This book studies the rise and development of the institution of the Shiite
ulama with special reference to its increasingly political orientation. Based
on the authority of their knowledge of jurisprudence, the ulama claimed that
they should assume the position of holy Imams which entitles them to political
power in addition to their juridical authority. This claim was bolstered by
the rise of Shiite popular religion during Safavid period (1501-1722). The popularity
of Muharram processions and tombs visitations have ensured the ulama's independent
financial income and a shared charisma with the holy Imam. Being the locus of
popular religion, the ulama managed not only to overcome several Sufi, Akhbari,
Shaykhi and contemporary intellectual challenges, but to succeed in taking political
power and monopolize the religious institutions after the Islamic Revolution
of Iran (1979).
Dr. Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi teaches at the International Institute of Islamic
Thought and Civilization of the International Islamic University in Malaysia.