The Abode of Peace: Mahmud ibn Ja‘far Maythami (d. 1893CE) & the Phenomenon of Encounters with the Hidden Imam

First Name: 
Last Name: 
Institutional Affiliation : 
University of Toronto
Academic Bio: 
Omid Ghaemmaghami was born in Tehran, Iran and is currently a PhD candidate in Islamic Thought at the University of Toronto. He received his MA with honors in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St Louis in 2005.

A recurring and salient motif in many of the works dedicated to the Shi’i savior known as the Twelfth Imam is the phenomenon of encounters between this figure and privileged devotees (mostly from the ranks of the ulama) during the period of his occultation (ghayba). This controversial topic is one that scholars of Shi’i Islam have only begun to properly explore, a surprising fact given the noticeable role of these narratives in Shi’i hagiographies. The present study will test the thesis that the revivification of this phenomenon during the second part of the nineteenth century at the hands of the prolific Iranian scholar Mahmūd ibn Ja’far Maythamī (d. 1893) played a significant role in Qajar Iran to sanctify the Shi’i ulama as the Imam’s true representatives and freeze the eschatological tension within the tradition. The little known Maythamī lived at a time in which many of the messianic and eschatological tensions regarding the Hidden Imam – tensions that had remained unresolved since the period of the Lesser Occultation – exploded onto the religious landscape of Iran, due in most part to the birth of the Shaykhī and Bābī movements. This paper will introduce Maythamī’s voluminous magnum opus, “The Abode of Peace: the Mahdi, the Portents of his Advent, and [the Accounts of] those who were Honored to Attain his Presence in Dreams or while Awake” (Dār al-salām dar ahvālāt-e hazrat-e mahdī va ‘alā’em-e zohūr va kesānī keh dar khwab yā bīdārī beh mahzar-e ān hazrat-e mobārak sharafyāb shodeh-and). This important work may be the first of its kind written in Persian and has been cited repeatedly in subsequent books on the Hidden Imam. Special attention will be paid in this presentation to Maythamī’s motives for writing “The Abode of Peace” as reflected in the work’s highly charged chapter excoriating Sūfīs, Shaykhīs and the Bābī movement.

Academic Discipline : 
Islamic Thought
Time Period : 

Posted in