Hartford Seminary

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Authority in Shiʿi Islam (RS-621)

In general, the concept of authority is one of the most central components of lawmaking and implementation. Authority is more crucial in the case of Shiʿi legal theory as according to Shiʿi theology, only the Imams have absolute authority over Shiʿis, and during the absence of the Twelfth Imam, there is no clear religious guideline as to what extent the authority of Imam may be practised by Shiʿi scholars. Therefore, in Shiʿi legal theory, the extent of the legal authority of jurists has direct consequence over their legal edicts, and the legal authority of jurists plays a central role in the process of responding to the exigencies of the time. This course aims to examine the source and scope of the religious authority of Shiʿi Imams and will examine the views of some of the most influential classical and contemporary Shiʿi scholars against the backdrop of key historical events.  The course will study the following question: What is the influence of socio-political context on the scope of legal authority of jurists? Why did Shiʿi jurists take drastically different views on the legal authority of jurists? What are the practical implications of the relation between the law and the exigencies of the society for the current Shiʿi states and communities?

If you are not enrolled in a degree program but wish to register for this course, use the Online Registration for Special Students and Auditors.

Instructor(s)

Seyfeddin Kara

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