The Rational Argument for Wilayat al-Faqih

Recourse to rational argument has a long history amongst Shi’a scholars. Some believe that the rational theory was first adopted by the Zaydi Shi’a, al-Qasim ibn Ibrahim (785 - Medina 860), who argued that divinely appointed political authority is necessary due to the imperfections of human nature[84].
Mullah Ahmad Naraqi (d. 1829), the author of ‘Avaed al-Ayyam’, was the first Imami jurist who appealed to logical reasoning to support the concept of universal authority (Wilayat al-amma).
This approach adopts a similar structure to those rational arguments upon which Shi’a scholars base the necessity of Prophethood and Imamate; that it was necessary for God to appoint some people as Prophets and Imams in order to provide divine guidance to mankind. Therefore it is only reasonable to assume that in the absence of such infallible guidance, God would entrust the responsibilities of religious and political leadership to those people best qualified to undertake it as deputies of the absent, infallible Imam.
Two strands of argument are presented as a justification of Wilayat al-Faqih. The first of which is an argument consisting entirely of rational premises without reference to the Qur’an or traditions, while the second is an argument established by a combination of reasoning and textual evidences. However, purely rational arguments are generally unable to definitively establish the prophecy or leadership of a particular person. Rational arguments must typically consist of universal, certain and necessary premises, and consequently, pure reasoning can prove the necessity of Prophethood and Imamate, although these rational arguments often encompass an explanation of qualifications that the ideal leader should have (e.g. sinless or just). Although there are many different lines of reasoning, it will suffice here to mention a few of them. In his volume concerning theology, Avecina (Ibn Sina) presents a discussion based on the necessity of a well-organised social order in order to establish the necessity of prophets[85].
Although this argument has naturally been appealed to by Muslim scholars and philosophers in order to establish and define Prophethood, the addition of some premises gives it the potential to confirm the necessity of its continuation in the vicegerency of the fuqaha. The structure of modified version of the proof is as follows:
(a) Man is a social being and therefore necessarily needs social order to overcome many of his conflicts and affairs.
(b) Human social life and order should be designed so that it provides individual social happiness.
(c) A set of adequate and perfect laws and the existence of one who is capable of executing these laws and leading society are two necessary conditions for the establishment of an ideal society.
(d) It is not in the power of human beings to establish an ideal, just, and truly well-ordered society without the aid of God and His divine laws.
(e) To avoid any deficiency, interference or possession of God’s message (revelation), the Prophets who delivers His message must be infallible.
(f) The explanation of the contents of the perfect religion and the execution of its laws prerequisite the appointment of infallible Imams.
(g) When there is no access to infallible Imams for attaining the above-mentioned aim (3), the leaders who are just and are expert in religious knowledge (Just faqih)[86].
The first four premises prove the necessity of prophecy and that it is necessary for God to send prophets. The sixth one extends the reasoning to the question of Imamate and the necessity of an infallible Imam. And the final premise establishes the necessity of a qualified religious leader in the era of the absent Imam.
Another rational argument has been presented by Ayatollah Borujerdi who applied some historical and religious premises in his reasoning.
(1) The leader and ruler of a society must be entrusted with the protection of social order and meet the essential needs of the people.
(2) Islam has paid attention to those essential needs and has legislated suitable laws. The ruler (Wali) of Islamic society is responsible for the execution of these laws.
(3) Within the early period of Islam, the Prophet (pbuh) and the Imams (pbut) were the legitimate political leaders and the organisation of political and social affairs was their duty.
(4) The need to regulate social relationships according to divine laws and values is not confined to a specific period of time. Rather it is a crucial need for every age and generation. Certainly when infallible Imams were present amongst people, they appointed reliable people as their representatives to undertake Shi’a social affairs and prevent their followers from recourse to tyrannical governments (taghut) for their affairs. The assumption that Imams encouraged people to avoid referring to taghut without presenting an alternative solution to their problems is illogical.
Considering the previous premise, it is also logical that just fuqaha should be appointed as their representatives and deputies in the era of greater absence because there are only three possibilities:
(1) A non-faqih (one who is not a just faqih) is designated as the Imam’s deputy. This supposition is obviously unwise and impractical, as a person lacking the essential knowledge or qualifications would be unable to provide guidance.
