Aun Ali

CAS Luncheon Series
Thursday, November 11 at 11am


The century after Abu Jafar al-Tusi (d. 1067) is regarded as a period of stagnation in the history of Shii law. Imitation of Tusi was so widespread that later jurists mistook his opinion for the prevalent opinion of the school. Over the next two centuries, the landscape of Shii law would change dramatically. The sea change began with sustained criticism of Tusi led by Ibn Idris al-Hilli (d. 1202). In this presentation, I will explain Ibn Idris’s critique of Tusi. Although Ibn Idris’s approach won few supporters, he succeeded in rejuvenating Shii law by injecting the lifeblood of tradition into the discourse: conflict. Furthermore, while conflict is essential, I will explain why the loss of early written sources and the growth of increasingly sophisticated legal argumentation made Ibn Idris’s critique of Tusi more consequential.

Aun Hasan Ali joined the Department of Religious Studies in 2015. He works on the Islamic tradition. Ali studied Religion and Philosophy at Rutgers University, receiving his BA in 2003. That same year he travelled to Yemen to continue studying Arabic. He earned an MA in Islamic Studies from McGill University in 2007, and will receive his PhD in Islamic Studies from McGill University in 2015. Ali's research focuses on the intellectual history of Shi'ism, including both the pre-modern and modern periods. In particular, he is interested in studying Shi'ism through the lens of the concept of tradition and social network theory. Ali is also interested in Shi'i law and legal theory, especially the interplay between shariah and legislation. His current project examines intellectual life in the city of Hillah in southern Iraq in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries CE. Ali is also preparing the final draft of an article in which he examines the relationship between Sunnism and Shi'ism through the lens of the issue of documentary evidence in Islamic law. His recent publications include a translation of a Persian chapter about the Qajar philosopher Abu'l-Hasan Jilveh in Philosophical traditions in Qajar Iran, set to be published by Brill in 2015, and two articles on Shi'i legal theory, classical and modern, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law.