|Date of birth||1930|
|Function/Grade||Afghan religious Shia leader|
|History and Biodata||
Eventually, in 1992, he was asked to join into the shura-je marje, the Shia world community’s highest ruling council, consisting of four Islamic jurists. The term marja hails from the term used for religious authority in the Shia faith (it literally means “reference”). There are the highest of marjas, and ‘lower’ marjas, usually regionally important religious leaders. The highest marja– as head of the Najaf council is considered to be “the most influential jurist in the Shiite world” – is currently Ayatollah Ali Sistani, an Iranian.
Nevertheless: when Fayaz’ book on women’s positions in Islamic society was launched in Kabul in November 2011 – the first public introduction of the ayatollah’s works in Afghanistan – Second Vice President Danish (then acting minister of higher education) introduced him as the “the best of all marjas currently out there” – something than can well be understood as a challenge to not just the current Afghan religious leadership,but maybe even to the Iranian politico-religious leadership.
Fayaz is attractive to a large group of Afghan Shia for three different reasons.
A second reason for Afghan Shia liking Ayatollah Fayaz is that he, in contrast to his rivals for religious leadership in Afghanistan, has not been involved in the violence of the civil war or with any of the political parties driving it. Commanders and fighters of Mohseni’s Harakat, for example, have been accused of numerous killings, for instance during the Afshar massacre in 1993 . This makes Fayaz more acceptable for those who suffered during the mujahedin era.
Thirdly, Ayatollah Fayaz’ acceptance among the educated class of the Shia communities owes much to his modern views regarding women’s rights, Islamic banking, medicine, and Islamic unity. For instance, according to Sharia law (a constantly changing, constantly added to catalogue of religious rulings or fatwas), women cannot become judges while Fayaz believes otherwise – he ‘even’ sees them as potential presidents. Ali Amiri, a philosophy professor at the Ibn Sina Private University and one of those who had been pushing for a different, more diversified religious Shia leadership (he is regularly in the Afghan media demanding change and had been involved in organising the ceremony for Fayaz), said that “if we had had access to his opinion at the time of tensions regarding the Shia family law, the law would look different today.”