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Nachman Alexander

This article examines how Fadlallah and Khomeini’s respective quests for sovereignty are reflected in their political thought, particularly vis-a-vis their notions of maṣlaḥa, which I define as the “common good.” I argue that if, to an extent, Islamic political thought seeks to maximise maṣlaḥa, then this can also constitute a claim to sovereignty, the definition of which remains multidimensional and contentious. By closely examining Fadlallah and Khomeini’s writings and pronouncements on governance, popular movement, and state, I attempt to reveal how discussions regarding Islamic governance demonstrate a broader claim to authority in Islamic history.

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Alexander Nachman

This article explores the legacy of Khomeini’s declarations on amr bi ma‘rūf va nahī az munkar (commanding right and forbidding wrong). Focusing particularly on Khomeini’s Taḥrīr al-wasīla, in which his most detailed exploration of the duty to command and forbid is found, I argue that a number of the Islamic Republic’s institutions and political factions have been unable to legislate on this duty because its most effective role is in the social sphere. By attempting to codify commanding and forbidding in law, these institutions and factions eschew the duty’s esoteric and ambiguous qualities that make it both applicable and complete. The duty is instead most effective as a tool for self-governance and communal reform. Khomeini’s innovative vision of commanding and forbidding provides a certain degree of autonomy in social space for those who perform or sanction the duty.