The history of Twelver Shīʿī Islam is a history of attempts to deal with the abrupt loss of the Imam. In
Encounters with the Hidden Imam in Early and Pre-Modern Twelver Shīʿī Islam, Omid Ghaemmaghami demonstrates that in the early years of what came to be known as the Greater Occultation, Shīʿī authorities maintained that all contact with the Imam had been sundered, forcing him to remain incommunicado until his (re)appearance. This position, however, proved untenable to maintain. Almost a century after the start of the Greater Occultation, prominent scholars began to concede the possibility that some Shīʿa can meet the Hidden Imam. Accounts of encounters with the Imam from the Greater Occultation soon began to appear, adumbrating their exponential growth in later centuries.
Esoteric Images: Decoding the Late Herat School of Painting Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the pictorial language which flourished in the city of Herat, modern Afghanistan, under the rule of the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Bayqara (r.1469-1506). This study focuses on one illustrated manuscript of a poem entitled
Khamsa by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, kept in the British Library under code Or.6810. Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the paintings, reveals the syntax behind them and thus deciphers the message of the whole manuscript. The book combines scholarly efforts to interpret theological-political lessons embedded in one of the foremost Persian schools of art against the background of the court dynamic of an influential medieval power in its final years.
The Chapters of the Wisdom of My Lord Mani, a Coptic papyrus codex preserved at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, describes Mani’s mission, teachings and debates with sages in the courts of the Sasanian empire during the reign of Shapur I; with an extended account of his last days and death under Bahram I. The text offers an unprecedented new source for the history of religions in Late Antiquity, including interactions of Manichaean, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions in Iran, remarkably transmitted into the Mediterranean world as part of Manichaean missionary literature. This is the first of four fascicles constituting the
editio princeps, based on enhanced digital and multispectral imaging and extended autoptic study of the manuscript.
Licit Magic: The Life and Letters of al-Ṣāḥib b. ʿAbbād (d. 385/995) Maurice A. Pomerantz explores the biography and literary output of a major tenth-century Muslim statesman, literary patron, and intellectual. His nearly two-decade reign as vizier on behalf of two Buyid amirs was an important period for the flowering of Arabic letters,
Muʿtazilī theology and
Shīʿism in Western Iran. Making use of Ibn ʿAbbād’s large corpus of letters (
rasāʾil), Pomerantz explores the role that eloquence played in the conduct of administration, the maintenance of social networks of elites, and persuasion.
Licit Magic argues that the eloquent expression that Ibn ʿAbbād displayed in his letters was central to his exercise of power.
ʿAlāʾ al-Dawla al-Simnānī between Spiritual Authority and Political Power: A Persian Lord and Intellectual in the Heart of the Ilkhanate, Giovanni Maria Martini investigates the personality of a major figure in the socio-political and cultural landscape of Mongol Iran. In pursuing this objective, the author follows parallel paths: Chapter 1 provides the most updated reconstruction of Simnānī’s (d. 736/1336) biography, which, thanks to its unique features, emerges as a cross-section of Iranian society and as a microhistory of the complex relationships between a Sufi master, Persian elites and Mongol rulers during the Ilkhanid period; Chapter 2 contains a study on the phenomenon of Arabic-Persian diglossia in Simnānī’s written work, arguing for its socio-religious function; in Chapters 3 to 6 the critical editions of two important, interrelated treatises by Simnānī are presented; finally, Chapter 7 offers the first full-length annotated translation of a long work by Simnānī ever to appear in a Western language.
Formation of a Religious Landscape: Shi‘i Higher Learning in Safavid Iran, Maryam Moazzen offers the first systematic examination of Shi‘i educational institution and practices by exploring the ways in which religious knowledge was produced, authenticated, and transmitted in the second half of Safavid rule (1588-1722). By analyzing the deeds of endowment of the Madrasa-yi Sulṭānī and other mosque-madrasas built by the Safavid elite, this study sheds light on the organizing mechanisms and structures utilized by such educational foundations. Based on the large number of
ijazās and other primary sources including
waqfiyyas, biographical dictionaries and autobiographies, this study also reconstructs the Safavid madrasas’ curriculum and describes the pedagogical methods used to transmit religious knowledge as well as issues that faced Shi‘i higher learning in early modern times.