(2) In the era of occultation, Imami have a duty to avoid any recourse to illegitimate government for their social affairs, however the Imams did not introduce any alternative point of reference. This theory is equally impractical.
(3) The Imam has designated the just faqih as his deputy to undertake these affairs and that is what we are seeking[87].
Before concluding the internal justifications of Wilayat al-faqih, it is necessary for the sake of our discussion to examine what qualifications a deputy of the Imam must have. Although we have previously mentioned that only a well-qualified jurist may be considered the Imam’s deputy (neyab), we have not yet discussed what qualifications he requires according to Islamic sources, i.e. Qur’an and Sunnah.
The Characteristics of Wali al-Faqih and the Problem of ‘A‘lamiya’
When compared to other political doctrines, Imami political thought has some significant advantages. For example, when it insists that the ruler of the society must possess specific characteristics. In modern democratic systems, factors such as popularity, being telegenic and having the support of a powerful party and large corporations are the most important factors, while individual virtues and qualifications are often neglected. Shi’a political thought, on the other hand, makes the personal characteristics of a political leader an essential factor. Some of these are as follows.
Ijtihad (Proficiency in Islamic Jurisprudence)
Since the implementation of Islamic laws and values in the various aspects of social life are one of the most important aims of an Islamic state, the ruler must naturally have expertise and knowledge in Islamic thought in order to be able to make socio-political decisions and issue orders according to the Islamic point of view. Many traditional proofs of Wilayat al-amma insist that the Wali (hakim) must be a faqih: In maqbula of Umar ibn Hanzala, Imam Sadiq (pbuh) says:
They must seek out one of you who narrates our traditions, who is versed in what is permissible and what is forbidden, who is well acquainted with our laws and ordinance, and accept him as judge and arbiter, for I appoint him as hakim[88].
In the tradition of Abu Khadija too, Imam says:
Designate as judge and arbiter someone among you who is acquainted with our injunctions concerning what is permitted and prohibited[89].
In a signed letter the Absent Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) writes:
As for events that may occur, refer to the transmitters of our teachings[90].
As we have already discussed, these titles and attributes correspond with a just and competent faqih’s (mujtahid) abilities, and not those who merely transmit traditions.
Justice is a quality required of all forms of authority and leadership in Imami political doctrine; judges and prayer leaders must all be considered fair and capable, and their roles are considerably less than those who rule an entire state. In addition, the Qur’an teaches Muslims to have no inclination and cooperation with unjust people and tyrannical authorities:
And do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the fire shall touch you, and you have no guardians beside Allah, then shall you not be helped. [Chapter 11, Verse 113]
In some verses of the Qur’an Allah Almighty invites the believers to show their disobedience to unjust people, those who commit great sins:
And do not obey the bidding of the extravagant, (those) who make mischief in the land and do not act right. [Chapter 26, Verses 151-152]
Do not follow him whose heart we have made unmindful to our remembrance and he follows his low desires and his case is one in which due bounds are exceeded. [Chapter 18, Verse 28]
Although justice has not been stipulated in the traditional proofs of Wilayat al-Faqih examined in the course of this subject, the Qur’an and a number of transmissions criticize unjust rulers and those who are obedient to tyrannical governors. They also maintain that a community founded on Islamic laws and teachings, cannot be run by someone who does not believe in or behave in accordance to justice. To cite an example, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) said to Muhammad b. Muslim:
O Muhammad, surely the unjust rulers and those who follow them are separated from God’s religion. Certainly they went astray, and led many astray[91].
Prudence, Trustworthiness, Administrative Facilities, and Courage
Such qualities are obvious requirements of any appropriate political leader, thus there is no need to mention evidences regarding them.
Many evidences stipulate that a trustee of Islamic political authority must be amongst the most knowledgeable (‘alem), competent and qualified of Islamic scholars. This criterion is somewhat contentious however, as many of the traditions mentioned in it’s support have weak chains of transmission.
According to the book of Solaim b. Qais, Ali (p) says:
Does anyone deserve to be the ruler (caliph) over the ummah except one who is most knowledgeable of God’s book (Qur’an) and the Prophet (pbuh)’s traditions (sunnah). Allah says in the Qur’an (10:35), “Is he then, who guides to the truth, more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided?[92]
It is transmitted from the Prophet (pbuh) that he said:
One who leads his people, while there are among them more knowledgeable than he, their sovereignty (the people’s) would begin to decline forever[93].
