Authority of the Jurist Leader and the Edict of the Authorized Religious Authority
Q 56: Is the belief in the principle of the authority of the jurist leader, with respect to its concept and instance, based on reason or derived from Islamic law?
A: The authority of the jurist leader, which is the governance of a just mujtahid who is learned in religion, is a biding shar‘ī rule that is confirmed by reason as well. There is a rational method for determining the outer instance of this precept, which is elaborated upon in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Q 57: Are shar‘ī rules alterable and revocable when the jurist leader passes an edict that contradicts those rules due to the public interest of Islam and Muslims?
A: It depends.
Q 58: Should the media in an Islamic system be supervised by the jurist leader, by the Islamic Seminaries, or by some other organization?
A: They should be run under the direction and supervision of the leader of Muslims. That is, it should be used for the service of Islam and Muslims, the dissemination of divine teachings, solving the problems of the Islamic society, intellectual development, the promotion of Muslim Unity and brotherhood, solidarity amongst Muslims, and so forth.
Q 59: Could someone who does not believe in the absolute authority of the Jurist Leader be considered a true Muslim?
A: The lack of belief, whether based on ijtihād or taqlīd, in the absolute authority of the jurist leader during the period of occultation of the Imam al-Ḥujjah [the 12th Imam] — may our souls be sacrificed for his cause — does not lead to apostasy.
Q 60: Does the jurist leader enjoy a kind of authority that enables him to abrogate religious laws for such reasons as public interest?
A: Abrogation of the rules of Islamic law, after the demise of the Great Messenger of Islam (SW) is impossible. Alteration that takes place in the subject, the emergence of necessity and exigency or the existence of a temporary obstacle in implementing a rule does not constitute abrogation.
Q 61: What is our duty towards those who think that the authority of the jurist leader is restricted only to ḥisbī affairs, given that some of their representatives propagate their belief?
A: The authority of the jurist leader in the realm of the leadership of the Islamic society and governance of social affairs of Muslims in all periods and eras is one of the fundamental beliefs of the true Twelver denomination; as its roots are founded in the principle of Imamate. Whoever is led by reasoning and proof not to accept this notion is excused, but it is not permissible for him to spread disunity and controversy among Muslims.
Q 62: Are the commands of the jurist leader binding for all Muslims or only for his followers? Is it obligatory for someone, who makes taqlīd of a mujtahid who does not believe in the absolute authority of the jurist leader, to obey him or not?
A: According to the Shī‘ah denomination, it is obligatory for all Muslims to submit to the wilā’ī edicts issued by the jurist leader, and to comply with his commands and proscriptions. This ruling applies to all eminent mujtahids, let alone their followers! In our opinion, commitment to the authority of the jurist leader is not separable from the commitment to Islam and the authority of the infallible Imams (AS).
Q 63: The term ‘absolute authority’ was used during the time of the Noble Messenger (SW) in the sense that when he (SW) ordered an individual to do something, it was obligatory for him to carry out his order, even if it was one of the most difficult acts such as suicide. My question is whether the term ‘absolute authority’ still means the same thing, given that the Noble Prophet (SW) was infallible, whereas no infallible leader exists at the present time?
A: The ‘absolute authority’ of the qualified mujtahid means that the true religion of Islam, which is the final heavenly religion and will last till the Day of Resurrection, is a religion of governance and administration of social affairs. Therefore, it is necessary for the Islamic society, at all levels, to have a guardian for their affairs, a ruler, and a leader to defend the Islamic society against the enemies of Islam and Muslims. He must preserve their social system, establish justice among them, prevent the strong from victimizing the weak, and attain for them the means of cultural, political, and social development and prosperity.
At the stage of implementation, the above goals might sometimes conflict with the tendencies, ambitions, interests, and liberty of some individuals. Thus, after assuming the grave duty of leadership according to Islamic law, it is obligatory for the leader of Muslims to take necessary measures, whenever he realizes the need for them, and issue orders in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence.
When the general interests of Islam and the Muslims are at issue, the jurist leader’s will and authority should necessarily be superior to the will and powers of the people in case of disagreement. This is a short explanation of the concept of absolute authority.
Q 64: According to the fatwā of mujtahids, continuing to follow a deceased mujtahid depends on the permission of the living one. Do the wilā’ī edicts and orders issued by a deceased (jurist) leader also require the permission of the living leader to remain effective or are they efficacious without the permission of a living leader?
A: The wilā’ī edicts and decisions made by the leader of Muslims remains effective unless they were limited to a certain time span or the new leader of Muslims deems it beneficial to revoke them, and thus, does so.
Q 65: Is it obligatory for a mujtahid who lives in the Islamic Republic of Iran but does not believe in the absolute authority of the jurist leader to obey his orders? Will he be considered as unjust if he defies the jurist leader? And if a mujtahid believes in the absolute authority of the jurist leader but regards himself to be more qualified for that position, will he be considered as unjust if he disobeys the orders of the mujtahid who is in charge of leadership?
A: It is obligatory for every mukallaf — even if he is a mujtahid — to obey the wilā’ī orders of the jurist leader. It is not permissible for anyone to disobey him — as the one with the responsibilities of leadership — on the pretext of being more qualified. This is the case, only if the present mujtahid in charge of leadership reached the office through its known legal process; otherwise, the matter would be completely different.
Q 66: Does the qualified mujtahid have any authority to enforce Islamic penal codes during the period of occultation of the 12th Imam (a.)?
A: Enforcement of Islamic penal codes is obligatory, even during the period of occultation and the authority in this regard belongs to the leader of Muslims.
Q 67: Is the authority of the jurist leader an issue of following (in which someone could follow a marji‘) or is it a doctrinal issue, which the mukallaf must believe in through his own reason and understanding? And what is the rule with respect to someone who does not believe in it?
A: The authority of the jurist leader is an aspect of wilāyah and Imamate that forms one of the fundamental principles of the Shī‘ah denomination with one difference that the rules pertaining to it are derived — like every other juristic rule — from the evidence and sources of Islamic law. Whoever is led by reasoning not to believe in it is excused.
Q 68: Is it obligatory to obey the orders of the jurist leader’s representative that lie within the jurisdiction of his representation?
A: If his orders are issued within the limits of the powers delegated to him by the jurist leader, it is not permissible to disobey them.
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