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Last Updated: 2007/01/24
Summary of question
I would like to know who was the first scholar who presented the concept of Wilayat Al- Faqih?
question
I would like to know who was the first scholar who presented the concept of Wilayat Al- Faqih?
Concise answer

The concept of “Wilayate Faqih” means the government of an Islamic society which is headed by someone who has reached the level of Ijtihad (Ability to answer contemporary questions based on Islamic concepts and values by referring to main Islamic sources: Quran and Sunnat in Islamic law). Some consider this concept relatively new in the history of Islamic thought, and say it only dates back to two centuries, while in Shia culture this order which was setup by righteous “Faqihs” (Jurists) during the time of absence [of the imam], in order for the “Share Muqadas” [Holy Legislator] to uphold society. This command has been definite and without doubt, and because of this, instead of discussions on the origin of this topic, more attention has been paid to its requirements and effects which have been further researched. The oldest existing document in reference to wilayate faqih is the book “Maqne’eh” by Sheikh Mufid. The blessed Sheikh Mufid is one of the great scholars of fourth and fifth century (Hijri –Lunar Calendar) Shia history. Over a thousand years have passed since his definitive remarks in this field.

Detailed Answer

The concept of “Wilayate Faqih” means the government of an Islamic society which is headed by someone who has reached the level of Ijtihad (Ability to answer contemporary questions based on Islamic concepts and values by referring to main Islamic sources: Quran and Sunnat in Islamic law). Some consider this concept relatively new in the history of Islamic thought, and say it only dates back to two centuries. They claim that none of the Shia or Sunni scholars have researched this issue: does a jurist, in addition to having the right to give fatwas (Islamic rulings) and to arbitrate them, in that respect that he is a jurist, also have a right to govern and lead an Islamic country(s) or the world?

            And for the first time, less than two centuries ago, the blessed Mula Ahmad Naraqi (who lived during the time of FathAli Shah of Qajar, known as Fazel Kashani) initiated research on this issue.

In Shia culture this mandate has been definite and certain, and because of this therefore, more attention has been paid to its requirements and effects as they have been researched further. The blessed Sheikh Mufid (333 or 338 -413 Hijri) is one of the great scholars of fourth and fifth century (Hijri) Shia history. All of the discourses of this great Islamic scholar, on accepting the origin of Wilayate Faqih, and on the governing order of an Islamic society by adherent jurists (in the absence of the imam) are a direct order from the infallible Imams (Peace be upon them). Even though over a thousand years have passed since these respected discourses, they still shed light, although some can not see or choose not to see that light.[1]

On the matter of enjoining good and forbidding evil, he recognized the following instances as obligations of a jurist:

 

A.)    Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is wrong on a higher scale

B.)    Citing limits [according to Islamic law]

C.)    Enforcing and authorizing Islamic law

D.)    Declaring holy war and struggle against nonbelievers

E.)    Establishing prayers such as Jumah prayer, Eid Ul-Fitr and Eid Ul-Qurban prayers, Istisqa prayer, Wahshat prayer

F.)    Arbitrating and judging

 

 

Also, in the instance of Anfal [natural domains i.e.; rivers, mountains, jungles, etc. which are not owned by a specific individual, rather by God’s permission, they are the disposal of the Waliye Faqih as part of the Islamic Government], Sheikh Mufid acknowledged that regulations and alterations of Anfal may only be done with the permission of a just Imam[2]. After Sheikh Mufid (May Allah’s mercy be upon him), subsequent scholars, have discussed the place of Wilayate Faqi and the limits of its authority[3].

 

 

Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani

Wilayat and Religion

The House of Wisdom Cultural Institute

Qom

Second Edition

1380 (Solar Calendar) [2001]



[1] For further information, please refer to: The Precedence of Wilayate Faqih

[2] For further information, please refer to: Wilayate Faqih and Sheikh Mufid

[3] For further information, please refer to: Wilayate Faqih and Scholars

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