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In the Name of God بسم الله

Which Marja?

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  • Advanced Member

Hello everyone,

This is my first post on this forum, so please go easy on me if I say something out of place. I apologise in advance if I offend anyone, that's not my intention at all. Just looking for a little advice!

Despite flirting with atheism for a few years, I was born into a Muslim family and have nominally considered myself such for the past few years. Recently however, I've become more serious about my faith and looking into both Sunni and Shia doctrines, I've decided to follow the latter. This has led to a problem I can't seem to get around; who to choose as a marja? I'm looking for someone who's both a qualified religious scholar, and who is informed on current affairs and the precarious socio-political position Shias have found themselves in since 2003.

I suppose my beliefs inhabit the middle road between Akhbari and Usooli, so I should probably clarify that it doesn't seem to me that taghleed is a fundamental tenant of the faith; as to mean that non- adherence to the principle would invalidate a person's actions. Personally however, I find it to be the only logical conclusion for someone like me who isn't versed on matters of fiqh,

Although I have huge respect for Ayatollah Khamenei, I'm as yet undecided on how I feel about the concept of Wilayat-e-Faqigh and clerical governance in general, so that rules out him and pretty much most of the clerics within Iran. Again to clarify, I by no means adhere to the idea of religous apoliticism and am a staunch supporter of the 1979 Islamic revolution, despite not liking where its heading. From what I understand so far however, religious political activism should be more focused on promoting Islamic ideals such as education, social justice, opposition to tyranny and inequality etc. rather than institutionalising Islamic law.

To give an idea of the kind of mojtahed I'm looking for, I interviewed Ayatollahs Sane'i and Montazeri in 2007; I was extremely put off by the former, but developed a deep respect and admiration for the latter, despite disagreeing with him on certain issues regarding the 2009 protests in Iran. If he were alive I'd probably follow him.

So now I'm leaning towards Ayatollah Sistani, but I'm conflicted about his stance against US hegemony and neo-imperialism. On the on hand I wish he would speak out against it while maintaning his pacifist stance, on the other its become clear that the way he's dealt with the Americans in Iraq have made him a force to be reckoned with, and one that the US daren't cross. So his actions may have a wisdom that I've failed to grasp, hot-headed revolutionary that I am (which is highly probable).

Within the framework I've outlined, is he my best bet or does anyone have any other suggestions I can look into?

I'd really appreciate any input on this, I'm pretty stumped! Thank you in advance.

Ari

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  • Veteran Member

Seems legit.

I think Sistani is cool for being apolitical and quietist, yet clearly having decisive impact and immense influence over the political affairs, he could easily attain a political role if he wanted to. He called for one man one vote as he knew it would empower shias, which is fair play.

Oh yeah and welcome to the forum.

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Guest Zahratul_Islam

I greatly admire Sistani politically but I now follow Fadlallah for his social stances. My feelings regarding marja3iyah are a bit complicated but I set them aside a while ago for the sake of personal stability.

Edited by Zahratul_Islam
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  • Veteran Member

I greatly admire Sistani but I now follow Fadlallah. My feelings regarding marja3iyah are a bit complicated but I set them aside a while ago for the sake of stability.

What about following rulings on contemporary/future issues, seeing as he is now deceased? Is it possible to only follow one in all affairs who has since passed away? He's cool too though.

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(bismillah)

Just go with Sayyid Sistani [ha], Waheed Khorasani [ha], or Sadiq Rohani [ha]. Which are the 3 I would recommend you look into. When choosing a marja`, I also put into consideration which one I can actually access in terms of rulings.

في امانه

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(bismillah)

Just go with Sayyid Sistani [ha], Waheed Khorasani [ha], or Sadiq Rohani [ha]. Which are the 3 I would recommend you look into. When choosing a marja`, I also put into consideration which one I can actually access in terms of rulings.

في امانه

I second this.

Don't worry about the politics, just worry about how much access you have to their rulings. Politics makes everything too complicated.

Just pick the one who is good at Islamic Jurisprudence.

