Shiite Islam believes that the only legitimate state is the one established by the Imam or his deputies. Some, such as Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani, believe that Shiites must await the return of the Imam for the establishment of a legitimate state. Hence, he teaches that because most states are illegitimate, no cleric ought to be involved with politics.
But others, like the late Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, believed that the Imam’s agents (the clerics) can establish a legitimate state as they await the Imam’s return. Grand Ayatollah Khomeini created and implemented a system to ensure this. This system ولايت فاقح (in Persian: “velayat-e fagheh”, in Urdu: “vilayat-e faqih”, in Arabic ولاية الفاقة Or “wilayat al-faqih”). We will ne discussing this system over the next few days.