By Haider Hobbollah
Translated by Sadiq Meghjee (UK)
Many contemporary jurists arrived at the opinion that a mufti or a marja’ had to be male and on this basis they did not accept that people could follow a lady. Some jurists took the opinion that it was allowed for ladies to follow a lady but not for men.
As for what has become clear to me after having researched this topic historically is that this subject was not seriously discussed in Shi’ī jurisprudence before the tenth century Hijri. The conclusion that I have reached after looking at the sources and evidences of various Muslim jurisprudential schools is that it is permissible for a lady to be a marja or a mufti, just like it is permissible for a lady to follow herself in the instance that she has reached ijtihād. In fact in that instance where she has reached the level of ijtihād it would become necessary for her then to follow herself. When a lady has met the necessary requirements and conditions required of a mujtahid then it is possible that others, including men, may follow her too. Such a thing is possible and there is no issue with it, providing the man has no other religious obligation that may prevent him from doing so.
If you would like to read more about this topic, please refer to al-Mar’a wa Marja’iyyat al-Iftā’ that has been published in my book Dirasāt fi al-Fiqh al-Islamī al-Mu’āsir, v. 1, p. 201-255.
Wednesday, 8th September 2021