The Western Christian Presence in the Russias and Qājār Persia, c.1760–c.1870, Thomas O'Flynn vividly paints the life and times of missionary enterprises in early nineteenth-century Russia and Persia at a moment of immense change when Tsarist Russia embarked on an expansionist campaign reaching to the Caucasus. Simultaneously he charts the relationship between the new Persian dynasty of the Qājārs and missionary activity on the part of European and American missionaries. This book reconstructs that world from a predominantly religious perspective. It recounts the sustaining ideals as well as the everyday struggles of the western missionaries, Protestant (Scottish, Basel and American Congregationalist) and Catholic (Jesuit and Vincentian). It looks at the reactions of diverse tribal peoples, the Tatars of the North Caucasus, the Kabardians and Circassians. Persia was the ultimate goal of these missionaries, which they eventually reached in the 1820s. Altogether this study throws light on the troubled course of history in West Asia and provides the background to politico-religious conflicts in Chechnya and Persia that persist to the present day.
Ästhetik, Politik und schiitische Repräsentation im zeitgenössischen Iran zeigt Christian Funke die Verflechtungen von Politik, Protest und schiitischer Materialität in der Islamischen Republik auf. Das Buch legt anschaulich und vielschichtig dar, wie die Proteste von 2009 und die ›Grüne Bewegung‹ mit umfassenderen Diskursen über Demokratie, Identität, Geschichte und Gegenwart sowie Religion und Politik verknüpft waren.
Funkes Argument fußt auf Interviews und intensiver Feldforschung und umfasst ein breites Themenfeld von Farben über Banknoten bis hin zu städtischer Raumordnung. Funke bietet einen neuen Ansatz zur Theorie und Methodologie von Religionsästhetik und wirft ein neues Licht auf die › Grüne Bewegung‹ , indem er die islamischen Ressourcen freilegt, mittels derer sich ihr Protest artikulierte.
Aesthetics, Politics, and Shiʿi Representation in Contemporary Iran Christian Funke explores the entangled relationship between politics, protest and Shiʿi materiality in the Islamic Republic. He shows how the post-election protests of 2009 and the ‘Green Movement’ were part of larger discourses on democracy, identity, the present and the past, and religion and politics.
Funke’s argument is based on extensive fieldwork and interviews. He covers a broad array of topics, ranging from the interpretation of colours to the use of banknotes to the emergence of an urban spatial order. Funke offers a novel approach to the methodology and theory of material religion and by revealing the Islamic undercurrents in the ‘Green Movement’, his book provides a new and more appropriate picture of protest and religion in Iran.
Universal Science (
ʿIlm-i kullī) by
Mahdī Ḥāʾirī Yazdī, is a concise, but authoritative, outline of the fundamental discussions in Islamic metaphysics. For many years used as a textbook in Iran, this short text offers English readers a readily accessible, lucid, and yet deeply learned, guide through the Sadrian, Avicennan, and Illuminationist schools of thought, whilst also demonstrating how the ‘living tradition’ of Shīʿī philosophy engages with central ontological, epistemological, aetiological, and psychological questions. Discussions include the primacy of existence; the proper classifications of quiddity; and the manifold properties of causality and causal explanation. This is the first of the various influential works authored by this leading Shīʿah intellectual to have been translated into English from the original Persian.
India, Modernity and the Great Divergence is an original and pioneering book about India’s transition towards modernity and the rise of the West. The work examines global entanglements alongside the internal dynamics of 17th to 19th century Mysore and Gujarat in comparison to other regions of Afro-Eurasia. It is an interdisciplinary survey that enriches our historical understanding of South Asia, ranging across the fascinating and intertwined worlds of modernizing rulers, wealthy merchants, curious scholars, utopian poets, industrious peasants and skilled artisans. Bringing together socio-economic and political structures, warfare, techno-scientific innovations, knowledge production and transfer of ideas, this book forces us to rethink the reasons behind the emergence of the modern world.