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Hayat-i fikri wa siyasi-yi imaman-i Shia (book)

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Hayat-i fikri wa siyasi-yi imaman-i Shia (book)
Author Rasul Jafarian
Original title حیات فکری و سیاسی امامان شیعه
Language Persian
Subject Imams of the Shia
Published 1991
Publisher Sazman-i Tablighat-i Islami

Ḥayāt fikrī wa sīyāsī imāmān Shīa (Persian: حیات فکری و سیاسی امامان شیعه, Intellectual and Political Life of Shiite Imams) is a book authored by Rasul Jafarian, a graduate of Qom Islamic Seminary and a faculty member at the University of Tehran.

According to the book’s introduction, the purpose of the book is to discuss the political and intellectual aspects of the Imams’ lives rather than their personal lives.


Rasul Jafarian won the Iranian National Book Award two times: once for the book Tarikh siyasi Islam (Political History of Islam) and another time for the book Atlas-i Shia (Geography of the Shi’a).

About the Book

The chapters of this book were first published in the form of a series of articles in Nur-i ilm journal and later were published together in one book.

There author has tried to have a new look at the life of the Infallible Imams (a) using both historical and religious sources and to analyze the contemporary views about the Imams (a) and bring them closer together.

Features and Importance

This work was the first book on the intellectual and political life of the Twelve Imams (a).

Among the features of this book are its plain prose, its potential for being used as a textbook, brevity, and avoiding polemics.

The critics have pointed to a number of problems in the book, such as typos, punctuation problems, disregarding some important views and neglecting recent scholarly works on the themes of the book.


In the beginning of the discussion on each Imam, the author provides a biographical discussion, such as the dates of birth and martyrdom of the Imam, and mentions some of the virtues of that Imam. Afterwards, he discusses issues such as the relation between the Imam and his contemporary caliphs, his relation with his followers, and his scholarly works and impact.

Table of Contents

This book is divided into thirteen main chapters.

