While different from Sunni Islam, the Shi’i self-understanding of the nature of religious leadership and the emergence of Shi’i legal schools has been shaped in the interaction with the established Sunni traditions. In this seminar, Professor Takim will trace the genealogies of Shi’i religious and political authority in contrast to the Sunni trajectory. He will examine the tradition of the ‘heirs to the Prophet’ as a claim to charismatic authority, their interaction and competition with the scholarly elites and their impact on the religious and political structure of Shi’i communities. Professor Takim will also reflect on the organisation of Shi’i diasporic communities in America, for whom Shi’i jurists are devoting a new genre of juridical texts that reinterpret Islamic law in order to respond to the challenges of modernity.
About the Speaker:
Professor Liyakat Takim is the Sharjah Chair in Global Islam at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. A native of Zanzibar, Tanzania, he has spoken at more than eighty academic conferences and authored one hundred scholarly works on such diverse topics as reformation in the Islamic world, the treatment of women in Islamic law, Islam in America, the indigenization of the Muslim community in America, dialogue in post-911 America, war and peace in the Islamic tradition, Islamic law, Islamic biographical literature, the charisma of the holy man and shrine culture, and Islamic mystical traditions. He teaches a wide range of courses on Islam and offers a course on comparative religions. Professor Takim’s second book titled, Shi’ism in America was published by New York University Press (summer 2009). His first book, The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi‘ite Islam was published by SUNY press in 2006. He is currently working on his third book, Ijtihad and Reformation in Islam. Professor Takim has taught at several American and Canadian universities and is actively engaged in dialogue with different faith communities.