Following a deceased marja (religious authority)

Question 171: Salaams dear Sheikh. I would like help with regards to the following question: Can a person who has never followed the edicts of a certain deceased Marji’ follow his rulings on a specific issue now?

Answer 171: It is not permissible to follow initially a deceased (A’lam). Of course, it is permissible to continue his Taqlid in some matters absolutely on which he has acted upon (during his lifetime), and apparently even in matters on which he has not acted upon (during his lifetime).

As a precaution, however, it is permissible to revert to a living A’lam, and this reversion is in conformity with the most cautious opinion. As a precaution, it is not permissible subsequently to revert to the verdict of the deceased (A’lam). Similarly, it is not permissible to revert to another living jurist, except when the latter is more learned than the former, because, according to the more cautious opinion, it is obligatory to shift over to the more learned (Mujtahid). It is (more) reliable for a person to continue to follow a living (A’lam), (rather than to follow a deceased A’lam). If a person continues to follow a deceased Mujtahid, without shifting over to a living one, according to whose verdict it is permissible to continue to follow a deceased Mujtahid, it would be as if the person is acting without Taqlid.[1]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Ways to obtain the verdict of a Mujtahid, answer 555.

Index:  When a representative of a marja tells a rule incorrectly, answer 019.

Index:  Ajwabat al-Istiftaat: Risalah of Ayatollah Khamenei, answer 192.

[1] . TAHRIR AL-WASILAH of Imam Khomeini, Pg. 16.


Shia answers: Necessity of Taqlid

Question 172: Is Taqleed wajib according to all mujtahideen or is there any difference of opinions?

Answer 172: It is obligatory (Wajib) on a (Muslim) who is a Mukallaf (a sane and adult person bound to fulfill religious duties) and one who has not attained the status of a Mujtahid (a religious scholar who is competent to exercise his individual judgment on theological issues) to be a Muqallid (a Follower of a Mujtahid) or be a Muhtät (one exercising caution),provided that he has the knowledge about the cases in which caution is to be exercised, in matters other than essentials (Daruriyyat) belonging to ibàdãt (matters of purely religious nature as prayers, fasting, Zakãt, Khums and Haj) and Muãmalat (matters relating to public dealings),even if they belong to the category of Mustahabbät (Desirable acts) or Mubãhãt (Permissible acts), although there are a few who have knowledge of the cases of caution. So the acts of a person belonging to laity who has no knowledge of the cases where caution is to be exercised, except by way of following a Mujtahid, shall be void.[1]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Ways to obtain the verdict of a Mujtahid, answer 555.

[1] . Tawzih al-Masael, Vol. 1, Pg. 11; Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khoeini, Pg. 14.


Impermissibility of giving Sadat portion of Khums to a non-Ithna Ashari Sayyid

Question 041: Can the Sadaat portion of khums be given to a non-Ithna Ashari? For example, can it be given to a Sunni Sayyid?

Answer 041: According to all maraja’ point of view, it is impermissible to give the Sadaat portion of Khums to a non-Ithnā’ ashariyyah Sayyid.[1]

Khums can be given to a Sayyid who may not be A’dil, but it should not be given to a Sayyid who is not Ithna ‘Ashari.

If a person claims that he is a Sayyid, Khums cannot be given to him unless two just (A’dil) persons confirm that he is a Sayyid, or if he is so well-known among the people, (as Sayyid) that one is sure and satisfied about him being a Sayyid. [2]

Sahme (portion) Sadat should be given, as an obligatory precaution, to the Marja whom he follows or be given to poor Seyyeds (Athnā‘ ashariyyah) with the permission of the Mujtahid, according to most of maraja’.[3]

Note: Khums should be divided into two parts. One part is Sahme (share of) Imam (a.s.), and the other is Sahme Sadat. When it comes to paying Sahme Sadat, Grand jurists such as Sistani, Tabrizi (r.a) and Saafi do not consider the Mujtahid’s permission to be necessary; [thus, he can pay it to poor and faithful Sayyids (Twelver) without obtaining their permission.] Ayatollah Bahjat (ra) and Makarem (ha) said: obtaining your mujtahid’s permission is necessary, according to an obligatory precaution.[4]

[1] . Tawzih al-Masiel al-mohasha (with connotation), Vol. 2. Pg. 61,question 1837.

