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Last Updated: 2012/02/15
Summary of question
What is the management aspect of Wilayat al-Faqih from a jurisprudential perspective?
question
List the various managerial aspects of Wilayat al-Faqih.
Concise answer

The jurisprudent, through means of the proofs of Wilayat al-Faqih, takes on the position of the ruler of an Islamic government and a representative of the Infallible Imam (‘a). From this perspective, whatever was logically necessary for the governance of a society will be within the scope of the power of the jurisprudent during the time of the occultation of the last Imam (a). This theory is named the Wilayat Mutalaqah Faqih and it is different from the Wilayat Muqayyadah Faqih. Wilayat Mutlaqah Faqih extends in scope into two spheres of leadership: 1. The first is in regards to those whom the Faqih has authority over (Muwalla Alayhim) and 2. The second is in regards to the affairs which he has authority and guardianship over.

If we accept the system of Wilayat al-Faqih, then this can be considered as the political branch of the overall Islamic system and the qualified jurisprudent takes on the position of the leader of the society during the occultation of the Imam (a).

From a position of leadership, Wilayat al-Faqih is in touch with all the various aspects of politics and the overall structure of the society. From this perspective, it is necessary to further explain this system. We will suffice with two aspects in this respect and these include the relationship of the Wilayat al-Faqih system with the constitution of a given nation, as well as the relationship of the Wilayat al-Faqih with the various political groups present within it.

Detailed Answer

The Position of the Wilayat al-Faqih in the Political System of Islam:

If the school of thought and political system of Islam is expounded upon, it becomes apparent that Wilayat al-Faqih is one of its foundations during the occultation of the Imam (a). This system is explained in the same manner that the authority of the Prophet (s) all the way to the last Imam (a) is explained.

Therefore, if we accept the system of Wilayat al-Faqih, then this system becomes a part of the political structure of Islam; even if other aspects are open to debate and formulation, this system remains as an integral part of the whole. Therefore, in the Islamic system, the jurisprudent takes on the role of the head of the society and also takes on the responsibility of making executive decisions for the Muslim nation.[1]

 

The Scope of Wilayat al-Faqih

Through the proofs set forth in the system of Wilayat al-Faqih[2], the holder of this position takes on the leadership of the entire society and he has been nominated to this position by the Divine Legislator (God); this is the case even if he is seemingly selected by the people through a system of election. The proofs of the system of Wilayat al-Faqih positions the jurisprudent as the governor of the Islamic society during the period of the occultation of the Imam (a) and a representative of the Infallible Imam (a). From this perspective, whatever is necessary to govern that society and all the powers which are logically necessary to rule over it, in addition to all the authority the infallibles have in governing the Islamic state, belong to the qualified jurisprudent. This matter is especially established by the unconditionality of the written and verbal proofs in this regard, most notably the noble letter by Imam Mahdi (aj)[3]. The aforementioned system has been named as the Wilayat al-Faqih al-Mutlaqah  (unconditional authority of the jurist) system and it stands apart from Wilayat Muqayyadah Faqih (conditional authority of the jurist). The word Mutlaqah stands to mean the absence of any stipulations or restrictions, while the word Taqqayud is contrary to this in meaning and stands to mean the existence of certain restrictions (in the scope of authority). The word Mutlaqah extends into two general spheres of authority: The first is applicable on those individuals whom the jurisprudent has authority and guardianship over (Muwalla Alayhim), while the second applies to those affairs which he has authority and guardianship over.

 

In respect to the first, the jurisprudent has authority over every single individual in the society, whether they are Muslim or non Muslim, jurisprudent or non jurisprudent, his followers (in jurisprudence) or the followers of other jurisprudents (Marja’s), and even upon himself. If he issues a ruling, everyone is duty bound to follow this, even the rest of the jurisprudents, in addition to even himself. The reason behind this goes back to the lexical meaning of Wilayah (Guardianship). In addition to this, such a factor is a logical precept when it applies to governance and rule over a society.

As for the second condition, the jurisprudent has authority over all the various issues of society and is able to rule over these factors; when he issues a ruling in regards to societal issues, it is obligatory on all the people to obey him. The reason behind this is the lexical meaning of the word Wilayah (guardianship), as well as the necessity of such a thing in the governance of society.

