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[IHTLS] Pre-Existence: a Myth and its Implications in Imāmī-Shīʿī Thought
Pre-Existence: a Myth and its Implications in Imāmī-Shīʿī Thought

The notion that events bearing far-reaching consequences for the human condition took place prior to the creation of the world and of man has been a central theme in the Islamic literary tradition. This lecture seeks to demonstrate how the raw materials of this notion in Imāmī-Shīʿī thought – namely, its expressions in the earliest literary strata: the Qurʾān and the ḥadīth – were addressed, creatively interpreted and elaborated upon by thinkers of two later periods: the Buwayhid (945-1055 CE) and Safavid (1501-1722 CE). Among the multiple representations of the notion of pre-existence, special attention in the present lecture will be on the shīʿī belief that human souls (al-arwāḥ) were created prior to the bodies rather than simultaneously. This belief, I will show, was to become a bone of contention between advocates of adherence to the transmitted word (naql) and their rationalist opponents who promoted the use of reason (ʿaql) in religious sciences. The gap between the meagre information the Qurʾān provides regarding this belief and its centrality within the Imāmī-Shīʿī discourse is an additional aspect I wish to address.

Speaker: Dr Roy Vilozny (University of Haifa).
Discussants: Dr Edmund Hayes (Radboud University), Dr Fârès Gillon (IIS).

Hosted by the Institute of Ismaili Studies (London) and convened by Dr Fârès Gillon, the Islamic History and Thought Lecture Series is designed to invite scholars of various international academic institutions, specialising in intellectual, social and political aspects of medieval and early modern Islamic societies, to present and discuss their research.

Please note that the lecture will be recorded and uploaded on the IIS website.

Jul 14, 2022 06:00 PM in London

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