noun \ˌī-ə-ˈtō-lə, -ˈtä-, -ˈtə-, ˈī-ə-ˌ\

Definition of AYATOLLAH

:  a religious leader among Shiite Muslims —used as a title of respect especially for one who is not an imam


Persian āyatollāh, literally, sign of God, from Arabic āyatallāh, from āya sign, miracle + allāh God
First Known Use: 1950

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

Zen, antinomian, avatar, gnosticism, illuminati, ineffable, karma, koan, mantra


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In the Shiite branch of Islam, a high-ranking religious authority regarded by his followers as the most learned person of his age. The ayatollah's authority rests on the infallible imam. His legal decisions are accepted as binding by his personal followers and (in the present day) by the wider community.


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