Velayat-e Faqih: Objections and Replies

  March 26, 2022   Read time 2 min
Velayat-e Faqih: Objections and Replies
The most we can say with respect to the context these sentences provide for the statement: “The scholars are heirs to the prophets” is that the statement cannot be taken in an absolute sense, which would mean that everything that pertains to the prophets also pertains to the scholars.

Nor can the statement, because of its context, be taken in the restricted sense that the scholars are heirs only to the knowledge of the prophets. If that were sense, the tradition would contradict the other traditions we quoted earlier in connection with our theme and tend to neglect them. This restricted sense cannot be derived from this.

For the sake of argument, if it were true that this tradition means that the Most Noble Messenger (s), left no legacy but knowledge, and that rulership and governance can be neither bequeathed nor inherited, and if, too, we did not infer from the Prophet’s saying: “‘Ali is my heir” that the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) was indeed his successor, then we would be obliged to have recourse to nass91 with respect to the successorship of the Commander of the Faithful and the remaining Imāms (‘a).

We would then follow the same method with respect to the exercise of governance by the faqīh, for according to the tradition cited above, the fuqahā have been appointed to the function of successorship and rule. Thus, we have reconciled this tradition with those that indicate appointment. In his ‘Awā’id, Narāqi quotes the following tradition from the Fiqh-i Razāvi: “The rank of the faqīh in the present age is like that of the prophets of the Children of Israel.” Naturally, we cannot claim that the Fiqh-i Razāvi was actually composed by Imām Ridā (‘a), but it is permissible to quote it as a further support for our thesis.

It must be understood that what is meant by “the prophets of the Children of Israel” is indeed the prophets, not fuqahā who lived in the time of Moses and may have been called prophets for some reason or other. The fuqahā who lived in the time of Moses were all subject to his authority, and exercised their functions in obedience to him.

It may be that when he dispatched them somewhere to convey a message, he would also appoint them as “holder of authority”—naturally, we are not precisely informed about these matters—but it is obvious that Moses himself was one of the prophets of the Children of Israel, and that all of the functions that existed for the Most Noble Messenger (s) also existed for Moses, with a difference, of course, in rank, station, and degree. We deduce from the general scope of the word “rank” in this tradition, therefore, that the same function of rulership and governance that Moses exercised exists also for fuqahā.

The Jāmi’ al-Akhbār contains the following tradition of the Most Noble Messenger (s): “On the Day of Judgment I will take pride in the scholars of my community, for the scholars of my community are like the prophets preceding me.” This tradition also serves to support my thesis.

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