 People are prone to conjecture (Q. 6:116), lacking in profound knowledge (5:103, 7:187, and 49:4), and ungrateful (Q. 7:17; 12:38). al-Hasan b. Mutahhar al-Hilli, Kashf al-murad sharh al-Tajrid al-i tiqad , edited with footnotes by Jafar Sob- hani (Qum: Mu assasat al-Imam al-Sadiq, 2003), 23942. See also Khalid Y. Blankinship, Imarah, Khilafah, and Imamah: The Origins of the Succession to the Prophet Muhammad, in Lynda Clarke (ed.), Shi ite Heritage: Essays on Classical and Modern Traditions (New York: Global Publications, 2001), 36.

7 Ali Shariati, Ali: Selection and/or Election (Houston: Free Islamic Literatures, Inc., n.d.), 1.

8 Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, The Divine Guide in Early Shi ism: The Sources of Esotericism in Islam, trans. David Streight (Albany: SUNY, 1994), 23.

9 On the various de nitions and signicance of imam in Sunni Islam and the ancient schools of Islamic law, see Norman Calder, The Structure of Authority in Imami Shi i Jurisprudence, Ph.D. Dissertation (London: SOAS, 1980), 123 and Muhammad Rai Yunus, The Necessity of Imamah According to Twelver- Shi ism: With Special Reference to Tajrid al-Itiqad of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, M.A. Thesis (Montreal: McGill University, 1976), 826. 10 Muhammad Taqi al-Majlisi, Allama Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi s father, regards dissociation ( bara a) from the Sunnis as part of usul al-din . See his Lawami (Qum: Matbu at Isma iliyyan, 1994), 4:400.

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11 For a discussion on the progressive shift and modi cation in the conception of the Imamate in Sunni Islam from the time of Shai to Baqillani, see Calder, The Structure of Authority in Imami Shi i Jurisprudence, 3440. The Imams duties were conned to the executive domain, and the umma was promoted as Islam s custodian, guarantor, and exponent.

12 Muhammad b. Yaqub b. Ishaq al-Kulayni, al-Usul min al-ka(Arabic with Per- sian commentary and translation), edited and translated by S. Jawad Mustafawi (Tehran: Daftar-e nashr-e farhang-e ahl-e bayt, n.d.) (4th volume is edited and translated by Hashem Rasuli, Tehran: Entesharat-e masjed-e chaharda masum, 1966), 2:315 ( Kitab al hujja , Bab anna al-a imma muhaddathun mufahhamun ).

13 Mahmoud Ayoub, The Speaking Qur an and the Silent Qur an: A Study of the Principles and Development of Imami Shi i Tafsir, in Andrew Rippin (ed.), Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Quran (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 184 85.

14 Muhammad Taqi al-Hakim, al-Usul al- amma li-l-qh al-muqarin (Qum: Mu as- sasa al al-bayt, 1979), 144; Muhammad Rida al-Muza ar, Usul al-qh (Najaf:

Dar al-Numan, 1967), 3:61. An important criterion for validating a hadith is its agreement with the Qur an. Any con ict renders it invalid; if its validity is somehow inconclusive, it must be set aside and left unjudged out of reverence and respect that it really might have originated from the divine guides but cannot be accurately understood by the human intellect. See, Kulayni, Ka, 1:9 ( Muqad- dama); Muza ar, Usul al-qh, 3:20961 on conicting traditions ( al-ta adul wa-l- tarajih). Wael B. Hallaq analyzes how the Sunnis use tarjih at the level of theoretical formulation and the derivation of applied law in his Authority, Continuity and Change in Islamic Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 12632, 153.

15 Muhammad b. Abd al-Karim al-Shahrastani, Muslim Sects and Divisions ( Kitab al-milal wa-l-nihal ), trans. A. K. Kazi and J. G. Flynn (London: Kegan Paul International, 1984), 19.

