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a high-ranking Shiite religious leader who is regarded as an authority on religious law and its interpretation and who has political power as well

References in periodicals archive ?
The theocracy's Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei in Tehran is getting more worried about Russia's military role in Syria.
Eventually, Hakim became a grand ayatullah in Iran, where his SCIRI's military arm trained by the IRGC became known as the Badr Brigade.
The Green Movement also includes Muhammad Khatami (who was president in 1997-05) and the children of pragmatic Ayatullah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani (president in 1989-97).
Although he is of Iranian origin, this grand ayatullah does not recognise WuF's legitimacy.
Yet at the height of Iran's June 2009 popular protests after the polls - instigated by the reformists because of the "re-election of IRGC's puppet Ahmadi-Nejad", Rafsanjani told the televised weekly Friday mosque prayers at Tehran University that the late Ayatullah Khomeini had declared the Islamic Republic shortly after the early 1979 Pahlavi monarchy's fall only to re-assure the nation's public that the rule belonged to the Iranian people.
Yet Rowhani's government, with the support of the theocracy's ailing Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, is carefully navigating its way towards a "comprehensive" pact with the US.
Federal minister and Provincial General-Secretary of PPP Ayatullah Durrani and former federal minister Baz Muhammad Khetran accompanied Raisani to the Wasay's residence.
9 -- Unidentified assailants on a motorcycle hurled a hand grenade and fired several shots at the residence of the Minister of State for Industries and Production Mir Ayatullah Durrani in the Parengabad area of district Mastung on Sunday evening.
BAMYAN CITY (PAN): Sponsored by a top Iraqi Shiite leader, Ayatullah Sistani, a mass-marriage ceremony involving 50 young couples was held in central Bamyan province on Sunday, officials said.
The young mullah's father, the late Ayatullah Muhammad-Sadeq al-Sadr who was killed in 1999 along with some of his sons, had developed a nationalist trend among Iraq's poorer Shi'ites and cultivated the Shi'ite Arab tribes.
The Political Thought of Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahhari: An Iranian Theoretician of the Islamic State.
Khalidi's answer is problematic, as it complicates the idea: "Despite the survival of philosophical activity of some kind in the Islamic world, I would argue that a 'style of reasoning' did indeed decline after Ibn Rushd, one that is seamlessly connected with natural science, a logic-based, Greek-influenced, and rationalist enterprise" (xii); one has only to go to Qum and sit in one of the lessons of an Ayatullah Jawadi or any other master of philosophy to arrive at a different conclusion.
Mohammad Khatami (54), an open-minded leader of Iran, came out successful in the presidential election defeating Ali Akbar Nateq Noori, a conservative who is one of the most faithful followers of Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini.
This is because it reflects a conflict between Iran's Safawi theocracy and the Najaf-based Marja'iya of the quietist school in Ja'fari Shi'ism headed by Grand Ayatullah Ali al-Sistani.
Iran is the only country in the world ruled by a Shi'ite theocracy based on the concept of Wilayat ul-Faqih (WuF), or State of the Supreme Guide Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, who controls all matters of importance to the state - formally known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.