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Article: Selecting a Spiritual Authority

The article “Selecting a Spiritual Authority: The Maraj al-Taqlid among First- and Second-Wave Iraqi Shi͑a Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan” seeks to determine which marja al-Taqlid are followed by Iraqi Shia Muslims ling in Dearborn.

The Shia branch of Islam has a unique religious process for selecting spiritual leaders. In contrast to other faiths that impose a religious leader on the faithful through some sort of divine intervention, dynastic right, or clerical election, the Shia approach places more emphasis on the individual layperson. The majority of the Shia faithful, namely those who have not mastered the religious sciences, are expected to select a senior religious authority.

This article seeks to determine which marajʻal-taqlid, or sources of emulation, are followed by Iraqi Shi͑a Muslims living in Dearborn, Michigan and the reasons why they have selected these spiritual authorities. The results of the study reveal that the majority of participants have decided to follow the quietist clerics of the school of Najaf, particularly the late Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim Khu͗i and Ayatollah ͑Ali Sistani. The selection of these two prominent clerics is based on the participants’ intention to emulate the religious lifestyle described by ‘the most knowledgeable clerics’ in the Shi͑a hierarchy. However, while most participants selected these two prominent clerics, there were other expected and unexpected selections. The study is useful as it provides a glimpse into the religiosity of the community by considering their choice of spiritual authority.

Bibliographic Information

Title: Selecting a Spiritual Authority: The Maraj al-Taqlid among First- and Second-Wave Iraqi Shi͑a Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan

Author: John Cappucci

Published in: Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies, Volume 8, Number 1, Winter 2015 pp. 5-17

 Language: English

Length: 12 pages


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