16 Madelung, The Succession to Muhammad , 1.

17 Abd al-Razzaq Fayyad Lahiji, Gowhar-e morad (Tehran: Vezarat-e farhang va ershad-e Eslami, 1993), 46566.

18 Blankinship, Imarah, Khilafah, and Imamah, 43.

19 Ahmad Amini, Sharh jami Tajrid al-itiqad (comprises Nasir al-Din al-Tusis Tajrid al-itiqad , Allama Hilli s Kashf al-Murad , and Hashim Husayni Tehranis Tawdih al-Murad, but only on the section of Imamatevolume 6) (Qum: Murtada, 1999), 37.

20 Ibid.

21 Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-Nu man (Shaykh Mu d), al-Muqnia, in Musannafat Shaykh al-Mud, 14 vols. (Qum: Mu assasat al-nashr al-Islami, 1992), 14:44. He asserts that, based on consensus of the Shi i scholars, the same decree applies to one who denies even one of the divine guides: Ittafaqat al- Imamiyya , in his work, Awa il al-maqalat (Tehran: McGill University and Uni- versity of Tehran, 1993), 7; Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, 2nd edition (Beirut: Mu assasat al-wafa, 1983), 8:366.

22 Mu d, al-Muqni a, 14:85. Abu al-Salah al-Halabi (d. 1055) expressed a similar view in al-Kafi fi-l-qh (Isfahan: Maktabat al-imam amir al-mu minin Ali, 1980), 157.

23 These same letimotifs are also present in the sermon delivered in Kufa by Hasan b. Ali after the assassination of his father Ali b. Abi Talib.

24 Abu Jafar Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari: The Caliphate of Yazid b. Muawiyah, trans. I. K. A. Howard (Albany, N.Y.: 1990), 26.

25 Ibid., 32, with some modi cation. This notion of exclusive entitlement by virtue of designation ( nass), inherited knowledge ( ilm), trusteeship, and walaya/ wilaya is a recurring concept from the time of Ali, the First divine guide or Imam.



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26 Up until Khomeini s assumption of the title imam to enhance his image and sta- ture in relation to his peers, along with suggesting some kind of a special con- nection with the occulted Imam, it was consistently employed in Iran and South Asia to refer to the infallible divine guides and not the jurisconsult. However, the Arabs used this title to refer to a preeminent and distinguished religious scholar.

27 Hasan b. al-Mutahhar al-Hilli, al-Babu l-Hadi Ashar: A Treatise on the Principles of Shiite Theology, with commentary by Miqdad-i Fadil al-Hilli, trans. William McElwee Miller (London: Royal Asiatic Society,1958), 62.

28 Naja , Sharh jami, 910.

29 Wadad al-Qadi, The Term Khalifain Early Exegetical Literature, Die Welt des Islams, 28/1 4 (1988): 409.

30 Qamar-ud-din Khan, Al-Mawardi s Theory of the State (Lahore: Islamic Book Foundation, 1983), 3.

31 Taftazani, A Commentary on the Creed of Najm al-Din al-Nasa, 143.

32 Hilli, Kashf al-murad, ed. Sobhani, 187 88.

33 For a critical and exhaustive analysis of this subject, refer to Abd al-Husayn al- Amini, al-Ghadir -l-Kitab wa-l-sunna wa-l-adab (Tehran: Dar al-kutub al-Islamiyya, 1987), 7:14152.

34 Hilli, Kashf al-murad, ed. Sobhani, 184 86.

35 Mahmud Heydari Agha i et al., Tarikh-e tashayyo (Qum: Pazhuheshgah-e howze va daneshga, 2006), 1820.

36 Kulayni, Ka, 1:252, hadith no. 10 ( Kitab al-hujja , Bab anna al-ard la takhlu min hujja ). The Imam is the mystical pole ( qotb ) of the world; if he ceased to exist, the world of man would collapse. Man cannot survive as man if he loses his polar dimension. Roberts Avens, Corbins Interpretation of Imamology and Susm,Hamdard Islamicus, 11/2 (Summer 1988): 69.

37 Mulla Sadra, Sharh Usul al-kaand Mafatih al-ghayb (Tehran: Maktabat al- mahmudi, 1971), 467. His commentary is partial and ends with Kitab al-hujja, Bab anna al-a imma wulat amr Allah wa khazanah.

