Apocalyptic Islam and Iranian Shi'ism (Library of Modern by Abbas Amanat

By Abbas Amanat

Curiosity in Shi'i Islam is working at exceptional degrees. overseas tensions over Iran, the place the biggest variety of Shi'i Muslims stay, in addition to the political resurgence of the Shi'i in Iraq and Lebanon, have created an pressing have to comprehend the heritage, ideals and motivations of this dynamic imaginative and prescient of Islam. Abbas Amanat is without doubt one of the major students of Shi'ism. And during this strong publication, a exhibit for a few of his so much influential writing within the box, he addresses the colourful and various heritage of Shi' Islam in either premodern and modern instances. Focusing particularly at the value of apocalypticism within the improvement of contemporary Shi'i theology, he exhibits how an immersion in messianic rules has formed the conservative personality of a lot Shi'i pondering, and has avoided it from taking a extra innovative path. Tracing the continuity of apocalyptic developments from the center a while to the current, Amanat addresses such themes because the early impression on Shi'ism of Zoroastrianism; manifestations of apocalyptic ideology throughout the Iranian Revolution of 1979; and the increase of the Shi'i clerical institution throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His publication can be a necessary source for college kids and students of either non secular stories and center jap heritage.

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Albeit through the mystical prism of the thirteenth-century Persian mystic and poet Rumi, he came to recognize that conservative interpretation of the shari'a has reached an existential dead end from which it can not escape unless the realities of modernity are acknowledged. In his recent pronouncements one may even sense an ambivalent call for rethinking the sacred religious core in such fundamental beliefs as Prophethood and the Imamate. Soroush thus appears to have come closer than any contemporary thinker to the theme of cyclical renewal in Shi'i Islam even though we have yet to see in his approach to Islamic thought a clear break from conventional notions of Islam as an eternal divine message and in turn greater acknowledgment of religion as a historical construct.

In most cases, it is true, the millennial paradigm remains a subtle undertone to secular ideologies not always acknowledged by those who pronounced or enacted it. Nearly all revolutionary visionaries of modern times, such as Karl Marx, entertained utopian visions brimming over with millennial aspirations of one form or another. Even more so, apocalyptic images and motifs influenced those artists, writers, and futurists who, by invoking millennial fears and hopes, challenged the norms of their own time and searched for alternatives.

An articulate student of philosophy, who since the outset of the Revolution gradually moved to what may be called an Islamic dissident camp, has been advocating a certain elasticity in Islam as a religious construct which, though possessing a sacred core – a set of a prioris – also evolves over time as a force that shaped Muslim societies and cultures but that also is shaped by them. His epistemological distinction between religious truth and the evolving human understanding of this truth, what he calls the theory of “contraction and expansion” (qabz va bast) though essentialist and arguably ahistorical in essence, is nevertheless a significant and refreshing development.

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