This article assesses how the Islamic Da‘wah Party, Iraq’s oldest Islamist organization, responded to Khomeini’s theory on the guardianship of the jurist (wilayat al-faqih). Iraq’s Islamist movement and Khomeini’s political efforts evolved and prospered
in close proximity to each other. Khomeini spent almost thirteen years in exile in Najaf, where he witnessed the ascent of Iraq’s Islamist movement and its later suppression by the Ba‘ath regime. It was here that he held his renowned lectures on wilayat al-faqih. After Khomeini’s
accession to power in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iraq’s Islamists found refuge in Iran in thousands. Funded and supported by Iran, they contributed to the war efforts of the Islamic Republic, endorsed Khomeini’s claim to leadership over the whole Muslim community
and advocated wilayat al-faqih. The article attempts to reconstruct the relationship between the Da‘wah Party and Khomeini during his exile in Najaf. It goes on to examine how the party dealt with wilayat al-faqih on a theoretical level and assesses the reasons for the party’s
change in ideological alignment.
The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.