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, a just faqih has various functions. Some of them like the administration of justice (qada) and ‘hisbah’ are categorized as ‘Wilayat’, whilst others such as ‘ifta’ do not require a designation from the Imam. In the context of the present subject, it is essential to determine which of these functions is dependant on ‘alamiyat’ (being the most knowledgeable).
Reference to Imami jurists’ decrees shows that those who consider ‘alamiyat as a condition have merely concentrated on ‘ifta’. Ayatollah Sayyid Kazim Yazdi, the author of ‘al- ‘urwat ul-wuthqa’ writes:
With regard to a mujtahid’s functions, none of them are restricted by al-‘alamiya but taqleed (ifta). The matter of his Wilayat however, is not conditioned by al-‘alamiya[94].
Many great Imami jurists who have commented upon this important book (al-urwat ul-wuthqa), such as Ayatollahs Haery, Mirza al-Nayini, Aqa Ziya al-Araki, Sayyid Abul- Hassan al-Esfahani, Burujerdi, Khomeini, Khui, Milani, and Gulpaayigani, do not add any marginal notes to this decree of Yazdi, which means they agree with him that the functions of the faqih that exercises his authority (Wilayat) are not conditioned by being the most knowledgeable.
Shaykh al-Ansari also maintains that ‘alamiya is not necessary in the designation of a faqih as Wali (hakim)’. Every just faqih has the right to undertake affairs which require justified authority (Wilayat). He believes that only when fuqaha have different decrees (fatwa) the decree of the one who is most knowledgeable (‘alam) has priority over others[95].
Shaykh Muhammad Hassan, the author of ‘Jawahir al- Kalam’, also believes that the traditional proofs, which state that the fuqaha are designated as ‘Wali’ and the deputies of the Imam, emphasize on the professional knowledge about Islam (fiqahat) and not upon the ‘most knowledgeable’ as the condition of a faqih’s Wilayat[96].
Essentially with regards to some functions of the faqih such as ‘qada’, it seems incredible if one supposes that it is conditioned on ‘alamiya because this implies on a very large scale that the Shi’a community has only one faqih who has legitimate authority to judge.
Finally, we have indicated that ‘Ijtihad’ has various aspects and therefore it is quite reasonable to assume ‘X’ is the most knowledgeable (a’lem) in chapters of Islamic jurisprudence concerning worship (such as praying and fasting), while ‘Y’ is a’lem in the chapters of transactions (moamelat) and ‘Z’ is the most knowledgeable in the context of the administration of justice and punishment (hudud). Consequently, we have to take into account the relationship between a function that a faqih wants to undertake and the kind of knowledge that is a prerequisite to that function. There is no sufficient reason to convince us that one who is the most knowledgeable in chapters of worship would be able to perform the function of ‘qada’ better than a faqih who is most knowledgeable in administration of justice.
On the other hand, ijtihad and fiqahat are but one characteristic that a leader of the Islamic society should have. There is no reason to concentrate on the priority of ‘a’lem’ and thereby ignore other qualifications that Walis (fuqaha) must possess, which might provide them with the necessary abilities and characteristics of a ruler. Certainly, in a situation wherein a few faqih are completely equal in all qualifications of leadership except ijtihad, one might claim that the authority of a’lem has priority over others, especially when he is the most knowledgeable in social- political aspects of Islamic law. But it should be noted that even this is merely a ‘rational preference’, because as the author of Jawaher al-Kalam indicated, the traditional proofs of Wilayat al-Faqih are silent about alamiya as a condition of Wilayat.
The External Justification
Many political theories are known as ‘guardianship’ in spite of the profound differences they have with one another. By guardianship, we mean a political system in which the state is governed by qualified rulers (guardians).
The ruler or rulers are not subject to election and do not come to office through free election. They deserve to govern the people due to their specific qualifications and abilities. Therefore, the delegation of authority in a guardianship model of state is not due to a democratic process, but rather to the qualities of a guardian. Advocates of guardianship commonly believe that the entrustment of political power to a highly qualified minority, who has exceptional expertise, guarantees the interests and good of the people. Although the followers of guardianship disagree about the qualifications the guardians must have, or about the interpretation of happiness and people’s good. This is why the guardianship supported by Plato is rationally different from the Marxist Leninist interpretation of it. Plato’s guardians are a minority of well- qualified philosophers, whereas the latter’s are an organized group of revolutionaries.
