The Renaissance of Shiʿi Islam in the 15th–17th Centuries: Facets of Thought and Practice

The complexities of the roles of different groups, movements and currents of thought in the complicated process which can be described as ‘the Renaissance of Shiʿi Islam in the 15th and 17th centuries’ remain unexplored. The aim of this conference is to investigate and evaluate these contributions, taking into account the most recent scholarship in the field. 

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INTRODUCTION


The 15th century marked the renaissance of the Ismaili and Twelver Shiʿi traditions after centuries of marginalization. It was with the commencement of the imamateinfo-icon of Mustanṣir biʾllāh II around 868/1463– 1464, that the Anjudān revival of the Nizārī Ismailis began. Around the same time, several Shiʿi messianic movements emerged in Iran and spread to the neighbouring countries. One of these, the Safavidsinfo-icon, became particularly successful: in 1500, led by the youthful Ismāʿīl I, the Safavid forces defeated the army of the Aq Qoyunlu, and a year later, in the summer of 1501, took their capital Tabriz, thus establishing the Safavid state which then became an empire and the first major Shiʿi power since the fall of the Fatimidsinfo-icon in 1171. However, the complexities of the roles of different groups, movements and currents of thought in the complicated process which can be described as ‘the Renaissance of Shiʿi Islam in the 15th and 17th centuries’ remain unexplored. The aim of this conference is to investigate and evaluate these contributions, taking into account the most recent scholarship in the field.

In particular, we intend to address the following subjects:

  • What were the common characteristics of Shiʿi messianic movements active in the 15th–17th centuries? 
  • Why was one of them, the Safavids or Qizilbashīs, particularly successful?
  • What was the substance of the Anjudān revival of the Nizārī Ismailis?
  • Which developments of kalām and Sufisminfo-icon in this era can be described as the ‘Shiʿitisation of Sunnism’?
  • How did the School of Isfahan emerge? What were its principal manifestations in different fields of knowledge? 
  • How did the Ismailis interact with Twelver Shiʿism and Sufism?
  • What were the defining characteristics of Shiʿi exegesis, theology, law and gnosis during this period?

 

Programme

Day 1

3 October 2018 

09.30-10.00 Opening remarks

10.00-11.00 Keynote Speech I:  The Shiʿi Milieu of Post-Mongol Iran Farhad Daftary (IIS)

11.00-11.30 Coffee Break

SESSION I: SHIʿI-SUFI COALESCENCE IN POST-MONGOL PERIOD Chair and Discussant Wilferd Madelung (Oxford-IIS) 

11:30-12.00 Prose and Poetry: A Glance into Post-Alamūt Nizārī Ismaili Literature in Iran, Jalal Badakhchani (IIS)

12:00-12.30 From Iran to India: Ismaili Teachers and Teachings in the 11th/17th Century Shafique N. Virani (Toronto)

12.30-13.00 The Convergence of Shiʿism, Philosophy and Sufism in Quṭb al-Dīn Ashkiwarī’s (d. between 1088 and 1095/1677 and 1684) Epistle on the Imaginal World (al-Risāla al-mithāliyya) Mathieu Terrier (CNRS, Paris)

13.00-14.00 Lunch

SESSION II: SHIʿI MESSIANISM Chair and Discussant Gerhard Bowering (Yale University)

14:00 -14.30 Messianism and Sufism in the Construction of a ‘Shiʿamicate’ Devotion in Early 18th Century Sindhinfo-icon Michel Boivin (CNRS-EHESS, Paris)

14.30-15.00 Shāh Ismāʿil’s Resurrection in Alevī-Bektashī Literature Amelia Gallagher (Niagara Canada)

15.00 -15.30 Coffee Break

SESSION III: LETTRISM Chair and Discussant Toby Mayer (IIS)

15.30-16.00 Hurūfī Disciples versus Faḍl Allāh Astarābādī: Ḥurūfī Khalīfas’ Interpretations of Faḍl Allāh’s Doctrine Fatih Usluer (TOBB ETU, Ankara)

16.00-16.30 Nuqṭavīs, Safavids and Shiʿism the 9th to 11th/15th to 17th Centuries Orkhan Mir-Kasimov (IIS)