At the same time, since the jurisprudent derives his authority from God, he is bound to exercise his authority within the framework that God has set out for him. If the jurisprudent is going to rule on an issue that is mubah (meaning that it is neither wajib nor haram), his criterion must be the interest of the Islamic state. This means that if there exists benefit for the overall society or for the Islamic system as a whole, or for a certain group within the society, then the jurisprudent can issue a command or prohibit on the basis of this benefit. This is the same principle by which individuals decide what is in their best interests in their own personal lives when it comes to permissible acts that are mubah. The best proof towards this principle can be found in the following verse of the Quran: «النَّبِیُّ أَوْلى‏ بِالْمُؤْمِنینَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ», which means: “The Prophet has more precedence over the faithful than their own souls…”[4]. The argument of Wilayat al-Faqih needs to be added to this verse to prove our point. From this verse, it is understood that the Prophet (s) has precedence in regards to the people to a higher degree than they have in regards to themselves. Therefore, if the people are free to do various things or not do them, the Prophet (s) has the authority to command them or forbid them based on his authority over them. In the same way that the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a) possess this authority in their governance over society, the jurisprudents (who are their representatives) also possess such an authority on behalf of the Infallibles (a). In order to be able to discern where the interests of the Islamic state lie, Islamic guidelines must be taken into consideration, and also, specialists in different fields and sciences should be referred to and consulted to make sure of the existence of these interests and benefits. The jurisprudent has no choice but to refer to various experts in various societal fields in order to know what is truly in the best interests of his society when he wishes to exercise his authority.

 

Wilayat al-Faqih and its Relationship with Other Political Structures in Society

Now that we have explained the overall concept and proofs of Wilayat al-Faqih, it would be proper to delve into the relationship of such a system with other socio-political aspects which exist in any given society. Toward these ends, it is sufficient to refer to the relationship of the Wilayat al-Faqih system with the Iranian constitution and its relationship with various political parties which exist in such a society.

 

The Iranian Constitution and Wilayat al-Faqih al-Mutlaqah

As we previously mentioned, the purport of the proofs of Wilayat al-Faqih end up proving the validity of Wilayat al-Faqih al-Mutlaqah for the jurisprudent who possesses the necessary qualifications. Now, if the system of Wilayat al-Faqih is established in a specific country and if that country creates a constitution with the guidance and assistance of the jurisprudent, then the following questions come about:

1- Does the authority of the jurisprudent extend past the boundaries set by the constitution and can he interfere in such matters?

2- Can the jurisprudent himself change this constitution (meaning does his authority extend to doing such a thing)?

3- What is the value of such a constitution in the overall system of Wilayat al-Faqih?

We have previously mentioned that if a jurisprudent makes a ruling that is in line with the Islamic framework, then it is obligatory on everyone, including himself, to follow this ruling. The constitution is in reality a collection of divine precepts which are designed for a particular situation and as long as its necessity continues to exist, no one is allowed to oppose it, whether they are a jurisprudent or non jurisprudent, whatever their position may be in the society.

Therefore, as long as the law continues to exist due to the initial necessity and interest(s) which brought it into existence, it will continue to remain valid and the jurisprudent is obligated to act upon it unless there is a contradiction between the law or enacting it and religious precepts. Of course, this happens only if in the constitution it has been stated that the jurist has no authority in the scope beyond his jurisdiction stated in the constitution. But, if some things have been directly left to the jurisprudent, such as what has been mentioned in the 110th code of the constitution of Iran, or have been entrusted to other institutions without the constitution directly stating that the jurist is not permitted to intervene in affairs beyond his what has been determined as his jurisdiction in the constitution, then he can, relying on his absolute guardianship, directly decide on matters that haven't been assigned to other specific institutions or individuals.

If the jurisprudent, or his advisors in various fields, consider a change in the constitution as a necessity, then the jurisprudent has the authority to create a new constitution in place of the old one. After the creation of this new constitution, it is obligatory on everyone to obey it, including the jurisprudent himself. If there are aspects of the constitution which are problematic for a period of time, the jurisprudent also has the authority to suspend the constitution for a duration of time until this issue is resolved or no longer poses a problem.

