Imamate and Leadership: The Case of the Shi'a Fundamentalists in Modern Iran

Adel Hashemi Najafabadi


The theory of Imamate (absolute religious, spiritual and political leadership of the Muslim community) is one of the most important pillars in Twelver Shi'ism (the second largest branch of Islam). While there was a relative agreement on the nature and boundaries of the theory of Imamate and leadership during the presence of the twelve Shi'i Imams, there is no such consensus among the Shi'a in this regard after the Occultation of the last Imam, the Mahdi, in 874. Generally speaking, with respect to the latter period, there are two broad schools of thought. For Traditionalists, during the absence of the Imam, Imamate is no longer conceivable as the absolute religious and political leadership of the community of believers. On the other hand, Fundamentalists believe in full implementation of the theory of Imamate in the society by jurists, as the general deputies of Imam Mahdi in his absence. This study intends to examine the views of the Shi'a fundamentalists, particularly in the modern Iran. Keywords: Shi'ism; Imamate; infallible Imams; fundamentalism; Islamic government; guardianship of the jurist; democracyRésumé: La théorie de l'imamat (le leadership absolu, religieux, spirituel et politique de la communauté musulmane) est l'un des piliers les plus importants dans le chiisme duodécimain (la deuxième plus grande branche l'islam). Bien qu'il y ait un accord relatif sur la nature et les limites de la théorie de l'imamat et du leadership au cours de la présence des douze imams chiites, il n'y a pas ce genre de consensus parmi les chiites à cet égard après l'occultation du dernier Imam, le Mahdi, en 874. De manière générale, à l'égard de cette dernière période, il y a deux grandes écoles de pensée. Pour les traditionalistes, l'imamat n'est plus concevable en tant que le leadership absolu religieux et politique de la communauté des croyants. Par contre, les fondamentalistes croient en la pleine application de la théorie de l'imamat dans la société par les juristes, en absence des représentants généraux de l'Imam Mahdi. Cette étude vise à examiner les vues des fondamentalistes chiites, en particulier en Iran moderne.Mots-clés: Chiisme; imamat; imamsinfaillibles; fondamentalisme; gouvernement islamique; tutelle du juriste; démocratie

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