Articles

Frammenti di escatologia sciita: Dhū l-Qarnayn nell’opera di Ibn Bābawayh


Abstract


Sūrat al-Kahf, the eighteenth chapter of the Muslim Holy Book, transmits a story about a character, nicknamed Dhū l-Qarnayn which literally means ‘the two-horned one’. The ambiguity in the Quran in naming this figure led to a protracted debate about his identity: According to some sources it was Alexander the Great and according to others it was Cyrus or ʿAyyāsh. Scholars have already pointed to the importance of investigating the earliest stages of the accounts concerning this character with a view to understanding the entire tradition surrounding him. For this reason they have focused attention on the religious literature and, in particular, on the Sunni production of the Middle Ages. In this contribution, I will deal with the Twelver religious literature, in particular with four works written by Muḥammad Ibn Bābawayh, eminent traditionist and jurist who lived during the tenth century. Ibn Bābawayh narrates several accounts about Dhū l-Qarnayn in these works and in particular in the Kamāl al-dīn wa tamām al-niʿma fī ithbāt al-ghayba wa kashf al-ḥayra, one of the first works on the occultation of the twelfth imam. My analysis has a two-fold aim: To extrapolate the various motifs connected with Dhū l-Qarnayn in these texts and to verify how this character is utilized within the Imami circles in Ibn Bābawayh’s time.

Keywords

Dhū l-Qarnayn; Alexander the Great; Muḥammad Ibn Bābawayh; Twelver Shi’ism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13135/1825-263X/2873

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