Among the most important and eternal principles
of Islam is the principle of leadership, which is also
called guardianship (Wilayah). In Islam, the leadership
of society is a divine responsibility that is not left to
just anyone, and Allah makes known to the people
those righteous and worthy persons that He has chosen
to perform this important task.
During the time of the Prophet (SA), the leader and
guardian of the Islamic society was of course the
Prophet (SA) himself, and he was never irresolute
about performing this important task. He received laws
and commands from Allah and communicated these
to the people, he was commanded by Allah to implement
in society the social and political laws of Islam,
and to lead, through his sacred leadership, the society
to the path towards perfection.
The management of all the political and social affairs
of society was in his hands. The orders for jihad (Islamic
holy war) were issued by the Prophet (SA), and he
personally appointed the commanders of his forces. In
all these responsibilities, he would confer with the
people, but the final decision was always taken by him
and Allah gave him complete authority in this regard.
The Prophet's (SA) decisions took precedence over
the immediate wants of the people, for he was aware
of their best and long-term interests, and was more
able than they were themselves to guide and lead them
to felicity and freedom.
In the Qur'an Allah tells us: `The Prophet is more
in authority over the believers than they themselves."
But this leadership and guardianship is not limited
to the time of the Prophet (SA). Rather the people of
all times need a divine leader and guardian. For this
reason under the command of the Almighty Allah, the
Prophet (SA) appointed Imam `Ali (AS) to be the
leader of the people and the guardian of the society
after himself. At a huge gathering of Muslims, while
returning from his last haji the Prophet (SA)
announced at a place called Ghadir Khumm:
"He whose guardian I am, also his guardian is `Ali"
Thus, it was by the order of Allah that `Ali (AS)
was designated by the Prophet (SA) as the leader and
guardian of Islamic Ummah after himself. Likewise,
`Ali (AS) in turn did not leave the Ummah without a
divine leader. At the command of Allah and in accordance
with the decree of the Prophet (SA) he appointed
al-Imam al-Hasan (AS) to the post of leader-
ship, and made this known to the people.
In the same way, each of the infallible Imams
appointed a successor to lead and guide the Ummah,
until it came to the turn of the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad
al-Mahdi (AS) who, at the order of Allah, was
hidden from the vision of mankind.
During the Imam's Ghaybah (occultation), Muslim
society is not bereft of the proper leadership According
to the words of the Twelfth Imam (AS) and the
Imams before him, the leadership and guidance of Islamic
society during this period is the duty of just,
aware, selfless and brave mujtahidin jurisprudents).
During thisperiod the leader of Islamic society
must be great scholar of Islam. Virtuous and pious.
Who must be totally aware of current political and social
affairs and of the needs of the people. The Muslims
must choose him to be their leader and follow his instructions.
When the Muslims accept such a leader they can
easily gain their freedom and overcome the injustice
and oppression of the tyrannical powers. As is clear,
by accepting the principle of religious leadership. the
people of Iran have freed themselves from the tyranny
and injustice of the puppet regime of the ex-Shah, and
are slowly but surely on their way to overturning the
whole of the oppressive world order.
With perfect vision and decisiveness, the Islamic
leader guides the Ummah in all social and political
affairs. He is ultimately responsible for the armed
forces, and he keeps watch over the laws and management
of society so that by following the Islamic programs
the society moves towards perfection. He puts
a halt to deviations and centralizes all the forces and
resources of the nation. He turns the whole of society
toward a single goal; freedom from oppression and
the attainment of sincere service to Allah.