There are many arguments to justify guardianship over democracy. Although on the other hand, guardianship in turn faces many criticisms, especially from advocates of democracy. So if we admit that ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ is a political doctrine belonging to the guardianship model of state, it must be able to overcome its critics and eventually establish itself as a reasonable, rational and legitimate political doctrine. That is what is meant by ‘external justification’, which, contrary to ‘internal justification’, does not rely on religiously accepted reasoning.
First of all, we must assess why and how ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ poses as a guardianship regime. According to this theory of state, a just, capable and pious jurist, who possesses a number of qualities, has legitimate authority to govern the society in the era of occultation (ghaibat). This obviously indicates that other kinds of experts and average people have no equal access to the highest political office and only specific experts (jurists) have the right and the opportunity to attain the highest level of political leadership. Moreover, they are not elected by people, but are instead designated by Imams as ‘Wali’ and possessors of the authority.
On the other hand, the unique example of this political system, whose detailed blueprints are embedded in the constitution of the Islamic republic of Iran, does not adopt a pure system of guardianship. After all, it’s constitution respects a limited democratic processes in that the majority of governmental institutions, even the political leadership is chosen through elections. According to article 107, a group of elected experts (a few jurists are elected by people every seven years) shall elect a well-qualified faqih as the political leader. Both the authority of Shari’ah (Wilayat al-Faqih) and the sovereignty of the people in this political regime make it a mixture of democracy and guardianship. Hence it should be categorized as a ‘meritocracy’, because it does not go hand in hand with all the standards of guardianship.
What distinguishes this model of ‘meritocracy’ from guardianship is the role of the people in participating in the distribution of political power and in shaping political decisions through their representatives. However, people and their representatives are not religiously free to delegate the political authority to a non-faqih or those who have no tendency to rule, legislate and execute within the framework of divine laws and Islamic values and teachings. Consequently, in this meritocracy, a just Imami jurist as ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ and a group of fuqaha as the ‘guardian council’, supervise and control the decisions and functions of representatives and bureaucrats, who are themselves subject to the democratic process. The central discussion here concerns the relationship between ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ and what traditionally are stated as the foundation and justification of the guardianship. We must now evaluate whether these foundations are adequate to cite as justifications of ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ and how could this doctrine overcome the critiques of guardianship.
Some advocates of guardianship hold that ordinary people lack the necessary qualifications for ruling. They seem to lack much understanding of their own basic needs, interests and good. Many of them are unable or unwilling to do whatever may be necessary to attain deep knowledge about their own needs and good as well as the appropriate means to achieve these needs and goods. In conclusion, people have no political competence to govern themselves. Their deficiency is partly in knowledge, partly in virtue i.e. strong tendencies to seek good ends; hence they are not qualified to govern. This approach undermines the fundamental ground of democracy and supports the idea that guardians who have sufficient political competence should govern people.
Obviously, the doctrine of ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ does not rely on the political incompetence of people to justify the priority of the faqih’s authority. Neither in traditional proofs of ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ nor in the rational ones, do Imami scholars stress on people’s deficiencies. Some rational proofs of ‘Wilayat al-faqih’ depend on the belief that it is not in the power of human beings to establish an ideal, ordered society with no aid of God’s revelation. Clearly, this premise expresses the deficiency of human beings as such, and not simply the imperfection of ordinary people, confirming the competence of a small minority as guardians. Indeed, this deficiency justifies man’s need of religion, and its important role in organizing social relationships.
The second foundation mentioned as a reason for guardianship consists of a specific conception of governing. For them, ruling people is an art. Therefore, rulers must be experts of a certain type, meaning experts in the art of governing. They as guardians would be specialists whose specialization would make them superior in the art of leadership, not only in comparison with ordinary people but also with other kinds of experts such as economists, physicists, engineers and so on.
