Following the Most Knowledgeable
Question :

Is it necessary to follow the most knowledgeable religious scholar?

Answer :

Yes, it is obligatory to follow the most knowledgeable Mujtahid.

The Difference Between the Verdicts
Question :

If one is not aware of the differences between marja's opinions on a particular ruling, and does not know the verdict of his own marja, can he follow the edict of another marja'?

Answer :

If one is aware that there are differences between the maraja's in the rulings that affect him, which is usually the case, then he must observe precaution. Since this is not practical for many to do so, he must find the most knowledgeable from them and follow him.

The Most Knowledgeable
Question :

How can we know that one Mujtahid is most knowledgeable?

Answer :

The scholars have mentioned in their treatises of practical Islamic laws the ways to determine the most knowledgeable, and one of those ways to is to refer to the people of expert (known as the ahl-ul-khibrah) who can differentiate between mujtahids and determine the most knowledgeable.

Ahl-ul-khibra
Question :

How do I know who the ahl-ul-khibrah (people of expertise) are so that I may ask them about the most knowledgeable mujtahid?

Answer :

The ahl-ul-khibrah are those who can recognize the most knowledgeable by his writings, research and edicts. Those experts can be reached through communicating with the Howza. If such communication is not possible or determining the most knowledgeable is not possible, one is required to choose one of the scholars who have reached the level of ijtihad and fulfil the conditions of being a marja, and follow him. The chosen should be the most God-fearing amongst them if possible. Otherwise, the believer can choose one of them and follow his verdicts.

Blind Taqleed
Question :

These days people have been saying that they do not do "blind" taqleed, and they follow those rules of a marja which are not against the Quran or the narrations, and they reject those which are against them. Is this a correct method?

Answer :

The emulation that Shias do is not blind taqleed. It is, rather, based on vision and wisdom, since everybody is asked to observe the Sharia and act upon its obligations and refrain from what it prohibits; and at the same time, a normal Muslim does not possess the specialized capabilities to know the laws of the religion. It becomes natural for those who are not experts in this field to refer to the jurist who specializes in deriving the rulings of the Sharia after exerting great efforts in order to reach religious conclusions.
Taqlīd is commonly practiced by people all the time, when they refer – in the aspects that require expert knowledge and scientific efforts – to those who specialize in the specific fields, like medical doctors and engineers, and they act upon their findings and conclusions.
Moreover, the Holy Quran and the Sunnah hold a central position in the process of derivation of the mujtahid, so naturally the rulings of a mujtahid – who fulfills the conditions of being a marja' – will not be against them.
Therefore, bearing all this mind, it is not within the non-expert Muslim's domain to judge a mujtahid's edicts, otherwise his judgment will be without any base.

The Most Society-learned Marja
Question :

In social matters, is it permissible to follow the marja who is the most learned in sociology, and similarly follow the most knowledgeable in other matters?

Answer :

It is not permissible to do taqleed of more than one marja.

The Most Knowledgeable
Question :

To me, all the mujtahids are equally knowledgeable and God-fearing, and I cannot distinguish between them. What should I do?

Answer :

It is not possible for non-expert Muslim to find out the most knowledgeable and God-fearing, he should refer to the experts to determine this. If you could not ascertain the most knowledgeable, or the most God-fearing, based on what the experts inform you, then you can choose one of marjas and follow his edicts.

The Most Knowledgeable Marja
Question :

Who is the most leading and knowledgeable jurist (mujtahid) currently?

Answer :

One should refer to the trusted experts who possess the ability to determine the most knowledgeable in deriving the religious rulings and the most understanding of the religious texts.

The Marja
Question :

Is it a condition in the marja to be a man?

Answer :

Yes, as an obligatory precaution.

Marja of Taqleed
Question :

I am in the process of selecting a marja to emulate, and have been recommended His Eminence Sayyid al-Hakeem. Can I rely on his book of Islamic laws in order to decide to follow him?

