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MARJA` AL-TAQLID. The term marja al-taglid designates the highest ranking authorities of the Twelver Shi`i community. They are usually few in number. In local or national communities (Iraq, Iran) the term can be loosely applied to between four and eight high-ranking jurists (or ayatollahs). On a world scale, and at particular times, the term is more stringently used to refer to only one or two such jurists. The position is informally acquired and depends on patterns of loyalty and allegiance whi ...more

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