2020 Shiʿi Studies Symposium: Program


2020 University of Chicago Shiʿi Studies Symposium Program

Thursday, April 2

2:00pm-4:00pm: Workshop, co-sponsored with the Islamic Studies Workshop

Hassan Ansari, Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies

“The Question of Tafḍīl ‘Ali in the Sharh Nahj al-Balagha by Ibn Abi-l Hadīd”


Friday, April 3

8:30am: Welcome Remarks

9:00am-11:00am: Panel 1—Chair, Prof. Tahera Qutbuddin (University of Chicago)

Conceptualizing Community Identity in Shī‘ī Islam

  • Yaron Friedman (University of Haifa), “A Brief History of the Shīʿa in Medieval Palestine: Shīʿī Communities and Sects, Shīʿī Shrines of the Ahl al-Bayt”
  • Reza Hemyari (University of Chicago), “Wilāyah in Communal Prayer: Communal and Theological Repercussions of a Fiqhi Ruling”
  • Nebil Husayn (University of Miami), “Zeal for ʿAlī in Early Muʿtazilī Circles”
  • Fizza Joffrey (University of Toronto), “Ye Gham Zinda Rahe: Devotion in the Urdu Nauha”

11:00am-11:15am: Coffee Break

11:15am-1:15pm: Panel 2

Esoteric Understandings of Walāya—Chair, Prof. Frank Lewis (University of Chicago)

  • Leila Chamankhah (University of Dayton), “Wilāyat Nāmih: Intensification of Faith and Devotion in the Context of Akbarīan Mysticism”
  • Nicholas Boylston (Harvard University), “The Role of Walāya in Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī’s Tafsīr al-Muḥīṭ al-Aʿẓam: A Harmonization of Shʿism and Sufism”
  • Eliza Tasbihi (McGill University), “Revisiting the Concept of Walāya in Ḥaydar Āmulī’s (d. 1385) Naṣṣ al-Nuṣūṣ fī Sharḥ al-Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam
  • Sarah Aziz (University of Chicago), “Fatimid Hermeneutics in Light of Walāya: The Interpretation of Imān in al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿman’s Taʾwīl al-Daʿāim

1:15pm-2:00pm: Lunch

2:00pm-3:00pm: Featured Speaker

Scott Lucas (University of Arizona)

“Zaydī Devotion to the Family of the Prophet in Legal and Ethical Texts”

3:00pm-4:30pm: Break

4:30pm-6:00pm: Keynote Lecture, Co-sponsored with CMES—Stuart Hall

Hassan Ansari, Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies

Nahj al-Balagha: Transmission and Commentaries”


Saturday, April 4

9:00am-11:00am: Panel 3—Chair, Prof. Paul Walker (University of Chicago)

Walāya in Early Shī‘ī Islam

  • Roy Vilozny (University of Haifa), “The Duty to Know the Imam and Obey Him: Remarks on Two Chapters of al-Kulaynī’s Kitāb al-Ḥujja
  • Liyakat Takim (McMaster University), “Between Theory and Practice: The Walaya of the Imams in the Basaʾir al-Darajat
  • Vinay Khetia (McMaster University), “The Ziyārat of Imām al-Ḥusayn as Liturgical Text in Early Shīʿī Ḥadīth and its Role in the Promulgation of Shīʿī Piety”
  • Shayesteh Ghofrani (The Institute for Ismaili Studies), “Wilāya and Knowledge in the Formative Period of Shiʿism”

11:00am-11:30am: Coffee Break

11:30am-12:30pm: Featured Speaker

Mushegh Asatryan (University of Calgary)

“The Politics of Devotion to the Imams in Early Shi’i Circles”

12:30pm-1:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm-3:30pm: Panel 4—Chair, Prof. Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago)

Walāya in a Modern Context

  • Mohammad Nabeel Jafri (University of Toronto), “’Who is a Bigger Ghālī than You?’: Intra-Shiʿa Polemics in Contemporary Pakistan”
  • Fouad Gehad Marei (Universität Erfurt), “Objects of Walāya, or the Power of ‘Things’ in Shiʿi Political Ecologies”
  • Wafi Momin (Institute of Ismaili Studies), “Negotiating Devotion to the Prophet Muhammad and his Family in the Satpanth Ismaili Tradition of South Asia”
  • Candace Mixon (Macalester College), “The Sermon of Fatima and Material Devotion in Mashhad, Iran”

3:30pm: Closing Remarks



The Shi’i Studies Symposium is thankful for the generosity of a number of institutions at the University of Chicago, including the Divinity School, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Committee on South Asian Studies, Department of History, Department of Anthropology, Center for Middle East Studies, Graduate Council Academic and Professional Fund, Franke Institute for the Humanities, and the Islamic Studies Workshop.


If you have any questions about access or to request any reasonable accommodations that will facilitate your full participation in this event, please contact Ameena Yovan at ayovan@uchicago.edu.


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