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Agents of the Hidden Imam: Shiite Juristic Authority in Light of the Doctrine of Deputyship

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Agents of the Hidden Imam: Shiite Juristic Authority in Light of the Doctrine of Deputyship

Rasekh, Ali-Ahmad (2015) Agents of the Hidden Imam: Shiite Juristic Authority in Light of the Doctrine of Deputyship. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Deputyship deals with the issue of leadership in Twelver Shiism in a situation in which the Imam is believed to be only temporarily absent and still the possessor of ultimate religious and political authority. The jurists were recognized as the deputies of the Imam; this was and still is the source of their legitimacy and authority. There was, however, no consensus about the areas Deputyship would cover. This was due both to caution about trespassing on the prerogatives of the Imam and the unavailability of power to Shiites. The theoretical constraint changed with the lengthening of the Occultation after 940, and the practical constraint was also loosened due to instances of Shiite political power, principally in Iran. Change in thought about Deputyship, however, is very slow until the twentieth century, so that it can be detected and evaluated in juristic and theological texts and sometimes also in historical developments only over the long term. Close to the Occultation, the jurists confined their Deputyship and thus authority to juridical issues and Quranic punishments. In the sixteenth century under the Safavids, they expanded Deputyship to a wider range of religious matters through new interpretations of Shiite jurisprudence. They did not, however, possess or claim actual political authority, and their prominence was due rather to their social, economic and political influence and growth of religious institutions. It was in nineteenth-century Persia under the Qājārs that an interpretation of deputyship was introduced that would grant the jurists political power and upon which a further, even more political interpretation and actual jurist-led Islamic state was established by Khomeini in the twentieth century.
The dissertation argues, contrary to views in a substantial literature on Shiism and Weber, that the jurists form a third category of charismatic authority after the Prophet and Imams. The chief and essential source of juristic charisma is Deputyship of the Imam, i.e. office charisma. A second source is personal qualities, which help the office charisma to flourish. Shiite jurists who possess personal in addition to office charisma and act, in the Weberian sense, “exceptionally” gather more followers. The dissertation makes a contribution to Weberian theory by arguing that charisma and charismatic office continue to evolve after the pure charismatic event. The emergence of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is a recent striking instance.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Religions and Cultures
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Rasekh, Ali-Ahmad
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Religion
Date:23 July 2015
Thesis Supervisor(s):Clarke, Lynda
ID Code:980232
Deposited By: ALI-AHMAD RASEKH
Deposited On:28 Oct 2015 13:02
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:51
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