Is Marja’iyya relevant and necessary in current Western society?

‘Those who are given the highest ranks are those who have acquired knowledge and use it in the service of people. True knowledge comes from iman and taqwa (piety through awareness of God’s power) and those who have both are the best individuals.’ (Ismail, M. (2018, July))

These were words spoken by Dr. Mohamedali Shomali as he explained the importance of the concept of Marja’iyya in today’s society. He explained the idea that the worth and value of an individual is determined by their knowledge, but this knowledge isn’t merely measured by a collection of PhD’s and accreditations from universities. Rather, true knowledge is that which brings a human being closer to his purpose – towards God. This is knowledge that the Marja’ possesses after a lifetime of strictly studying a variety of sciences. It has the capacity to bring the Muslim ummah closer to a divine purpose.

A community must be led in religion by individuals who possess both knowledge and taqwa. To be guided by individuals who are lacking in these would be detrimental to the religious and spiritual welfare of those communities.

A common concern that is raised by individuals in Western communities is that the Maraaji’ are out of touch or unable to understand concerns that are raised by Muslims in today’s world. It is important to remember that these Maraaji’ adhere to the highest standards of Islamic piety and knowledge. These qualities have been identified as necessary prerequisites of this position by the Imams. Imam al-Sadiq (a) states;  If there is anyone among the fuqaha’ who is in control over his own self, protects his religion, suppresses his evil desires and is obedient to the commands of his Master, then the people should follow him. (Shaykh at-Tabarsi, al-Ihtijaj, vo. 2, Najaf 1966, p. 263.)

Without the guidance of these individuals who are aware of the pure and authentic teachings of Islam, it would be easy for communities to dilute their beliefs and deviate from the straight path as taught by the Quran and the Ahlul Bayt (a). These teachings cannot change due to changes of modernity. There can be communication with the Mujtahids, as happens presently, where they can tell us how to practically follow the teachings in our times. The Mujtahids also have representatives in various parts of the world who liaise with them on behalf of their communities. As believers we need to enhance our levels of obedience and submission to Allah, through His laws. The fatwas of the Mujtahids help us to do that.


Ismail, M. (2018, July). Marja’iyya… Is it relevant today? – islam today magazine UK. Retrieved from’iyya-is-it-relevant-today

(July 2010) The Dawn is Near. Mumbai, India: Association of Imam Mahdi

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