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Der Islam

Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East

Ed. by Heidemann, Stefan / Hagen, Gottfried / Kaplony, Andreas / Matthee, Rudi

CiteScore 2017: 0.04

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.100

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Volume 95, Issue 1


Muḥammad the Paraclete and ʿAlī the Messiah: New Remarks on the Origins of Islam and of Shiʿite Imamology

Mohammad-Ali Amir-Moezzi
Published Online: 2018-03-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/islam-2018-0002


For all those interested in the religious history of the Near and Middle East during Late Antiquity, the advent of Muḥammad in Arabia and the beginnings of Islam are exciting fields of research. The present study tries to put these subjects into perspective within the broad historical and spiritual context of the 6th and 7th centuries. It is based on a sort of syllogism: Muḥammad and his message belong to Jewish, Christian or Judeo-Christian monotheisms (as attested by the Qurʾān and the Ḥadīth); Muḥammad’s first messages seem to announce the imminent end of the world (as is evident from many Quranic passages and several very early ḥadīths); so Muḥammad cannot but announce the coming of the Messiah as the Savior of the End of the world. On this last point, the Qurʾān remains curiously silent, but according to a large number of ancient ḥadiths, Muḥammad actually announces the imminent coming of the Messiah and the latter is none other than Jesus. At the same time, for some followers of Muḥammad, ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib seems to have been the second Jesus, Christ and Messiah of the apocalyptic times. After the death of Muḥammad and ʿAlī, the non-advent of the end of the world, the ridda wars, the Arab conquests and the establishment of the empire, events evolved into different directions than expected at the beginning.

Keywords: Muḥammad; ʿAlī; Jesus; Quranic apocalyptic; Paraclete; Messiah; early Shiʿism

Article note: In a recent article of mine, I put forward the hypothesis of the figure of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib as Messiah, at the birth of Islam and in certain Alid circles (M.A. Amir-Moezzi, “ʿAlī dans le Coran. (Aspects de l’imamologie duodécimaine XIV”, Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques 98.4 (oct.‒déc. 2014) : 669‒704, in particular pp. 699‒703). The present article constitutes the development of this hypothesis. Moreover, I thank deeply Guillaume Dye for reading the first draft of this article with attention and for his erudite and pertinent reflexions.

About the article

Published Online: 2018-03-24

Published in Print: 2018-03-22

Citation Information: Der Islam, Volume 95, Issue 1, Pages 30–64, ISSN (Online) 1613-0928, ISSN (Print) 0021-1818, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/islam-2018-0002.

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