Past Event

Brinkley Messick | Interpretive and governing authority in the late Zaydi imāma

December 6, 2018
1:30 PM - 6:00 PM
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White-Levy Room, Institute for Advanced Study, Historical Studies-Social Science Library, Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540

Talk delivered Professor Brinkley Messick at the "Yemeni Manuscripts and Zaydi Collections" conference at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.

Interpretive and governing authority in the Zaydi im¯ama

My paper elaborates on the limited discussion of the theory and practice of Zaydi rule that I provided in Shar¯ı,a Scripts (Columbia, 2018), as part of an historical anthropology of a twentiethcentury textual formation of doctrinal and archival writings. After reviewing the venerable theory of imamic interpretive authority, and the exercise of this authority in the period in question in connection with court judgments—this by means of the ikhtiy¯ar¯at, the “choices,” or opinions, of the ruling imams–I will turn to the different dimension of imamic authority that is associated with concepts such as tadb¯ır and siy¯asa. Finally, I will examine the theory and the practice of the mechanism of “delegation” (nas.b), whereby an imam divided his integrally held authority in appointing individuals to the very distinct roles of judge and governor.