The Practical Authority of the Imams and their Representatives

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Friday, April 3rd


Panel 1

Devin Stewart, Emory University, The Twelfth Imam's Rescripts to al-Shaykh al-Mufīd

Liyakat Takim, McMaster University, Between Theory and Practice: The Clash of Authority between the Imams and their Disciples

Nebil Husayn, Princeton University, Legal Codes Specific to Hāshimids



Coffee Break



Panel 2: 

Shayesteh Ghofrani, Exeter University, A Comparative Exploration of the Concept of Wilāya in Shiʿism before the Minor Occultation

Samer Traboulsi, Whose Charisma is it? A Weberian Reading of Authority in Ṭayyibī Ismāʿīlism

Najam Haider, The Travelling Tree, the Dead Magician, and the Poisoned Dog







Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, The divine man’s Holy Spirit. Some new remarks regarding Imamate and prophecy



Coffee Break



Panel 3:

Elham Mireshghi

The Authority of the Jurist and the Making of Policy : the Cases of Kidney Sales and Smoking in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Elvire Corboz, Aarhus University

The Transnational Marja'iyya and the Islamic Republic of Iran: The Dynamics of a Competition

(4.30-6.00: Center for Middle Eastern Studies Lecture: Lara Deeb, in Pick Hall)

Saturday, April 4th


Denis Hermann, The Imam and the Political Authority in the Modern Shaykhi Literature

Sajjad Rizvi, Exeter University, Who represents the Imam in contemporary Iran? Debates between jurists and mystics


Coffee Break



Panel 5: 

Oliver Scharbrodt, University of Chester, Muhammad Al-Shirazi (1928-2001): The Collective Governance of the Jurisconsults (ḥukūmat al-fuqahā’) in the Time of Occultation

Ahmad Shekarchi, Shahid Beheshti University, Pursuit of Authority in Post 19th Century Iraq



Panel 6: 

Rizwan Mawani, Instituting and Institutionalizing Authority in 19th and 20th Century Ismaili Shi’ism: The First Three Aga Khans and the Mechanisms and Modes of Authority Reclamation in the Age of Steam and Print

Radhika Gupta, Goettingen University, Striking a fine balance: The exercise of religious authority among the Twelver Shi‘a in India

1.00-2.00: Lunch for presenters

All events will be held at Swift Hall (1025 E 58th St., Chicago, IL)

This event is free and open to the public. Funding and support for this symposium is generously provided by various funders within the University of Chicago, including Norman Wait Harris Fund, the Martin Marty Center at the Divinity School, the Division of the Humanities, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, the Council for Advanced Studies Islamic Studies workshops and MEHAT workshops, the Department for Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should email Other inquiries can be directed towards Ed Hayes ( or Mohammad Sagha (