Answer :

It is obligatory on individuals to follow the most knowledgeable when possible and that can be determined by referring to the experts who are able to determine who this is. It is not permissible for lay people to base the choice of their marja on learning about his verdicts and feeling comfortable with them.

The Most Knowledgeable
Question :

If a lay person decided on who is the most knowledgeable mujtahid based on his own research and without needing to ask the religious scholars who can determine the most knowledgeable, would this be sufficient?

Answer :

A lay individual is not qualified to determine the most knowledgeable in the right way without referring to whoever can determine him amongst the experts, since they– and not any inexperienced person – are the ones who know the level of knowledge of the people that reached the level of ijtihad.

Worldly Sciences
Question :

Is knowing politics, economics and other worldly sciences a condition to be a mujtahid or not?

Answer :

The said sciences are not directly related to reaching the level of ijtihād. However, during the research for a religious answer to an issue that relates to another field, like politics, economics or medicine, a scholar is expected to make sure that the issue is understood in such a way that the obligation before Almighty Allah to know the subject of the religious verdict is fulfilled. This might require that the religious scholar has some level of knowledge or expertise in these areas, or that he refers to the experts in these sciences. With this knowledge, the religious verdict is determined using the religious sciences and evidences that he already possesses.

Level of Ijtihad
Question :

How does a student of Islamic studies reach the level of ijtihad?

Answer :

Ijtihad is a talent gained after reaching a level of knowledge through which a student of religion is able to know the religious ruling from its rightful sources, i.e. the Holy Quran and the narrations of the Prophet and the Imams (peace be upon them). It is natural for this to require a long period of time and dedication, in addition to piety and God-fearing in such a way that one becomes sincere in his research for the truth, as it is prohibited to give an edict without knowledge, as the religious teachings emphasize.

Following the Most Knowledgeable
Question :

Can we do taqleed of a person who has reached the level of ijtihad, or are there some other qualifications for him to become a marja'?

Answer :

It is compulsory to follow the most knowledgeable amongst those who have reached the level of ijtihad, and it is not sufficient to follow any mujtahid.

Depending on Istikhara
Question :

Is it permissible to rely on istikhara to determine the most knowledgeable jurist amongst the qualified mujtahids?

Answer :

It is not permissible to depend on istikhara in determining one's marja.

Definition of Adalah
Question :

What is meant by the term "Adalah"?

Answer :

Adalah – as a condition in the imam of the congregational prayer and in the witness – is a level of fearing Almighty Allah that leads to avoiding the committing of major sins. Committing small sins without insistence does not affect it.
Adalah – as a condition in the marja – is a high level of God-fearing which leads the person to refraining from disobeying the religious laws and committing sins – whether the sins are small or major. If on the rare occasion he commits a sin, he would rush to repent to Almighty Allah and seek his forgiveness.
A person who holds 'adālah is called "adil".

Following the Most Knowledgeable
Question :

Since it is obligatory to follow the most knowledgeable mujtahid – the most capable in deriving the religious laws from the appropriate sources – I am unable to find the ahl-ul-khibrah to refer to them in order to determine him. However, I have found multiple mujtahids who have all the necessary qualification to be followed in taqleed. Can I follow any one of them?

Answer :

If the mujtahids are equal in knowledge or you are not able to determine the most knowledgeable amongst them, and if observing precaution – to guarantee that the religious obligations are fulfilled – is not a possibility, one must choose the most God-fearing amongst the most knowledgeable mujtahids. If this is not possible as well, any one of them can be chosen to be followed.

Determining the Most Knowledgeable
Question :

Can one depend on his parents in determining the most knowledgeable mujtahid?

Answer :

It is permissible for the individual to depend on his parents in finding out the most knowledgeable if he trusted their choice to be in accordance with the religious guidelines – e.g. referring to the ahl-ul-khibrah. If he does not, then he should do his own research based on those guidelines.