Iran nowadays is an Islamic country that is ruled by a President and by a Wilayat el Faqih (in English he is called the Governor of the Jurisprudence ). This Wilayat el Faqih or Governor of the Jurisprudence has a really great religious and political influence (more powerful than the president) in Iran and among the Shia'a Muslims over the world.

My question is: Why throughout history has this position (Wilayat el Faqih) existed only in Iran, even though its existence was provided for under shariah law from the starting of Islam religion? And what was the function of the Governor of the Jurisprudence to begin with?

On a website they mentioned that Islamic theology of the Quietists argued that the Imam el Mehdi el Montazar shall appear again, and most probably when Judgment Day appears. However, with the absence of the Imam, there is the need for a Wali el Faqih, or as the translation goes: Governor of the Jurisprudence. This idea was evolved and upgraded by Khomeini, and was of making Khomeini in post-revolutionary years as "the supreme leader". Guess who self-proclaimed himself as the Wali: Khomeini himself.

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    I have no idea what you are asking. – Lennart Regebro Oct 14 '13 at 14:55
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    @LennartRegebro ok I will try to make it more clearer – moudiz Oct 14 '13 at 18:19
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    It's a valid question once properly edited. I am working on such an edit. – Tom Au Oct 14 '13 at 20:44
  • I improved on the improvement. :-) – Lennart Regebro Jan 25 '14 at 13:24

Wilayat al Faqih is traditionally not a position, but a principle, or theory. The principle says that an Islamic Jurist as a guardian of people. There has been several different views on what this means, and if the Islamic Jurist is a guardian in all things, including secular, or only a guardian in religious matters.

Ruhollah Khomeini expanded on this principle in a series of lectures in the 1970's where he argued for Islamic Jurists to be guardians of the people as a general rule, even for secular matters. He later used this view as a basis in the Iran constitution.

In that constitution he created the position of Wilayat al Faqih. This was a new invention, and this is why no other country than Iran has had this position: Khomeini is the one that created this position, and he created it for himself.

So the problem here is the statement "even though its existence was provided for under shariah law from the starting of Islam religion". This is incorrect.


The Governor of the Jurisprudence is the Supreme Religious Leader of Iran. He is more powerful than the President, and is to the President, what a medieval Pope was to a medieval king.

This role was created in Iran as a result of the 1979 revolution against the Shah. No other Islamic country ever had such a violently anti-secularist revolution or the incentive to put forth such a post.

The have been only two Governors of the Jurisprudence in Iran so far. The first was the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The second one is the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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    yes but my question why the Governor of the Jurisprudence , throughout history , only existed in Iran. there are numerous Islamic country , why they didn't have such one. – moudiz Oct 14 '13 at 20:49
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    @moudiz: And I answered: "No other Islamic country ever had such a violently anti-secularist revolution." [than against the Shah]. No other country so strongly felt the calling for a reappearance of the Mehdi prior to Judgement Day. – Tom Au Oct 14 '13 at 20:56
  • If you go to islamic history especially for the shiaa there was many circumstances that they need the help of Mehdi. especially in ottoman empire. there's been many massacres for them. why back then Governor of the Jurisprudence didnt exists ? the fatimid caliphate were so approach to shiaa why they didnt have such one ? – moudiz Oct 14 '13 at 21:21
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    @moudiz It is only your opinion that they needed the help of the Mehdi. It is also only your conjecture that they needed to have a position called Wilayat al Faqih to get that help. – Lennart Regebro Jan 25 '14 at 13:26

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