Although most people are potentially capable of acquiring the qualifications needed for leadership, they lack the time to acquire them. A society needs many different types of experts. The need for acquiring different skills and then implementing them, makes it impossible for each and every person to spend the time they would need to gain the moral and instrumental competence for ruling. To suppose that a large number of people each have the capacity to acquire and use numerous specialized skills is not realistic. Consequently, in a well ordered society some persons should be rigorously trained and selected to function well as rulers (guardians). Because leadership is so crucial nothing could be of greater importance than the education of our rulers[97].
Apart from the fact that many scholars have misgivings about the actual existence of the art of governing, this argument exclusively supports the Platonic version of guardianship. There is no single art or science that can provide us with the moral and technical knowledge and abilities required for being an ideal leader. Many versions of guardianship, including ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’, do not look at guardians as specialists in the art of governing. Instead, they believe that the duty of governing should delegate to a few qualified persons, because of some certain qualifications and abilities that they have. Guardians have a advantage over others in matters of leadership, such as their in depth knowledge of ideological, great commitment to the ambitions of specific party, being vanguard and leader in revolution or possession the knowledge that is necessary for shaping particular social formation.
The unique reason that justifies (apart from traditional religious reasons) the ruling of the fuqaha as guardians, pertains to their knowledge about Shari’a which must be accompanied with personal virtues and moral competence. It is true that moral competence is not confined to a small minority and that many people have the capacity to gain moral competence and become just and pious. However, what distinguishes the just fuqaha and render them the unique group who has legitimate authority to rule over the believers is their expertise in Islamic jurisprudence. The justification of the guardianship of fuqaha is owed to the fundamental role of Islamic law in the lives of Muslims. Islam obliges Muslims to adopt Islamic laws and values in both their individual as well as public lives. Consequently, one who has the ability (as a jurisprudent) that is necessary for undertaking this task must be in charge of ruling the people. Therefore, the question of ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ is not a question of having a specific art. It has roots in a religious belief that sees a crucial role for Shari’ah in Islamic society.
The distinction between the general good and personal interests could provide the advocates of guardianship the third reason for justification. The case of guardianship sometimes rest on assumption that the composition of the general good (general interest) and how the knowledge of what composes the general good may be acquired. If the general good were only composed of individual interests and if we were to believe that everyone could pursue his personal interests without guardians, then the guardianship model of state would be unnecessary and undesirable.
But if the general good and interest of society consists of something more than an aggregation of personal interests, then to achieve it will require more than this. To bring about the general good would then require an understanding of the ways in which the general good differs from a combination individual interests. If it is also true that most people are mainly concerned with their own individual interests instead of that of the general public, then the task of deciding on the general good should be entrusted to those especially trained to understand what the general good consists of. Obviously, that depends on what is meant by the general good[98].
Although the followers of ‘Wilayat al-Faqih’ do not fully accept this argument, however, a modified version of it would sufficiently justify this model of guardianship. Islam as a perfect religion aims for real human happiness, hence, its laws and teachings are necessarily established for the ultimate self-realization of the human being and for gaining true salvation. From this point of view both the good of the individual as well as the general public are harmonized with the contents of Islam. Concepts such as public interest should not be defined without considering of the crucial role played by Islam in both the public and private spheres. When one acknowledges this fact, which is especially true in a society where most people believe that Islam is the ultimate way to salvation, the following argument could be supposed as external justification for the doctrine of ‘Willayat al-Faqih’:
(1) General interest and public good are not merely a composition of individual interests and they must be determined through a higher source.
(2) Within an Islamic society the real public good and interest cannot be known while neglecting Islamic laws and values. It does not mean that other kinds of expertise play no role in the process of determining public good, rather, the key point is that all political and economic decisions, various legislations as well as government orders must take Islamic teachings (especially jurisprudence) seriously and harmonize themselves with the demands of Islam.
(3) eople are mostly concerned with their own individual interests so the task of deciding the public interest, at least in cases that are specifically dealt with by Islam should not be entrusted to the ups and downs of public opinion.
(4) Technocrats and those who are experts in the various sciences are often more concerned than average people with the good and interest of the public. However, as mentioned in the second premise, in an Islamic society technocrats as policymakers can not have a full understand of the public good, unless they are experts in Islamic thought.
Policymaking, legislation, organizing the system of rights and duties and other significant functions of government must be done under the supervision and authority of a well qualified faqih (or fuqaha) who is just, brave, honest, intelligent, knowledgeable about social and political issues, and an expert in Islamic ideology.
