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Article: From Partial to Complete: Juristic Authority in Twelver Shi‘ism

This article will examine the foundations and evolution of this genre of authority and will argue that there was much disputation among the Shi‘i scholars as to the nature and scope of the ‘ulama’s’ authority.

A salient feature of Twelver Shi‘ism is the claim by jurists to wield authority during the occultation of the Imam. This article will examine the foundations and evolution of this genre of authority and will argue that there was much disputation among the Shi‘i scholars as to the nature and scope of the ‘ulama’s’ authority. It will further demonstrate that the authority of the scholars was asserted and enhanced in response to the changing socio-economic and political milieu of the times. State patronage and the appropriation of several titles precipitated multivariate forms of juristic authority.

After the occultation of the twelfth Imam in 940 C.E., the socio-political environment of the Shi‘i community in Baghdad ameliorated considerably when the Buyids came to power in 945 C.E.. The favorable political conditions enabled the Shi‘i jurists to speculate on the possible genre and extent of authority that they could wield. As, will be demonstrated jurists living in the Safavid (1501-1736) and Qajar (1794-1925) eras were able to assert and expand the scope of their authority to a much greater degree than the Buyid scholars had envisaged. This was, in many cases, in response to the socio-political vicissitudes that later jurists encountered.

Bibliographic Information

Title: From Partial to Complete: Juristic Authority in Twelver Shi‘ism

Author: Liyakat Takim

Published in: Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Summer 2020

 Language: English

Length: 22 pages

From Partial to Complete Juristic Authority in Twelver

About Ali Teymoori

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