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Guest Zahratul_Islam

They sure do love him in Iraq:

I had the honour of meeting him a couple of years ago. He has a presence about him.

Ah you are very lucky.

I greatly admire his sincere care for his welfare of the Iraqi people. It is very touching. I think his representative in Iran was spot on about the Moqtada comparison. Compare the wise and thoughtful stances of Sistani to the blithering rants of Moqtada, who has done things like threaten to declare war and declare football a haraam Zionist conspiracy.

Imbecile.

What about following rulings on contemporary/future issues, seeing as he is now deceased? Is it possible to only follow one in all affairs who has since passed away? He's cool too though.

I think the ruling is that as long as you followed them in their lifetime you are fine. Few things change, and if you have a question you can still email his office as far as I am aware.

Edited by Zahratul_Islam
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  • Veteran Member

(bismillah)

(bismillah)

Just go with Sayyid Sistani [ha], Waheed Khorasani [ha], or Sadiq Rohani [ha]. Which are the 3 I would recommend you look into. When choosing a marja`, I also put into consideration which one I can actually access in terms of rulings.

في امانه

I'd also add to this Shaykh Ishaq al-Fayyadh [ha] in Iraq, but he'll only be available to you if you know Arabic. Khorasani and Rohani will only really be available to you if you know Farsi (maybe Arabic or Urdu). So if all you have is English, Sistani [ha] is probably your best option.

في امانه

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  • Veteran Member

Be it Ayatollah Sistani, Khamenai, Makeram Sherazi or Wahid Khorasni. Imo you cant really go wrong if you choose any of the today's leading marjas. So don't sweat much about it.

Remember that you are to follow them in the matters of furu only, and the rulings of these scholars on everyday issues hardly differs from each other. I would recommend that you spend more energy and time on usul e deen/aqaid which if not more are equally important.

I suppose my beliefs inhabit the middle road between Akhbari and Usooli, so I should probably clarify that it doesn't seem to me that taghleed is a fundamental tenant of the faith; as to mean that non- adherence to the principle would invalidate a person's actions. Personally however, I find it to be the only logical conclusion for someone like me who isn't versed on matters of fiqh,

My thoughts on taqleed exactly.

Welcome to SC. That was a solid first post.

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  • Advanced Member

Thanks for the welcomes and super quick responses!

Replicant you're probably right, but I can't disregard politics as much as I may like to. Its pretty much integral to who so I need whoever I follow to have some sort of political presence in order to be able to respect them :).

I really like Sistani, (you were very lucky to meet him Replicant) but one of the other issues I have with him is his stance on homosexuals. Not saying that I don't believe homosexual acts to be a sin, but I think the fundamental basis of Islam is a benevolent, merciful and above all just God who declares that there is no compulsion in religion, and his call for their execution pretty much contradicts that. I'm not particularly comfortable with hodood being enacted without an divinely appointed head of state anyway.

Zahratul_Islam, how come you put them aside, if you don't mind me asking?

Thanks Dar'ul_Islam, I'll be looking into your suggestions. You too Doobybrother, and you're probably right; I'm spending too much time obsessing over this. It's not like I'm particularly observant in practicing furu anyway... A failing on my part, I'm by no means one of those people who says it doesn't matter, I'm just weak. Something I'm trying to work on. :)

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  • Advanced Member

I follow al-Sistani. If we were allowed to follow dead marja, then I would have followed al-Khoei.

The other marajas that you can explore besides the two mention in your post are Vahid Khorasani and Sadiq Rohani. I don't really know enough about them to talk much.

Also, can you share your experience meeting with Montazeri.

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Thanks Gypsy, I'm going to look into them both.

It took ages to get Montazeri to agree an interview. I know he's a contentious figure for some, but I was extremely taken with him. He was incredibly polite, warm, articulate, funny, charming (you can tell I'm a fan) and above all, as sharp as a fox. He was one step ahead of me the whole time, something I really wasn't expecting given his age. Obviously I didn't think he was going to be senile, but he was firmly on the ball the whole way through and uncannily intelligent.

