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LUSSI Seminar: The Shi'ites and the Qurʾan: The Origins of Islam between Apocalypse and Empire

Wednesday 30 October 2019
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


It gives us great pleasure to announce the return of the Autumn Lecture Series in Shiʿi Studies starting in October 2019 organised by the Leiden University Shiʿi Studies Initiative (LUSSI). The autumn lecture series theme for this year is: “The Qurʾan and its Shiʿi Interpretations”.

The Shi'ites and the Qurʾan: The Origins of Islam between Apocalypse and Empire



For all those interested in the religious history of the Near and Middle East during Late Antiquity, the advent of Muḥammad in Arabia and the beginnings of Islam are exciting fields of research. The present study tries to put these subjects into perspective within the broad historical and spiritual context of the 6th and 7th centuries. It is based on a sort of syllogism: Muḥammad and his message belong to Jewish, Christian or Judeo-Christian monotheisms (as attested by the Qurʾān and the Ḥadīth); Muḥammad’s first messages seem to announce the imminent end of the world (as is evident from many Quranic passages and several very early ḥadīths); so Muḥammad cannot but announce the coming of the Messiah as the Savior of the End of the world. On this last point, the Qurʾān remains curiously silent, but according to a large number of ancient ḥadiths, Muḥammad actually announces the imminent coming of the Messiah and the latter is none other than Jesus. At the same time, for some followers of Muḥammad, ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib seems to have been the second Jesus, Christ and Messiah of the apocalyptic times. After the death of Muḥammad and ʿAlī, the non-advent of the end of the world, the ridda wars, the Arab conquests and the establishment of the empire, events evolved into different directions than expected at the beginning.


Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi is Professor at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne) where he holds the chair of classical Islamic thought occupied in the past by Louis Massignon, Henry Corbin and Daniel Gimaret. Member of the Ambrosian Academy (Milano), he is the author of many articles and books, among others: The Divine Guide in early Shi’ism(State University of NY Press, 1994), The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam. Beliefs and Practices (I.B.Tauris).

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