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Velayat-e Faqih: innovation or within tradition

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The concept of Velayat-e Faqih as a type of Shi’ite Islamic government gained popularity three decades ago, after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The new constitution of the Islamic Republic

The concept of Velayat-e Faqih as a type of Shi’ite Islamic government gained popularity three decades ago, after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The new constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was based on Velayat-e Fagih, proposed by the Imam Khomeini many consider him as the leader of the Islamic Revolution and the founder of the Iranian Islamic Republic. What is Velayat-e Faqih? Who can be the Vali Faqih? Why wasn't this idea proposed before Islamic Revolution in 1979? Did all the Shi’ite religious scholars endorse this idea or the Vali Faqih himself? All of these questions ultimately lead us to ask whether this concept has been drawn from Shi’ite Islamic discourses or it may perhaps be considered a novelty: a secularization of religion. These questions are increasingly discussed in academia and in the large public arena. Moreover, this discourse has divided Shi’ite Muslims into three groups: supporters of the Velayat-e Faqih, its opponents, and the silent group. It is important to analyze the position of all those groups including the silent group who did not publicly endorse or reject the theory. The theory of Velayat-e Faqih has emerged from the Imamate doctrine, which constitutes a cornerstone of Shi'ite sect of Islam. It is necessary to understand this political doctrine in relation to the context within which this concept of leadership had emerged. In order to overcome the ambiguities surrounding the relationship between Velayat-e Faqih and the position of Islamic jurist as a source of guidance and imitation (Marje Taqleed), it is necessary to discuss the various dimension of guardianship in the absence of the infallible Imam. Furthermore, the focus of this research is to review whether the concept of Velayat-e Faqih was innovated after the Islamic Revolution of Iran or existed within the Shi’ite tradition.

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  • 2016