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Al-Mukhtār and the Aesthetics of Persuasion
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Religious Studies. (Minoritet, identitet, autenticitet)ORCID iD: M-8231-2013
2017 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The first Shiʿi leader with true political power – although it was limited in space and time – after the death of ʿAli b. Abī Ṭālib was al-Mukhtār b. Abī ʿUbayd (d. 67/687). In this paper, I will argue that one reason why he succeeded in his political ambitions was that he legitimized his endeavor by deferring to ʿAli. In doing this he set a precedent for all future Shiʿi leadership. Al-Mukhtār gained authority by convincing his followers about his function as mediator between the people and the deceased ʿAli, who was still supposed to be alive and active in one way or another by many Shiʿis. As a tool of analysis I use the notion of religious aesthetics as it has been developed by Birgit Meyer and others. Meyer regards religion as a practice of mediation between the temporal and the perceived transcendental worlds, a mediation that is performed by appealing to all human senses through various media. The person in control of these media has the power to distribute and withhold religious sensations generated in the devotees; what Meyer calls “the aesthetics of persuasion”. In the paper, I will investigate three instruments of mediation used by al-Mukhtār: a living human being, a religio-political action, and an artefact. The first is his claim to act on behalf of ʿAli’s son Ibn al-Ḥanafiyya, whom he called al-mahdī, “the rightly guided”; the second, his call to revenge for ʿAli’s son al-Ḥusayn; and the third, his claim that he was in possession of an ʿAlid relic, a chair that had belonged to ʿAli. I will briefly argue that the accounts of these three instruments most probably reflect a historical reality. Of these three, in particular the designation of a mahdī was a feature that became influential in shaping Shiʿite patterns of authority in the centuries to follow.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Mukhtar; Shiʿism; authority; religious aesthetics; Mahdi
National Category
History of Religions
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Nutida shiitiska auktoritetsförhandlingar; Intercultural Studies, Hämnd eller martyrium! Berättelsen om Botgörarna som en länk till Shi`ismens tidiga utveckling.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-25466OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-25466DiVA: diva2:1118950
Conference
Shiʿism and Governance: University of Chicago Shiʿi Studies Symposium, May 12-13, 2017
Projects
Nutida shiitiska auktoritetsförhandlingar
Available from: 2017-07-03 Created: 2017-07-03 Last updated: 2017-07-03

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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More languages
Output format
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