If an individual fulfills the qualifications of a Marja’, then he adheres to high standards of piety and knowledge. They do not form their own opinions. Rather, their fatawa are based on authentic understandings of religious texts. Additionally, the Quran and hadith have talked about the need of experts in religious knowledge and have given permission to follow them. While the Maraaji’ may be fallible, the Imams (a) have trusted them with the responsibility of guiding the Ummah in the absence of the living Imam (a).
Imam Sadiq (a) has said:
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 ordinances, and accept him as judge and arbiter, for I appoint him as judge over you… (Shaykh at-Tabarsi, al-Ihtijaj, vo. 2, Najaf 1966, p. 263.)
One may argue that these narrations by our 6th Imam (a) are not applicable to us today because the Imam was still directly accessible to the scholars in case they had questions or made mistakes. However, our Imam Mahdi (ajtf), despite being in occultation has also advised his followers to go the the Maraaji’ for guidance:
As far as newly occurring circumstances are concerned, you should turn (for guidance) to the narrators of our hadith, for they are my proof over you just as I am Allah’s proof. (Shaykh at-Tabarsi, al-Ihtijaj, vo. 2, Najaf 1966, p. 283.)
Hence it is evident that the system of Marja’iyya which involves having fallible Maraaji’ lead the Shias has been accepted by the Imams (a) themselves. Therefore, if one trusts the Ahlul Bayt (a) because of their infallibility, one should also trust the Maraaji’.
Rizvi, Sayyid Muhammad. “Shariah: Path of Salvation – Session 6 – Taqleed & Following a Mujtahid.” Weekly Lecture Series. Weekly Lecture Series, 9 Nov. 2011, Thornhill, Jaffari Community Centre.
Rizvi, Sayyid Muhammad. “Taqlid: Meaning and Reality.” Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project, www.al-islam.org/it/node/17890#f_64dbe04a_6.