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INTIZAR. Until `All Shari`ati (d. 1977) introduced it in his presentation of Shiism, the term intizar (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 Sunni 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 ShPis in the events to come at the end of time. Traditions ascribed to the imams themselves vividly depict the Twelfth Imam’s return (rajah) 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 Shari`at Sangalaji (d. 1946), an Iranian theologian who has been anathematized by most of his colleagues. But `Abdol-Karim Ha’eri Yazdi (`Abd alKarim Hd’iri Yazdi, d. 1937), the leading Shi’i authority of his generation, issued a fatwa (formal legal opinion) to attenuate the importance of this doctrine. In fact, he allowed believers the possibility of denying it.

Shari’ati’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 powerholders, and it deserves the name Safavid Shiism (Tashayyu’-i Safav-1) after the Safavid dynasty that took power in Iran in 1501 and established Shi’i Islam as the state religion. The other face of Shiism is the pristine religion of the imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, called `Alid Shiism (Tashayyu’-i `Alavi), which primarily represents a struggle for justice. Thus Shari`ati’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 Shi’is 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 Sharl’ati, 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 Shari’`ati in a 19’71 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 the biography of Shari`ati.]


Sachedina, A. A. Islamic Messianism: The Idea of the Mahdi in Twelver Shi’ism. Albany, N.Y., 1981. Good summary of classical Shi’i eschatology.

Shari’ati, `Alt. Tashayyu’-i `Alavi va Tashayyu’-i Safavi. Collected Works, vol. 9. Tehran, 1359/1980.

Sharl’ati, `Alt. Husayn vdris-i Adam. Collected Works, vol. i9. Tehran, 1360/1981. Contains the 1971 lecture, “Waiting: Religion of Refusal” (“Intizar: Mazhab-i i’tiraz”).


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/intizar/

  • writerPosted On: May 25, 2014
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