Shia clergy

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In Shi'a Islam the guidance of clergy and keeping such a structure holds a great importance. The clergy structure depends on the branch of Shi'ism is being referred to.


Usooli and Akhbari Shia Twelver Muslims believe that the study of Islamic literature is a continual process, and is necessary for identifying all of God's laws. Twelver Shia Muslims believe that the process of finding God's laws from the available Islamic literature will facilitate in dealing with any circumstance. They believe that they can interpret the Qur'an and the Twelver Shi'a traditions with the same authority as their predecessors. This process of ijtihad has provided a means to deal with current issues from an Islamic perspective. Generally, the Twelver Shi'a clergy have exerted much more authority in the Twelver Shi'a community than have the Sunni ulema, who have generally followed directions handed by their political authorities.

Most Sunni scholars, preachers, and judges (collectively known as the Sunni ulema) traditionally believe that the door of ijtihad, or private judgment, is closed. That is because they have been under the direct scrutiny and control of Islamic scholars over the years. Thus, traditionally religious rulings have been issued by ulama. In contrast, Shia scholars have traditionally been distanced from, and therefore, outside the direct control of governments. This has afforded these clerical establishments much more flexibility in dealing with religious as well as political matters, while also allowing the door to Ijtihad wide open.

Usooli Shia considering it obligatory to obey a mujtahid when seeking to determine Islamically correct behavior. They believe the 12th Imam, ordered them to follow the scholars (Fuqaha) who: "...guard their soul, protect their religion, and follow the commandments of their master (Allah)..." The mujtahid they follow or emulate is known as a Marja' Taqleedi.[1] As of 2014 there were over 60 recognized Marj in the Shia Muslim world.

Historical role in politics and societyEdit

Modern historyEdit

The Shia clerics in this period were closely tied with the bazaars that were in turn strongly linked with the artisans and farmers that together formed traditional socioeconomic communities and centers of associational life with Islamic occasions and functions tying them to clerics who interpreted Islamic laws to settle commercial disputes and taxed the well-to-do to provide welfare for devout poorer followers. A succession of prayer-meetings and rituals were organized by both clergy and the laity. Bazaars also enjoyed ties with more modern sectors of Iranians society as many Iranian university students were from the merchant class. But since 1970s, the Shah of Iran aroused the defense and oppositions of the bazaar by attempts at bring under control their autonomous councils and marginalizing the clergy by taking over their educational and welfare activities. This combined with the growing public and clerical dissatisfaction with Shah's secular policies and his reliance on foreign powers particularly the United States, led to a nationwide revolution, that saw a high ranking cleric Ayatollah Khomeini and his clerical disciples as its top leadership, that deposed the Pahlavi Shah and founded the Islamic Republic of Iran.[2]


The Imamate in Nizārī Ismā'īlī doctrine (Arabic: إمامة‎) is a concept in Nizari Isma'ilism which defines the political, religious and spiritual dimensions of authority concerning Islamic leadership over the nation of believers. The primary function of the Imamate is to establish an institution between an Imam who is present and living in the world and his following whereby each is granted rights and responsibilities. See also Imamate in Nizari doctrine for further information.

The term Dāʻī al-Mutlaq (Arabic: الداعي المطلق‎) literally means "the absolute or unrestricted missionary". In Ismā'īlī Islām, the term dāʻī has been used to refer to important religious leaders other than the hereditary Imāms and the Daʻwa or "Mission" is a clerical-style organization. "The Daʻwa" was a term for the Ismā'īlī faith itself from early on. The Dāʻīs are also called Syednas. See Musta'li and Taiyabi for further information. List of Dai of Dawoodi Bohra

See alsoEdit


Contemporary scholarsEdit






Saudi ArabiaEdit

United StatesEdit



  1. ^ "The Importance of Ijtihad and Taqlid". Shah e Mardan. Archived from the original on 17 December 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  2. ^ Skocpol, Teda. "Rentier state and Shi'a Islam in the Iranian Revolution (Chapter 10) - Social Revolutions in the Modern World". Cambridge Core. Retrieved 2017-06-24.


  • Religion and Politics in Iraq. Shiite Clerics between Quietism and Resistance, M. Ismail Marcinkowski (ISBN 9971-77-513-1).