38 Khan, Al-Mawardi s Theory, 3338.

39 In Sunni Islam, this is established strictly on traditional grounds.

40 Hilli, al-Babu l-Hadi Ashar, 6263.

41 Ibid., 4041.

42 Ibid., 40.

43 Hilli, Kashf al-murad, ed. Sobhani, fn. 1, 5657.

44 A. Kevin Reinhart, Before Revelation: The Boundaries of Muslim Moral Thought (Albany: SUNY, 1995), 7.

45 Amir-Moezzi, The Divine Guide, 19. According to Amir-Moezzi, Shaykh Mu d is an example of an Imami scholar who rationalizes Shii doctrine from its origi- nal esoteric nature. See the excellent study by Martin J. McDermott, The Theology of al-Shaykh al-Mud (Beirut: Dar el-Machreq, 1978).

46 Heydar Amoli (d. 1385) laments that Shi i scholars and laypeople have ignored Shi isms esoteric tradition for so long that statements of this kind have never reached their ears or been uttered by their tongues. Heydar Amoli, Kitab Nass al-nusus sharh Fusus al-hikam , ed. Henry Corbin and Osman Yahia (Tehran and Paris: Département d Iranologie de l Institut Franco-Iranien de Recherche, 1975), 267.

47 Kulayni, Ka, 1:20, hadith no. 12 ( Kitab al- aql wa-l-jahl ).

48 Ibid., 1:29, hadith no. 24 ( Kitab al- aql wa-l-jahl ).

49 Ibid., 1:79, hadith no. 8 ( Kitab fadl al- ilm, Bab al-radd ila-l-Kitab wa-l-sunna wa anna-hu laysa shay min al-halal wa-l-haram ).

50 See footnote nos. 22, 32, and 36, pp. 110 and 112 in Andrew J. Newman, The Formative Period of Twelver Shi ism: Hadith as Discourse between Qum and Baghdad (Richmond, Surrey, UK: Curzon Press, 2000).

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51 Mohammad A. Amir-Moezzi, Only the Man of God is Human: Theology and Mystical Anthropology According to Early Imami Exegesis, in Etan Kohlberg (ed.), Shi ism (Burlington: Ashgate, 2003), 22, fn. 17.

52 Amir-Moezzi, The Divine Guide, 19.

53 Baqer Moin, Khomeini s Search for Perfection: Theory and Reality, in Ali Rahnema (ed.), Pioneers of Islamic Revival (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1988), 76.

54 Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983), 368.

55 Morteza Motahhari, valaha va velayatha (Tehran: Entesharat-e Sadra, 2003).

56 For a discussion on Khomeini s Islamicized version of the philosopher/king, see Beatrice Zedler, The Ayatollah Khomeini and his Concept of an Islamic Republic, International Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1981): 8398.

57 Hossein Modarressi, Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shii Islam: Abu Jafar ibn Qiba al-Razi and his Contribution to Imamite Shi ite Thought (Princeton: The Darwin Press, 1993), 810. Post-revolution publications coming out of Iran strongly stress that even a super cial reading of Islamic tex- tual sources demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Islam and politics are intertwined. See Daneshnameh-ye Imam Ali , 14 vols., under the supervision of Ali Akbar Rashad (Tehran: Sazeman-e entesharat-e pazhuheshgah-e farhang va andishey-e Islami, 2006), vol. 6: Siyasat . This is, of course, done to buttress the advocates of wilayat al-faqih that jurists have a mandate to participate in the political sphere because the Prophet s primary aim was to establish a just society. This aim, it is argued, cannot be neglected during the Twelfth Imams occultation.

58 Ali b. Abi Talib, Nahj al-balagha , compiled by Sharif al-Radi, trans. S. A. Reza (Rome: European Islamic Cultural Centre, 1984), Sermon 3 (Khutbat al-shiqshiqiyya), 106. Another statement ascribed to him states that governing the community is, in his estimation, worth less than his old dilapidated sandal, ibid., Sermon 33, 165: By Allah, it [i.e., the old sandal] is more dear to me than ruling over you but for the fact that I have to establish that which is right and ward othe wrong ( wa-l-lah la-hiya ahabbu ilayya min imrati-kum illa an uqima haqq aw adfa a batil).

