Necessity of Religious Government and the Guardianship of the Jurist

From WikiPasokh

Why should our religious organization and government be unified, with a faqīh (religious leader) at the head of the political system? Is the absence of conflict between the decisions and approaches of political experts and religion not sufficient?

According to the political interpretation of religion, the right to governing the society is for God, and every ruler must be approved by Him. Based on this view, only a religious government can guide society towards both material and spiritual goals. Any non-religious government is considered illegitimate and cannot lead society and people towards divine objectives. Therefore, for addressing the needs of society, a religious government is essential and necessary. Only someone needless of taqlīd and knowledgeable about all religious matters can lead this government, which can only be found in a religious scholar. There are also narrations and verses that emphasize the necessity of a religious government.

Religious Government, the Only Legitimate Government

One of the important goals of human creation is to achieve ultimate servitude to God, and since this cannot be achieved without a healthy society, one of the important goals of government is to provide suitable conditions for attaining God's satisfaction. Additionally, according to the religious beliefs of Muslims, which are supported by both rational and transmitted knowledge, real governance belongs to God, and alongside His generative lordship, He also has legislative lordship. Therefore, any form of governance other than God's must be approved by Him, or else, it will be considered illegitimate. Moreover, politics is the implementation of rules, regulations, and patterns that the Islamic government follows to help the Islamic community move toward divine goals alongside material objectives. Therefore, religion is integrated into the political framework, and is not something peripheral. The duty of an Islamic ruler is to create a suitable environment for society to move in the path designated by God. This is why a religious scholar is needed as the leader and guide, as we cannot ignore the religious dimension of politics. The spirituality is the core of politics in Islamic society and can be maintained by someone who has specialized in religion and not by an ordinary person. Religious texts clearly outline the conditions and requirements of leadership and the qualifications of the person in this position. This is what proves the comprehensiveness of the holy religion of Islam.

Guardianship of Faqīh (Jurist)

Islamic laws and commands are not specific to a particular time; they are eternal. Imam Sadiq (a) states, "What has been announced permissible (halal) by Muhammad is permissible forever, until the Day of Judgment, and what has been forbidden (haram) by him is forbidden forever, until the Day of Judgment." It is necessary for these laws to be implementable even in the absence of Imam (a). This can only be achieved with a capable leader and a government whose primary goal is to preserve and promote Islamic values. The commands of the Islamic ruler are intended for the implementation of divine laws, and they establish the framework for the obligation to obey the orders of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a).

It is noteworthy that once the guardianship for a faqīh is established by the Prophet (s) and the infallible Imams (s), society is not allowed to change this principle and should accept and uphold it. Happiness in a society depends on accepting the guardianship and leadership of religious scholars. Imam Sadiq (s) clarifies this point regarding the acceptance of the rule of jurists: "When they legislate in accordance with our commands, and someone does not accept their rule, they have ignored God's command and have not accepted us. Anyone who does not accept our rule does not accept God's rule." This makes it clear that the guardianship of the jurist is not in the sense of the rule of a typical jurist but rather the rule of jurisprudence and divine commands. Guardianship in Islam is a concept distinct from what is presented in other ideologies and religions. A religious ruler must prioritize guiding society toward values that secure their eternal happiness over meeting its material needs. Hence, the Quran refers to righteous rulers as "the callers to truth" and emphasizes the importance of divine guidance in leadership: “Say, ‘This is my way. I summon to Allah with insight—I and he who follows me. Immaculate is Allah, and I am not one of the polytheists.” All of this can only be realized if the leadership of society is in the hands of those who possess the necessary expertise and knowledge. Jurisprudence has no contradictions with experts working in each of the sub-sets of the government and helping the government of the Islamic society in their field of expertise. Rather, what is important is that all these parts must be under the rule of the jurist so that the path of the society is a religious path. It should also not be forgotten that a jurist cannot take over the government unless he has the necessary political skills.

Rational Justification for the Necessity of a Religious Government

Reason considers the existence of government necessary to prevent chaos and turmoil resulting from the collision and overlap of human interests, and to avoid any form of conflict. It aims to ensure the necessary and vital social order. The social nature of humans, driven by self-interest and the desire to serve one's own interests, underscores the necessity of law and government to prevent discord, disintegration, turmoil, and to establish order and security in society. This necessity is not confined to a specific time or place; it encompasses all times and locations. Furthermore, since God has taken it upon Himself to provide the means for the material and spiritual evolution of society, this cannot be achieved without the existence of a righteous government and a just ruling apparatus. Therefore, the necessity of an Islamic government that takes steps toward securing material and spiritual interests is evident. In addition, the very nature of Islamic laws proves the necessity of the Islamic government. A cursory look at Islamic laws and regulations such as jihad, defense, judgment, and the enforcement of penalties reveals that their implementation and realization are impossible without the existence of a government. If Islam mandates supervision, guidance, enjoining good, forbidding evil, jihad, defense, and has social and civil laws, this demonstrates that Islam is a comprehensive system and a government. If Islam has come to prevent all false doctrines, to combat tyranny and aggression, this motivation is impossible without a government and such an objective cannot be achieved without politics. Accordingly, Imam Khomeini stated:

"The institution of government is so important that not only does Islam have a government, but Islam is nothing but government. The religious decrees are laws that are part of the government's affairs. Thus, Islamic governance and the establishment of justice are inherently desirable, and their purpose is the implementation of government."

Narrative Proof of the Necessity of Religious Government

Apart from the rational argument, textual evidence from the Quran and Hadith (sayings and traditions of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a)) also supports the necessity of an Islamic government. These texts affirm the rational justification presented above. Quranic Verses Some Quranic verses suggest the necessity of a religious government: "Thus they routed them with Allah’s will, and David killed Goliath, and Allah gave him kingdom and wisdom and taught him whatever He liked. Were it not for Allah’s repelling the people by means of one another, the earth would surely have been corrupted; but Allah is gracious to the world’s people." (2:251) This verse emphasizes the necessity of a government to prevent corruption and maintain order in society. "Those who, if We granted them power in the land, will maintain the prayer, give the zakat, bid what is right and forbid what is wrong. And with Allah rests the outcome of all matters." (22:41) This verse implies that establishing prayer, giving zakat, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong is carried out through a government and emphasizing the role of government in upholding religious and moral values.


Imam Ali (a) addressed the Kharijites, "This is a word of truth but they want to prove something wrong through it, yes, it is true, there is no command but the command of God, but they say that government is only for God, while people need good or bad government.” This statement by Imam Ali emphasizes the necessity of government and that society cannot function properly without one, even if the rulers are not ideal. Imam Ali (a) in another Hadith, after mentioning certain Quranic verses including Surah Al-Anfal (8:41) and Surah Al-Baqarah (2:179), states: "In these verses, the clearest proof is that the community needs an Imam (leader) who establishes their affairs, commands good, forbids evil, implements the Hudud (prescribed punishments), distributes spoils of war, and observes the obligatory acts. The community would perish without commanding good and forbidding evil, and people's eagerness and fear would vanish. No one would refrain from committing sins, and the social order would collapse, leading to the destruction of the servants of God." This Hadith demonstrates the importance of leadership and government in ensuring the implementation of religious duties, maintaining order, and preventing chaos in society.


  • This article is mainly taken from "ضرورت حکومت دینی و حاکمیت فقیه" on Persian Wikipasokh.