InsideIRAN.org – Ayatollah Ali-Mohammad Dastgheib, member of the Assembly of Experts and an outspoken critic of the government, issued a new theological verdict about Velayat Faqih, or rule of Islamic jurist, and stated that the current implications of this theory are contradictory to what the Iranian constitution had intended.
Ayatollah Dastgheib, in response to a question asked by one of his followers on his official website regarding Velayat Faqih, argues in five pages that the current theory of Absolute Velayat Faqih does not correspond to the interpretation of the concept, as it was determined by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic and the most prominent intellectual father of the theory.
Dastgheib begins his long jurisprudential and technical response by first mentioning that he was one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s students and a number of other prominent seminaries of the time, thus establishing both his commitment to the theory of Velayat and his religious credentials as a legitimate source of opinion on this matter.
According to his website, Dastgheib.com, this senior cleric argues that “Absolute Velayat Faqih and Vali Faqih [the actual person who carries out the duties of Velayat] appointed by the Assembly of Experts are two different things that can at times take place and be observed in one person, such as Imam Khomeini”, implying that the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lacks one of those properties. He then argues that the only duties of someone selected by the Assembly of Experts are “…to coordinate the efforts of the three branches of government and to prevent the violation of citizens’ rights by the three branches.” This bold claim means that the Supreme Leader’s powers are much more limited than is currently the case.
Dastgheib asserts, “This person of Vali Faqih has no right to interfere in the affairs of the people.” After the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader was no longer required to be a Source of Emulation, which, according to Dastgheib, means that he no longer holds the legitimacy to become an Absolute Vali Faqih.
Ayatollah Dastgheib then criticizes the Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for the selection, termination, and supervision of the Supreme Leader, and says, “These gentlemen’s only duty is not to appoint or to approve of a leader; they are also responsible for solving the problems of their constituents.” He asserted, “It should not be the case that we [the Assembly] select a leader and must now be obedient [to the Leader].”
Ayatollah Dastgheib’s remarks against Velayat Faqih and Supreme Leader Khamenei are the harshest since the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri publicly questioned the legitimacy of Khamenei’s leadership two decades ago. As a member of the Assembly of Experts and a prominent cleric in Iran, Dastgheib’s remarks could encourage other dissatisfied senior clerics to come forward and express their grievances. It is expected that in the next few days Dastgheib’s office, mosque or both will be attacked by government supporters in a show of support for Khamenei.