"The Historical Development of Shi'ite Political Thought" with Seyed Mohammad Ali Taghavi

Visiting Scholar Brown Bag Series

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM EST
Commerce Building, Room 3006

Shi’ite political thought has gone through deep changes in history. In this talk, a general overview of Shi’ite political thought will be presented, focusing on its account of the relationship between religion and politics, political legitimacy (imamate) and the way to deal with illegitimate rulers. Four different phases can be identified within the history of sShi’ite political thought. The first was the Imams’ era, when it was thought that there was a total overlap between religion and politics, and political authority exclusively belonged to the Imams. The second phase started with the Occultation and ended with the emergence of the Safavid Empire in Iran. In this period, the Shi’a turned away form politics, and the link between religion and politics was reduced to the minimal extent possible. The third phase began with the formation of a Shi’ite independent polity under the Safavid, when the Shi’a reconciled with politics, though passively, recognizing the political authority of the Shi’ite kings, alongside the religious authority of the clergy. With the strengthening of the political position of the Shi’ite clergy, the fourth phase began with Ayatollah Khomeini’s account of Islamic government based on the active involvement of the Shi’ite clergy in politics and the political authority of the highest ranking clergy, leading to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

Seyed Mohammad Ali Taghavi is currently a Visiting Scholar at Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran. He received his BA and MA from Tehran University and his PhD from the University of Hull, the UK. His research interests are: Islamic and Western political thought as well as Middle Eastern studies. His publications include The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran: Political Islamic Groups in Iran (1941-61), RoutledgeCruzon: London, 2005 and Foundations of Political Thought and Practice in Islam, Tehran: SAMT (The Centre for Researching and Composing University Textbooks in the Humanities), 2013 (in Persian). He recently published a piece titled, "Sectarian Conflict Among Muslims and the Need for Political Recognition of Differences" on the Ali Vural Ak Center's online publication, Maydan.

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