Number Title Contents
1 Introduction
  1. Shiism and historiography
  2. Shiite historiography since the beginning of the “compilation age”
  3. Shiite works on the biography of the Prophet (s) in the early centuries of Islamic history
  4. Works on the stories of prophets
  5. Works on “proofs” (dala’il) from the 4th/10th to the 6th/12th century.
  6. Theological-historical works
  7. Hadith-historical works
  8. Rijal-historical works
  9. Biographies of the Twelve Imams (a) from the 5th/11th to 7th/13th century
  10. Local histories from the 4th/10th to 8th/14th century
  11. Arabic and Persian works of Sunni Twelvers
  12. Persian works of Twelver Shiites from 7th/13th to 10th/16th century
  13. Historiography on the eve of the Safavid period
  14. Historiography during the Safavid period
  15. Martyrdom accounts (maqtal nivisi) in the Safavid and Qajar periods
  16. Developments in historiography in the contemporary times
  17. Some new works on the Fourteen Infallibles (a)
2 Imam Ali (a)
  1. The imamate of the Commander of the Faithful (a)
  2. Imam Ali (a) at the time of the Prophet (s)
  3. Imam Ali (a) after the demise of the Prophet (s)
  4. People pledging their allegiance to Imam Ali (a)
  5. The difficulties of the Imam (a)
  6. Reform: the principal policy of the Imam (a)
  7. The Imam (a) against those who broke their allegiance (the Battle of the Camel)
  8. The battle against the wrongdoers in Siffin
  9. The battle against the Kharijites
  10. Final efforts
  11. The martyrdom of the Commander of the Faithful (a)
  12. Characteristics of Imam Ali (a)
3 Imam al-Hasan (a)
  1. The personality of Imam al-Hasan (a)
  2. The Imam (a) and the issue of imamate
  3. Religious and political characteristics of the Kufans
  4. The initial measures taken by the Imam (a) and Mu’awiya
  5. Mu’awiya’s request for peace
  6. The reasons behind the Imam’s acceptance of peace
  7. Imam al-Husyan (a) and peace
  8. The text of the peace treaty
  9. About Imam al-Hasan (a)
  10. The Martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (a)
4 Imam al-Husayn (a)
  1. Imam al-Husayn before Karbala
  2. Imam al-Husayn’s opposition to the caliphate of Yazid
  3. Sending Muslim b. Aqil to Kufa
  4. The Imam’s journey toward Iraq
  5. The Kufans and the event of Karbala
  6. The pressure of Ibn Ziyad on the Kufans
  7. An analysis of the Imam’s journey to Iraq
  8. The Imam (a) against the Iraqi army
  9. The Imam’s knowledge of his martyrdom in Karbala
  10. Religious deviations and Karbala
  11. Political results of the event of Karbala
  12. The wisdom behind the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a)
  13. Emotions and political interpretation
  14. Two experiences of peace and revolution
  15. The experience of politics or culture
  16. The concept of Imam
  17. The impact of the Exaggerators
  18. The philosophy of martyrdom and politics
  19. Sufi view
  20. Purpose and foreknowledge
  21. Toward a political interpretation
  22. The political purpose of martyrdom
5 Imam al-Sajjad (a)
  1. Imam al-Sajjad (a) and the Shiites
  2. The Imam’s encounters with the Umayyads
  3. The Imam’s use of prayer
  4. Imam al-Sajjad (a) and slaves
6 Imam al-Baqir (a)
  1. The scholarly position of Imam al-Baqir (a)
  2. The Imam (a) in the middle of jurisprudential disputes
  3. Working against the Jews and against the intrusion of inauthentic narratives into Muslim sources
  4. The cultural legacy of Imam al-Baqir (a)
  5. The status of the Shi’a in the Imam’s view
  6. The Imam (a) and political matters
7 Imam al-Sadiq (a)
  1. The ethical and jurisprudential personality of the Imam (a)
  2. The followers of Imam al-Sadiq (a)
  3. Imam al-Sadiq (a) and exaggeration (ghuluww)
  4. Shiite jurisprudence based on the hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)
  5. The Quran as ruling over the Hadith
  6. Hadith writing at the time of Imam al-Sadiq (a)
  7. Imam al-Sadiq (a) and Sunni jurisprudential principles
  8. Political pressure on the Shia
  9. Imam al-Sadiq (a) and the important political events of his time
  10. The uprising of Zayd b. Ali
  11. Imam al-Sadiq (a) and the call of Abu Salama
  12. The Imam’s encounter with al-Mansur
  13. The Imam’s encounter with al-Nafs al-Zakiyya
8 Imam al-Kazim (a)
  1. His imamate after Imam al-Sadiq (a)
  2. The Imam’s political encounters
  3. Imam al-Kazim (a) and Harun al-Rashid
  4. The martyrdom of Imam al-Kazim (a)
  5. Other instances of the Imam’s works against the caliphate
  6. Imam al-Kazim (a) and theological and intellectual discussions
  7. The position of Imam al-Kazim (a) against Ahl al-Hadith
9 Imam al-Rida (a)
  1. The issue of succession to al-Ma’mun
  2. Al-Ma’mun’s purpose of nominating Imam al-Rida (a) as his successor
  3. The reaction of the Imam (a)
  4. Imam al-Rida (a) and al-Ma’mun
  5. The martyrdom of the Imam (a)
  6. The Imam (a) and anti-Alid propagations
  7. Imam al-Rida (a) and theological issues
  8. Imam al-Rida (a) and Iran
10 Imam al-Jawad (a)
  1. The historical life of Imam al-Jawad (a)
  2. Scholarly debates of Imam al-Jawad (a)
  3. Debates on the virtues of the first three caliphs
  4. The scholarly legacy of Imam al-Jawad (a)
  5. Confrontation with deviant sects
  6. The companions of Imam al-Jawad (a)
  7. The relation between Iranian Shiites and Imam al-Jawad (a)
11 Imam al-Hadi (a)
  1. The policy of al-Mutawakkil against Imam al-Hadi (a)
  2. Summoning Imam al-Hadi (a) to Samarra
  3. The Imam’s residence in Samarra
  4. Confrontations between al-Mutawakkil and the Imam (a)
  5. The representatives of Imam al-Hadi (a) and the limits of their authority
  6. The primacy of the Quran in the teachings of Imam al-Hadi (a)
  7. Imam al-Hadi (a) and theology
  8. Imam al-Hadi (a) and the culture of prayer and pilgrimage (ziyara)
  9. Creating ties between the people and the Ahl al-Bayt (a)
  10. Emphasizing the high position and leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)
  11. Emphasis on the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)
  12. Fighting against oppression
  13. Imam al-Hadi (a) and Shiite Exaggerators
  14. Imam al-Hadi (a) and the debate over the creation of the Quran
  15. Imam al-Hadi (a) and his followers in Iran
12 Imam al-Askari (a)
  1. His imamate
  2. Imam al-Askari (a) in Samarra
  3. The position of the Imam (a) in Samarra
  4. The period of the Imam’s imprisonment
  5. The relation between the Imam (a) and the Shi’a
  6. The companions of the Imam (a) and the preservation of Shiite cultural legacy
  7. Imam al-Askari (a) and Ya'qub b. Ishaq al-Kindi
  8. Books attributed to Imam al-Askari (a)
  9. The martyrdom of Imam al-Askari (a)
13 Imam Mahdi (a)
  1. The birth of Imam Mahdi (a)
  2. The Imam’s mother
  3. Some points concerning the birth of Imam Mahdi (a)
  4. Shiites who were aware of the birth of Imam Mahdi (a)
  5. Disagreement after the demise of Imam al-Askari (a)
  6. Paving the ground for the Occultation by the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a)
  7. Theological issues and the imamate of Imam Mahdi (a)
  8. Imam Mahdi (a) and the “special representatives” (Uthman b. Sa'id al-Amri, Muhammad b. Uthman b. Sa'id al-Amri, Abu l-Qasim Husayn b. Ruh Nawbakhti, Ali b. Muhammad al-Samuri)
  9. A review of the measures taken by the representatives regarding the Shi’a
  10. Fighting against the Exaggerators
  11. Removing the doubts about Imam Mahdi (a)
  12. Organizing the representatives
  13. Hiding the Imam’s whereabouts
  14. Prohibition of revealing the Imam’s name during the Major Occultation
  15. The increasing expansion of the Shi’a during the Minor Occultation
  16. The character and conduct of Imam Mahdi (a)
  17. Sirat Imam Mahdi.[1]

Translation, Summary, and Publication

The first publication of this work was in 1991 by Markaz Chap wa Nashr Sazman-i Tablighat-i Islami. Later it was published by Ansarian Publications in Qom. The Arabic translation of the book was published by Dar al-Haqq publications in Beirut with the title al-Hayat al-fikriyya wa l-siasiyya li-a’immat ahl al-bayt. Also, in 2017, the book was translated into Urdu and published in Pakistan by Iran’s Cultural Center in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.


  1. Ja'fariyan, Hayat fikri wa siyasi imaman Shia, 1381 Sh, p. 5-10.