Wilāyat al-faqīh, or the Guardianship of the Jurist, represents a religious and political doctrine aimed at establishing a just and lawful government. According to this theory, endorsed by some scholars, after the Prophet of Islam (s) and the infallible Imams (a), the most knowledgeable jurist assumes authority over the people to prevent tyrant and unjust rulers from assuming wilāya over them.
Islam: A Political Religion
Islam is fundamentally a political religion, as it presents a system designed to regulate social life and human coexistence peacefully. Its primary objective is to ensure human happiness and the attainment of human perfection in both worlds. From an Islamic perspective, religion and worldly affairs are intertwined and inseparable. The well-being and perfection of one realm is interdependent with the well-being and perfection of the other. The perfection in this world is the prelude to the perfection in the hereafter. Consequently, Islam has a comprehensive plan for regulating human life, with the implementation of social justice as being a foundational pillar of the Islamic system. One cannot envision ensuring the implementation of this system without recognizing the responsibility it entails and the conditions it has. It is not left to be decided by people. These prerequisites can be summarized in two fundamental conditions: political competence and religious awareness. As articulated in the words of Imam Ali (a): "The most deserving individuals for leadership and authority are those who possess the necessary qualifications and have complete awareness concerning Sharia's views on leadership." This guideline means that from a religious perspective, when selecting a political leader, in addition to possessing the necessary qualifications - which is a rational requirement and is always considered by rational people worldwide in choosing their political leaders - one should also consider the individual's extensive religious insight. This is because they intend to govern a society according to a the Islamic system. Therefore, it is entirely natural for Islamic political leaders to have this requirement.
Wilāyat al-faqīh: the Continuation of Imamat
Wilāyat al-faqīh is a continuation of the wilāyah (leadership) established by the Prophet (s) and the infallible Imams (a). This wilāyah, in its political sense, entails the responsibility of meeting the interests of the community and ensuring the implementation of justice. During the presence of the infallible Imams (a), this was the responsibility of Imams (a) themselves. However, during the period of occultation, this responsibility is entrusted to a qualified jurist who possesses the qualifications required for leadership. From the perspective of Twelver Shia Islam, the religious authorities and Islamic leaders are the successors of the Prophet (s) and his infallible progeny. Though no specific individual is appointed as the ruler during the occultation of the infallible Imam (a), the government must continue based on the judgment of reason and revelation. The desired government in the Islamic world is an Islamic government, and the Islamic ruler must be knowledgeable about Islamic laws, just, and capable of governance and leadership. According to this criterion that the authority of the jurist in relation to the implementation of Islamic rules and laws is the same as the authority of the Immaculate Imam in this regard, the jurist also has all the governmental powers of the Immaculate Imam. Of course, it should be noted that the topic of our discussion is legislative and governmental guardianship and not takwīnī (generative) guardianship, which is related to the spiritual positions of individuals and cannot be legislated or granted. From the point of view of generative guardianship and spiritual perfections, no one cannot be compared with the infallible Imam.
Evidence from the Holy Qur'an
The Holy Qur'an extensively addresses the dichotomy between the governance of Allah and the rule of tyrants, with numerous verses emphasizing the divine governance over human affairs. Prophets and divine laws were sent to dismantle tyrannical rule and establish the governance of Allah. The replacement of the rule of "Allah" instead of the rule of "Ṭāghūt" means that those who have a divine aspect and who are known as the caliph (vicegerent) of God on earth, rule and cut off the hand of the tyrants in this regard. All the great prophets have the right to rule according to the implication of prophethood and divine caliphate, and the prophets who were able to do so had assumed the political leadership of their nation as well. For example, the Holy Qur'an addresses Prophet David saying:
|﴾||یا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاک خَلِیفَةً فِی الْأَرْضِ فَاحْکم بَینَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَیٰ فَیضِلَّک عَن سَبِیلِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِینَ یضِلُّونَ عَن سَبِیلِ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِیدٌ بِمَا نَسُوا یوْمَ الْحِسَابِ
" O David! Indeed, We have made you a vicegerent on the earth. So judge between people with justice, and do not follow your desires, or they will lead you astray from the way of Allah. Indeed there is a severe punishment for those who stray from the way of Allah, because of their forgetting the Day of Reckoning."
Accepting an oppressive ruler and giving allegiance to him is trusting the oppressor and accepting the rule of "Ṭāghūt" instead of that of "Allah".
|﴾||أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ يَزْعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُوا إِلَى الطَّاغُوتِ وَقَدْ أُمِرُوا أَن يَكْفُرُوا بِهِ وَيُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُضِلَّهُمْ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا
" Have you not regarded those who claim that they believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you? They desire to seek the judgment of fake deities, though they were commanded to reject them, and Satan desires to lead them astray into far error."
Al Nisa (4):60
This verse makes it clear that the duty of the Muslims is to turn away from the Ṭāghūt’s rule and turn to the Islamic government. Many verses have been cited about the legitimacy of religious authority.
Evidence from narrations
A tradition that Sheikh al-Ṣadūq narrates that the Prophet of Islam (s) said: “O God! Have mercy on my successors.” They asked: “O Messenger of God! Where are your successors?” He said: “Those who come after me and narrate my Hadith and Sunnah.” The concept of caliphate has been a clear and well-established concept among Muslims, and the succession of the Prophet (s) is assuming his responsibility in all political and governmental aspects. Based on this, the meaning of the narration is that the scholars are the successors of the Prophet (s) and the authority that he had in governing the Islamic society, except for what was unique to him, is also proved for the jurists. they are clear examples of the narrators and exponents of the Prophet's Sunnah.
- This article is mainly taken from "ولایت فقیه از نگاه قرآن" on Persian Wikipasokh.