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Intiẓār

By:
Yann Richard
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

Intiẓār

Until ʿAlī Sharīʿatī (d. 1977) introduced it in his presentation of Shiism, the term intiẓār (lit. “waiting”) had not been used as a specific concept in Islamic theology. In a general sense, every creed with an eschatological dimension inspires believers to wait for the end of time, the coming of the Savior, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment. Since Shiism conveys a specific messianic notion of the end of time and stresses the Twelfth Imam's role of restoring justice and peace in this troubled world, it lays emphasis on the value of waiting. More than Sunnī Islam, Shiism is turned toward the future; it looks forward to the accomplishment of the work of salvation that the prophets and the imams initiated.

Accessory beliefs have developed the interest of Shīʿīs in the events to come at the end of time. Traditions ascribed to the imams themselves vividly depict the Twelfth Imam's return (rajʿah) to the earth before the final resurrection to avenge the house of the Prophet of all the prejudice and violence inflicted on it throughout the ages. This specific belief has been rejected in modern times by Sharīʿat Sangalajī (d. 1946), an Iranian theologian who has been anathematized by most of his colleagues. But ʿAbdol-Karīm Ḥāʿerā Yazdī (ʿAbd al-Karīm Ḥāʿerī, d. 1937), the leading Shīʿī authority of his generation, issued a fatwā (formal legal opinion) to attenuate the importance of this doctrine. In fact, he allowed believers the possibility of denying it.

Sharīʿati's point of view tends to be ideological rather than purely theological. According to him, Shiism has two faces. As a religious culture, it is mainly used to preserve the privileges of power holders, and it deserves the name Ṣafavid Shiism (Tashayyuʿ-i Ṣafavī) after the Ṣafavid dynasty that took power in Iran in 1501 and established Shīʿī Islam as the state religion. The other face of Shiism is the pristine religion of the imam ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, called ʿAlid Shiism (Tashayyuʿ-i ʿAlavī), which primarily represents a struggle for justice Thus

Sharīʿatī's militant conception of Shiism rejects any passive acceptance of the present state of iniquity and oppression. As examples of this passivity, he noted the traditional rites of mourning for the Imams and the common attitude of Shīʿīs who take refuge from their adverse situation in a dream of future life after the Return of the Imam and thus, in fact, legitimate injustice. For Sharīʿatī, rejecting the old order of oppression and striving for the reestablishment of a just society are part of the Imams’ legacy. “Waiting” means to say no to the status quo, concluded Sharīʿatī in a 1971 lecture called “Waiting: The Religion of Refusal.” Very optimistic in his view on the future of humanity, he adopted a Marxist confidence in “historical determinism,” but interpreted it in an Islamic way: the contradictions between classes and nations inevitably lead to the victory of those who have faith over those who are corrupted by their wealth and misuse of power. Thus a traditional Islamic passivity toward the future and compromise with iniquity is turned to an active participation in the new world of salvation.

[See also IMAM; MAHDI; MESSIANISM; and SHARīʿATī, ʿALī.

Bibliography

  • Enayat, Hamid. Modern Islamic Political Thought, 2nd ed.London: I.B. Tauris, 2005. Find it in your Library
  • Kamrava, Mehran. Democracy in the Balance: Culture and Society in the Middle East. CQ Press, 1998. Find it in your Library
  • Sachedina, A. A.Islamic Messianism: The Idea of the Mahdi in Twelver Shiʿism. Albany, N.Y., 1981. Good summary of classical Shīʿī eschatology. Find it in your Library
  • Shariʿart, ʿAlī. Tashayyuʿ-i ʿAlavi va Tashayyuʿ-i Ṣafavī. Collected Works, vol. 9. Tehran, 1359/1980. Find it in your Library
  • Sharīʿatī, ʿAlī. Ḥusayn vāris-i Ādam. Collected Works, vol. 19. Tehran, 1360/1981. Contains the 1971 lecture, “Waiting: Religion of Refusal” (Intiẓār: Maẓhab-i iʿtirāẓ). Find it in your Library
  • Shariati, Ali. What Is To Be Done. Islamic Publications International, 2005. Find it in your Library
  • Ya'ocov, Yehoiakin Ben. Concepts of Messiah: A Study of the Messianic Concepts of Islam, Judaism, Messianic Judaism Christianity. West Bow Press, 2012. Find it in your Library
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