Let me know if you want info on what he said. I think I filled an entire notebook in the space of two hours, I can go dig it up. :)

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  • Basic Members

My advice would be all the Maraji3 are like flowers and each have their own scent. I don't think we are qualified to tell you who you should fallow and why, but I can tell you to go to the right people, which are the people of knowledge (religion) seek their advice and hopefully you can make your decision.

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I want to know everything you asked him. Dig up your notebook please.

What are some of the questions you asked him?

Will do. It was mostly current affairs, Iranian politics, Khomeini and the revolution, women's rights and spirituality. I can't really type out the whole thing but if you let me know what in particular you're interested in I can post what he told me.

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Will do. It was mostly current affairs, Iranian politics, Khomeini and the revolution, women's rights and spirituality. I can't really type out the whole thing but if you let me know what in particular you're interested in I can post what he told me.

What did he say about the fact that he was fired/let go from the system that he designed? Did he regret speaking badly about the Iranian government?

What does he think about all the pro-IRI people that continued to harass him because of his opposition to the government?

Does he have a good relationship with the current supreme leader of Iran?

Thank you so much!

Edited by Gypsy
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  • Advanced Member

What did he say about the fact that he was fired/let go from the system that he designed? Did he regret speaking badly about the Iranian government?

He talked of the revolution as a necessity; about how the Shah was a corrupt western stooge and that given the rampant socioeconomic inequality in the country at the time, it was the duty of the clerics to take action on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. He said that soon after the revolution (didn't specify exactly when), he warned Khomeini that the people weren't happy and that extremism would lead to extremism in response; he lamented the fact that power brings ignorance and that those who take it tend to forget what led them there. Despite never stating it directly, his carefully phrased answers made it clear who he was talking about. I think he alluded to Mehdi Hashemi very briefly, saying that it was a sign of things to come. I got the impression that that was what started his disillusionment with the IR as a just political system and with Khomeini as a friend.

Although he disagreed absolutely with many of Khomeni's actions, it was clear that they'd been very close before politics had torn them apart and that Montazeri still mourned both pre-IR Khomeini and the revolution's initial ideals. I think he saw the things Khomeini did later as a betrayal of both and it hurt him on a personal level; there was a sadness in his tone when he spoke of him, I even thought his eyes glazed over at one point. I defintely got the impression that his decision to defect was as personal as it was political.

What came across was that he absolutely, categorically didn't regret his stance. He kept emphasising that it was the duty of the clergy to speak out against injustice, whether it was "under the Shah or anyone else, whatever may happen". Like I said, he was never explcit in his criticism. He was really careful about the way he phrased things, which I suppose he had to be because if I remember correctly, he was under house arrest at the time. Or he had been recently prior to the interview. I'm not 100% on that though.

The one thing he did praise the government on was not normalising ties with Israel as it was an occupying power. He also said although the storming of the US embassy was a mistake, it was up to the Americans to make the first move and extend an olive branch to the IR, but that if that happens the Iranians should stop being bull-headed and accept it. He was quite harshly critical of the US policy, but to be honest I think any decent person would be.

What does he think about all the pro-IRI people that continued to harass him because of his opposition to the government?

He didn't say anything about people harassing him, but he talked about how IR policies were taking advantage of people's religious zeal and had bred a generation of extremists which he seemed both sad and angry about, and that life had been made very difficult for him (here I've written 'as a result?' so I can't say for certain whether he said his treatment was a result of this or not). Before the meeting one of his aides schooled me on what to wear and how to act on my way there as apparently his house was under constant surveillance.

Does he have a good relationship with the current supreme leader of Iran?

He refused to speak about Khamenei. I kept trying to angle my questions so as to get something out of him, but every time I raised an issue that would require a direct mention of the leader, he'd just smile and say, 'next question'. I don't want to put words in his mouth but when put in the context of everything else he said, I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have been the case.

Thank you so much!

You're welcome!

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  • Advanced Member

Tell us what he said about Ayatollah Khomeini and the revolution.

