MIN 407 – Authority in Shi’a Islam



• The concept of imama and different kinds of authority vested in the Imam
• The debate about the succession of Muhammad in early Islam
• The emergence of early Shi’i groups: Zaydis, proto-twelvers and Isma’ilis
• The occultation of the Twelfth Imam and the crisis of authority among Shi’as
• The stages of development of the concept of al-wilaya al-‘amma (all-inclusive authority) and delegation of legal and political authority to jurisconsults
• Al-Khumaini and the articulation of the concept of walayat al-faqih
• Safavid dynasty: adoption of Shi’ism as state religion
• Rational v. Traditional and the Akhbari-Usuli dispute
• The establishment of the institution of Marja’i al-taqlid in the 19th century
• Shi’ism in modern times: Iran, Iraq and Lebanon

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

Assessment Modes

All learning materials are developed according to the SCATE format. Students are advised to study units available online followed by timetabled activities which are of crucial importance and require a serious attention. Students need to consult suggested reading materials which are not necessarily available online. At the same time, students are expected to contribute to Discussion Group as an integral part of their study. They would receive feedback regarding their activities and contribution by the module tutor. Extra reading and activities are provided for students who are interested to have a deeper and broader understanding of the issues of concern.
Formative Assessment:
Formative assessment for this module will consist of written feedback from the lecturer, questioning and discussion through the online forums. One draft of the students’ final essay (coursework) may be handed in to the lecturer at the 12th learning week for formative assessment, in which the lecturer will give the student feedback on how to improve their research and quality of writing.
Summative Assessment:
Students are required to submit 3 out of 5 Review Questions (RQ) and 3 out of 5 Activities (Act) as the weekly assignments for each module during the semester. All of these assignments as well as students’ final essays at the end of the semester will be commented and marked by tutors. Students can see those comments and marks in their drop box which are available in their D2L accounts. Finally, students are required to submit an Individual coursework -final essay (4000 words) on a relevant topic approved in advance by the module tutor.

Assessment Weighting
Activities: 30%
Review Questions & Discussion Group: 10%
Final Essay (Coursework): 60%
Students should get at least a pass mark for all three above components.

Learning materials

Core readings
Enayat, H. (2004), Modern Islamic Political Thought. I.B.Tauris
Hourani, G.F. (1985), Reason and Tradition in Islamic Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kakaie, G. (2000), Authority and Tradition, in Message of Thaqalayn: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies, Tehran: World Assembly of Ahlul Bayt.
Khumeini, S.R (1981). Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, trans. and ed. By Hamid Algar, Berkeley, CA: Mizan Press.
Legenhausen, M. (2000). Authority from a Shi’ite Perspective, in Message of Thaqalayn: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies, Tehran: World Assembly of Ahlul Bayt.
Modarressi, H. (1993). Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shi’ite Islam: Abu Ja’far Ibn Qiba Al-Razi and His Contribution to Imamite Shi’ite Thought. Darwin Press.
Al-Nawbakhti, H. M. (2007) Shi’a Sects, trans. Abbas, Kadhim, London: ICAS Press.
Shomali, M.A (2003), Shi’i Islam: Origins, Faith & Practices. London: ICAS Press.
Shomali, M.Ai (2003), Reason, Faith and Authority: A Shi‘ite Perspective. Qum: Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute.
Tabataba’i, S.M.H. (2009), The Return to Being: The Treatise on Friendship with God: Risalat Al-Walayah. London: ICAS Press.
Tabataba’i, S.M.H (1975). Shi’ite Islam, trans. Sayyid Hossein Nasr, Albany, New York: SUNY Press.
Takim, L.N. (2007), The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi’ite Islam. State University of New York Press
Vaezi, A. (2004). Shia Political Thought, London: Islamic Centre of England.