Jews for 'Alī: Rabbinic Support for the Waiyy in Majlisī's Biār al-Anwār

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What is a creature within a creature, with no consanguinity or kinship between them? Upon what place did the sunshine once, but then never again? These and host of other Judeo-'Alīd brain-teasers are adduced by the seventeenth-century Shiite encyclopedist Muammad Bāqir al-Majlisī in order to shore up the most pristine and essential of Shiite claims: that 'Alī should have been the successor to the Prophet Muammad. The material examined in this essay sheds light both upon aspects of the Sunni-Shiī polemic and on Shiism's outlook on the previous monotheistic dispensations. This article analyzes the series of interlocutions adduced by Majlisī (and his sources) as part of the campaign to retroactively unseat the caliphs enshrined by Sunnism. As with Islamic tradition in general, Shiism displays in this material a penchant for drafting the exponents of surrounding creeds to shore up its political and religious claims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-335
Number of pages25
JournalMedieval Encounters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • 'Alī ibn Abī ālib
  • Biār al-Anwār
  • Muslim-Jewish polemic
  • Sunni-Shiī polemic
  • al-Majlisī


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