Religious devotion to political secularism

Journal article


Ghobadzadeh, Naser. (2022). Religious devotion to political secularism. Religions. 13(8), p. Article 694. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13080694
AuthorsGhobadzadeh, Naser
Abstract

By investigating the formation of Twelver Shīʿī theology, this article seeks to show that, despite being political and despite its advocacy of pure theocracy, living in the shadow of a secular state is part of Shīʿī religious doctrine. It is argued that existential threats against Proto-Twelver Shīʿism during its formative centuries led to a messianic conception of the twelfth Imām, the only person whose direct leadership can enable a religiously legitimate state to be formed. Therefore, until his return—which is subject to the will of God—all rulers are usurpers and imposers on the right of the twelfth Imām. Shīʿī leaders are not allowed to seize the institution of government, and non-governmentalism is institutionalized as part of Shīʿī political theology. Instead of focusing on the characteristics of a legitimate ruler and how to form a legitimate government, the founding Shīʿī scholars were concerned with how to co-exist with a usurper. It will be demonstrated that these scholars had differing ideas about the scope and scale of engagement/disengagement with the institution of the state, but none of them discussed the possibility of forming a religiously legitimate government before the return of the twelfth Imām.

Keywordstwelver shīʿism; political secularism; Shīʿi theology; theocracy; hidden imām; qāʾim; age of perplexity; ḥadīth collection; founding Shīʿī scholars
Year2022
JournalReligions
Journal citation13 (8), p. Article 694
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI AG)
ISSN2077-1444
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13080694
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85136841310
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Page range1-20
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online28 Jul 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted26 Jul 2022
Deposited05 Jul 2023
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