This external justification seems quite convincing within a specific context, that is, for those who pursue Islamic culture and support the establishment of an Islamic society. For those who do not believe in Islam, the premises of this justification (particularly the second and fourth) need further evidence.
Criticism of Guardianship
Advocates of democracy usually criticize guardianship and its justifications. We have to consider briefly a few of these criticisms to assess how the connection between the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih and these critiques might be? In my view the three following criticisms are more significant than the others:
(i) Adversaries of guardianship insist that the keystone of this theory that tries to justify the deserts of guardians to rule based on their knowledge is disputable. The possession of this religious knowledge is not sufficient enough to prove that political power should be entrusted to a fagih to protect and promote public welfare and prosperity. How can we know that the guardian is not seeking his own interests rather than that of the general public? Is there any system of control over them to prevent hem from abusing his authority? In the guardianship model of state, since the people do not delegate authority to the guardian, they cannot legally or constitutionally withdraw political power from the guardian. The guardians are free of popular controls.
(ii) Unlike democracy that provides people with the opportunity to engage in governing themselves and to improve their moral-political experiences, the guardianship system of rule prevents an entire population from developing their social, political and moral capacities. This is essentially because only a few people (guardians) are engaging in governing. Therefore, only a few people have the opportunity to learn how to act as morally responsible human beings. Only guardians can exercise the freedom of participating in the process of making laws, while in democratic states the whole population enjoys that freedom. Even though in many democratic states, the cooperate and political elite are far more powerful than ordinary citizens, however, they cannot be compared to guardians. These elites are not despots and people can still play a role in the distribution of political power and in making political decisions.
(iii) Guardianship is based upon the idea that there is a set of truths, objective propositions and valid knowledge that can determine public good or true social interests. The second pillar of guardianship rests on the point that only those who have this knowledge[99] (what does public good consist of and by what means can we achieve it?) are exclusively competent to hold political authority. Some critics of guardianship criticize the first pillar of the argument. They emphasize that there is no such thing as rational, unquestionable, or objective knowledge. There are no determined truths as ‘science of ruling’ that can justify the authority of a few people as guardians. In addition, they believe advocates of guardianship face the problem of validation because they can not establish why their understanding of public good and social interests is objectively true. Robert Dahl writes:
In judging the validity of statements about the general good we can and should employ reason and experience. Nonetheless, no assertion that ‘the public good definitely consists of such and such’ can be shown to be ‘objectively true’ in the same sense that many statements in mathematics, logic, or the natural sciences are understood to be objectively true[100].
To clarify the relationship between these critiques and the Imami political doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih we have to keep in mind that these criticisms are targeting ‘pure guardianship’, a political theory that leaves no room for people in political affairs while entrusting complete political authority to non-elected minority (guardians). In the next chapter it will be explained that Wilayat al-Faqih is compatible with a specific version of democracy called ‘religious democracy’. In any case the mixture between the authority of a just faqih who represents both the authority of Islamic jurisprudence as well as the authority of the people, renders some of these criticisms essentially irrelevant to the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih. For example the second critique mentioned above is absolutely inapplicable to the guardianship of the faqih. Moreover, according to what has been discussed in the previous chapter about the meaning of absolute authority of a just faqih, the first criticism is also irrelevant, because the guardianship of a faqih is not beyond the control of a group of elected experts who supervise and control his usage of power and authority. In addition, it is the religious responsibility of all Muslims to be not neutral about the behavior of their governors and leaders.
In the previous pages it is clear that the guardianship of the faqih is not base on the assumption that leadership is a specific art or knowledge that consists of a set of truths and skills. Therefore, the final criticism cannot undermine this version of guardianship either. Almost all Shi’a scholars believe in rationalism, hence, the problem of validation is very important in their eyes. This is true not only with regards to fundamental Islamic beliefs, but also in other aspects of Islamic thought including political thought. They attempt to justify their system of beliefs through rational arguments, as well as through traditional evidences. As a result, Shi’a political thought is based upon a set of true, valid and objective doctrines about human nature, the philosophy of life, and morality. It consists of a set of philosophical-theological statements that produce an Islamic world ‘s view. Indeed, this theory of state like other political theories is rested upon a comprehensive philosophy and the justification of this political thought is due to the justification of its moral-philosophical foundations as well. However, we do not believe in ‘hard rationalism’, which demands that all religious statements and beliefs must be verified by decisive rational proofs, exactly as with mathematics. Obviously, religious statements and beliefs should be categorized according to their own appropriate methods of justification. Islam consists of objective truths and valid statements; however, one can not prove its validation by recourse to a unique methodology (rational proofs). Unlike the fundamental doctrines of Islam (usul al- Din) that can largely be validated and justified through rational arguments, the validation of Islamic law is, to a large extent, based upon trust in the commands of God, which in turn can be established by appealing to rational proof.