59 Ibid., Sermon 91, 23435.

60 Ibid., Sermon 27, 54; Kulayni, Ka, 5:6 ( Kitab al-jihad , Bab fadl al-jihad ); Muhammad b. Babawayh, Ma ani al-akhbar, ed. Ali Akbar al-Gha ari (Qum:

Mu assasat al-nashr al-Islami, 1995), 310.

61 Kulayni, Ka, 2:190 ( Bab qillat adad al-mu minin); and Muhammad Baqir al- Sadr, The Emergence of Shi ism and the Shi ites, trans. Asaad F. Shaker (Montreal:

Imam Ali Foundation, 2006), 7576.

62 Q. 4:59.

63 Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds argue that for the rst two centuries after the Prophet s demise, the caliphs functioned as religious authorities and focal points for resolving both state-related issues and questions of law and doctrine. Thus, the bifurcation of the Sunni caliph as the political leader and the Shii Imam as the reli- gious leader is a much later phenomenon. See Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, Gods Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 1986), 2, 34, and 8082.

64 Imam Jafar al-Sadiq is reported to have told a disciple that the Imams possess something as a result of which they do not need the people, but the people need them. That thing is a book dictated by the Prophet and written down by Ali, which contains all that is permissible and prohibited. Kulayni, Ka, 1:241.

65 Hamid Dabashi, Authority in Islam: From the Rise of Muhammad to the Estab- lishment of the Umayyads (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1989), 9799. The author uses a Weberian framework and typology to situate traditional



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Arab authority; Muhammads charismatic authority (al-risala al-Muhammadiyya); and Sunni, Shi i, and Khariji authority. See also William Tucker, Charismatic Leadership and Shi i Sectarianism, in Robert Olson (ed.), Islamic and Middle Eastern Societies (Brattleboro: Amana Books, 1987), 2940.

66 Namely, Prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.

67 Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, translated, edited, and with an introduction by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946). Quoted in Dabashi, Authority in Islam, 101.

68 On this charismatic transference, see Lynda G. Clarke, Early Doctrine of the Shi ah, According to the Shi i Sources, Ph.D. Dissertation (Montreal: McGill University, 1994), 8487.

69 Dabashi, Authority in Islam, 95.

70 Ibid., 117.

71 Devin J. Stewart, Islamic Legal Orthodoxy: Twelver Shiite Responses to the Sunni Legal System (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 1998), Introduction.

72 Robert Gleave, Scripturalist Islam: The History and Doctrines of the Akhbari Shii School (Boston: Leiden, 2007), 48. Hasan b. Mutahhar al-Hilli, “‘Allama al-Hilli on the Imamate and Ijtihad, in S. A. Arjomand (ed.), trans. John Cooper, Authority and Political Culture in Shi ism (Albany: SUNY, 1988), 24049; and Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi, Religious Authority in Shi ite Islam: From the Oce of Mufti to the Institution of Marja (Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 1996), 61 77.

73 For an interesting discussion on the association of Maktab-e Tafqiq to the Akhbari School, see Robert Gleave, Continuity and Originality in Shi i Thought: The Relationship between the Akhbariyya and the Maktab-e Tafkik , in Denis Hermann and Sabrina Mervin (eds.), Shi i Trends and Dynamics in Modern Times (XVIII XX centuries) (Beirut: Ergon Verlag Würzburg in Kommission, 2010),


74 Hossein Modarressi, Rationalism and Traditionalism in Shi i Jurisprudence: A Preliminary Survey, Studia Islamica 59 (1984): 14158.

75 Muhammad Mojtahed Shabestari, Religion, Reason, and the New Theology,in Lynda Clarke (ed.), Shiite Heritage: Essays on Classical and Modern Traditions (New York: Global Publications, 2001), 253.

76 Ibid., 255. Reminiscent of Popper s assertion that the main question is not who should rule but how to rule,Shabestari maintains that the Quran and the sunna actually emphasize the values of governmentand not necessarily the forms of government. ’” Mehrzan Boroujerdi, Iranian Intellectuals and the West (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1996), 168 69.

