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A Survey of Imami Theological Writings

The 7th/13th century was witness to a resurgence of interest in theological studies among Imami circles. The quintessential symbol of this movement was Khwajah Nasir al-Din Tusi (d. 672 AH), the renowned Iranian scholar, whose Tajrid al-aqa`id is a masterful and unprecedented elaboration of theological subjects based on a philosophical methodology. The same employment of philosophical methods in the elucidation of issues of theological origin is also detected in the Qawa`id al- maram of Ibn Miytham Bahrani (d. 699 AH/ 1300 AD). However, the culmination of Tusi’s method came in the commentary of `Allamah Hilli on Tajrid al-aqa`id, a long-standing Shi`ite seminary textbook. The point worth noting is that the bulk of Imami theological writings in the coming centuries comprised commentaries written on Tajrid, such as the Shawariq of Fayyad Lahiji (1052 AH/1642 AD).

A survey of these Imami writings indicates the following fundamental beliefs. On the subject of tawhid, the Imamis held to a position of tanzih, i.e. denied all forms of materiality to God and considered His essential attributes as one with His essence. With regards to divine actions, the Imamis, like the advocates of `adl, believed in the essential goodness or evilness of actions, and deemed God as being above evil acts. On the subject of qadar (predestination), they considered man as being free in the commitment of actions, while being in an intermediate position between freedom and determinism (amrun bayn al-amrayn). In connection with the topic of prophecy (nubuwwah), they held prophets to be free from sin and mistake and interpreted cases to contrary, contained in the Quran and hadiths, as being omissions of the best possible action (tark ’awla). On the issue of imamate, the Imamis believed in the genealogy of the imam as a necessary criterion, as well as in his divine appointment (nass). As regard eschatological matters, they confirmed the reality of such things as intercession, the suffering of the tomb, the Scale (mizan), and the Path (sirat).

source: Jalali moghadam , Masood " Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.437 - 438

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