Khorasani’s Political Philosophy

   Mullā Muhammad Kāzim Khurāsānī (1839-1911), also known as Ākhund Khurāsānī (the cleric from Khurāsān), is one of the most outstanding scholars of the world of Islam in recent century. Over one thousand jurisprudents (mujtahids) have been trained in his classes in the Holy city of Najaf. His book Kifāya al-Usūl has so far been the most reliable book in the methods and principles of jurisprudence (usūl al-fiqh) in the Shi‘ite seminary schools and the most important text book in this area. Khurāsānī has proposed a number of new and innovative opinions and initiatives on methods and principles of jurisprudence.

Within the last decade of his life, Khurāsānī had been one of the top three prominent Shi‘ite authorities of imitation (marja‘ al-taqlīd).  During the Constitutionalism (Mashrūtiyyat) movement in Iran, he had been the most high ranking religious scholar both in theory and in practice. In politics he has put forward such innovative opinions that he could be considered the founder of a political school, the one which so far has been the prevailing school in the seminary school of the holy city of Najaf. However Khurāsānī’s political school has been much neglected although it has been of high importance.

His failure to publish a separate book has been among the reasons for this prevailing ignorance. While the two valuable treatises al-La’ālī al-Marbūta fī Wujūb al-Mashrūta by Shaykh Muhammad Ismā‘īl Mahallātī and Tanbīh al-Umma wa Tanzīh al-Milla by Mīrzā Muhammad Husayn Nā’īnī, two high ranking scholars, are known to have been influenced by the profound opinions of this pioneer of Constitutionalism movement.

Khurāsānī is the first faqīh—as a follower of the Imams—to state that absolute guardianship belongs to God and to reject any absolute human guardianship. It is a bold opinion, which has consequences in other religious political issues such as the guardianship of the jurisprudent (wilāya al-faqīh).

In his later work, in explaining the obligation for all Muslims, he states that “probate (al-hesbiah) matters during the occultation of twelfth Imam are delegated and delivered to the wise Muslims and trustworthy believers”. In other words, he firstly promotes probate matters to general and political issues and secondly, in such issues, he assumes no privilege for the jurisprudents either in the guardianship or in the authority in the least form of it (al-qadr-i al-mutayaqqin). Therefore Khurāsānī recognizes no specific right for the jurisprudents.

He absolutely denies the guardianship of the jurisprudent as well as any privilege of the jurisprudents in managing public domain. Among the Shi‘ite jurisprudents, Khurāsānī assumes the least specific right for the jurisprudents in public domain. In this regard, this view is in the opposite of Ayatollah Khomeini, who among the Shi‘ite jurisprudents, assumes the most specific right for the jurisprudents, which means the absolute guardianship with the same authority as the authority that the Prophet and the Imams have had in public domain beyond the customary canonical judgments.

This is the authority Khurāsānī does not assume even for the Prophet and the Imams and believes that it only belongs to the Holy essence of Divinity, and claims that it is a wrong innovation to assume that the absolute authority for non-infallibles exists in Islam.

The absolute rejection of the jurisprudents’ specific right in managing public domain makes it possible for all people to participate. On this basis, Khurāsānī announces his historical saying: “During the occultation of Imam Mahdi, the government belongs to the public.”

This statement is the foundation of democracy in an Islamic society. In general, Mullā Muhammad Kāzim Khurāsānī is considered the pioneering founder of democracy in Shi‘ite thought.

Khurāsānī’s Political Philosophy is a collection of political statements in all works of Khurāsānī in Arabic and Persian. This book publishes by more than one century delay. It is major reference in Shi’ate political thought and the history of Constitutionalism in Iran. In other words it is a compilation, prolegomenon, and research notes on Khurāsānī’s political works. The book has two parts. The first part in seven sections includes his political ideas that were mentioned in his published or manuscripts on Fiqh or ‘Usul al-Fiqh. Most of these sections are originally in Arabic.

The subjects of these sections are: The consequences of reason and religion (molazamat al-aql va al-shar’), on justice, the principle of no harm (la darara wa la derar), independent legal reasoning and emulation (al-ijtihad wa al-taqlid), the problem of guardianship of jurist (Wilayat al-faqih), on guardianship of just believers, judiciary, on the sacred war (al-Jihad), supervision and time limiting of the endowment (al-nedhara wa al-towqit fi al-waqf), one fifth (al-khums).

The second part of the book that is more than half of it and completely in Persian is most significant public writings, telegraphs, open letters, ordinances and political statements of Khurāsānī. These important pieces are organized in seven sections in the order of date of issues. This selection was derived from the most authentic sources and reliable references of Constitutionalism period including Persian press of in and out of Iran and historical books and documents.

Iranian conservatives wrote several critics on the analytic introduction of this book.

Mohsen Kadivar
Khorasani’s Political Philosophy
Political Statements in Works of Akhond Mulla Mohammad Kazim Khorasani
The Author of Kefayat al-Usul

The First Thinker of Political Islam in Contemporary Iran
Series, Vol.1

Kavir Publication, Tehran, 2006, (Second Printing, 2008)
423 Pages

Siasat-nameh Khorasani
Qgata’ate Siasi dar ‘athare Akhound Mulla Mohammad Kazem Khurasani,
Sahebe Kefayeh (1255-1329 After Hijrah)
ISBN 964-8161-63-1