77 Moin, Khomeini s Search for Perfection, 80.

78 Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, Islam and Revolution , trans. Hamid Algar (Berkeley:

Mizan Press, 1981), 182.

79 Farzin Vahdat, God and Juggernaut: Irans Intellectual Encounter with Modernity (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002), 164.

80 Khomeini, Islam and Revolution , 63.

81 Akbar Ganji, 30 Million People and Six Individuals,Sobh-e Emruz (Tehran), 27 May 1999. Quoted in Nader Hashemi, Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Demo- cracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 92.

82 In the Shi i context, this means independent scholarly research undertaken by a quali ed jurist ( faqih ) to derive a new ruling on a legal or theological question based upon his interpretation and application of the Quran, the sunna, con- sensus, and reason. See Abdulaziz Sachedina, Islamic Messianism: The Idea of the Mahdi in Twelver Shi ism (Albany: SUNY, 1981), 199.

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See Abdulaziz Sachedina, The Just Ruler (al-sultan al-adil) in Shi ite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence (New York:

Oxford University Press, 1988). Another work on this issue is Liyakatali Takims The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Islam (Albany:

SUNY, 2006). For a discussion between medieval-era Sunni and Shi i polemicists on legitimate leadership and its theological underpinnings, see Asma Afsaruddin, Excellence and Precedence: Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leader- ship (Leiden: Brill, 2002). On the methodological devices in usul al-qh used by Khomeini to advance his theory of absolute clerical authority, see Hamid Enayat s Iran: Khumaynis Concept of the Guardianship of the Jurisconsult , in James P. Piscatori (ed.), Islam in the Political Process (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 160 80 and Hamid Dabashi, The Theology of Dis- content: The Ideological Foundations of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (New York:

New York University Press, 1993), 454 55.


Hashemi, Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy, 91.


The rst of the four major and earliest hadith collections, Kulaynis Usul al-ka, places Imamate under Kitab al-hujja as part of the usul immediately following the chapter entitled Kitab al-tawhid (Book on Monotheism).


Hermann Landolt, Walayah , Encylopedia of Religion, editor-in-chief Mircea Eliade (New York.: Macmillan, 1987), 15:31920.

88 (accessed March 29, 2013).


Jafar Murtada al-Amili, Khalyyat kitab masat al-Zahra, 5th print (Beirut: Dar al-sira, 2001); Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi al-Mashhadi, al-Hawza al- ilmiyya tudin al-inhiraf, 3rd print (Beirut: Ahmad al-Husayni, 2001); Hashim al-Hashimi, Hiwar ma a Fadlalla hawl al-Zahra , 2nd print (Lebanon: Dar al-huda, 2001).


Ahmed Adil al-Qadi, al-Fiqh al-hayat maa samahat Ayatollah al-uzma al-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlalla (Beirut: Mu assasat al- arif li-l-matbuat, 1997), moderator Ahmad Adil al-Qadi, 267 74. On the prophets infallibility see Sabine Schmidtke, The Theology of al- Allama al-Hilli (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1991), 14247.


Liyakat Takim, From Bid a to Sunna: The Wilaya of Ali in the Shi i Adhan, Journal of the American Oriental Society 120/2 (2000): 16677. McDermott, The Theology of Al-Shaikh Al-Mud, 356 58.


Consisting of the Prophet, Fatima, and the 12 divine guides.


Muhammad Husayn Fadlalla, al-Masail al-qhiyya (Beirut: Dar al-malak, 1996), 1:181; Muhammad Husayn Fadlalla, Afaq Islamiyya (Beirut: Dar al-Zahra, 1996), 1:15567.


Hasan Zadeh Amoli, Azan va eqameh, commentary by Samadi Amoli (Qum:

Mu assese-ye Najm al-Din, n.d.), 42.

95 (accessed 8 November 2010).


The Persian translation is Maktab dar farayand-e takamol va virayesh-e jadid , trans. Hashem Izad Panah (Tehran: Entesharat-e kavir, 2007).


Ibid., 17.


Ibid., 1314.


Ibid., 1314.