Shiite Marja’iyya: The Association of Shiite Quietism and Activism

Mohammad Kalantari

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Immediately following the occultation of the last Shiite Imam, ideas concerning who has the right to lead the Ummah converged around two positions. One position held that, based on the fundamentals of the Imam’s recommendation, the most predominant Shiite jurist should rule until the emergence of the Imam (Shiite activism). The second position maintained that any government except that which belongs to the innocent Imam is idolatrous and Muslims must therefore tolerate all the oppressions of any state until the promised day of the Imam’s emergence (Shiite quietism); though this position believed that Islamic jurists should constantly monitor government and offer admonition to the ruler whenever they observed a fundamental deviation from Islamic jurisprudence. This inter-faith division has been the basis, not only of disputes among Shia Muslims, but of misconceptions concerning Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the 2003 ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’. The aim of this paper is to explore the association between adherents of these two Shiite factions. To do this, the paper examines the political rhetoric, manifestos, and ideology of each faction based on a series of documents and interviews conducted among the scholars of Qom and Najaf Seminaries. It explores whether an association between the two factions is possible, what its nature would be, and what impact it would have on the politics of the Middle East and on a wider arena of international relations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Society for Middle Eastern Studies Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationLSE, UK
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2012


  • Shiite Marja’iyya
  • Political Islam
  • Transnational Shiite Islam

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