Ahmad Qābel, religious secularity and velāyat-e faqih in Iran

Ridgeon, L. (2022) Ahmad Qābel, religious secularity and velāyat-e faqih in Iran. Religions, 13(5), 422. (doi: 10.3390/rel13050422)

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Religious secularity and Islam have not often been considered in the West as comfortable bedfellows, yet the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 questioned assumptions about the appropriateness of separate spheres for religion and politics. However, within a decade of the revolution, theoretical and intellectual shifts were visible in the Iranian seminaries, and alternative views about the doctrine of velāyat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurists) which twinned religion and politics together, were being discussed. Such shifts transformed the doctrine from one which had a divine mandate to one that in practice emanated from the people. This article focuses upon the ideas of a mid-ranking reformist seminarian, Ahmad Qābel (d. 2012), whose tight adherence to reason resulted in him ultimately rejecting velāyat-e faqih, and calling for a form of religious secularity in which the seminary remained divorced from state structures and institutions. For Qābel, this did not mean the creation of an irreligious society, but the establishment of a more open and pluralist one, in which religious differences could be voiced. Qābel’s short essay on velāyat-e faqih is utilised herein to outline the main arguments of those who have refuted the doctrine. Qābel’s complete rejection of velāyat-e faqih is important because it went much further than the view of his spiritual mentor, Ayatollah Montazeri, who sought reform of the idea. As such, it demonstrates that within the seminary there is much difference of opinion, although there are very few (such as Qābel) who have the courage to articulate their opposition to the “official” view. Qābel’s essay provides a straightforward entry-point into a complex topic, employing the kinds of rationalist argumentation that he learnt within the seminarian environment of Iran.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ridgeon, Dr Lloyd
Authors: Ridgeon, L.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Religions
ISSN (Online):2077-1444
Published Online:06 May 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Author
First Published:First published in Religions 13(5): 422
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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