Spirituality as well would be nice as it can benefit us all.

Sorry, I only saw this after I posted the above but I think it answers the first part of your question? If not let me know what else you'd be interested in hearing about. :)

As for the conversation on spirituality, would you mind if I posted that tomorrow? I need some time to decipher my own handwriting! I could make it another topic if other people are interested?

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  • Advanced Member

Assalamu Alaykum, Hayakum Allah.

Sheikh as-Sadooq (ra), Syed al-Murtadha (ra), or better yet, the Supreme Leader Bhooka (HA).

Keep me in your duas,

Hassan b. Salem al-Ilami.

Alaykum as-salam Al-Afasy.

Thank you for the suggestions, are they living? (If that's something I'm supposed to know, forgive my ignorance.

Of course, and likewise.

My advice would be all the Maraji3 are like flowers and each have their own scent. I don't think we are qualified to tell you who you should fallow and why, but I can tell you to go to the right people, which are the people of knowledge (religion) seek their advice and hopefully you can make your decision.

Thank you for the advice and you're absolutely right. It's just that I spent a while lurking on these forums and was impressed by how knowledgable many of you are so I thought I'd ask for suggestions. Ultimately, I'll have to think long and hard about who to choose.

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  • Advanced Member

Sorry, I only saw this after I posted the above but I think it answers the first part of your question? If not let me know what else you'd be interested in hearing about. :)

As for the conversation on spirituality, would you mind if I posted that tomorrow? I need some time to decipher my own handwriting! I could make it another topic if other people are interested?

In your own time brother. It is you who is doing us a favour.

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  • Advanced Member

Aryana,

I thank you for the details of your interview. You did get to ask a number of interesting questions. I still have some questions to ask you if you don't mind. Tell me if you no longer wish to dig in your notebook to hunt down the answers.

  1. How does he sees the Iranian society? Does he think the society has become more religious or less religious?
  2. Does he support any political groups in Iran?
  3. Since he didn't talk much about the current leader of Iran. Did you get to ask him about Rafsanjani?
  4. What kind of women rights question did you ask? Does he say women can have a more political role in Iran?
  5. Does he have any comments on the Shia Scholarship in Qum? Does he see much progress being made in this regards?

Edited by Gypsy
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  • Advanced Member

Apologies for the late response Gypsy. I've been really busy, and when I came on to reply I wandered into the polygamy threads and couldn't stop pulling my hair out for a good few hours :)

  1. How does he sees the Iranian society? Does he think the society has become more religious or less religious?

The point that came across quite strongly was that he believed that since the revolution, certain paths taken by the establishment was slowly leading to the creation of two polar opposites in Iran. One of which had taken their pro-government zeal to extraordinary levels, mixing a particular brand of religion with politics, while the other was beginning to blindly renounce Islam and everything associated with it, while turning to the West in order to spite the establishment. He (quite rightly in my view) saw both as incredibly misguided, and believed this division would lead to the undoing of Iranian society. Setting up the state as a representative for religion is dangerous, as people will extrapolate the failings of the state onto religion as a whole.

  1. Does he support any political groups in Iran?
  2. Since he didn't talk much about the current leader of Iran. Did you get to ask him about Rafsanjani?

Unfortunately didn't mention anything regarding either of those issues in our discussion. As you probably know, he later on went on to support the Green movement after the 2009 elections.

  1. What kind of women rights question did you ask? Does he say women can have a more political role in Iran?

He was extremely supportive of women taking on a greater role in political activism, and developing in a voice in Iranian politics. Women's rights have always been a hot button topic with me however, and the conversation did get rather heated on my part and my disappointment definitely showed. I have to give him full credit though, he was extremely patient and understanding. He basically said the same things to me as he did to Golbarg Bashi; you can read her entire interview here. Let it be said, I don't agree with her conclusions! I was rather disheartened by his statements regarding women being somehow incapable and having to prove themselves (among others), rather than his assertion that there is a wisdom in the Qur'an that we cannot understand; that I fully agree with.

