A panel at the 47th MESA Annual Meeting (2014) organised by Shi‘i Studies research associates at The IIS entitled Shi‘ism in a Historical Perspective. The panel brought together papers that study aspects of Shi‘i institutions, thought, and literature within the broader historical context. Dr Gurdofarid Miskinzoda, Research Associate at DARP, presented on Identity, Doctrine and the Writing of History: The Kitab al-Irshad of Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413/1022) and the history of Twelver Shi‘i Islam. Dr Miskinzoda addressed the following questions: What use does Shaykh al-Mufid make of narrative and narrativity in articulating the history of the Shi‘i Imams up until the 5th/11th century, and how his work compares against other representatives of the Muslim literary and historical tradition (e.g. works of hadith, sira, tabaqat and ta’rikh) during his time as well as in earlier centuries?
Dr Orhan Mir-Kasimov presented a paper entitled Mysticism, Messianism, Sufi/Shi‘i Eclecticism and Religious Authority in Post-Mongol Muslim Societies in which he focussed on the evolution of the mystical and messianic pattern of religious authority in Timurid Iran. Dr Mir-Kasimov analysed and compared three movements with distinct doctrinal lines: the Nizari Ismailis on the Shi‘i side, the Kubrawis on the Sufi side, and the Hurufis, as an example of Sufi/Shi‘i eclecticism with a strong messianic component that developed in early Timurid Iran.
Mushegh Asatryan, Research Associate at the IIS at the time, presented on Kitab al-azilla, Nusayri Literature, and the Transmission of Texts Between Iraq and Syria in the Tenth Century. His paper studies the history of the early ‘ghulat’ (those whose views on God and the Imams came to be viewed as extremist) by looking at the convoluted fates of two such texts, a certain Kitab al-azilla (The Book of Shadows) and a Kitab al-kursi (The Book of the Throne).