MIN 407 – Authority in Shi’a Islam



• The concept of imama and different kinds of authority vested in the Imam
• The debate about the succession of Muhammad in early Islam
• The emergence of early Shi’i groups: Zaydis, proto-twelvers and Isma’ilis
• The occultation of the Twelfth Imam and the crisis of authority among Shi’as
• The stages of development of the concept of al-wilaya al-‘amma (all-inclusive authority) and delegation of legal and political authority to jurisconsults
• Al-Khumaini and the articulation of the concept of walayat al-faqih
• Safavid dynasty: adoption of Shi’ism as state religion
• Rational v. Traditional and the Akhbari-Usuli dispute
• The establishment of the institution of Marja’i al-taqlid in the 19th century
• Shi’ism in modern times: Iran, Iraq and Lebanon

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

Assessment Modes
Individual coursework of 3500 words demonstrating ability to debate and explore ideas.

Assessment Weighting
Individual coursework: 100%

Learning materials

Core readings
Enayat, H. (2004), Modern Islamic Political Thought. I.B.Tauris
Hourani, G.F. (1985), Reason and Tradition in Islamic Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kakaie, G. (2000), Authority and Tradition, in Message of Thaqalayn: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies, Tehran: World Assembly of Ahlul Bayt.
Khumeini, S.R (1981). Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, trans. and ed. By Hamid Algar, Berkeley, CA: Mizan Press.
Legenhausen, M. (2000). Authority from a Shi’ite Perspective, in Message of Thaqalayn: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies, Tehran: World Assembly of Ahlul Bayt.
Modarressi, H. (1993). Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shi’ite Islam: Abu Ja’far Ibn Qiba Al-Razi and His Contribution to Imamite Shi’ite Thought. Darwin Press.
Al-Nawbakhti, H. M. (2007) Shi’a Sects, trans. Abbas, Kadhim, London: ICAS Press.
Shomali, M.A (2003), Shi’i Islam: Origins, Faith & Practices. London: ICAS Press.
Shomali, M.Ai (2003), Reason, Faith and Authority: A Shi‘ite Perspective. Qum: Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute.
Tabataba’i, S.M.H. (2009), The Return to Being: The Treatise on Friendship with God: Risalat Al-Walayah. London: ICAS Press.
Tabataba’i, S.M.H (1975). Shi’ite Islam, trans. Sayyid Hossein Nasr, Albany, New York: SUNY Press.
Takim, L.N. (2007), The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi’ite Islam. State University of New York Press
Vaezi, A. (2004). Shia Political Thought, London: Islamic Centre of England.