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Issue of guardianship of the jurist and Iraqi elections

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

Is there an Iraqi constitutional text which stipulates that the most famous Shiite cleric in Iraq is a ruling reference?

According to Iraqi researcher and author Rasheed al-Khayoun, there is nothing in the 2005 constitution that leads to this conclusion and there are only formulas that highly respect “great references,” just like they respect “national powers.”

Why is there an urgent presence by political Shiite groups for the Shiite reference, who is currently al-Sistani, in Najf and Karbala? Is Iraq a state of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist?

It’s an interesting question especially as elections near and considering the current Iraqi political rhetoric.

In his article “Guardianship of the Jurist: So why are the Iraqis holding elections?” which was published in the Emirati Al-Ittihad newspaper, Khayoun said that Sistani has dissociated himself from the concept of the Guardianship of the Jurist several times.

What’s worrying is that this is not completely the case as the deputy of the Sistani reference, Karbala’s preacher Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai made on June 13, 2014 clear statements about the guardianship of the jurist, according to the Khomeini interpretation. He noted that according to the guardianship of the jurist concept, there is a representative of the absent imam who must be obeyed because he expresses God’s will.

Value of elections

In this case, do parliamentary elections and electoral programs have any real value? Or is it in the hands of the deputy of the absent imam, who according to Karbalai, is alive and sees and hears what’s happening and intervenes through his deputy?

Iraq cannot coexist with such a dangerous idea while the entire world is observing the results of the guardianship of the jurist system in Iran. In addition to that, Iraq is distinguished for its diversity and plurality

Mashari Althaydi



Khayoun pointed out that the problem is all due to the identity of the new Iraqi system which is certainly not a guardianship of the jurist system. Some Shiite religious parties frankly reject the concept of the guardian of the jurist, whether based on the Khomeini definition or on the other blurry formula of “Shura al-Fuqaha.”

Iraq cannot coexist with such a dangerous idea while the entire world is observing the results of the guardianship of the jurist system in Iran. In addition to that, Iraq is distinguished for its diversity and plurality.

All this is true but it does not mean that there is someone who wants to deepen religious authority or operate under its protection according to whatever opportunities are available.

The one lesson which Iraq, and all Arabs and Muslims must learn, is that it’s in the favor of religion and the world for clerics not to seize power and run countries.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.