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The Tragedy of Al-Maʾmūn: Reading al-Ṣadūq’s ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā

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In his presentation, Dr Warner focused on the relationship that the book ʿUyūn portrays between al-Riḍā and his eventual murderer, the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Maʾmūn. Imamicide though he is, al-Maʾmūn in ʿUyūn is no Yazīd, for what we see in al-Ṣadūq’s work is not a portrait of absolute, irredeemable evil but a man who has a choice; a man who encounters the imām, who recognises the imām but who ultimately fails to make good that encounter and so is ultimately damned. This intense vision of the stakes of meeting God’s ḥujja forms the core of ʿUyūn, around which are explorations of a range of other relationships that include both al-Ṣadūq’s readers’ relationship with their imām(s) and al-Ṣadūq’s relationship with the powerful, irascible vizier al-Ṣāḥib Ibn ʿAbbād.

Dr George Warner is a research associate at the Centre for Religious Studies at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, having previously taught at SOAS, where he completed his PhD in 2017. His research interests include Shi’ism, devotional literature in Arabic and Persian, ritual studies and hadith. His first book, The Words of the Imams: al-Shaykh al-Ṣadūq and the Development of Twelver Shīʿī Hadith Literature, was published by I. B. Tauris in 2021.

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