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Question : #468 Category: Taqleed
Subject: difference of vilayat-e-faqih and marja-e-fatwa
Question: What is the difference between vilayat-e-faqih and marja-e-fatwa?
Answer: Wilayat al-faqih refers to the all-comprehensive authority of the jurist (faqih) in the absence of the twelfth Imam (A.S.). In particular, the question arises as to the extent of the authority of the faqih during the ghayba - can he undertake all the functions that a Ma'sum Imam undertakes?

Thus wilaya al-faqih may include functions like wilaya al-nizam (the authority to manage public order); wilaya al-qada' ( the authority to administer justice) which includes the authority to implement the hudud (punishments for acts violating the public order), wilaya al-siyasa - the authority to administer a government and hold political office and also wilaya al-tasarruf (authority for the jurist to act in a way which he judges to be the best in the interest of the community). A corrollary to the wilaya al-faqih may include the duty to declare a jihad. It is to be noted that not all mujtahids accept the concept of the all-embracing and comprehensive view of wilaya al-faqih.

Marja' al-taqlid refers to the role of a mujtahid who is competent to derive juridical rulings from the Qur'an and hadith literature and is able to arrive at solutions which are not explicitly stated in the sources by having recourse to the principles as stated in usul al-fiqh. Such a mujtahid is qualified to issue juridical verdics (or fatawa) and is a source of reference for muqallidin who follow him by doing his taqlid (which literally means to imitate his acts). Thus it is possible for a person to be a marja al-taqlid without occupying the position of wilaya al-faqih.

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