Abstract - WOCMES 1989
The term ‘shi‘a’ occurs eleven times in the Qur’an and the word itself is lexically derived from the Arabic verb sha‘a – yashi‘u meaning to spread, disseminate, divulge, publicise or become known and in this sense occurs once in Q 24:19 “Those who love to spread (an tashi’a) scandal among the believers ...” The primary meaning of the term shi‘a a feminine noun (pl. shiya‘ and ashya‘), that comes across in the Qur’an is that of groups, communities, people with similar views, followers and supporters as portrayed in Q 37: 83 “Verily Abraham was certainly among Noah's followers ” (wa inna min shi‘atihi la Ibrahim). Despite a recent interest in many areas of Shi‘i Studies over the last half-century, exegetical perspectives in the field have attracted relatively little interest amongst scholars. The paper examines the usage of the word ‘shi‘a’ in the Qur’an from early and medieval exegetical material as well as classical historical sources and hadith literature.
Arzina R. Lalani received her doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh. Formerly a recipient of the Institute's Visiting Research Fellowship (1999-2000) she is currently a Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London.