This dissertation is a bio-bibliographical study of Twelver Shīʿism in southern Iraq in the sixth/twelfth and seventh/thirteenth centuries, a period that has been called the “school of Ḥillah.”
This was an extraordinary stage in the evolution of Twelver Shīʿism because it produced outstanding and seminal works in nearly every field of Islamic scholarship, and hosted several disparate intellectual trends in one city. I utilize state-of-the-art electronic databases to study the transmission of knowledge and networks of kinship, learning and patronage in Ḥillah. Based on an examination of nearly two hundred individuals affiliated with the city in this period and their writings, I establish correlations between these networks and particular modes of scholarship. This dissertation offers historical explanations for the popularity of certain intellectual trends in Ḥillah and the marginalization of others. My reading of this period also challenges a long-standing tendency on the part of historians to portray the Mongol invasion as an unmitigated calamity. My study of Ḥillah contributes to the ongoing reassessment of the impact of the Mongol invasion in Ilkhānid historiography by demonstrating that it was a boonto this community of scholars.
Title: The Beginnings of the School of Ḥillah: A Bio-Bibliographical Study of Twelver Shīʿism in the Late ʿAbbāsid and Early Ilkhānid Periods
Author: Aun Hasan Ali
Length: 358 pages
Pub. Date: 2016