The marja‵iyya (rank of legal exemplar among Twelver Shi‵ites) is part of a complex system of legal guidance, socio-religious management, economic administration and political negotiation at the seminaries, and in local, regional, and international settings. In Lebanon, the crisis of the modern state, the Shi‵ites' ambiguous national position, deterioration of their rural regions, struggle with Israel, and the Civil War (1975-1990), valorized political Shi'ism, and its spokesmen. Common Shi‵ites searched for new readings of spiritual and temporal leadership in modern society. Yet, neither proposals for a hierarchical structuring of themarja‵iyya, nor for its systematization under Iran's vali-ye faqīh (deputy of the jurist), succeeded in gaining majority support in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the muqallidn(emulators of a marja‵) benefited from the non-institutional base and non-hierarchical character of Shi‵ite legal-spiritual authority of the marja‵iyya to achieve a measure of control over the 'post' through the dynamics of civil society. Facing a large number of competing marji‵(pl. of marja‵), the laity felt empowered to give or withdraw critical support from a potential marja‵ and to defy formal designations of marji‵ by Najaf and Qum within their locales in Jabal ‵Amil (south Lebanon), the Biqa‵ and Beirut.