Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Some more notes (and modern studies) on walāya takwīnīya [ولاية تكوينية]

Reformism and debates over what constitutes the authentic core of the Shiʿi tradition have brought the issue of walāya takwīnīya to the fore: whether the Imams possess the authority to manipulate the cosmos as they wish since they have been given that dominion by God. Usually reformists - since they tend to reduce the status of the Imams to 'righteous' teachers who were fallible (ʿulamāʾ abrār) denying along the way infallibility (ʿiṣma) - deny walāya takwīnīya (WT) whether 'kullī' (as a general principle) or juzʾī (pertaining to some issues). Most famously in recent times, Sayyid Faḍlallāh (d. 2010) has a short piece that is online denying WT and especially criticising the validity and authenticity of those texts that express the doctrine (such as famously the ziyāra jāmiʿa al-kabīra) - his more extensive discussion is the polemically entitled نظرة اسلامية حول الولاية التكوينية.

Most recently Sayyid Kamāl al-Ḥaydarī has started a number of online sermons critiquing WT. His earlier book الولاية التكوينية حقيقتها ومظاهرها published in 1431 H in Qum was broadly in favour of WT: in five chapters he discussed WT in the Qurʾan and ḥadīth followed by affirming it for the Imams and distinguishing it from ghulūw or extremist deification of the Imams, probably because WT is often associated with the Shaykhīya (whom Ḥaydarī has recently condemned in a video). Here is a video criticising it which starts with Ḥaydarī's attack (which is full of basic historical and intellectual mistakes such as arguing that Aḥsāʾī was Akhbārī). [In this, Ḥaydarī's position is not different to most in the ḥawza - what is interesting has been the rehabilitation of the Shaykhīya, perhaps because of the influence of the Iḥqāqīya; here is an interesting discussion]. He does not adopt an 'academic' and historical approach: nowhere in the book do we see when the term WT emerged. In taking care in distinguishing it from ghulūw, he provides three definitions from three periods:
1) al-Shaykh al-Mufīd (d. 1022) in Taṣḥīḥ al-iʿtiqād of al-Shaykh al-Ṣadūq (d. 991), p. 109: G is 'transgressing the limits when speaking of the Imams'.
2) al-Majlisī (d. 1699) in Biḥār al-anwār XXV, p. 246: G is deification of the Imams and Prophets or considering them to be partners to God, or inhering in God or being united with God, or being the creators or sustainers (independently of God), or knowing the unseen without revelation or inspiration, or holding that the Imams are Prophets or believing in metempsychosis between them, or believing that they are not subject to the ritual law.
3) al-Ṭabrisī (d. 1153) in his exegesis when glossing 4:171 that G is deification or holding that someone is the son of God. 

Another work is الولاية التكوينية فيض الهي وعطا رباني published in 1424 H in Beirut by Shaykh Ismāʿīl al-Ḥarīrī al-ʿĀmilī. The very title gives it away. This work begins with a definition of WT and a series of ḥadīth that demonstrate it and shows how WT holds for the Prophets and the Imams. Interesting the sources he uses include Nahj al-balāgha, Baṣāʾir al-darajāt and Miṣbāḥ al-sharīʿa - the last one of these is attributed to Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq but that does not seem very sound. The second half of the text includes the views of Shiʿi scholars who affirm WT starting with al-Ṣaffār al-Qummī and the classical tradents, then jumping to Majlisī and then finally including contemporary jurists who are widely following including Sayyid Khumaynī (d. 1989), Sayyid Khūʾī (d. 1992), Shaykh Bahjat (d. 2011) and Sayyid Taqī Qummī. Bahjat, for example, is cited as arguing that WT is the volition of the Imam (mashiʾa) expressing divine volition and intervening in the normal course of phenomena - what one might normally call a miracle. This is then followed by recounting a number of objections to WT and responses. There is no sense of the historicity of the concept or the term - and the ability to perform miracles that was commonly held to be a proof of prophecy (min aʿlām al-nubūwa) and hence something inherited by the Imams is conflated with the cosmic role of the Perfect Man (al-insān al-kāmil). The position of Khumaynī is well known in his very works including Miṣbāḥ al-hidāya

A useful summary is by Sayyid Jaʿfar Murtaḍā al-ʿĀmilī entitled الولاية التكوينية والتشريعية published last time in 2007 in Beirut. Given al-ʿĀmilī's antipathy to Ibn ʿArabī, it would be difficult to argue that he is influenced by his tradition in ʿirfān. It starts with a question on what constitutes WT especially since there are two possible problems: on the one hand, does WT not entail falling into tafwīḍ, the notion that some of the ghulāt held that the act of creation had been delegated by God to the Imams, and on the other hand, the Muʿtazilī rejection of the performance of miracles. In effect, he argues in favour of some of the narrations on tafwīḍ especially insofar as it is by God's leave and engages with the various narrations that primarily are drawn from al-Ṣaffār. 

From the ʿirfān tradition, one finds a series of studies of the Sayyid Muḥammad Muḥsin Ḥusaynī Ṭihrānī son of Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn (d. 1995) the student of ʿAllāma Ṭabāṭabāʾī. This is a conceptualisation that mixes the ḥadīth with the Ibn ʿArabi tradition (whom he considers to be a crypto-Shiʿi anyway in his famous biography of Sayyid Hāshim al-Ḥaddād entitled Rūḥ-i mujarrad) and draws heavily upon the Safavid tradition in the form of questions and answers. Sayyid Muḥsin's discussions that draw on these traditions are here.

A good, scholarly account is given in a work written first in 1424 H by Sayyid Ḍiyāʾ Sayyid ʿAdnān al-Khabbāz al-Qaṭīfī entitled الولاية التكوينية بين القران والبرهان that demonstrated an understanding of the philosophical and ʿirfān tradition. The study is divided into seven sections. The first provides a definition of WT, the relationship between the walāya of God and that of the Imams, and suggests the originator of the term. While acknowledging that the concept is a classical one, he argues that the term was coined by the famous philosophically-minded jurist Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥusayn Iṣfahānī (d. 1942) in his al-Anwār al-qudsīya, a poem in praise of the Imams, and in his marginalia on al-Makāsib. This strikes me as rather late since one finds attestations of WT in later Qajar texts.  The second examines what WT means and how it relates to the concept of tafwīḍ. The third considers the significant question of who or what is the efficient cause (using the Aristotelian term) for WT. The fourth discusses the link between WT and knowledge (including of the unseen). The fifth tries to delimit what WT means. The sixth moves onto the proofs with reference to the positions of various scholars starting with jurists from Nāʾinī onwards, and then discussing what previous scholars starting with the classical tridents held about the excellence and superiority of the Imams in every aspect including knowledge. The final section as with most studies focuses on objections and their responses. 

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