Shi'i Law and Leadership: The Influence of Mortaza Ansari
Shi'i Law and Leadership analyzes the influence of the nineteenth-century scholar and head of the international Shi'i community, Mortaza Ansari. Although ethnically Persian, Ansari lived most of his life in the Shi'i center of learning in Najaf, Iraq. Ansari's major contribution to Shi'i jurisprudence was his redefinition of essential legal terms. Additionally, he advanced a theory that made emulation of a living cleric a religious duty for all lay Shi'is. Ansari became the first sole supreme exemplar (marja' at-taqlid) for the international Shi'i community. He spent his tenure as the head of the community training students, writing, extending his network of scholars, and collecting and distributing charitable donations. Ansari's successors used the power of a more unified Shi'i community largely for political activism, which was a departure from the practices of Ansari himself. Ansari's immediate successor successfully challenged the Qajar Persian government in the Tobacco Revolt in 1890, which emboldened future clerics to take on the powers of the state in the 1905 Constitutional Revolution and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.
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