With the aforementioned explanation, two of the questions that were posed above have been answered. The third question can only be answered when the following point has been dealt with: Let us imagine that in a country where an Islamic government has been formed under the auspices of a jurisprudent who possesses all of the necessary qualifications there exist individuals who do not accept this leader either jurisprudentially or just don’t follow him in his religious verdicts, or at least they differ in regards to the limits of his power. This minority doesn’t believe that it needs to follow the jurist in all or some cases, nonetheless, they feel that they are bound by a ‘national covenant’ that is binding on all people of the country, and if there is a law, they feel obliged to observe it. The constitution which is put to the general vote of the people can be an example of this ‘national covenant’ and such a thing itself is one of the interests which makes the need for a constitution indispensible. Thus, the answer to the third question also becomes clear. Also, the reception of such a constitution by the people in which the form of a government has also been determined is proof of support of the people for the government and their resolve to actualize it.[5]

 

Wilayat al-Faqih and the Existence of Various Political Parties

Differing political parties, meaning groups with different viewpoints, have existed from the very beginning of history and in all societies. Political parties in their contemporary sense, without a doubt, are the product of election and parliamentary norms. According to this sense of the term, this concept is also a product of the modern civilization which formed in Europe from the start, disseminating the dominance of its bases and standards all over the world. Today, political parties symbolize the participation of the people and political freedom.

Based on this, in the construct of the Islamic government, one must look at this concept as a varying element relevant to social, political and cultural circumstances. If such a thing contributes to more presence and participation of the masses in the political arena and strengthens the foundations of the Islamic government, it will be necessary. Accordingly, if the constitution sanctioned the presence of parties, they, just like any other lawful matter, will remain as long as they are to the benefit of the government and there has been no change in the constitution based on new interests and benefits. The guidelines for their development and the scope of their activity will be determined by the constitution and will find meaning in that framework.

What needs to be scrutinized is the relation between political parties and Wilayat al-Faqih. In reality, political parties are an example of the manifestation of the will of the people, a will that ensures the development and maintenance of the Islamic government. Therefore, the relation between the two should be the same as that of the people and Wilayat al-Faqih.

Of course, historical evidence in different Islamic countries, Iran being one of them, has always shown that in many cases, national resolve has always been followed by presence and participation of the masses and has manifested less in the form of political parties.

On the other hand, what has taken place in Iran till now usually hasn’t been the formation of political parties in the strict sense of the term. Inner organizations and parties are usually based on difference in taste and lack a clear cut definition and base regarding major political elements. Thus, this concept hasn’t been received by the Iranian people and what has taken place and formed till now, can't really be called political parties.

One of the main flaws of political parties is that the interests of the Islamic nation as a whole are usually compromised in favor of the benefits and interests of the party; such an issue without a doubt is unacceptable in the Islamic and any other reasonable political system.[6]



[1] Hadavi Tehrani, Mahdi, Velayat va Diyanat, pg. 126.

[2] See: Saduq, Man la Yaduruhu al-Faqih, vol. 4, pg. 420 (the chapter of ‘nawadir’, hadith 5919); Saduq, Kitab al-Amali, pg. 109 (session 34, hadith 4); Saduq, Uyun Akhbar al-Rida (AS), vol. 2, pg. 37 (hadith 94); Saduq, Ma’ani al-Akhbaar, vol. 2, pg. 374, chapter 423; al-Hurr al-Ameli, Wasa’il al-Shiah, vol. 18, pp. 65 and 66, book of judgment, chapters on the attributes of the judge, chapter 8, hadiths 50 and 53; Noori, Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, book of judgment, chapter on the attributes of the judge, chapter 8, hadiths 10, 11, 48 and 52; Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 20, pg. 25, book of knowledge, chapter 8, hadith 83; Hindi, Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 10, pg. 229, book of ‘al-ilm min qism al-aqwal’, chapter 3, hadith 29209…Saduq narrates from Imam Ali (as) who narrates from the prophet of Allah (pbuh) that he said: “اللهم ارحم خلفائی”. The prophet was asked: “Who are your successors?” He replied: “الذین یأتون من بعدی یروون حدیثی و سنتی”. Saduq, Kamal al-Din (Ikmal al-Din), vol. 2, pg. 483, chapter 45, letters (tawqi’aat), letter 4.

Saduq narrates from Ishaq bin Yaqub in Kamal al-Din that Imam Mahdi (aj), in response to some inquiries, wrote with his own handwriting: “أمّا الحوادث الواقعة فارجعوا فیها إلى رواة حدیثنا، فإنّهم حجّتى علیکم و أنا حجّة الله علیهم” Regarding events that happen, refer to the narrators of our ahadith, for they are my proof over you and I am Allah’s proof over them.

[3] Saduq, Kamal al-Din (Ikmal al-Din), vol. 2, pg. 483, chapter 45, letters, letter 4.

[4] Surah Ahzaab, Verse 6.

[5] Velayat va Diyanat, pp. 127-129.

[6] Velayat va Diyanat, pp. 129-131.

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