Despite critical studies on Shi‘i Islam having increased in scope in the last few decades, to this day most Shi‘i beliefs and practices remain relatively unknown and poorly understood. One reason for this is that Western specialists in this field make up no more than thirty in number, in addition to a few rare Shi‘i scholars who apply historico-critical methodology and publish only in languages of Muslim-majority countries. This depicts a limited scope when compared with the hundreds of scholars specialising in Sunni Islam who, for more than a century and a half, have been studying a wide range of disciplines in the relevant areas of Arabic and Islamic studies. As a result, one of the richest intellectual and spiritual traditions in Islam, made up of the lives and work of thousands of brilliant theologians, exegetes, philosophers, artists, scholars, jurists, mystics and men of letters have remained largely obscured.
Professor of Classical Islamic Theology and Qur’anic Studies at the Ecole Pratique des hautes Etudes
, Sorbonne (Paris) and Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Ismaili Studies (London), Mohammad Ali Amir
-Moezzi is one of few scholars who has managed to bridge the gap between East and West and is widely recognised as one of the most distinguished scholars of Shi‘i history and theology currently at work. With The Spirituality of Shi‘i Islam
he has provided an introduction to the spiritual and veiled aspects of Shi‘ism
These aspects have contributed significantly to the dearth of scholarship on Shi‘i Islam because it has historically defined itself in its core sources as an essentially mystical and spiritual doctrine that does not reveal itself easily. In a tradition that is traced back to many of the Shi‘i imams, it is stated: ‘Our teaching is secret, it is a secret about a secret. It includes an exoteric (zahir
), esoteric (batin
) and esoteric of the esoteric (batin al-batin
) dimension.’ Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi has written a work that is pioneering in its import and an invaluable contribution to the field of Shi‘i Studies, for academics, students and laypersons alike.