The Official Website of the Office of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani

Question & Answer » Identifying the Most Learned Mujtahid

1 Question: What does Taqlid mean in religious laws?
Answer: Taqlid in religious laws means acting according to the verdict of a Mujtahid. It is necessary for the Mujtahid who is followed, to be male, Shi'ah Ithna Ash'ari, adult, sane, of legitimate birth, living and just ('Adil). A person is said to be just when he performs all those acts which are obligatory upon him, and refrains from all those things which are forbidden to him. And the sign of being just is that one is apparently of a good character, so that if enquiries are made about him from the people of his locality, or from his neighbours, or from those persons with whom he lives, they would confirm his good conduct. And if one knows that the verdicts of the Mujtahids differ with regard to the problems which we face in every day life, it is necessary that the Mujtahid who is followed be A'lam (the most learned), who is more capable of understanding the divine laws than any of the contemporary Mujtahids.
2 Question: What are the ways through which I can identify the most learned of Mujtahids?
Answer: There are three ways of identifying a Mujtahid, and the A'alam (most learned):
*When a person is certain that a particular person is a Mujtahid, or the most learned one. For this, he should be a learned person himself, and should possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or an A'alam;
*When two persons, who are learned and just and possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or the A'alam, confirm that a person is a Mujtahid or an A'lam, provided that two other learned and just persons do not contradict them. In fact, being a Mujtahid or an A'lam can also be established by a statement of only one trusted and reliable person;
*When a number of learned persons who possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or an A'lam, certify that a particular person is a Mujtahid or an A'lam, provided that one is satisfied by their statement.
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