The Opposition of some of the Shia scholars of the idea of Khomeini regarding the Representational Authority of the Jurist

Fifthly: His view regarding the Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist
October 25, 2018
The Constitution of the State of the Scholars
October 25, 2018

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The Opposition of some of the Shia scholars of the idea of Khomeini regarding the Representational Authority of the Jurist


The idea of Khomeini, which transfers all the tasks and duties of the Mahdi to the jurist and restricts the authoritative leadership to him, induced opposition from many Shia scholars. As a result a very animated dispute broke out between Khomeini and one of their leading scholars and references Shari’atmadari.[1] A group of their scholars similarly openly announced their opposition of his position.[2]

Muhammad Jawwad Mughniyah likewise displayed his bafflement at the extent to which Khomeini went in asserting his idea, i.e. equalising the capacities of the infallible Imam and the Jurists. He says:


قول المعصوم وأمره تماما كالتنزيل من الله العزيز العليم وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ  ومعنى هذا أن للمعصوم حق الطاعة والولاية على الراشد والقاصر والعالم والجاهل، وإن السلطة الروحية الزمنية-مع وجوده- تنحصر به وحده لا شريك له، وإلا كانت الولاية عليه وليست له، علما بأنه لا أحد فوق المعصوم عن الخطأ الخطيئة إلا من له الخلق والأمر جل وعز… أبعد هذا يقال: إذا غاب المعصوم انتقلت ولايته بالكامل إلى الفقيه

The verdict of the infallible and his order is just like revelation from Allah the Almighty and the All Knowing. ‘Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed.[3] This implies that the infallible possess the right of obedience and leadership over the mature and the immature, the learned and the unlettered. It also implies that the spiritual and time-confined (to his presence) leadership is specific to him alone, without any partner. Or else it would entail that the authority is to his loss and not to his advantage, knowing fully well that there is no one besides Allah in whose control is creation and dominion above the infallible Imam… After this can it still be said that in his absence his authority is fully transferred to the jurist?[4]


Hence the idea of Khomeini according to him is extremely fanatical due to the problem: how can the ruling of a jurist be equated to the ruling of the infallible Imam. He further explains:


حكم المعصوم منزه عن الشك والشبهات، لأنه دليل لا مدلول، وواقعي لا ظاهري… أما الفقيه فحكمه مدلول يعتمد على الظاهر، وليس هذا فقط، بل هو عرضة للنسيان غلبة الزهو والغرور، والعواطف الشخصية، والتأثير المحيط والبيئة، وتغيير الظروف الاقتصادية والمكانة الاجتماعية، وقد عاينت وعاينت الكثير من الإحكام الجائرة، ولا يتسع المجال للشواهد والأمثال سوى أني عرفت فقيها بالزهد والتقوى قبل الرياسة، وبعدها تحدث الناس عن ميله مع الأولاد والأصهار

The ruling of the infallible is free from doubts because in itself it is evidence and is not derived from another evidence. It is also based on fact/reality and not upon apparent suggestions. As for the jurist, his ruling is derived (from textual evidence) and is based upon external suggestions. Not only that, but it is susceptible to forgetfulness, being overwhelmed by conceit and pride, personal emotions, encompassing impact, environment and change in economic conditions and social standing. I have witnessed many instances wherein oppressive rulings were passed. The context does not allow for citing examples. However, I have known a jurist to be disinclined from the world and pious before assuming leadership, but after assuming it people started to talk about his leanings changing with his children and relatives-in-law.[5]


This is a testification from a scholar against his own; a testification which says that whenever a jurist secures an opportunity of leadership his image as a pious and ascetic scholar soon changes. And these scholars, whom he describes with the above, according to Khomeini are meant to be the leaders of the Ummah.

Hence the opponents of the viewpoint of Khomeini still feel that the authority of the jurist is much more restricted than the authority of the Infallible Imam.[6] According to them it does not exceed what is narrated in their legacy, i.e. the authority of issuing fatwas, assuming judicial positions, overseeing endowments, the wealth of the absent Imam and the inheritance of those who have inheritors.[7]

Al Mughniyah has, in order to support his viewpoint, drawn evidence from the statements of a number of their senior scholars and has thereafter violated the evidences advanced by Khomeini. He clarifies that they do not in any way refer to the comprehensive authority which he seeks to prove.

Whilst there is no need for us to delve in to the details of this debate, it is crucial to note that Khomeini declares that the classical position of his dogma, due to it averring that the authority of the jurist does not include authority in leadership, entails the annulment of the injunctions of Islam and is equivalent to believing that Din is abrogated. But on the other hand, Khomeini’s proofs are not strong enough to support his viewpoint and thus the rulings he has passed regarding his dogma still remain true and that is that they are based upon principles contrary to Shari’ah, reason and the nature of things.

Conversely, the opposite view returns the matter of leadership to the common people and does not consider it specific to the scholars of the Shia. These scholars thus remain in the setting they were officially placed in, i.e. their restricted authority, till the Mahdi emerges and takes charge of both worldly and religious affairs. According to the secular language of these times this is referred to as separating religion from the state. The Shia dogma thus oscillates between the extremism of Khomeini and the subtle call for separation between religion and the state. Any dogma which is based on falsehood will inevitably only emerge with such contradictions.

Likewise, both positions settle upon the invalidity of the Shia dogma in its claim of emphatic appointments of the Imams; because both of them do not restrict leadership to a specific individual except the Mahdi who is missing, absent and will never return due to him not existing at all.


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[1] ‘Abdul Jabbar al ‘Umar: al Khumayni bayn al Din wa al Dawlah: discussion regarding Khomeini and Shari’atmadari: p. 144, onwards.

[2] Ibid. p. 153-154.

[3] Surah al Najm: 3.

[4] Al Khumayni wa al Dawlah al Islamiyyah p. 59.

[5] Al Khumayni wa al Dawlah al Islamiyyah p. 59-60.

[6] Ibid. p. 61.

[7] Ibid. p. 60.

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