• 25 Nov 2020
  • Online
  • Talks and Lectures

The Revival of Twelver Shi’i Tafsīr in Early Modern and Modern Times: Three Case Studies

According to the doctrine of early Imami Shi’ism, the authority to interpret the Qur’an belongs exclusively to ʿAlī and his descendants, the Imams. Consequently, most of the Tafsīrs written in Twelver Imami circles after the Occultation of the twelfth Imam are essentially comprised of traditions attributed to the Imams. Yet, an impressive revival of the Imami Tafsīr can be observed in the Ilkhanid period, and even more so during the Safavid era in Iran, in the context of interfacing between Imami Shi’ism, Sufism and philosophy. The lecture will present three case studies in order to illustrate the evolution of Imami Qur’anic exegesis in the early modern and modern eras, in its coherence and diversity: al-Muḥīṭ al-aʿẓam by Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī; Tafsīr Sharīf Lāhījī, alias Quṭb al-Dīn Ashkevarī; and Mirʾāt al-anwār by Abū l-Ḥasan al-Iṣfahānī. Rather than three separated trends, these works reflect different ways of combining Shi’i esotericism, mysticism and rationalism within the framework of Qur’anic exegesis.

Date: 25 November 2020

Time: 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm GMT

Location: Online (Zoom)

Q&A: At any time during the lecture, attendees can submit questions to the speaker through the Q&A option at the bottom of the control panel. As time allows, the speaker will address as many questions as they can during the Q&A session at the end of the presentation.

Discussants: Dr Fârès Gillon (IIS, London), Dr Toby Mayer (IIS, London).


Dr Mathieu Terrier

Dr Mathieu Terrier is a Research Fellow at the French National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS, Paris). A historian of Islamic thought, his research deals mainly with the relationship between Shiʿi Islam, philosophy and Sufism before and during the Safavid period in Iran. His publications include: Histoire de la sagesse et philosophie shi’ite. L’Aimé des Cœurs de Quṭb al-Dīn Ashkevarī (Paris, 2016); and, with Denis Hermann (eds.), Shi’i Islam and Sufism. Classical Visions and Modern Perspectives (London, 2020).