The key point is that the validity of this model of guardianship (Wilayat al-Faqih) does not acquire its approbation from the assumption that there is an objective art or science for ruling people or a specific knowledge used for understanding public good and finding the means for achieving them. Its verification is due to the validation of Islam’s moral, philosophical and theological foundations including the importance of Shari’ah for our ultimate happiness.
The external justification of Wilayat al-Faqih consists of two independent sides, the positive and the negative. Positive justification aims to justify the validation of this theory directly and through the emphasis on the necessity of the Islamic legal system and the implementation of its laws for the establishment of an ideal social and personal existence. However, the negative side refers to any efforts undertaken to prove the priority of this doctrine over its alternatives. Since the doctrine of democracy in general and the theory of liberal democracy in particular is the most important alternative theory facing guardianship, the external justification of our political theory would be insufficient if we fail to assess the relationship between the theory of Wilayat al-Faqih and democracy. The next chapter will attempt to make complete the external justification of this political doctrine by evaluating the nature of democracy and its possible connections to this version of guardianship.
There is another significant reason why we should discuss democracy. Some Muslim thinkers maintain that Islam fundamentally disagrees with democracy. Hence, in their eyes our interpretation of imami political thought that mixes the guardianship of the faqih with elements of democracy is totally wrong and is against the foundations of Islam.
[84] Antony Black, The History of Islamic Political Thought, p. 40.
[85] Ibn Sina, Al-Shefa, The book of Al-Elahiyat, The 10th Article, Chapter 2, p. 487.
[86] Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Wilayat ul-Faqih, Qom: Esra Publication, 1378 AH, pp. 151-152.
[87] Hussain Borujerdi, Al-Badr al-Zaher fi Salat ul-Jom‘a wal-Mosafer, Qom, 1367AH, pp. 72-78.
[88] Muhammad Hassan Hor al-A’meli, Wasael al-Shi°a, Qom: Ahl ul-Bait Institution, 1412AH, Volume 27, p. 137.
[89] Al-Kafi, Volume 7, p.412.
[90] Sheikh al-Saduq, Ikmal al-Din, Volume 2, p.483.
[91] Al-Kafi, Volume 1, p. 184.
[92] Solaim ibn Qais Al-Helali, Kitab al-Solaim, Tehran: Dar al-Kotob al- Islamiya, p. 118.
[93] Barqi, Al-Mahasin, Volume 1, p. 93.
[94] Al-Urvat ul-Wosqa, The Chapter of Ijtihad wal-Taqlid, Question 68.
[95] Shaikh al-Ansari, Taqlid, Published by International Congress of Shaikh al-Ansari publications, p. 67.
[96]Jawahir al-Kalam, Volume 40, pp. 44-45.
[97] Democracy and its Critics, pp. 62-63.
[98] Democracy and its Critics, pp. 70-71.
[99] There is no agreement among advocates of guardianship about the nature of this knowledge therefore they disagree about the qualifications of this small minority of rulers (guardians). For instance, in the eyes of Plato this knowledge consists of a set of propositions about what is best for the community. This knowledge is based on rational certainty that ordinary people have no access to. Unlike true philosophers, ordinary people just have opinions (uncertainties) instead of knowledge (rational certainty). From an entirely different perspective, Marxist-Leninists maintain that this knowledge consists of the laws of historical development based on ‘historical materialism’ as a rigorous methodological approach rooted in the belief that the structure of society and human relations in all their forms are the product of material conditions and circumstances rather than of ideas, thought or consciousness. Consequently, for them the guardians are a few revolutionaries who know the laws and material conditions that rule over these historical developments.
[100] Democracy and its Critics, p. 71.
Ahmed Vaezy
Imam reza network

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