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Book: The Heirs of the Prophet, Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi’ite Islam

This book is very well written and demonstrates a vast knowledge and intimate familiarity with both primary and secondary sources on the topic of the Shiite imams and their deputies.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, different religious factions within the Muslim community laid claim to the Prophet’s legacy. Drawing on research from Sunni and Shiite literature, Liyakat N. Takim explores how these various groups, including the caliphs, scholars, Sufi holy men, and the Shiite imams and their disciples, competed to be the Prophetic heirs. The book also illustrates how the tradition of the “heirs of the Prophet” was often a polemical tool used by its bearers to demand obedience and loyalty from the Muslim community by imposing an authoritative rendition of texts, beliefs, and religious practices. Those who did not obey were marginalized and demonized. While examining the competition for Muhammad’s charismatic authority, Takim investigates the Shiite self-understanding of authority and argues that this was an important factor in the formation of a distinct Shiite leadership. The Heirs of the Prophet also provides a new understanding of textual authority in Islam by examining authority construction and the struggle for legitimacy evidenced in Islamic biographical dictionaries.

The Heirs of the Prophet provides an intelligent introduction to the Imams’ disciples during this stage in Twelver salvation history, offering a coherent overview of their activities and relationship with the Imams. In its approach to questions of religious authority and orthodoxy in Islam, the study stands out as exceptional.” — The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

“…perhaps the most important contribution … to current scholarship on early Shiism.” — Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

“This book is very well written and demonstrates a vast knowledge and intimate familiarity with both primary and secondary sources on the topic of the Shiite imams and their deputies. Takim’s exploration of how authority was constructed and made legitimate in early Shiite biographies, exegeses, legal theories, kalam, and the like, forges new ground in the field.” — Kathryn Kueny, author of The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam

Table of Contents
1. “The Scholars Are Heirs of the Prophets”

2. The Holy Man in Islam

3. Routinization of Charismatic Authority: The Shi’i case

4. The Office of Charismatic Authority: The Functions of the Rijal

5. Textual Authority and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Biographical Texts

Bibliographic Information

Title: The Heirs of the Prophet, Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi’ite Islam

Author: Liakat A. Takim

Publisher: State University of New York Press (June 1, 2007)

Language: English

Length: 256 pages

ISBN: 978-0791467381

Pub. Date: June 1, 2007

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