Orientalists and the Evolution of Shī‘a Exegesis Hermeneutic: A Case Study of Todd Lawson

Author

Associate Professor, Department of Qur’ānic and Ḥadīth Sciences, College of Farabi, University of Tehran,Qom, Iran

Abstract

Todd Lawson – a contemporary orientalist – tries in his Hermeneutics of pre-modern Islamic and Shi'ite exegesis to describe and evaluate the types and evolutions of the Twelver Shī‘a exegesis hermeneutics. According to this article, the Twelver Shī‘a exegesis has comprised of four types from its beginning to the contemporary era, including authority-oriented, compromise, mystic-inward (hermeneutic deafness), and philosophical/authority-oriented. The hermeneutic change of the Shī‘a in the interpretation of the Qur’ān from Imām to the exegete and its combination with the mystic and philosophical approaches are the qualities of the second, third, and fourth eras. The evolutions made in the four eras of Shī‘a hermeneutics have been influenced by the cultural-political conditions of the Shī‘a community, the rise of Shī‘a scientific elites, and the effects of Mu‘tazila, mystic, and Sunnī esotericist approaches on the Twelver scholars. In this regard, the role of Shī‘a governments such as Buyid and Safavid dynasties and the rise of scholars such as Sayyid Murtaḍā, Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī, and Mullā Ṣadrā have had outstanding effects on the formation of new hermeneutic types. This article presents Lawson‘s viewpoints and demonstrates their shortcomings.

Keywords


Āghā Buzurg Ṭihrānī, M. (1983), Al-Dharī‘a ilā taṣānīf al-Shī‘a. Beirut, Dār al-Aḍwā’.

Aḥsā’ī, A. (1983), ‘Awālī al-li’ālī fī al-aḥādīth al-dīniyya. Edited by Mujtabā ‘Irāqī, Qom, Maṭba‘a Sayyid al-Shuhadā.

As‘adī, M (2006), Semantic shadows and layers: An introduction to the independent semantic theory of the qur’ānic statements in the light of the interpretive narrations. Qom, Mu’assisa Būstān Kitāb.

Bāqirī, A. (2008), “Text interpretation theories and author-orientedness of Muslim exegetes”. Qur’ān Shinākht, 1(2), 59-100. 

Bar Asher, M. M. (1999), Scripture and Exegesis in Early Imami Shiism, Leiden and Jerusalem.

Birinjkār, R. & M. Shākir (2012), “The reality of Fāṭima’s (s) manuscript and response to doubts about it”. Theological-Doctrinal Research, 6, 37-52. 

Burūjirdī, Ḥ. (1995), Tafsīr al-ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm. Qom, Mu’assisa Anṣāriyān li-Ṭibā‘a wa al-Nashr.

Būsa, H. (2011), “Iran in Buyid era”, Richard Nelson Frye. In The history of ancient Iran. Translated by Ḥasan Anūsha. Tehran, Amīr kabīr Publications.

Gleave, R. (2013), «Early Shi'i Hermeneutics: Some Exegetical Techniques Attributed to the Shi'i Imams«, in: Karen Bauer,   Oxford University Press, pp. 141-172.

Group of authors (2003), The theological thoughts of Shaykh Ṭūsī (may God have mercy upon him). Mashhad, Razavi University of Islamic Sciences.

Ja‘farī, M. (1996), Sayyid Raḍī. Tehran, Ṭarḥ Naw. 

Jawādī, Q. (1999), “The Effect of shiite theological thoughts on the Mu'tazilites”. Seven Heavens, 1(1), 122-149.

Lawson, T. (2016), “Hermeneutics of pre-modern Islamic and Shi'ite exegesis”. Translated by Muḥammad Ḥaqqānī Faḍl, Imāmiyya Interpretation in Western Studies, Qom, Qur’ān and Ḥadīth Research Center.

Mahdawīrād, M. (2003), Āfāq tafsīr. Tehran, Hastī Namā Publications.

-------------, (2002), “A typological study on Fāṭima’s (s) manuscript”. Ayeneh-ye Pazhoohesh, 75, 2-19.

------------ & A. Aḥmadnizhād (2011), “An examination of the Qur’ān revelation tradition based on ‘Iyyaka A‘nī wa asma‘ī yā jāra’ as a principle in the interpretation of Chastisement verses directed at the Noble Prophet (s)”, ‘Ulūm Ḥadīth, 62, 3-21.

Ma‘rifat, M. (1994), Al-Tamhīd fī ‘ulūm al-Qur’ān. Qom, Mu’assisa al-Nashr al-Islāmī.

Mīr Muḥammadī Zarandī, A. (1999), Buḥūth fī tārīkh al-Qur’ān wa ‘ulūmih. Qom, Mu’assisa al-Nashr al-Islāmī.

Mufīd, M. (1993), Awā’il al-maqālāt fī al-madhāhib wa al-mukhtārāt. Tehran, University of Tehran Publications.

Najjārzadigān, F. (2003), Salāma al-Qur’ān min al-taḥrīf. Qom, Mash‘ar Publications.

Najjāshī, A. (1995), Fihrist Asmā’ Muṣannafī al-Shī‘a. Qom, Mu’assisa al-Nashr al-Islāmī.

Naqawī, Ḥ. (1984). Khulāṣa ‘Abaqāt al-anwār. Tehran, Mu’assisa al-Bi‘tha.

Naṣirī, A. (2007), The mutual relationship between the Qur’ān and sunna. Tehran, Islamic Research Institute for Culture and Thought.

Naṣrullāhī, M. (2012), An examination of the opinions and thoughts of Shaykh ‘Alā’ al-Dawla Simnānī. Qom, Adyān Publications.

Rād, A. (2011), Twelver Shī‘a theological principles in exegesis. Tehran, Sukhan Publications. 

Ṣadūq, M. (1984), ‘Uyūn Akhbār al-Riḍā (a). Edited by Ḥusayn al-A‘lamī, Beirut, Mu’assisa al-A‘lamī lil-Maṭbū‘āt.

Sajjādī, Ṣ. (1996), “Buyids”. Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Tehran, Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia.

Subḥānī, J. (1994), A dictionary of Islamic beliefs and denominations. Qom, Tawḥīd Publications.

Ṭayyib Ḥusaynī, M. (2009), Polysemy in the noble Qur’ān. Qom, Research Institute of Ḥawza and University.

Todd Lawson, B. (2012), Hermeneutics of pre-modern Islamic and Shiʿite exegesis, adopted from http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hermeneutics, Last Updated: March 22, available in print Vol. XII, Fasc. 3, pp. 235-239.

Ṭūsī, M. (1988), Al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qur’ān. Beirut, Dār al-Iḥyā’ al-Turāth al-‘Arabī.