Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husseini Sistani is the prime marja, or spiritual reference for Ithna’Ashari‘a (Twelver) Shi‘a Muslims. He is the leading sheikh of the Hawza Seminary in Najaf, Iraq and the preeminent Shi‘a cleric globally. Sistani is one of the most respected of the marjaiyya—the highest position of authority in the Usuli school of Twelver Shi‘a fiqh.
Preeminent Shi‘a Cleric and Marja Taqlid
Sistani’s influence in the Twelver Shi‘a sect stems from his scholarly lineage and education, which have enabled him to reach the status of marja taqlid—the highest status in the Usuli branch of Twelver Shi‘a Islam. Marja taqlid means literally one who is worthy of being imitated— placing Sistani in a position of great authority over Twelver Shi‘a Muslims. There are currently only 29 marjas worldwide. Sistani is descended from a family of religious scholars, and was educated in the leading institutions in Iran. He later went to Najaf, Iraq to study under the Grand Ayatollah
Abu Al Qasim Al Khoei. On Khoei’s death in 1992, Sistani took over as grand ayatollah, inheriting Al Khoei’s following. He soon rose to become the leading cleric in Iraq. With the recent opening of Iraqi shrines to Iranian tourists, Sistani is gaining a following outside of Iraq.
Sistani also has very significant financial clout due to his position as marja. As a marja his followers give him a religious tax (khums, Arabic for one fifth). The redistribution of this tax for the common good is one of the key roles of a marja. Much of this remittance is redistributed through the Al Khoei Foundation— the largest Twelver Shi‘a development organization in the world that maintains a network of educational and humanitarian establishments for both Shi‘a and non-Shi‘a Muslims.
Significantly, Sistani is against the idea of Velayat-e Faqih, suggesting Shi‘a clerics should not get involved in politics. Paradoxically this approach has afforded him very strong influence as a religious leader unsullied by politics. This became clear after the Iraq invasion when Sistani issued a legal ruling (fatwa) calling on the clergy to guide Iraq’s populace, and later during the 2005 elections when he issued a ruling telling Shi‘a women that they were religiously obliged to vote. Ali Sistani has used his position of quietist authority to wield influence also as a peacemaker in the turbulent post-invasion Iraq. At a time when Sistani was losing support to Sheikh Muqtada Al Sadr, he showed his sway by arranging a lasting deal between Sadr and US forces at the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf in 2005—a deal that secured the Shrine and pushed for an American retreat. Sistani was vocal about encouraging Iraqis to participate in the 2010 parliamentary elections. He strongly condemned the Baghdad church attack in October 2010 and also advised Iraqi security forces to take more responsibility for the protection of Iraqi citizens.
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Sayed Jawad Shehristani, the deputy Supreme Religious Authority Sayed Ali Sistani, has met Ayatullah Sheikh Mohammed Sadiq Kerbasi, the author of Imam Hussein Encyclopedia in London – Britain. They discussed some ...
Grand Ayatollah Sistani Receives Jordanian Minister. The minister of Jordanian Religious Endowments visited, on Monday, the Religious Authority Ali al-Sistani at his residence in Najaf. Grand Ayatollah Sistani Receives Jordanian Minister. NAJAF, Iraq ...
\"Ayatollah Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani condemned the attack and expressed his solidarity with Ayatollah Qassem. Also Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi and Ayatollah Jawade al-Amoly expressed their condemnations for the attack and called for solidarity ...
It can be initiated or endorsed by both the Shiite Supreme cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and the popular and widely respected Sunni cleric, Abdul-Razaq al-Saidi. Al-Sistani, the Shiite Marji, in particular, still possesses an ethical charisma that ...and more »
And I think what spokespersons for Grand Ayatollah Sistani may have to say tomorrow after Friday prayers will be important. And what Iraq politicians say and do will be important. RAY SUAREZ: Ambassador Istrabadi, the U.S. has basically left the ...and more »
However, we do know she's got some connections that came in handy! She's a distant relative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shia cleric, who endorsed Al Jaafari's coalition after Saddam's regime fell. Sajida Talfah Samira ...
The rally was in respond to the calls of the Two Shia Leaders of the World Ayatullah Khamenei & Ayatullah Sistani. Three days mourning gathering was also organized by the Islamic Society of Kargil, which concluded with the protest march. The protest ...and more »
But against the backdrop of provincial elections, little was done to address the concerns of the protestors -- despite calls to do so from the top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sistani. Politicians instead exploited the demonstrations for electoral gains ...and more »
Even Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, based in the city of Najaf, who is the most respected marja taqlid (a Shia cleric regarded as a source of emulation) in the country, has warned that the current crisis is the most unprecedented since the fall of ...
One of the addresses apparently belong to Fatwas of Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's most senior Shiite cleric who is renowned throughout the Gulf for his learned counsel on Islamic law. The Saudi Arabian state is a staunch adherent to the Wahhabi, and ...and more »
Ayatollah Sistani has continuously supported the Arab Spring in other countries, without mentioning the protest movement in Iran.