The Legal and Spiritual Authority of the Marji

The marāji‘ are the ultimate source of legal reference for tens of millions of Twelver Shī‘ī Muslims, and the nature of their authority has yet to be understood. Muqallids of these jurists have a stronger attachment to them than what is believed to have existed between mufti and mustaftī. The marāji‘ have the exclusive right to give fatwas and collect certain religious taxes and are also spiritual role models. Cameron Zargar discusses previous theory as well as the biographies and hagiographies of the marāji‘to conceptualize marja‘iyya and enhances this understanding with fieldwork conducted in Iran to demonstrate how taqlīd operates in practice.

Image courtesy of interviewee

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