The Spirituality of Shi'i Islam: Beliefs and Practices

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The spirituality of Shi'i Islam: beliefs and practices
The Spirituality of Shi'i Islam Beliefs and Practices.jpg
AuthorMohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi
GenreIslamic history
PublisherI.B. Tauris

The book The spirituality of Shi'i Islam: beliefs and practices is a highly recommend book for students of theology and those interested in Islamic history, to understand the background of this Islamic sect.

About the author[edit | edit source]

Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi is a specialist of Shi'i Imami theology, Islamic mysticism and classical Persian poetry. Since 1992, he has been the Professor of Islamic Studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne University, Paris) and he is currently the holder of the prestigious chair "Exegesis and Theology", occupied before him by L.Massignon, H.Corbin and D.Gimaret.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book published in I.B. Tauris (January 31, 2011), has 608 pages and best sellers rank of 2,840,200 in Books.

Amir-Moezzi has Collected together a number of his articles translated from French by Hafiz Karmali in this volume, in which he offers precisely such a wide-ranging and engaging survey of the core texts of Shi'i Islam and reveals the profoundly esoteric nature of the beliefs which accrued to the figures of the Imams.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Part I: Early Emergence and Ancient Convergence[edit | edit source]

The first two chapters concern the emergence and early developments of Shi’ism.

1. Reflections on the Expression din 'Ali: The Origins of the Shi'i Faith

Chapter 1 analyses ‘the religion of ‘Ali, which combines ancient Arab beliefs with Jewish, Christian and Qur’anic concepts of the cult of kinship and the sacred family, representing the early core of what was to progressively and substantially develop to became the Shi’i religion.

2. Shahrbanu, Lady of the Land of Iran and Mother of the Imams: Between Pre-Islamic Iran and Imami Shi'ism

This chapter examines the history of the Sasanian princess Shahrbānū (one of those legends that at times carry more historical significance than real events) which would have been an early means of bringing together Shi’is and Iranian converts, thus probably facilitating Shi’ism’s acceptance of doctrinal elements deriving from the ancient Iranian religions, notably Mazdaism and Manichaeism.

Part II: On the Nature of the Imam: Initiation and Dualism[edit | edit source]

Chapters 3 to 8 are devoted to the twofold dimension of the figure of the imam, namely the divine (lāhūt) and the human (nāsūt) elements and the correspondences between them; the theological ideas linked to his nature and ontological status as the Ally of God (walī Allāh); the central role of the initiation and the initiates as well as the ontological and anthropological duality in Shi’ism.

3. Some Remarks on the Divinity of the Imam

In this chapter, the divinity of the metaphysical Imam is analyzed through the prism of the ‘paradoxical utterances’ attributed to the historical imams.

4. The Pre-Existence of the Imam

5. The Imam in Heaven: Ascension and Initiation

These two chapters follow the course of the gradual immanence of the Imam in man and his cosmogonic and cosmological significance in the economy of the sacred. Thus his role emerges, as both the dispenser of divine knowledge (the historical imam) in the here and now and, ultimately, the very content of this gnosis (the metaphysical Imam).

6. Knowledge is Power: Interpretations and Implications of the Miracle in Early Imamism

7. Notes on Imami Walaya

Chapters 6 and 7 examine the theological, spiritual and political implications of Imamology.

8. Only the Man of God is Human: Theology and Mystical Anthropology According to Early Imami Exegesis

This chapter analyses mystical anthropology as the basis for the Shi’i theory of opposites.

Part III: Hermeneutic and Spiritual Practice[edit | edit source]

9. ‘The Warrior of Ta’wil’: A Poem about Ali by Molla Sadra

10. Visions of the Imams in Modern and Contemporary Twelver Mysticism

11. Notes on Prayer in Imami Shi'ism

Different aspects of hermeneutics and the way they have spread through Shi’i spiritual practices form the content of Chapters 9 to 11: the imam as initiator, transmitter and at the same time the object of the hermeneutical method applied to the sacred texts; the internalization of the imam as an aid in the practices of concentration and visualization; and, finally, the position of this figure as the actual focal point for acts of devotion or prayer.

Part IV: Aspects of Individual and Collective Eschatology[edit | edit source]

Eschatology, the figure of the messianic Savior – the ‘present and hidden’ imam of our time – the implications of his Occultation and other hermeneutical practices linked to these issues are dealt with in the last three chapters.

12. The End of Time and the Return to the Origin

The ‘organic’ correspondences between the disciplines of cosmogony, cosmology and eschatology, both in terms of the individual and in the collective dimension, leading to the appearance in Shi’ism of this triptych which is characteristic of dualist doctrines of an initiatory nature, constitute the theme of this chapter.

13. A Contribution on the Typology of Encounters with the Hidden Imam

This chapter is devoted to reports of encounters with the hidden imam, accounts that for over a thousand years have sustained the faith and hopes of the believers.

14. An Absence Filled with Presences: Shaykhiyya Hermeneutics of the Occultation

Finally, this chapter is devoted to an examination of the eschatological hermeneutics of the theologico-mystical Shaykhiyya School of Kirman, particularly their central doctrine of the ‘Fourth Pillar’ where initiates have as significant an influence on the spiritual economy as the prophets and imams.

Source[edit | edit source]