Shi'ite Islam (book)
Written by Muhammed H. Al-Tabataba'i, with the translation, editing, and introduction by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, it was the first text to be written by a top Shi'a scholar and intended for western readership.
How it began
In 1962, Kenneth Morgan, university chaplain and professor of religious studies at Colgate University, initiated a project to produce a text specifically dealing with Shi'a Islam, introducing the Islamic sect to the non Muslim western reader, written from a true Shi'a perspective. Presenting Oriental religion to the West from the point of view of an authentic representative is an important goal, and there are still very few authentic works by and about the Shi'a.
Allameh Tabatabaei was particularly well suited for this task; he was a pillar of intellectual Shi'a thought who combined interest in jurisprudence and Quranic commentary with philosophy, theosophy, and Sufism, and represented a more universal interpretation of the Shi'a point of view.
The project took 6 years to complete, and was followed by two more extending volumes. William Chittick of SUNY collaborated with the editing, and the book was published by the State University of New York Press in 1979.
It remains a classic textbook for westerners trying to gain an introductory understanding of Shi'a Islam.
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