Revelation in Islam: Qur’ānic, Sunni, and Shiʿi Ismaili Perspectives
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CitationAndani, Khalil. 2020. Revelation in Islam: Qur’ānic, Sunni, and Shiʿi Ismaili Perspectives. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation is an intellectual history of Muslim understandings of Qur’ānic Revelation from the first/seventh century to the fifth/eleventh century as presented in the Qur’ān, Sunni ḥadīth, Qur’ān commentary, Sunni kalām, Imami Shiʿi ḥadīth, and Shiʿi Ismaili philosophical theology. The study conceptualizes diverse Islamic theologies of revelation through an analytical framework featuring three hierarchical dimensions: 1) a Revelatory Principle representing differing conceptions of God’s Speech (kalām Allāh) and Writing (kitāb Allāh); 2) a Revelatory Process describing various modes of divine/angelic sending down (tanzīl) and inspiration (waḥy) through the Prophet Muhammad, and 3) Revelatory Products including qur’ānic recitation, scripture, the Prophetic Sunna, and the Shiʿi Imamate. The dissertation argues that Sunni and Shiʿi Muslims understood Qur’ānic Revelation through competing and often mutually contradictory models constructed within different historical and theological contexts. The revelatory models that developed through the fifth/eleventh century fall into four types:
1) the “qur’ānic model” in which the Prophet formulates divinely inspired Arabic qur’āns and prophetic guidance as adaptations (tafṣīl) of God’s transcendent writing;
2) the “scriptural models” from Sunni tafsīr in which the Qur’ān as God’s book pre-exists in heaven and is then sent down to earth;
3) the “theological divine speech models” in Sunni kalām that center on God’s uncreated/created speech and its manifestation as the Arabic Qur’ān and the Prophetic Sunna;
4) the “divine inspiration models” in Imami Shiʿi ḥadīth and Shiʿi Ismaili thought that frame the Qur’ān as a divinely inspired composition of the Prophet that manifests God’s transcendent word and requires the Imams’ revelatory hermeneutics (ta’wīl) to be comprehended.
The dissertation’s argument culminates by highlighting and contextualizing Imami Shiʿi and Ismaili understandings of revelation espoused by certain Shiʿi Imams and Ismaili dāʿīs (missionaries) – including Imam al-Ṣādiq (d. 148/765), Imam al-Muʿizz (d. 365/975), al-Rāzī (d. 322/934), the Brethren of Purity (fl. fourth/tenth century), al-Sijistānī (d. after 361/971), al-Nuʿmān (d. 363/974), al-Kirmānī (d. after 411/1020), al-Mu’ayyad (d. 470/1077), and Nāṣir-i Khusraw (d. ca. 481/1088). It demonstrates that Ismaili models in particular constitute a unique alternative to Sunni views of revelation by offering competing and vastly different accounts of the Revelatory Principle, Process, and Products.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365111
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