Twelve Infallible Men. The Imams and the Making of Shi’ism by Matthew Pierce

By Matthew Pierce

A millennium in the past, Baghdad used to be the capital of 1 of history’s maximum civilizations. a brand new Islamic period was once below approach. but regardless of the profound cultural achievements, many Muslims felt their society had long past off course. Shiˀa Muslims challenged the dominant narrative of Islamic luck with tales of loss. trustworthy Muslims have lengthy debated even if Sunni caliphs or Shiˀa imams have been the real heirs of the Prophet Muhammad. extra influential has been the way in which Muslim groups remembered these disputes via tales that encouraged tips to imagine and suppose approximately them, Matthew Pierce argues.

Twelve Infallible males makes a speciality of the position of narratives of the imams within the improvement of a special Shiˀa identification. through the 10th century, at a serious juncture in Islamic historical past, a gaggle of students started assembling definitive works containing debts of the twelve imams’ lives. those collective biographies developed a sacred historical past, portraying the imams as powerful, attractive, discovered, and pious. Miracles surrounded their delivery, and so they grew to become miracle staff in flip, yet have been however betrayed and martyred via enemies.

These biographies encouraged and entertained, yet extra importantly they provided a significant narrative of background for Muslims who respected the imams. The bills invoked shared thoughts and formed communal responses and formality practices of grieving. Mourning the imams’ tragic fates helped nascent Shiˀa groups face up to the strain to fail to remember their tale. The biographies of the imams grew to become a focus of cultural reminiscence, inspiring Shiˀa spiritual mind's eye for hundreds of years to return.

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Extra resources for Twelve Infallible Men. The Imams and the Making of Shi’ism

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The biographies of the imams helped erect a seemingly insurmountable wall between the Shiʿa and other Muslim communities. Summary: A Sacred History for a Distinct Community The precise historical audience that received each of the five works considered in this study is exceedingly difficult (perhaps impossible) to determine with any certainty, and few uniform statements will apply. The Establishment of the Inheritance and Proofs of the Imamate seem to have been compiled with devotional concerns at the foreground, whereas Mufid’s Guidance and Tabrisi’s Informing Humanity had more academic and text-oriented interests at play.

Ca. 131 Virtues was likely written while Ibn Shahrashub was in Baghdad, and his lessons on the topic may have contributed to his conflict with Hanbalis there. His incorporation of major Sunni sources—a method already employed by al-Mufid and al-Tabrisi—was elaborate and strategic. 132 He included scholars like Ibn Hanbal (d. 241/855), the eponymous founder of the Hanbali school of law; Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111), the famous Shafiʿi jurist and Sufi; and Ibn al-Jahiz (d. 255/868–869), a controversial Muʿtazili belle-lettrist.

Ibn Shahrashub, however, used Sunni sources (even quite late ones) specifically because they were considered Sunni. His purpose was not to uphold his own account, but Matthew Pierce - 9780674969087 Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/01/2016 02:03:58PM via New York University Bobst Library Technical Services and New York Medical Center Library Setting the Stage ■ 39 to undermine and challenge what he perceived to be hegemonic Sunni views by putting their sources to use for Shiʿa purposes. He turned the tables on Sunni presumptions of authority by using their own works against them.

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