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AYATOLLAH.

AYATOLLAH. Derived from the terms dyat (sign, testimony, miracle, verses of the Qur'an) and Allah (God), ayatollah ("sign of God"), is an honorific title with hierarchical value in Twelver Imamite Shiism, bestowed by popular usage on outstanding mujtahids, with reference to Qur'an 41.53. The sense of this title can be traced to the need for legitimacy sought by the Shi`i `ulama' during the absence of the twelfth imam, the Master of the Age, in the end of the greater occultation, from 94o to the ...more

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