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Marjaʿ (Arabic: مرجع‎) (Plural: marājiʿ), also known as a marjaʿ taqlīdī or marjaʿ dīnī (Arabic: مرجع تقليدي / مرجع ديني‎), literally means "Source to Imitate/Follow" or "Religious Reference". Marja or Source of Emulation is the label provided to Shia authority, a Grand Ayatollah with the authority to make legal decisions within the confines of Islamic law for followers and less-credentialed clerics. After the Qur'an and the Prophets and Imams, marājiʿ are the highest authority on religious laws in Usuli Shia Islam.


  • Title 1
  • History 2
  • The role of the marja 3
  • Authority of marājiʿ 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Currently, marājiʿ are accorded the title Grand Ayatollah (Arabic/Persian: آية ‌الله العظمی Ayatollah al-Uthma), however when referring to one, the use of Ayatollah is not acceptable. Previously, the titles of Allamah[1] and Imam[2] have also been used.


Imitation Shia Islam imams era began.They are the Hadith of their followers or their close friends, sometimes they refer their friends to attend mosques and community centers for Fatwa and Islamic people were encouraged.In the era of imams and encourage them to imitate the appearance of it, due to the large distances between cities, the lack of essential facilities for traveling people and thus difficult to access or lack of access to his Imam, reservation agent, in many cases, and the creation of personal problems Imams in the Auditor hardship for people in their place. In the minor occultation need to imitate the religious orders became more sense, so that the last events of the Twelfth Imam of Shiite been quoted, reference jurists understand the provisions of the new issues introduced with situations and people to imitate them. Imitation jurisprudence of the fourth century AD as a technical term is defined.First, the concept of a clear link with what is called later reference, did not. The first official reference who was among the Shiites, Shaykh Tusi was in the fifth century,Other scholars to follow him and knew of his story later interpreted to imitate him. This imitation, imitation is called the world of the universe. But the principles of general imitation of the tenth century priest who was clearly.At first, the relationship between the people and the great scholars who were called reference relationship was decentralized and in one or more scientists see the people.During the Safavid era with immigrant scholars from Jabal Amel, Lebanon was in the court of Safavid dynasty tendency to focus on clergy and scholars emerged that reputation beyond their own region.The culmination of this focus during the stay was the Qom Seminary Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi, Boroujerdi without rival Shia source of emulation and vast wealth was accumulated in this city. After his death came during a plurality of authority again."[3]

The role of the marja

From the perspective of jurisprudence, Shiite clerics during the occultation of Muhammad al-Mahdi, vice-general and his successors in the religious and Islamic jurisprudence are understood and explained.

Shiite authorities in the history of Shia important role in the religious, political and social thought and their communities have. By Mirza Mohammed Hassan Husseini Shirazi fatwa sanctioning the example of tobacco during the Qajar rule that led to the abolition of tobacco concession."[4]

Authority of marājiʿ

The marjaʿiyah of an ayatollah transpires when he becomes a celebrated figure in the hawza and his students and followers trust him in answering their questions, and ask him to publish his juristic book, the risālah ʿamalīyah—a manual of practical rulings arranged according to topics dealing with ritual purity, worship, social issues, business, and political affairs. The risālah contains an ayatollah's fatwas on different topics, according to his knowledge of the most authentic Islamic sources and their application to current life. Traditionally only the most renowned ayatollahs of the given time published a risālah, while today many ayatollahs of varying degrees of illustriousness have published one, while some of the renowned ones have refused to do so.

Where a difference in opinion exists between the marājiʿ, each of them provides their own opinion and the Muqallid will follow his/her own marjaʿ's opinion on that subject.[5] A mujtahid, i.e. someone who has completed advanced training (dars kharij) in the hawza and has acquired the license to engage in ijtihad (ʾijāz al-ʾijtihād) from one or several ayatollahs, is exempted from the requirement to follow a marjaʿ. One should note, however, that ijtihad is not always comprehensive and so a mujtahid may be an expert in one particular area of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and exercise ijtihad therein, but follow a marjaʿ in other areas of fiqh.

Several senior Grand Ayatollahs constitute the hawza, a religious institution. The hawza of Qom and Najaf are preeminent seminary centers for the training of Shia clergymen. However, there are other smaller hawzas in other cities around the world, such as Karbala in Iraq, and Isfahan and Mashhad in Iran.

There are 64 living Maraji worldwide as of 2014, mainly living in Najaf and Qom. The most prominent and popular of these include Ali al-Sistani, Muhammad al-Fayadh, Muhammad Saeed al-Hakim and Bashir al-Najafi in Najaf; and Hossein Vahid Khorasani, Mousa Shubairi Zanjani, Sayyid Sadeq Rohani, Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili, Naser Makarem Shirazi and Yousef Saanei in Qom.

See also


  1. ^ such as Allameh Tabatabaei, Allameh Majlesi, Allameh Hilli
  2. ^ such as Imam Khomeini, Imam Rohani, Imam Shirazi and Imam Sadr
  4. ^ Politics, Protest and Piety in Qajar Iran. Tobacco Protest. 
  5. ^ FAQ on Marjaʿ's - in Persian

External links

  • Slate Magazine's "So you want to be an Ayatollah", explaining how Shiite clerics earn the title
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