• The second largest branch of Islam, with between 130 and 190 million adherents across the globe, Shi'i Islam is becoming an increasingly significant force in contemporary politics, especially in the Middle East. This makes an informed understanding of its fundamental spiritual beliefs and practices both necessary and timely. Mohammad Ali Amirinfo-icon-Moezzi is one of the most distinguished scholars of Shi'i history and theology, and in this volume he offers a wide-ranging and engaging survey of the core texts of Shi'i Islam. Examining in turn the origins and later developments of Shi'i spirituality, the author reveals the profoundly esoteric nature of the beliefs which accrued to the figures of the early Imams, and which became associated with their interaction between the material and spiritual worlds. Many of these beliefs have remained much misunderstood even within the wider Muslim world. Furthermore, Western scholarship has tended to follow the lead of the earlier orientalists and critics, viewing Shi'i teachings as marginal.

    In this study the author shows, by contrast, how central and creative the very nature of spirituality was to the development of Shi'i Islam, as well as to classical Muslim civilisation as a whole. In this comprehensive treatment, the esoteric nature of Shi'i spirituality emerges as an essential phenomenon for understanding Shi'i Islam.

  • Preface and Acknowledgements xi
    List of Abbreviations xi
    Articles 1-12 translated from French by Hafiz Karmali  

    Part I: Early Emergence and Ancient Convergence

    1. Reflections on the Expression dininfo-icon 'Ali: The Origins of the Shi'i Faith 3
    2. Shahrbanu, Lady of the Land of Iran and Mother of the Imams: Between Pre-Islamic Iran and Imami Shi'ism 45

    Part II: On the Nature of the Imaminfo-icon: Initiation and Dualism

    3. Some Remarks on the Divinity of the Imam 103
    4. The Pre-Existence of the Imam 133
    5. The Imam in Heaven: Ascension and Initiation 169
    6. Knowledge is Power: Interpretations and Implications of the Miracle in Early Imamism 193
    7. Notes on Imami Walayainfo-icon 231
    8. Only the Man of God is Human: Theology and Mystical Anthropology According to Early Imami Exegesis 277

    Part III: Hermeneutic and Spiritual Practice

    9. ‘The Warrior of Ta'wil’: A Poem about 'Ali by Molla Sadra 307
    10. Visions of the Imams in Modern and Contemporary Twelver Mysticism 339
    11. Notes on Prayer in Imami Shi'ism 375

    Part IV: Aspects of Individual and Collective Eschatology

    12. The End of Time and the Return to the Origin 403
    13. A Contribution on the Typology of Encounters with the Hidden Imam 431
    14. An Absence Filled with Presences: Shaykhiyya Hermeneutics of the Occultation 461



    Index 551


  • Prof. Mohammad A. Amir-Moezzi

    Professor M. A. 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. He is the author of many books, including Le Guide divin dans le shi'isme originel (1992), (translated into English as The Divine Guide in Early Shi'ism: The Sources of Esotericism in Islam), Le voyage initiatique...Read more