The Concept of Supreme Leadership and the Characteristics of the Supreme Leader

Guardian for the Jurist

Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his honorable emergence) granted leadership in the era of his absence to just jurisprudents, and he ordered people to obey

The Concept of Supreme Leadership and the Characteristics of the Supreme Leader
Guardian for the Jurist

The Concept of Supreme Leadership and the Characteristics of the Supreme Leader


Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his honorable emergence) granted leadership in the era of his absence to just jurisprudents, and he ordered people to obey them and resort to them in everything connected to matters of state and the command of society. The Imam granted full authority to jurisprudents and they are allowed to act in the limits of what benefits Islam.

Ishak Ibn Yacoub said: “I asked Muhammad the son of Othman Al-Amri (the ambassador of Imam Mahdi) to deliver me a letter [I had sent to Imam Mahdi] in which I asked about matters which were not clear to me. I received the letter in the handwriting of our Master of Time: “As for incidents that occur, then resort to those who have recited our narrations, for they are my authority over you, and I am the authority of God.”[1]

The Characteristics of the Supreme Leader

Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his honorable emergence) mentioned the characteristics which the Leader should possess and the qualifications which enable him to wholly fulfill the duty of the representation of Imam Mahdi. The clarification of these characteristics is for the purpose of preventing anyone who does not have the ability to administer affairs from assuming the position of leadership. We shall clarify the characteristics as follows.

1-Knowledge in Jurisprudence
The Imam (may God hasten his honorable emergence) was referring to jurisprudents when he said: “Then resort to those who have recited our narrations”. God said in the Holy Quran: {Is He who guides to the truth more worthy of being followed, or he who does not guide, unless he himself is guided? What is the matter with you? How do you judge?"} (Jonah, verse 35) Thus, those who know the truth and guide it are the ones who should be followed.

This characteristic includes Islam, faith, and the adherence to the laws of God; fulfilling obligations and forsaking forbiddances. God said in the Holy Quran: {…And do not obey he whose heart we have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follows his desire, and whose case has gone beyond bounds.} (The Cave, verse 28)
Thus, it is prohibited for a dissolute person who does not adhere to the laws of God to assume leadership.

3- Being Qualified
In a simple glance for the purpose of discovering the characteristics which the Supreme Leader should possess and to what extent he possesses them, it is evident that the Supreme Leader should be qualified. The aforementioned narration where Imam Ali (peace be upon him) says “he who is most able to fulfill it” refers to this characteristic.

Today, we find that Sayed Ali Khamenei possesses all of the characteristics of the Leader, and not only that, but he is also “a favor which God bestowed upon us” as Imam Khomeini expressed.

Imam Khomeini pointed out the unique attributes of Sayed Ali Khamenei when he said: “If you think you can find in the entire world a person like Sayed Khamenei who faithfully adheres to Islam and is a servant disposed to serve this nation then you will not. I have known him for many years; he is a favor which God bestowed upon us.”

1-Imam Khamenei’s Knowledge in Jurisprudence
Sayed Ali Khamenei was granted the rank of Ijtihad by his teacher, Ayatollah Ha’eri in the year 1974 after having attended the studies in Outer Research for more than 15 years.

In what follows, we shall mention some of the most prominent jurisprudents who testified that Imam Khamenei was qualified to be referred to in religious matters.
Ayatollah Sayed Jaafar Karimi
Ayatollah Sheikh Ahmad Jannati
Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad Yazdi
Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad Ali Taskhiri
Ayatollah Sayed Mahmoud Hashemi
Martyr Ayatollah Sayed Muhammad Baqer Al-Hakim
There are yet other jurisprudents who we did not mention for the sake of brevity, in addition to the testimony of the Community of Instructors in the city of Qom.

2-His Renunciation of Worldly Pleasures
Sayed Ali Khamenei is the example of the leader who the Household of the Prophet approved of, and this is evident through his conduct in following the example of Imam Ali (peace be upon him). The former head of the Foundation of the Wounded relates the following incident: “His home was furnished with tattered and torn carpets which we gathered and sold. We added a sum from our personal money to their value and we bought a new carpet which we furnished the house with. When he came back and saw the carpet, he ordered that it should be returned and the tattered rugs should be restored.”

Sayed Ali Khamenei said: “If it is said to Khamenei: ‘Your presence where shoes are organized in a certain Husainiya is of more benefit that being president, then I shall immediately head to take that task.”

3-His Struggle
Sayed Khamenei has a long and luminous history in struggling. He had a fundamental role in the activities of the Religious Seminary – which is the important and central base for producing clerics and freedom fighters - and a role in its revolt in the year 1962.

Imam Khomeini sent him in 1963 to Mashhad to deliver three political dispatches through which he was able to plant the seeds of revolution in many cities and villages.

Sayed Ali Khamenei was imprisoned several times, and he was tortured through various means in the prisons of the Savak. He was faced with an assassination attempt on his life in the year 1981 while he was issuing the Friday Speech in the University of Tehran, and he was inflicted with grave wounds.

As for the days of the Imposed War, Sheikh Rafsanjani said: “If Sayed Khamenei and Martyr Shamran had not gone to Ahwaz and had not ordered to dig a trench at the outskirts of the city, and if the small groups of Revolutionary Guards had not resisted, then the city of Ahwaz would have fallen as well.”

4-His Courage and Resoluteness
The resoluteness and decisiveness of Sayed Khamenei is evident in every stage of his life. It was most prominent during the memorable Friday Prayer when he was issuing a speech and the planes of the enemy were in the sky threatening those present at the Prayer. During the speech, there was an explosion among those at the Prayer resulting in tens of martyrs and wounded. In spite of all of that, Sayed Khamenei was able to continue the speech and Prayer and to restore tranquility to the hearts of those present and this inspired admiration in the hearts of both friends and foes.

[1] Wasa’el Shi’a, volume 27, 140


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