Ayatollah Ali Montazeri was the first designated heir apparent to Ayatollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader. However, within a decade of the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Montazeri parted ways with both Khomeini and some of the latter’s hardline supporters on some major issues. His disagreement with the hardliners cost Montazeri his position as the future Supreme Leader. Predictably, his falling into disfavor with the militant segment of the political elite made him an inspiration to many religious reformers including Mohsen Kadivar. Kadivar’s deference to Ayatollah Montazeri, however, went back to the pre-revolutionary Iran and was primarily due to the fact that the latter was his most influential mentor. The ten years that Kadivar studied with Montazeri created strong intellectual bonds between the two. Still, there have been important differences in their views on issues such as the validity or necessity of the institution of Velayat-Faqih. In this paper I will argue that the intellectual disagreements between Montazeri and Kadivar stem from both generational and environmental (social/educational) differences that separate the two men of the cloth.
I will start with an investigation into the thought of Montazeri and Kadivar in areas of epistemology, ontology, and political theory. I will then seek to explain the similarities and differences in their intellectual positions by linking them to their life experiences.