In practicing Islam, the Shiite Muslims follow or should follow the Maraji‘(plural ofMarja‘and means specialised jurists) to know the edicts, or the verdicts relate to their religious practice. However, it is significant at the beginning to contextualize briefly the topic in order to understand the meaning ofMarja‘and other related terminologies.
After the occultation (or ‘hiding from view’) of their twelfth Imam, Imam Al-Mahdi, the Shiite Muslim,Twelvers,started emulating the practicing jurists who had the morality and ability to extract the edicts from their sources, mainly from the holy Book, the Quran, and the Hadith, and who thus had religious authority.
The Marja‘, which in Arabic means, the ‘expert’, denotes the Jurist who has qualifications to extract the edicts, piety and justice and is known publicly; thus, some believers in the Twelvers’ refer to him in order to know the Fatawa(edicts) and pay Zakat (alms giving) and khums (one-fifth tithe of surplus of the annual profit) for charity purposes. As a result, the Marja‘ has religious authority. Thus, the term Marja‘is intertwined with the term At-Taqlid (Marja‘ At-Taqlid) to denote the emulated jurist.