After Al-Haeri’s retirement, how will the Sadrists face the dilemma of “recommendation” to Khamenei?

After Al-Haeri’s retirement, how will the Sadrists face the dilemma of “recommendation” to Khamenei?


After Al-Haeris retirement how will the Sadrists face the dilemma of recommendation to KhameneiShiite cleric Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri’s abdication and his request for his imitators to follow the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, raise many questions about the future of the Sadrist movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, and the extent to which it can overcome this legitimate obstacle.

Al-Sadr, who drew his legitimate cover from Al-Hairi, has hundreds of thousands of followers, many of whom imitate the religious authority residing in Iran, who was one of the students of Muqtada’s father, Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq Al-Sadr.

Although many observers considered Al-Haeri’s move a blow to Sadr’s legitimacy, others believed that the leader of the Sadrist movement would be able to absorb it quickly in light of the flexible standards included in the Shiite sect in the matter of “imitating” the reference.

Al-Sadr, who was born in the early seventies, enjoys immense popularity among the poor Shiites, especially in Sadr City, which is densely populated.

Muqtada al-Sadr inherited this popularity from his father, Muhammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was killed by the previous regime in 1999 along with two of his sons.

Before Muhammed al-Sadr was killed, he “instructed” his followers to follow the Ha’eri Marja’, which is what Muqtada al-Sadr and many of his followers did.

Despite the many differences between Muqtada al-Sadr and al-Hairi, which have emerged over the past years, the leader of the Sadrist movement publicly expressed his commitment to part of al-Haeri’s instructions when he stated, on Tuesday, that he “quit” politics based on the instructions of the “reference”.

In his statements, al-Sadr did not reveal the identity of this “reference,” but his minister, Salih Muhammad al-Iraqi, later stated that al-Sadr was referring to al-Hairi.

Terms of “tradition”
The director of the Iraq Initiative at the Atlantic Council, Abbas Kadhim, explains the mechanisms that Shi’ism has put in place for its adherents for imitation.

At first, Kazem told Al-Hurra that “it is not uncommon for a reference to oblige its followers to imitate another specific reference, because the issue of imitation mainly belongs to the individual.”

Kazem adds that “imitation begins when a person chooses a reference that he considers to be the most learned living person and then imitates him, and instructions cannot come to him from above, but rather he makes the decision at the individual level.”

These standards apply to people who imitate a religious authority for the first time in their lives.

“Then, in the event of the death of the reference or in the event of his stepping down, as happened with Al-Haeri, the individual can remain on the tradition of the same reference, and follow another reference in the new issues,” according to Kazem.

In the case of Al-Hairi, who recommended to his followers to imitate Khamenei, Abbas says that this step was “born dead,” noting that “it is not from the Shiite tradition that the marja hands over his followers as an inheritance to another authority.”

This is from a religious and legal point of view. As for politically, it is well known that al-Sadr, during the past months, proposed the idea of ​​confronting Iranian influence in Iraq, and slandered his Shiite opponents for their loyalty to Tehran. Therefore, the idea of ​​al-Sadr’s commitment or his followers in imitating the Iranian leader, Ali Khamenei, as requested by al-Haeri, seems far from reality.

Kazem states that “the issue of imitating Khamenei will remain problematic for the Sadrists, and therefore they should go to another reference.”

He adds that this step “is impractical, unrealistic and politically impossible because the Sadrists will destroy all their political legitimacy.”

Kazem believes that “the Sadrists who call for removing Iran from Iraq and limiting its influence, and accusing others of being loyal to Iran, cannot become loyalists themselves. By doing so, they will commit mass suicide.”

Bras Options
As a religious movement engaged in politics, the Sadrists need religious cover “and this is fundamental to their legitimacy,” according to Iraqi political analyst Aqil Abbas.

There are not many options for the Sadrists at the moment, but there are nonetheless personalities that Sadrists can turn to for this cover.

Abbas told Al-Hurra that the most prominent option is the religious authority, Qassem al-Tai, who the current circumstances may help to highlight again.

Al-Taie is one of those close to the Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq Al-Sadr, and he issued a statement after Al-Haeri’s resignation, asking the followers of the retired Shiite cleric to follow him.

Al-Sadr can also imitate one of the students of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, who reached the level of ijtihad, or the students of the Shiite cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who was executed by the former Iraqi regime leader Saddam Hussein in the early eighties, according to Abbas Kazem.

And he adds, “In the second case, the Sadrists’ options will be broader, given that there are a large number of references who were disciples at the hands of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr.”

chest future
Despite al-Sadr’s announcement of his “final retirement” from political work, it is not excluded that he will soon return to the political arena in Iraq once he obtains the “legitimate cover”.

Aqil Abbas says that “the Sadrists will soon solve the problem of religious legitimacy for their movement by choosing a specific religious authority to imitate.”

“At that moment, he will announce Sadr’s return to political action. Since they, as a movement, imitate a specific reference, their new reference can easily tell al-Sadr that you will lead the movement and confront politically, and thus he can return.”

He continues, “Al-Sadr’s movement is religious in the first place, and therefore needs the legitimate cover to practice politics, and it is a problem that all Shiite religious forces have.”

He believes that “When Khamenei suggested, he wanted to transfer the Sadrists to the guardianship of the jurist,” noting that “the Sadrists will certainly find another reference from which they take the legitimate permission.”

He shows that “the religious authority does not want to lead politically, and therefore delegates matters to Muqtada al-Sadr, and he will not enter into a conflict with him.”

Aqil Abbas also points out that “Al-Sadr does not want a religious reference that controls the movement, but rather wants a reference that gives him the legitimate permission and consults with him on some ordinary issues, except for the rest of the political matters in the hands of Al-Sadr.”

Abbas Kadhim also believes that “on the political side, the Sadrist movement does not follow a specific reference even during the time of al-Hairi, because Muqtada al-Sadr was the only one.”

Kazem stresses that the Sadrists stand wherever al-Sadr stands, whether they are convinced or not,” noting that “the Sadrists march in one bloc, like a military piece in parade, for the group’s voice will never differ from the voice of the leader represented by Muqtada al-Sadr.”