Khomeini and Muḥammad al-Shīrāzī: revisiting the origins of the “guardianship of the jurisconsult” (wilāyat al-faqīh)

Oliver Scharbrodt

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This article revisits the origins of Khomeini’s concept of the guardianship of the jurisconsult (wilāyat al-faqīh) and argues that his own formulation of this concept needs to be embedded in debates around the clerical mandate in the state among clerical activists in Iraq he encountered during his exile. Focus will be on the so-called Shīrāzī network around the brothers Muḥammad (1928-2001), Ḥasan (1927-1980) and Ṣādiq al-Shīrāzī (b. 1942) and their nephew Muḥammad Taqī al-Mudarrisī (b. 1945) The article discusses the close relationship between Khomeini and Muḥammad al-Shīrāzī and the important role the religio-political networks associated with the Shīrāzī brothers played in early post-revolutionary Iran. A detailed discussion of the writings of the Shīrāzī brothers and Taqī al-Mudarrisī, written between 1960 and 1970, is undertaken to illustrate that debates around wilāyat al-faqīh among Iraq clerical activists preceded Khomeini’s own lectures on the concept in Najaf in 1970.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9–38
Number of pages30
JournalDie Welt des Islams
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2020


  • Khomeini
  • Muḥammad Al-Shīrāzī
  • wilāyat al-faqīh
  • Islamic state
  • Taqī Al-Mudarrisī
  • shūrā


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