The Kitāb-i Naqz and Twelwer Shi’i Political Ideology in 12th-century Northern Iran

The Kitāb-i Naqz of ‘Abd al-Jalil Razi, a 12 century Twelwer Shi’i scholar preacher based in Rayy, has had a special role in the history of Northern Iran in the 12th century. Compiled around 1160, the Kitāb-i Naqz is important as a historical source, as well as a theological reference to the Usūlī Twelwer Shi’ite religious-political doctrine.
As far as Twelwer Shi'i theology is concerned, Razi’s book refutes the coeval Akhbari tendencies, showing a rather accomodating attitude towards Hanafi Sunnis and rationalist Twelver Shiʿis, stressing on ideological reconciliation between the Imamism and Muʿtazilism, as well as the Maturidya. In this sense the Kitāb-i Naqz avoids more or less the radical Shiʿi ideas about the Companions of Muhammad, preferring the opinions of those Sunni ulamā’ who showed sympathy towards ’Ali. Within Imamism, the Kitāb-i Naqz can be characterized as a pro-Usuli doctrinal essay supporting a theology close to Mu’tazili rationalism, and as such has been widely read.
When it comes to politics, the paper shows how the main aim of ‘Abd al-Jalil Razi as a committed Twelwer Shi’i scholar was to fuel strong ideological support for the Twelwer Shi’i Bāwandid ispahbads against the powerful Nizari Isma’ili state in Northern Iran. The Kitāb-i Naqz heavily criticizes the Nizaris and glorifies the military efforts of ispahbad Shah Ghazi Rustam (1142-1165) who is depicted as the ideal Shiʿi king of his age. Putting a strong emphasis on Sunni-Twelwer Shi’i cooperation against the Nizaris, the Kitāb-i Naqz proudly calls the Bawandid kingdom the new Mecca of the entire Muslim world.
The main objective of this paper to shed light on the sources of the Kitāb-i Naqz and to investigate what sort of influence it has exerted on later Shi’ite literature and on full-fledged Usulism.