Chapter

Shiite Discourses on Sovereignty*

Naser Ghobadzadeh

in Religious Secularity

Published in print December 2014 | ISBN: 9780199391172
Published online November 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199391196 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391172.003.0002
Shiite Discourses on Sovereignty*

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The first chapter scrutinizes the question of divine versus popular sovereignty, and introduces challenges to the notion that state authority in the contemporary world can be derived from divine sources. After delineating a brief history of divine and popular sovereignty in Shiite Islam, this chapter targets the linchpin of Iran’s Islamic state, i.e., the doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih (rule of the Islamic jurist). The chapter intends to provide an insight into the inconsistencies between divine sovereignty and Islamic precepts and traditions. Religious secularity discourse not only invalidates purported historical records of the sacred foundation of the state in Islam, but also problematizes the notion of divine sovereignty from theological/philosophical and non-religious perspectives. As an alternative, Islamic history—along with jurisprudential/theological reasoning—is used to promote popular sovereignty as necessary to complement the spirit of religion. The main thrust of this chapter is to attest to the compatibility of Islam and popular sovereignty, which is an essential requirement of a secular democratic state.

Keywords: divine sovereignty; popular sovereignty; Velayat-e Faqih; legitimacy; Shiite political history

Chapter.  17978 words. 

Subjects: Islam ; Religious Studies

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