[2] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), rules concerning Disposal of Khums.

[3] . Grand Ayatollahs Fazel Lankarani (r.a), Noori Hamedani, Makarem Shirazi, Bahjat (r.a) and Wahid Khurasani.

[4] . For further information refer to: Portal Anhar Website & Official website of Ayatollah Bahjat (ra).


Ways to obtain the verdict (Fatwa) of a Mujtahid

Question 555: Can you please tell us the ways by which we can obtain the verdict (Fatwa) of a Mujtahid?

Answer 555: There are three ways of adopting the verdict (Fatwa) of a Mujtahid on different issues:

  1. Listening to the verdict from the Mujtahid himself.
  2. Narration by one or two morally sound (Adl) persons about the Mujtahid (‘s verdict) or about (his opinion given in) his Risâlah (Tawzih al-Masael), provided that it is free from (typing) errors; rather, the narration by a single person would be sufficient, if he happens to be one whose statement is relied upon.
  3. Consulting the Mujtahid’s Risãlah, provided that it is free from (typing) errors.[1]

[1] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini, RULES REGARDING TAQLID.


When a representative of marja tells a rule incorrectly

Question 019: If a representative of marja or religious scholar (not a Marja himself) tells a ruling of a Marja e Taqlid incorrectly and we follow his advice deeming it to be correct, will our action be regarded correct in the light of shari’ah?

Answer 019: It depends on what action has been done incorrectly. In some cases, making mistakes doesn’t void your action, however, in other cases, it would void it. For example, if you performed your wudu incorrectly (leaving out some parts of the body which must be washed in wudhu) according to the representatives explanation and then you realized it was wrong, you have to compensate your prayers which have been previously offered, because wudu and the like is an obligatory action that must be done c orrectly.

It doesn’t matter if you yourself didn’t know how to do it correctly, nor that you offered it based on the representative or even the marja whom you follow, in that he explained its rule mistakenly.

If you made mistakes without causing harm (e.g. did the wiping of the head or feet [mash] with a new water), then your wudhu and ghusl will be considered correct; and, consequently, his past prayers and pilgrimage will also be considered correct, if you was ignorant out of negligence in learning the Islamic laws.[1]

On the other hand, if you mistakenly recited Suratul Ikhlas incorrectly your prayer would be considered as valid whether or not you have done it based on your own knowledge or the marja’ Fatwa.

Additional Source: This Question was sent to the office of Ayatollah Mousa Shubairi Zanjani (ha), and His Excellency has replied to it as follows: “It depends on what action has been done incorrectly. E.g. those prayers have previously been offered by the wudhu have to be compensated”.

According to Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, if the wudhu has previously been performed incorrectly you have to compensate all your prayers which have been previously offered.

[1] . For further information regarding Jahl, please refer to: The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha).


The curriculum of Hawzah / the first Shia Marja

Question 543: Salam. Sea of knowledge. Please, give me great information about DAR’s e kharijh or most hank rank class in hawza. Tell me the name of first marjhe in shiat history, who delivered this class firstly. In past whose marjhe great famous of DAR’s e kharijh in hawza?

What is the specific duration of that great class? Becase, this class grown of shait? Why in ahle sunnat not existing this type of class. Plz make a brief article on that topic

Answer 543: This is the current curriculum that the Hawzah follows:

1- The introductory level or Level 1 of the Hawzah (Islamic Seminary) which takes about six years to be completed.  The first three years are usually spent for studying Arabic literature and other lessons, Islamic rules, Principles of faith, and the next three years are spent  for studying general fiqh (Islamic Law) using the book Sharhul-Lum’ah and the principles of fiqh using the book usulul-fiqh of Mudhaffar.

