I have been searching for some good quality material in English outlining the basis of the Shi'i belief for some time. The best book I had come across on this was the exceptional Al-Muraja'at by Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi. This is a series of dialogues between Sharaf al-Din and Shaykh Selim al-Bishri, the head of the Al-Azhar at that time. Whilst covering the basic reasoning for being Shi'i, it did not go much further. I have looked through quite a few other works, however, none actually seem to do proper justice to the depth of the arguments that have been made over the years. There may of course be numerous works that I have missed, my reading is after all quite limited.

A few years ago, I came across an exceptional set of talks given by Hamid Algar, which managed to collect together large amounts of information, laying out the foundations for Shi'i belief. The quality of the presentation, the depth of his knowledge on the field and the breadth of material covered is deserving of merit.

I have created a local copy of the material in case it is taken down from the source. All talks can be downloaded from the links provided below.

Note: Talk 7 is missing and only a brief set of notes taken by one of the students is provided

  1. Qur'an: The Foundational Document of Shi'i Islam
  2. Specific Qur'anic Ayaat and Ahadith of the Prophet (s) relevant to Shi'ism
  3. Brief history of the Prophet (s) and his daughter Fatima (a), the confluence of two lights
  4. Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), Part I
  5. Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), Part II
  6. Legacy of Imam Ali (a) & Life of Imam Hasan (a)
  7. Imam Husayn (a) and the events at Karabala
  8. Long term effects of the events of Karbala, and Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a)
  9. Midterm review and Imam Muhammad Baqir (a)
  10. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a)
  11. Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq (a) Part II
  12. Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a)
  13. Imam 'Ali Ar-Rida (a)
  14. Imam Muhammad al-Jawad al-Taqi (a) and Imam 'Ali al-Hadi (a)
  15. Imam Hasan al-'Askari (a) and the birth of his son, the 12th Imam (a)
  16. Al-Ghayba (Occultation)
  17. 12th Imam (a) (cont'd)
  18. 12th Imam (a) (cont'd)
  19. 12th Imam (a) (cont'd) & Shi'I Tafseer of Qur'an
  20. Scholarship and Hadith
  21. Principles of Law (Fiqh)
  22. Theology (Kalam)
  23. Theology (Kalam) & Mysticism (Irfan)

Content taken from Al-Islam project