Columbia University Seminar on Iranian Studies





The fourth meeting of the 26th consecutive year of the Columbia University Seminar on Iranian Studies for the academic year 2013‐2014 will take place on: Wednesday December 11, 2013, 5:30pm at the Faculty House of Columbia University.

Our speaker will be:
Dr. Sean Anthony of the University of Oregon,who will lead the discussion on the topic of Hidden Redeemers and Sleeping Heroes: The Ghayba-Idea in 8th Century Iran from Indigenization to Internationalization



The idea of the ghayba—i.e., the occultation of an eschatological savior—has been a centerpiece of Shi'ite Islam throughout its long, storied history. Although a considerable body of scholarship has been written on the minor occultation of the twelfth imam of the Twelver Shi'a in 874 CE and his subsequent major occultation in 941, the earliest articulations of the ghayba-idea appeared at least a century and a half earlier but have received less attention and are, therefore, little known outside specialist circles. This talk explores these earliest articulations of the ghayba-idea as promulgated by the Kaysaniyya Shi'a at the outset of the eighth century CE and offers historical explanations for the belief's rapid spread thereafter outside Kaysaniyya circles among rival Shi'ite communities as well as Jewish and Zoroastrian millenarian movements of the eighth century.



Sean Anthony is currently a member and Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oregon. His most recent books include Crucifixion and Death as Spectacle: Umayyad Crucifixion in its Late Antique Context (American Oriental Society Monographs, 2013) and an Arabic edition and English translation of Ma'mar ibn Rashid's Kitab al-Maghazi, one of the earliest biographies of the Prophet Muhammad to survive until our era, to be published in early 2014 by the NYU Press's newly minted Library of Arabic Literature.

To reach the Faculty House:

Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.


Back to all events