An assessment of collective leadership within hawza ʻilmiyya of Qum

By Mohammad Mesbahi
Submitted to Session P6586 (State Religion Relations: Coercion, Accommodation, and Pluralism, 2021 Annual Meeting
Rel Stds/Theo
Islamic Studies;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
In Shiʻi studies, the modern history of the hawza ʻilmiyya of Qum is of paramount importance and its leadership can be categorized in a number of defining periods. The term maraje thalath or the three religious authorities, referred to two distinct and defining periods of the modern history of the hawza ʻilmiyya of Qum. Firstly, the period following the death of its founder Ayatollah Haʼeri in January 1937 that begins at the peak of Reza Shah’s authoritarian monarchy and ends in 1953 just before the Iranian coup d’état to return Mohammad Reza Shah back to power. This marks the leadership of three prominent and outstanding maraje; the Ayatollahs Hojjat Kuh Kamari (1892-1952), Khonsari (1888-1952) and Sadr (1882-1953). The second refers to the period starting with the consolidation of Mohammad Reza Shah following the 1963 exile of Ayatollah Khomeini (1902-1989) until the Islamic revolution of Iran. The leadership of another set of prominent maraje Ayatollahs Golpayegani (1899-1993), Marʻashi Najafi (1887-1990), and Shariʻatmadari (1906-1986) is highlighted by this period. This paper will review the two periods concerned and critically assess their similarities and differences, as well as the style of collective leadership adapted by both maraje thalath. In addition, by concentrating on the senior figures involved, further research on their political, social and religious contributions to the hawza of Qum is undertaken, while considering the impact and influence of the Ayatollah Borujerdi (1875-1961) on both periods.