The Concept of Guardianship (wilāya) in the Iranian Intellectual Tradition From 1800 to 1989, With Particular Reference to the Ideas of Ayatollah Khomeini
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
A full study of the conception of wilāya in a variety of juridical trends, theological schools, and mystical doctrines across the Islamic world in general, and in the Shīʿa intellectual history in particular, is too ambitious a project to undertake in one thesis. Therefore, the author has chosen to limit herself to considering a handful of intellectual developments in the Shīʿa world from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. She addresses a number of issues by delving into the conceptions of wilāya through the examination and interpretation of key texts. The main interest of the author is to study the influence of ibn ʿArabī’s mysticism, with regard to the conception of wilāya, on his Shīʿa successors and expositors in later centuries. This research also discusses the development and transformation of the conception of wilāya over two hundred years. In a corresponding approach to Akbarīan mysticism, wilāya occupies a central place in Ṣadrīan ḥikma, and in the thought of the ḥakīms of the Schools of Tehran and Qum, as the crystallization of this discipline of philosophy. Wilāya is inseparable from imamate and from the status of imāms, namely the walī, ḥujja, and ghawth. In the esoteric School of Shaykhīsm, the conception of wilāya is overshadowed by concepts such as ẓuhūr (appearance), qīyāmat (Day of Judgement), intiẓār (expectation), al-Qāʾim, and is finally replaced by the doctrine of Rukn-i Rābiʿ. A study and critical analysis of Ayatollah Khomeini’s theory of wilāyat al-faqīh exposes his fascination for the mysticism of ibn ʿArabī. However, the politicization of wilāya in Khomeini’s theory can be regarded as the climax of jurisdictional developments dating back to the writings of the jurists of the early Qajar period. Unlike mysticism, jurisprudence underwent significant changes and revisions in a number of terms, such as wilāya in socio-political affairs. Khomeini’s theory was challenged by his student, Ayatollah Muntaẓirī who revisited it, placing more emphasis on the role of people and their rights in the Islamic Government. Muntaẓirī’s reform movement was similarly transformed by Muhsin Kadivar, who finally rejected the theory of wilāyat al-faqīh in favour of a democratic government.
Dr. Netton, Ian Richard
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies