Divine Sovereignty and Clerical Authority in Early Shi‘i Islamism: Bāqir al-Ṣadr (1935-1980) and Taqī al-Mudarrisī (b. 1945) on the Islamic State

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Divine sovereignty (ḥākimiyya) – as conceived by Abū al-A‘lā Mawdūdī (1903-1979) and popularised by Sayyid Quṭb (1906-1966) - has been a central component of Islamist thought. This article investigates the reception of the concept within Shi‘i Islam. As case studies, the article choses two prominent actors in the formative period of Shi‘i Islamism in Iraq: Muḥammad Bāqir al-Ṣadr (1935-1980) and Muḥammad Taqī al- Mudarrisī (b. 1945). By discussing their reflections on the nature of an Islamic state, the article pursues three objectives: first, it overcomes a trend in academic scholarship that disregards Sunni influences on the development of Shi‘i Islamism. Second, the article highlights the role the Iraqi Shi‘i intellectual milieu played in incorporating key Islamist concepts into Shi‘i political thought. Finally, the article demonstrates the different receptions of ḥākimiyya. Bāqir al-Ṣadr uses the ideological repertoire of Islamism to explore in pragmatic terms the parameters that define the state as Islamically legitimate. In contrast, Taqī al-Mudarrisī uses ḥākimiyya to redefine the sovereignty of the state in Islamic terms. He operationalises the concept in a Shi‘i context by arguing that the state must be led by a just jurisconsult (al-faqīh al-‘ādil) who becomes the sole agent of divine sovereignty in the state.

Bibliographic note

Not yet published as of 18/02/2021.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Aug 2020