2- Level 2 of the Hawzah (Bachelors): In this level, in addition to studying fiqh and usul in a more detailed way using the books Rasael and Makasib, Hawzah students can also major in other subjects such as theology, tafsir, philosophy, propagation etc.

3- Level 3 of the Hawzah (Masters): In this period, one must complete the level using the books Kifayat al-Ususl, Makasib, Nihayat al-Hikmat, Rijal, etc. and must also write a thesis too.

  1. Level 4 of the Hawzah (Ph.D): One must complete the level and have at least two years of kharij experience and must also write a thesis too.

In short, these stages take ten years altogether in which can also be completed in shorter periods.

After these ten years, which are called the sat’h period, the kharij period of study begins. This period doesn’t have a specific amount of years and its time differs with each of the maraji’ and teachers. Some of the Ulema might end their usul class in five years while others might take fifteen years to finish.  Fiqh usually takes a long time too, because there are more than forty fiqh subjects that need to be covered which naturally takes a long time.  A faqih needs to spend a lifetime to be able to cover all of these different subjects.

Becoming a mujtahid also depends on one’s potential and skills.  One individual might be able to become a mujtahid in only five years of kharij studies through hard work and effort, while another might not be able to accomplish this goal for fifty years!

It should be noted that Ijtihad is the power and ability of being able to derive Islamic law from its sources and that one who studies his introductory courses in the first ten years or the sat’h period better, is better off in the kharij period which is in reality a course of getting familiar with the method of ijtihad.  The rest all depends on the student’s effort and Allah’s help in gaining the ability of ijtihad.

Mujtahid is a jurist competent enough to deduce precise inferences[1] regarding the commandments from the holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the holy Prophet by the process of Ijtihad. Ijtihad literally means striving and exerting. Technically as a term of jurisprudence it signifies the application by a jurist of all his faculties to the consideration of the authorities of law with a view to finding out what in all probability is the law. The laws derived from the sources are normally gathered in a book called “Tawzih al-Masail” (Islamic Laws). The religious authority who is a source of emulation must meet other conditions also such as piety, continence and awareness of the issues of the Islamic world and Shi’ism.

As stated earlier, taqlid in Shia religion began from the time of the Imams (AS) who referred their followers to the narrators of traditions as well as to their close companions.  Sometimes they even encouraged their companions to sit in the mosques and public places to give verdicts and guide people[2] which was due, mainly, to the fact that the people did not have access to the infallibles as they lived in other cities or in faraway places. During the period of minor occultation, there was a greater need for religious laws and, as per the narration which was related from Imam Mahdi (AS), during this time, people are supposed to know Islamic rules through the jurists who meet certain requirements. Thus, they should follow them and following such jurists is not confined to a particular time or era.

In the fourth Islamic century, taqlid was introduced as a technical term in the books concerning the principles of jurisprudence.[3] The first person to be known as a religious authority for elites and common people was Sheikh Tusi in the fifth Islamic century. That was why he was then called Sheikh al-Taefah (the scholar of the people). His juridical views drew attention from all other scholars.  There were some other prominent scholars before him in the fourth hegira century like his teacher Sheikh Mufid to whom people turned for advice in religious and spiritual matters. Also people like Ibn Abi Aqil Ummani, Ibn Wali and Sheikh Saduq wrote verdict –based books with reliance on narrations. They wrote fatwa books by mentioning the text of the traditions.  Sheikh Saduq wrote a book emulating a book titled “The Doctor of One Who Does not Have Access to any Doctor”.  His book was titled “Faqih man La Yahzuruhu al-Faqih” which means “A Jurisprudent of Someone Who Does not Have Access to any Jurisprudent”.