16.30-17.00 Shiʿizing Iran—with Sunni Occult Science: ʿAlī Ṣafī Kāshifī’s (d. 1533) Ḥirz al-Amān min Fitan al-Zamān as Timurid-Safavid Manual of Lettrist Imperialism Matthew Melvin-Koushki (South Carolina)

17.00-17.30 Break

17.30-18.30 Keynote Speech II. The Confluence of Mysticism and Messianism in Islamic Theosophy (ʿIrfān) in the 15th–17th cc. Gerhard Bowering (Yale)

19.00 Dinner for Speakers and Chairs
 

Day 2

4 October 2018

 

SESSION: IV ḤADĪTH AND FIQHinfo-icon I Chair and Discussant Devin Stewart (Emory)

9.30-10.00 Revisiting Shiʿi Epistemology in Mullā Ṣadrā’s Commentary on al-Kulaynī’s Uṣūl al-kāfī Maria Dakake (George Mason)

10.00-10.30 Majlisī the Second: Ambiguous Scholar and Reviver of Shiʿism in Iran in the 17th c. Mohammad Amirinfo-icon-Moezzi (Sorbonne-IIS)

10.30-11.00 Coffee Break

SESSION V: ḤADĪTH AND FIQH II Chair and Discussant Mohammad Amir-Moezzi (Sorbonne-IIS)

11.00-11.30 The Pre-Modern Renaissance in Shiʿi Ḥadīth Studies: Ḥadīth Criticism the Akhbārī Movement and Literary Production in Safavid Iran Devin Stewart (Emory)

11.30-12.00 Establishing the Canonical Text in Late Classical Shiʿi Legal Theory: the Maʿālim al-Dīn and Its Commentaries Robert Gleave (Exeter)

12.00-12.30 The Ijāza as Polemic in Early Safavid Iran Andrew J. Newman (Edinburgh)

12.30-13.30 Lunch

SESSION VI THEOLOGY Chair and Discussant Sajjad Rizvi (Exeter)

13.30- 14.00 Mīr Abū l-Fatḥ al-ʿArabshāhī (d. c. 976/1568) and His Commentary on al-Ḥillī’s al-Bāb al-hādī ʿashar Reza Pourjavady (Bochum)

14.00-14.30 Where to Place Shiʿism in the Post-Avicennan Epistemic Spaces? Ahab Bdaiwi (Leiden)

14.30-15.00 Coffee Break

SESSION VII: ART Chair and Discussant Russell Harris (IIS)

15.00-15.30 The Outburst of Shiʿi Militancy: The Evidence of Safavid and Moghul Metalwork Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani (Aga Khaninfo-icon Trust for Culture)

15.30-16.00 Shāh Ṭahmāsp’s View of Nature as Reflected in His Shāhnāma Sheila Canby (Met Museum, New York)

19.00 Dinner for Speakers and Chairs
 

DAY 3

5 October 2018
 

SESSION VIII  PHILOSOPHY I.  Chair and Discussant Hermann Landolt (IIS)

09.30-10.00 Mīr Dāmād’s ‘Yemenī Wisdom’ Janis Esots (IIS)

10.00-10.30 What Was the Legacy of Mīr Dāmād in Muslim India? Asad Q Ahmed (Berkeley)

10.30-11.00 Coffee Break

SESSION IX: PHILOSOPHY II Chair and Discussant Hermann Landolt (IIS)

11.00-11.30 Some Aspects of the Reception of Suhrawardī’s Philosophy by Mullā Ṣadrā Christian Jambet (Sorbonne)

11.30-12.00 The Imaminfo-icon and the Greek Sage: Neoplatonic Commentaries on Shiʿi Ḥadīth in the Safavid Period Sajjad Rizvi (Exeter)

12.00-12.30 Ismaili Traces in the Works of Safavid Philosophers: The Quotations from al-Risāla al-jāmiʿa in Quṭb al-Dīn Ashkevarī’s Maḥbūb al-qulūb Daniel De Smet (CNRS, Paris)

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.30 Keynote Speech III Henry Corbin and the School of Isfahan Hermann Landolt (IIS)

Chair and Discussant Christian Jambet (Sorbonne)