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December 15, 2005

Zero to ayatollah

From GlobalSecurity.org: There are generally six ranks among Shi'ite clerics. The highest, grand ayatollah means "great sign of God". In the past, there were usually no more than five grand ayatollahs in the Shi'ite Islamic world. Today however it is suspected that there are at least seven and possibly more. Under grand ayatollah is ayatollah ("sign of God"). Below ayatollah is the rank of hojat al Islam, which is Arabic for "authority on Islam"... While mujtahid often refers to clerics in general, it is also a specific rank, which denotes one has graduated from a religious seminary. At the bottom of the ladder are religious students, talib ilm [or talabeh in Iran]. Besides the obvious factors such as graduation to be promoted to mujtahid, promotion in the ranks is a rather subjective matter. Two important factors behind promotion are the size and quality of one's student following and authorship of scholarly works on Islam >>> See

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