In Imāmi or Twelver Shīʿism, the Prophet Muḥammad is inseparable from his Holy Family, the ahl al-bayt, i.e. his cousin and son-in-law ʿAlī (the first Imām), his daughter Fāṭima, his two grandsons al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn (the second and the third Imāms); just as the Prophecy (nubuwwa) is inseparable from the divine Alliance (walāya) which is the mission and nature proper to the Imām. From the Shīʿī perpsective, the Prophet and his mission, like all sacred things, have both an apparent, exoteric and historical dimension (ẓāhir), and an invisible, esoteric and metaphysical dimension (bāṭin), which this article will study successively. The Shīʿī account of the Prophet’s life, reported from the Imāms and developed by medieval historians, focuses on certain episodes, from Muḥammad’s birth to his death, all interpreted in a particular doctrinal sense. This is based on esoteric conceptions of the Prophet’s eternity, spiritual nature and cosmic function, present in the oldest Imāmi ḥadīths, and which are being thought of at new expense after the integration of a certain Sufism, notably that of Ibn ʿArabī, by late Shīʿī thinkers. The figure of the Prophet, in its historical representation as well as in its metaphysical attributes, appears therefore unique without ever being separated from that of the Imām.
The problem of the goodness of God, the freedom of man and the origin of Evil, i.e. theodicy, proves to be particularly acute in Twelver Shiʿi Islam, because of the historical awareness of evil within the community and of the fundamental dualism, metaphysical as well as moral, of the doctrine. However, this problem was the subject of various essays by Iranian Shiʿi philosophers of Neoplatonic inspiration, trying to harmonize the teachings of the Shiʿi tradition (i.e. the ḥadīṯs attributed to the Impeccable imams) with the arguments of the Avicennian philosophy. The first part of the article focuses in detail on the works of the philosopher, theologian and lawyer Mīr Dāmād (m. 1041/1631). His reflections on the problem are not collected in a single book, as they are in Leibniz, but scattered in works belonging to different fields (fiqh, kalām, or philosophy per se), in Arabic or in Persian. He deals successively with the problem of human freedom (qadar) versus divine determinism (ǧabr); with the Imami notion of badāʾ, i.e. the apparent change of the divine Will in the course of history; with Good and Evil with regard to the ontological categories of essence (ḏāt), accident (ʿaraḍ), existence (wuǧūd), and non-existence (ʿadam); with the execution of eschatological threats and the punishment of the damned – thus embracing all the dimensions of the problem and phenomenon of evil. The second part of the article considers some logical and unexpected developments of Mīr Dāmād’s theses in the works of two of his students, Mullā Šamsā Gīlānī (m. 1064/1654), in a brief epistle on perfection, and Quṭb al-Dīn Aškiwarī (m. between 1088/1677 and 1095/1684), in a monumental history of universal wisdom. This should make appear that the problem of Evil was a powerful catalyst for the emergence of a “Shiʿi philosophy” in the 11th/17th century.
Le problème de la bonté de Dieu, de la liberté de l’homme et de l’origine du mal, c’est-à-dire de la théodicée, s’avère particulièrement délicat dans l’islam shiʿite duodécimain, du fait de la conscience historique du mal dans la communauté et du dualisme foncier, moral et métaphysique, de la doctrine. Ce problème fit pourtant l’objet de véritables essais de théodicée chez des philosophes shiʿites iraniens d’inspiration néoplatonicienne, s’efforçant de concilier les enseignements de la tradition shiʿite (les ḥadīṯs attribués aux imâms impeccables) et les arguments de la philosophie avicennienne. La première partie de l’article se concentre sur l’œuvre du philosophe, théologien et juriste Mīr Dāmād (m. 1041/1631). Ses réflexions sur le problème ne sont pas rassemblées dans un même livre, à la différence de Leibniz, mais disséminées dans des ouvrages de différents domaines (fiqh, kalām, philosophie per se), en arabe et en persan. Il traite successivement du problème de la liberté humaine (qadar) vs le déterminisme divin (ǧabr) ; de la notion imâmite de badāʾ, le changement apparent de la Volonté divine dans le cours de l’histoire ; du bien et du mal au regard des catégories ontologiques de l’essence (ḏāt) et de l’accident (ʿaraḍ), de l’existence (wuǧūd) et de l’inexistence (ʿadam) ; de l’exécution des menaces eschatologiques et du châtiment des damnés – embrassant ainsi toutes les dimensions du problème et du phénomène du mal. La seconde partie de l’article étudie les prolongements, à la fois cohérents et inattendus, des thèses de Mīr Dāmād chez deux de ses élèves, Mullā Šamsā Gīlānī (m. 1064/1654), dans une épître sur la perfection, et Quṭb al-Dīn Aškiwarī (m. entre 1088/1677 et 1095/1684), dans une histoire de la sagesse universelle. Le problème du mal apparaît ainsi comme un facteur d’émergence d’une authentique « philosophie shiʿite » au XIe/XVIIe siècle.
This article purports to report, without claiming to be exhaustive, on the recent dynamism within Shīʿi studies and their echoes throughout the various fields of Islamology. The first part will present a brief history of Shīʿi studies and the successive biases that have affected them. The second part will retrace the course of these studies over nine years (2009-2017), focusing on three collective works that rehabilitate in different ways Henry Corbin’s analyses (m. 1979), considered outdated by some. The third part will address three areas in which recent Shīʿi studies have proved particularly fruitful: the history of early Islam; the intra-Shīʿi minorities and the origins of Islam; Islamic philosophy after Averroes (d. 1198). The sum total will reflect a decompartmentalisation of Shīʿi studies both internally, between the different currents and aspects of Shīʿism, and externally, between Shīʿism and Sunnism, philosophy or Sufism.
Mīr Dāmād (d. 1041/1631), philosopher and mujtahid. Spiritual authority and legal authority in Shīʿi Safavid Iran.
Studies on Twelver Shīʿism, particularly in the context of Safavid Iran (907-1134 / 1501-1722), are characterized by a dichotomy between the emphasis on law and that on philosophy, reflecting the duality between both the exoteric and esoteric dimensions of this religion. Based on this observation, this article presents a corpus of known and lesser known texts of Mīr Dāmād (d. 1041/1631), a philosophy master and super- mujtahid at the court of the Shāhs in Esfahan, in order to analyse the link between these two facets of his personality and shed some light on the relationship between legal and spiritual authorities in modern Shīʾism. The first part of this paper studies Mīr Dāmād’s portrait in the Shīʿi prosopographical sources. The second part deals with his legal works, notably his fatwās on Friday prayer and defensive jihād. The third part analyses the doxographic notice devoted to Mīr Dāmād by his former student Quṭb al-Dīn Ashkevarī (d. between 1088 and 1095 /1677 and 1684), which weaves legal, philosophical and mystical texts authored by his teacher. This study will show that in the view of Mīr Dāmād and his disciples, the temporal authority of the jurisconsult, during the period of Great Occultation, remained inseparable from the spiritual authority of the Gnostic (ʿārif), whose metaphysical knowledge was both rationally proven and mystically experienced.