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Last Updated: 2006/08/30
Summary of question
Who is the present most knowledgeable Marja? Who is the next most knowledgeable Marja after him? Who can distinguish who is most knowledgeable?
question
Who is the present most knowledgeable Marja?
Who is the next most knowledgeable Marja after him?
Who can distinguish who is most knowledgeable?
Concise answer

Doing taqlid to the grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenehie has priority. One of the conditions for taqlid from a mujtahid is that he be most knowledgeable. But it must be taken into consideration that there must be a great difference between the mujtahid who is considered most knowledgeable and the one who is not considered most knowledgeable to the extent that when there are instances of discrepancy and difference of opinion between their fatwas, then the one who is not considered most knowledgeable loses reliability in this area of expertise. However, if the extent of discrepancy is not that much between the the mujtahid who is considered most knowledgeable and the one who is not considered most knowledgeable, then doing taqlid to the mujtahid considered most knowledgeable has no precedence, and one can do taqlid to a mujtahid who is not considered most knowledgeable as long as they only differ modestly. The ways to recognize the most knowledgeable marja of taqlid are:

 

1- The person who wants to do taqlid has the ability to distinguish who is most knowledgeable.

 

2- If two people who are educated and just and can distinguish who is a mujtahid and who is most knowledgeable confirm who is most knowledgeable (under the condition that two other educated and just individuals do not oppose their opinions).

3- If a group of scholars who can determine who is a mujtahid and who's word can be trusted, confirm who is most knowledgeable.

A number of noted teachers and dignified scholars of the Howza of Qom, who are recognized as a group of scholars who can determine a mujtahid, have introduced

Some of the mujtahids which possess these conditions; they are listed alphabetically as follows:

1- Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Behjat

2- Grand Ayatollah Lutfullah Safi Golpaygani

3- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Kazim Haeri

4- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenehie

5- Grand Ayatollah Hussein Vahid Khurasani

6- Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Fazel Lankerani

7- Grand Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shirazi

8- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani

9- Grand Ayatollah Jawad Tabrizi

10- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Musa Shabiri Zanjani

Detailed Answer

Hazrat Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenehie, considering international issues, his awareness of today's world, and his fluency of relations and the esteem of Islamic leadership and the unity of Muslims in face of non-muslims, he is the best and most worthy preference.

As an introduction it must be mentioned that:

One of the conditions for taqlid from a marja is that from a knowledgeable aspect he should be higher than the rest of the mujtahids of his time, and with the presence of a most knowledgeable mujtahid you can not do taqlid to a mujtahid who is not considered most knowledgeable and this is in the instance that that there must be a great difference between the mujtahid who is considered most knowledgeable and the one who is not considered most knowledgeable to the extent that when there are instances of discrepancy and difference of opinion between their fatwas, then the one who is not considered most knowledgeable loses reliability in this area of expertise. However, if the extent of discrepancy is not that much between the the mujtahid who is considered most knowledgeable and the one who is not considered most knowledgeable, then doing taqlid to the mujtahid considered most knowledgeable has no precedence, and one can do taqlid to a mujtahid who is not considered most knowledgeable as long as they only differ modestly. Therefore, in every era we are always encountering groups of scholars that rank equally, yet it is permissible to do taqlid to all of them.

The ways to recognize the most knowledgeable marja of taqlid are:

1- The person who wants to do taqlid has the ability to distinguish who is most knowledgeable. If someone were to have Yaqin (absolute certainty) that one mujtahid is more knowledgeable than the other, then it is obligatory for him to do taqlid to that particular mujtahid.

2- If two people who are educated and just and can distinguish who is a mujtahid and who is most knowledgeable confirm who is most knowledgeable (under the condition that two other educated and just individuals do not oppose their opinions).

3- An assembly of scholars, whose word can be trusted and can determine who is a mujtahid and who is most knowledgeable, confirm who is the most knowledgeable scholar, and it becomes well-known amongst them that such and such is most knowledgeable[1]. Consequently, if someone who wants to do taqlid distinquishes that a mujtahid is most knowledgeable them he should definitely do taqlid to that scholar.

During this time, after the passing of Imam Khomeyni (May Allah have mercy on his soul) a number of dignified mujtahids who were recognized by scholars as being praiseworthy of marjaiyat (being a Marja),and equally knowledgable have been introduced so that for those who couldn't distinguish the most knowledgeable marja of taqlid, any other way; they could still do their Islamic duty by following the fatwas of one of the following marjas:

1- Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Behjat

2- Grand Ayatollah Lutfullah Safi Golpaygani

3- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Kazim Haeri

4- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenehie

5- Grand Ayatollah Hussein Vahid Khurasani

6- Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Fazel Lankerani

7- Grand Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shirazi

8- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani

9- Grand Ayatollah Jawad Tabrizi

10- Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Musa Shabiri Zanjani[2]



[1] Marajs' Tozihul Masa'il (Catechism of Legal Authorities) Pg.15 Ques.3

[2] Of course, it should be noted that mujtahids that one can do taqlid to are not limited to these ten persons, and these respected scholars names were listed here as they are some of the most renowned mujtahids today.

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