Allah (SWT) said in the Quran “O Believers obey Allah, obey Rassoul, and obey your religious leaders”. Q4-59 (92). This means first obey Allah’s orders in the Quran, second, obey Rassoul's Sonnat (tradition).
Which tradition? Sunnis say traditions relayed by Rassoul’s friends (Abobakr, Omar, Abu Horiera, etc) but the Shias say tradition relayed by Rassoul’s immediate family (Ali, Fatima, Hassan, Hossein and the rest of 12 Imams). Which one do you think is more reliable?
Therefore, Islam is based on the Quran and Rassoul’s tradition as a role model. The third part says obey the religious leaders that you have chosen (Ulol Amre Menkum) that is the Marja (religious leader that you have chosen, you pay your Khoms and Zakat to him and you follow his advice). Therefore, the Quran says follow the Quran, follow Rassoul and for the present time follow the Marja that you have chosen.
Who is your role model? Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said, “I leave two solid base for you; Quran and my Etrate (my family, Ahlul Bayt). These two will not separate from each other until the Day of Judgement and if you follow them you will not go astray”. Therefore, Islam is based on the Quran as the Constitution and 14 Massums as role models for interpretation of the Quran. Some Sunni brothers influenced by Wahabi Ideology for political reasons in the last 200 years say we must follow the Quran only and nothing else. They do not believe in Marja (religious leader). They do not believe in Shafaat (intercession of 14 Massums for their pious followers in front of Allah). They do not believe in Ziarat (visiting 14 Massums' tombs for love and respect). They believe the Quran is easy and everyone can understand it. They say there is no need for interpretation of the Quran by 14 Massums or Marja. Please tell them that if we just obey the Quran without obeying Rassoul and Marja, we have gone astray and have acted against what the Quran says in Sura 4 Ayat 59. If we just follow the Quran, we cannot pray, fast or do our Ebadat (religious rituals). The Quran does not give any detail, how many Rokat in Maghreb prayer or what to say during prayer. So Wahabis’ agree that we should follow some of the Sonnat, only the ones they want to follow. Sura 4, Ayat 59 was revealed in Medina in the last 5 years of Rassoul’s life. For confirmation, Allah (SWT) in the last year of the Prophet’s life revealed Sura 5, Ayat 55 “Only Allah is your Vali (guardian) and his Rassoul and Momenin those who keep up prayer and pay Zakat while in Roko (refer to Imam Ali). Those who take Allah, Rassoul and Momenin as their guardian, they are Hezballah and they will be successful (Q5-55P), 112. I do not think God could have said it more clearly. Your guardian is God, Prophet and your religious leaders. If you do not believe in God and you are not Momen, you do not have to follow anybody. You can follow your own ego. People who talk against religious leaders are mostly part-time Muslim speakers such as doctors, lawyers, sociologists, businessmen or other professionals who teach Islam in America in their spare time. A real religious leader as Ayatulallah or Marja is a full-time professional. They have completed Hoseh (Islamic Seminary, Najaf, Ghom or Mashhad, etc.) after high school. Then they must teach Islam for 10 years to become Hogatul Islam, another 20 years teaching to become Ayatullallah at age 50. They must know the Quran by heart, Hadith and Sonnat of 14 Massums, 1400 years history of Islam, and must be fluent in Arabic. Ayatullallah becomes Marja (source) if he has published a lot and the people choose him and give him their Khoms and Zakat.
In the medical profession, professors and specialists with a lot of publications are able to teach at the universities. Paramedical personnel do not have the same education and knowledge. Most of the times, paramedics follow the specialists to get advice and education, but when they are alone with a group of Laymans, they act as a specialist and even, sometimes, they attempt to criticize the specialists to cover their own short comings. That is human nature, but professionalism and excellence will prevail. Next time you hear a part-time Muslim speaker (wearing a suit and neck tie, which is a symbol of the cross on the chest “Cravat”), criticizing the Ayatulallahs, remember it is all turf battle and boasting among lay people (Lof Dar Gharibi).
If anyone tells you there is no hierarchy in Islam, refer them to Sura 4 Ayat 59. It says to obey God, Rassoul and your religious leaders. If anyone tells you Muslim leaders must not get paid like any other professional, please tell them Khoms and Zakat is for that purpose, to support progressive, excellent, full-time, knowledgeable Ayatulallahs rather than relying on the male gynecologists to give you Islamic fetva.
If the part-time Muslim speakers tell you Shafaat (intercession) does not exist in Islam, please refer them to the Quran 16-109 (70). “On the Day of Judgement Shafaat will not be accepted except with Allah’s permission (given to Prophet) and Allah is pleased with their words (14 Massums)” Q16-109 (70). Just ask Vahabis if Allah has not given permission for Shafaat to Prophet (PBUH), then who did God give permission to, Omar or Abobakr? Also, Allah gave permission of Shafaat to those that Allah is pleased with their words, If they are not the 14 Massums, then who are they that Allah is pleased with their words? Ibn Taymiah or Abdulvahab, Yazid or other Kholafa who systematically murdered the Massums and Imams and even today they are oppressing Shia in Saudi, Egypt, Iraq, etc.