1st Edition

Walāya in the Formative Period of Shi'ism and Sufism A Comparative Analysis

By Shayesteh Ghofrani Copyright 2023
    200 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Focused on Shi’ism and Sufism in the formative period of Islam, this book examines the development of the concept of walāya, a complex term that has, over time, acquired a wide range of relationships with other theological ideas, chiefly in relation to the notion of authority.

    The book offers a textual and comparative analysis of walāya based on primary sources in the ninth and tenth centuries, from both Shi’i and Sufi circles. The starting point is one of the oldest surviving Shi’i sources, Kitāb Sulaym. Alongside this, the author analyses al-Īḍāḥ of Faḍl Shādhān al-Nishābūrī, Kitāb al-Maḥāsin of al-Barqī and Kitāb al-Kāfī of al-Kulaynī. Three major texts in Sufism are considered: Kitāb al-Ṣidq by Abū Saʿīd al-Kharrāz, Tafsīr al-Qurʾan al-ʿAẓīm by Sahl al-Tustarī, and Al-Tirmidhī’s Kitāb Sīrat al-Awliyāʾ. Together, these sources highlight the doctrinal aspects of walāya, exploring the identity, function, appointment, and description of those considered 'walī'. The author ultimately argues that walāya is a cluster of rich, deep-rooted responses to the question of authority, developed within both Shi’ism and Sufism after the death of the Prophet.

    The book is much-needed reading for students and scholars interested in Shi’i and Sufi studies and Islamic philosophy.

    Introduction  1. Walāya in Formative Shi’ism  2. Development of Walāya in Formative Shi’ism  3. Walāya in Formative Sufism  4. Development of Walāya in Formative Sufism  5. A Comparative Study of Walāya in Shi’ism and Sufism  Conclusion


    Shayesteh Ghofrani is an independent scholar. After completing her Masters in Continental Philosophy, she received her PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter and continued with a postdoc at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in the UK. Her research interests include the formative period of Islamic history with a focus on Shi’ism and Sufism.

    "By comparing notions of authority in early Sufism and early Shi’ism, Dr Ghofrani has provided us with an engaging and instructive study. By tracing the journey of the term and concept of walāya between the two interconnected discourses of Sufism and Shi’ism, she puts forward a challenging thesis of how ideas and terminology travel between religious contexts, producing new connotations and meaning along the way."

    Robert Gleave, Professor of Arabic Studies, University of Exeter, UK