Alexander Hainy-Khaleeli

Alexander Hainy-Khaleeli

Discipline: Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Research Centre/Unit: Centre for the Study of Islam

Project Summary

The association of Iran with Twelver Shi’ism is typically dated to 1501, when the newly-established Safavid dynasty adopted it as their imperial creed and set about promoting it in their realm with the help of émigré Twelver clerics from Lebanon. Current scholarship embraces the narrative that there was an absence of Twelver ulama in Iran in the centuries leading up to this date, magnifying the role of the Safavids in establishing the faith, while marginalising the significance of its pre-existing forms. However, the state of Twelver Shi’ism in Iran prior to the Safavids has not been adequately studied.

The present research addresses this gap by analysing the development of Twelver religious literature in Persian before 1501, with particular focus on a collection of sermons that was produced by a preacher in mid-14th-century Khurasan. This, it is hoped, will reveal previously hidden influences on the faith’s development under the Safavids, add to our understanding of 14th-15th century Iran’s social and religious atmosphere, and to open new avenues for research through the identification of previously unknown sources and figures within Twelver scholarly networks in Iran during this period.

Supervisory Team

Prof. Robert Gleave (IAIS, Exeter)

Prof. Carolyn Muessig (Bristol)

Wider Research Interests

Iranian History, Persian Literature, Twelver Shi'ism, Islamic Intellectual History, Social History of Religion