Shiite scholars always considered themselves responsible and committed to deal with questions raised by Shia Muslims and even people from other Islamic sects. This practice never stopped at any period of time but it culminated in the time of Sheikh Tusi (ra). Because although answering people’s questions was something routine and normal, the governments generally subscribed to Sunni beliefs and religion. Their books not only touched on general devotional practices and deeds but also they also dealt with particular and new issues until the opponents accused Shia of not having anything to say about particular and specific issues which caused Sheikh Tusi to write ‘al-Mabsut’.[4] To respond to the blames and objections, he himself embarked on writing ‘al-Mabsut’ which deals with secondary jurisprudential issues. Given the prominence and greatness of Sheikh Tusi, for many centuries, the Shiite scholars benefited from his thoughts and views and no one ever wrote anything in opposition to him until Ibn Idris Hilli (ra) emerged in the scholarly circle.  He and the scholars after him showed the guts to challenged Sheikh Tusi’s juridical notions.

Nevertheless, at the same time a book titled Sharaye’ al-Islam was written and which is unique in its beauty and how it has separated secondary issues from main general topics. After him, the First and Second Martyrs (Shahidayn) emerged in the Shiite world. They wrote books like “The Gleam” (Lum’ah) and its “Annotation” in which they mixed the demonstrative jurisprudence with verdicts and made them available for the laity. In every period of time, there have been prominent jurisprudents who undertook the leadership of the Shiite community.  There haven’t been any time in which people may not have had access to general religious authority ranging from Sheikh Saduq, Sheikh Mufid, Sheikh Tusi and Ibn Idris to Allamah Hilli, Shahidayn (Two Martyrs), Muqaddas Ardabili, Sheikh Bahai, Mjlisi, the First, and Majlisi, the Second to the scholars in the last few centuries such as Sheikh Ansari, Muhammad Hasan (the author of Jawaher al-Kalam) and many other scholars who like strong and formidable mountains served as refuge and shelter for Shiites across.

Indeed, during the Safavid period, there were some migrant scholars in the Safavid court. These scholars including Sheikh Bahai’s father, Hussein bin Abdus Samad Amili (918 – 985), were from Jabil Amil[5] and who helped form a centrality in the clerical institution. Thus, scholars emerged whose reputation surpassed their region. It is not true to say that the Shiite marja’eyyah started in the Safavid era because, as stated, this is something rejected both textually and rationally.

Indeed, in the same way that the harmony and close ties of Sunni scholars with the governments of their time helped strengthen their position, the same is true with Shiite scholars who enjoyed an opportunity to strengthen themselves in the Safavid era. There was no such opportunity before this time and it does not mean that the scholars were affiliated to the government.[6] A look at what history tells us in this regard will make clear everything. A proof of that is the flourishing and emergence of Shiite scholars in every era especially during the stay of Ayatollah Boroujardi in the Islamic seminary of Qom.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index:  Conditions for non-Iranian ladies who want to study in Hawzah (Islamic seminary), answer 152.

Index: The First Shia Mujtahid, answer 503.

[1] . Vide: The Principles for Issuing Verdicts.

[2] . Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.101, p.268, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, second edition, 1403 A.H.

«وَ اجْلِسْ لَهُمُ الْعَصْرَيْنِ‏ فَأَفْتِ لِلْمُسْتَفْتِي وَ عَلِّمِ الْجَاهِلَ وَ ذَاكِرِ الْعَالِمَ»؛

[3] . Gurji, Abul Qasim, The Periods of Usul al-Fiqh, p.38, Mizan Publications, Tehran, first edition, 1385 (solar calendar).

[4] . Vide: Sheikh Tusi, Abu Ja’far bin Hasan, al-Mabsut fi Fiqh al-Imamiyah, researcher and editor, Kashfi, Sayyid Muhammad Taqi, vol.1, p.2, al-Maktabah al-Murtazawiyah Le- Ihya al-Turath al-Ja’fariyah, Tehran, third edition, 1387 A.H.

[5] . Husseini Jalali, Sayed Muhammad Hussein, Fehres al-Turath, vol.1, p. 811, Dalil Maa Publications, Qom, 1422 A.H.

[6] . Vide: Allamah Majlisi, The Eulogist of the Safavid Government or the Preacher of Religious Teachings, Answer 13396.