He made no comments on Shia scholarship in Qom. When I told him however, that I was going to see Ayatollahs Sane'i and Mesbah Yazdi after him he did raise his eyebrows and give a little smile. I don't know which one it was directed at. Of course I may be reading too much into the gesture!

Fadlallah you wont go wrong

Thank you for the suggestion brother, he would most certainly be at the top of my list if he hadn't passed away. May God rest his soul. :(

Edited by Aryana
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  • Veteran Member

If you need to follow a marja in matters of fiqh, why are you so concerned with their political record/circumstances/leanings/affiliations? Just figure out who the most knowledgeable dude is when it comes to matters of fiqh (you aren't qualified to do so, so consult the experts), and follow away. His personality/political track record are all irrelevant here. If you believe in the concept of taqlid then the matter is naturally quite rigid, islamically speaking you are defeating the purpose if you are picking marja based on your described criteria/feelings.

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  • Advanced Member

If you need to follow a marja in matters of fiqh, why are you so concerned with their political record/circumstances/leanings/affiliations? Just figure out who the most knowledgeable dude is when it comes to matters of fiqh (you aren't qualified to do so, so consult the experts), and follow away. His personality/political track record are all irrelevant here. If you believe in the concept of taqlid then the matter is naturally quite rigid, islamically speaking you are defeating the purpose if you are picking marja based on your described criteria/feelings.

Brother, I wouldn't feel comfortable following a marja on matters of furu, if I believe that some of their actions go against what I believe to be the spirit of Islam, which I consider far more important. Also, I'm not rigid on the matter of taghlid, and the more I look into it the more I think it may not be for me.

Now my understanding of that is obviously hugely limited, and I am trying my best in increase my knowledge and awareness of such matters, but until then that's all I have to go by.

So let's just call it a matter of personal preference.

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Brother, I wouldn't feel comfortable following a marja on matters of furu, if I believe that some of their actions go against what I believe to be the spirit of Islam, which I consider far more important. Also, I'm not rigid on the matter of taghlid, and the more I look into it the more I think it may not be for me.

Now my understanding of that is obviously hugely limited, and I am trying my best in increase my knowledge and awareness of such matters, but until then that's all I have to go by.

So let's just call it a matter of personal preference.

Yes it is always personal, I do not follow anyone, but it is good to be aware of these perspectives. I would suspect an anarcho-syndicalist would have a major problem with WF though, and also taqlid in general. Anyhow, good luck!

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  • Advanced Member

Yes it is always personal, I do not follow anyone, but it is good to be aware of these perspectives. I would suspect an anarcho-syndicalist would have a major problem with WF though, and also taqlid in general. Anyhow, good luck!

Haha, you're right. Although I would personally advocate collective anarchism until the zohoor, I respect people's right to self-govern. All I can do for now is educate, agitate and organise...

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Bismillah

Salam,

Welcome to the forums.

Just thought i'd share my research on the topic.

Sayed Kadhim Haieri

Sayed Shuberi Zanjani

Sayed Khamanei

Sayed Sistani

-- Less popular, but regardless noteworthy figures are;

Sayed Hashemi Shahroudi

Sheikh Jawad Amouli

Sheikh Safi Gulpaygani

3. There are three ways of identifying a Mujtahid, and the A'alam:

  • when a person is certain that a particular person is a Mujtahid, or the most learned one. For this, he should be a learned person himself, and should possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or an A'alam;
  • when two persons, who are learned and just and possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or the A'alam, confirm that a person is a Mujtahid or an A'lam, provided that two other learned and just persons do not contradict them. In fact, being a Mujt ahid or an A'lam can also be established by a statement of only one trusted and reliable person;
  • when a number of learned persons who possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or an A'lam, certify that a particular person is a Mujtahid or an A'lam, provided that one is satisfied by their statement.

http://www.sistani.org/index.php?p=251364&id=48&pid=2116

which means that if you wanted to follow the correct way to selecting a Marja, you would have to ask qualified scholars who have the ability to identify the most knowledgable Marja.

btw, Aryana, i love your writing style.

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