Maliki says it's time to rebuild Iraq

NAJAF, Iraq, May 23 (UPI) -- Following a meeting in Najaf with Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said it was time to focus on reconstruction.

Maliki briefs cleric Sistani in Najaf

NAJAF, Iraq, May 22 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf to brief him on developments in the country.

Clerics advise Sadr to keep Mahdi Army

BAGHDAD, April 9 (UPI) -- The influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr said his clerical advisers, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, rejected calls to disband the Mahdi Army.

Talabani: No plans to oust Maliki

NAJAF, Iraq, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, after meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said top Iraqi clerics do not plan to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Shiite blocs struggle for power in Iraq

Shiite blocs struggle for power in Iraq

NAJAF, Iraq, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Shiite clerics in Iraq find their power waning following their role in establishing a government led by Shiite parties after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

At least 26 killed in Iraq bombings

BAGHDAD, June 6 (UPI) -- Car bombs killed at least seven people and wounded 27 Wednesday in the Iraqi town of Kazimiya and police defused three booby-trapped cars in Beirut. In Falluja, a bomb at a crowded market killed at least 19 and injured 25 others and six Iraqi police offic

Iraq cult foiled in plot to kill clerics

NAJAF, Iraq, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The major weekend military offensive Iraqi and U.S. troops staged in Najaf uncovered a cult that was reportedly planning to assassinate senior Shiite clerics.

Death toll soars in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Three bombings in Baghdad killed five people Monday and the insurgent death toll in Najaf was estimated at 300 from weekend fighting.

Iraq's Shiites attempt to close ranks

BAGHDAD, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Delegates from Iraq's governing Shiite coalition have appealed to an ayatollah and radical militant cleric to shore up the faltering government.

Iraqi cleric warms to political coalition

BAGHDAD, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S.-backed Baghdad coalition of Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties is gaining more favor with Iraq's most revered and influential Shiite clerics.

Maliki seeks Shiite clerics' help

BAGHDAD, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with two top Shiite leaders for help to quell the growing sectarian violence but may not have gotten much.

Iraq, Iran reach border patrol agreement

NAJAF, Iraq, May 28 (UPI) -- Iran and Iraq have agreed to unite against "saboteurs" crossing their 700-mile border in an effort to increase the security of both countries.

Iraqi militants sentence all gays to death

BAGHDAD, May 17 (UPI) -- Hard-line Shiite militias in Baghdad have issued a blanket death sentence for homosexuals, lesbians, prostitutes, liberal professors and booksellers. Ali Hili, who ran a gay nightclub in Baghdad but fled to Britain this year after receiving death threats,

Gay Iraqi youth reported killed by police

BAGHDAD, May 5 (UPI) -- Human rights groups have condemned the slaying of a 14-year-old Baghdad youth shot to death by police apparently because he was gay.

Violence highlights clerics' power in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Iraqi and Western officials say rival hard-line Shiite clerical factions have pushed each other toward more militant and anti-U.S. stances.
Page 2 of 4

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani (Arabic: السيد علي الحسيني السيستاني‎ Persian: سید علی حسینی سیستانی, born August 4, 1930) is the current highest-ranking Twelver Shi'a marja in Iraq, who leads the Hawza of Najaf. He is a Grand Ayatollah and Twelver Shia marja' born in Iran and residing in Iraq since 1951. He is currently the preeminent Shia cleric for Shia in Iraq and around the world as well as an important political figure in post-invasion Iraq.

Sistani was born in Mashhad, Iran, to a family of religious scholars. His grandfather, for whom he was named, was a famous scholar who had studied in Najaf. Sistani's family originally comes from Isfahan. During the Safavid period, his forefather Sayyid Mohammad, was appointed as Sheikh ul-Islam (Leading Authority of Islam) by King Hussain in the Sistan province. He traveled to Sistan where he and his children settled, which accounts for the title "al-Sistani" in his great grandson's name today. Sistani began his religious education as a child, beginning in Mashhad, and moving on to study at the Shia holy city of Qom in central Iran in 1949. After spending a few years there, in 1951 he went to Iraq to study in Najaf under the late Grand Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei. Sistani rose in religious rank to be named a Marja in 1960 under the military dictatorship of Iraqi president Abd al-Karim Qasim. At the unusually young age of 31 (1961) Ayatollah Sistani reached the senior level of accomplishment called Ijtihad, which entitled him to pass his own judgments on religious questions.

When Khoei died in 1992, Sistani ascended to the rank of Grand Ayatollah by the traditional method — through peer recognition of his scholarship. His role as successor to Khoei was symbolically cemented when he led the funeral prayers of his widely esteemed teacher and he would go on to inherit Khoei's network and following. With the death of other leading ayatollahs in Iraq including Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, Ali al-Sistani emerged as the preeminent Shia cleric in Iraq. As the leading Ayatollah in Najaf, Sistani oversees sums amounting to millions of dollars. Sistani's followers offer him a fixed part of their earnings, which he spends for educational and charitable purposes. Sistani's office reports that he supports 35,000 students in Qom, 10,000 in Mashhad, and 4,000 in Isfahan. He also oversees a network of representatives (wakil) "who promote his views in large and small ways in neighborhoods, mosques, bazaars, and seminaries from Kirkuk" to Basra.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani."
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