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In a Pure Muslim LandShi'ism between Pakistan and the Middle East$
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Simon Wolfgang Fuchs

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469649795

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469649795.001.0001

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Projections and Receptions of Religious Authority

Projections and Receptions of Religious Authority

Grand Ayatollahs and Pakistan’s Shiʿi “Periphery”

(p.95) Chapter Three Projections and Receptions of Religious Authority
In a Pure Muslim Land

Simon Wolfgang Fuchs

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter investigates the arguments exchanged about a lay believer’s obligation to emulate a high-ranking scholar (marji‘) in his daily conduct (taqlid). The findings question the view of Pakistan as a mere Shi‘i “backwater.” Instead, the chapter argues that the country should be understood as a veritable center of religious vitality in its own right. Local Shi‘i ‘ulama in the “periphery” displayed remarkable creativity when arguing about the “centers”, using a variety of strategies to bolster their own authority. This chapter explores how the leading grand ayatollahs, residing mostly in Najaf and Qum, attempted to influence the debate about who should be recognized in Pakistan as the preeminent global scholar and how these claims to authority were received and reinterpreted. The discussion illuminates the crucial moments of succession after the death of one widely accepted and revered marji‘, the Iraqi scholar Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim (d. 1970). His demise played into the hands of the decidedly internationally minded Iranian jurist Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Shari‘atmadari (d. 1986) who had acquired the largest following of any marji‘ in Pakistan by the mid-1970s.

Keywords:   marji‘ al-taqlid, periphery, Najaf, Qum, Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim, Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Shari‘atmadari, grand ayatollahs, religious authority, Shi‘i ‘ulama

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