Āyatullāh
(1,182 words)

( āyat allāh , current orthography Ayatollah), a title with an hierarchical significance used by the Imāmī, Twelver S̲h̲īʿīs, and meaning literally “Miraculous sign ( āya [q.v.]) of God”. In order to understand its sense and its implications, one has to consider the recent evolution of certain institutions worked out by the Imāmī ʿulamāʾ .

Since the dominating attitude of Imāmism has been dictated by the doctrine that all political power—even if exercised by a S̲h̲īʿī—is illegitimate during the occultation of the Hidden Imām, it has only been compar…

Cite this page
Calmard, J., “Āyatullāh”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Consulted online on 17 November 2018 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_8370>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004161214, 1960-2007



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