Book: Superbrain of Islam - Authentic or Not ?

This post is about a book on the life and educational contributions of the sixth Imam of Shia Islam, Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq. The book is famous by the names 'Super Brain of Islam' and 'Superman in Islam' and is claimed to be a work of several Western Professors and Scholars teaching in various universities of the world.

Since the book gained a lot of praise and fame throughout Shia circles, a lot of people got curious about the actual origins and authors of the book. But sadly, when people try to search the names of scholars given in the book, one can not find a single person which can be traced. This is global age where even unpopular writers and scholars can be found on facebook, twitter, google and other places, as such it comes as a big surprise that one wont be able to find scholars associated with big universities such as the University of Paris or Chicago.

Desperate to find out about the authenticity of the book, I searched the names of the authors one by one, all twenty two of them. Most names were so strange that according to search no human had it. Not even random people on facebook or directories. So, thinking that obviously the names are spelled wrongly, I tried other spellings but much to my disappointment I couldn't find the relevant persons. I tried several spellings for each name without much luck.

Here are the names as mentioned in the book:

Mr. Arman Bull, University of Brussels.
Mr. John Oben, University of Brussels.
Mr. Robert Brunswick, University of Paris.
Mr. Claude Cohen, University of Paris.
Mr. Henri Corbone, University of Strasbourg.
Mr. Tofiq Fahal, University of Strasbourg.
Mr. Fanciso Gabreili, University of Rome.
Mr. Richard Graham Lynch, University of Germany.
Miss Ann Lipton, University of London.
Mr. Evan Lenan, University of Chicago.
Mr. Henri Matisse, University of Paris.
Mr. Husain Nasr, University of Tehran.
Mr. Charles Pila, University of Paris.
Mr. Musa Sadr, Great Scholar, Sur, Lebanon.
Mr. George Wazda, University of Lyons, France.
Mr. Arna Ludz, University of Lyons, France.
Mr. Elyas, University of Los Angeles.
Mrs. Duran Hynch Cliff, University of London.
Mr. Joseph Manuz, University of Freebourg Germany.
Mr. Hans Muller, University of Freebourg Germany.
Mr. Hans Romer, University of Germany.
Zabih Ullah Mansuri, Tehran-Iran.

Strange names, aren't they? but wait till you find out the real names of these people.

During the search for these strange names I came across one name which seemed somehow related to the topic of the book, which led me to search further. This person was Professor Henry Corbin, wrongly spelt as Henri Corbone. Who, according to Wikipedia, was a philosopher, theologian and professor of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.

The article stated: "Corbin's work has been criticized by a number of writers. His scholarly objectivity has been questioned on the basis of both a Shi'ite bias, and his theological agenda; he has been accused of being both ahistorically naive and dangerously politically reactionary; and he has been charged with being both an Iranian nationalist and an elitist in both his politics and his spirituality." - there I knew he had to be the Henri Corbone of the 'Superbrain of Islam'.

Luckily, I found a site which was about his philosophy and work. I contacted the people at amiscorbin.com to inquire if he wrote anything for this book, and here's the reply I got:
Dear Sir,

all I know is that H. Corbin actively participated to the pioneering conference on shi'ism in Strasburg in 1968, published in French (Le shî'isme imâmite, Paris, P.U.F., 1970), where several papers delt with Ja'far al-Sâdiq.

Sincerely yours,

P. Lory
This really encouraged me to find out more. I knew now that there really was a conference held at the University of Strasbourg and that several papers were about Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s). I also had a book reference, so all I had to do now was to read the published book.

However, the book is available only in French, and is not easily available online. On going roughly through the contents of the book I could not find much references to the sixth Imam's contributions. I could only find a scholarly overview of the research work I found on Strasbourg research archives, which I translated from French:
"This book contains the papers presented at a symposium organized in Strasbourg from 6 to May 9, 1968 by Mr. Robert Brunschvig, then director of the Institute of Islamic Studies from the University of Paris and Mr. Toufic Fahd, director of the Institute of Islamic Studies of the Faculty of Letters of Strasbourg. Eighteen communications had been presented, Seventeen could be collected only lack that of Mr. Sadr, director of the Institute of Islamic Studies of Course (Lebanon) on "the imâmites communities in Lebanon and Syria of our days". 

The first, due to Mr. Madelung, University of Chicago, de'Timâmisme trafficking and Mu'tazilite theology. The author shows that the two sects have not always been opposed and that Mu'tazilite and Imamite doctrine amalgamated in the doctrinal theology school, the Banu Nawbakht Baghdad. This school continues to next century with al-MuÔd b. al-Nu'man and al Murtada sharif to Naslr al-dln al Tûsl. This partial amalgam does not, however, eliminate the fundamental difference which is the concept among imamites that the Imamate "is the true foundation of faith."


Mr. Vajda, of Paris, has devoted his communication to "problem of the vision of God according to some Twelver authors, especially al-Kalayni and Ibn Babuya.

Mr. Abel, Brussels, presented an analysis of the "chapter on the imâmatdans Tamhld al-Bâqillânl", where the author does not present anywhich differs from the commonly accepted tradition.
Mr. Pellat, of Paris, studied Mas'ûdi's position with respect to Imamism and concludes that Mas'ûdi may be "a mu'tazilite shi'ite ".
Mr. Lecomte, of Paris also presented some "aspects of hadith literature in Imamis" and various imams who fed this literature, especially Ja'far al Sadiq.
Mr. Gabrieli, Rome talked about: "Imamism and literature under the Buyids. "He stressed that the tenth century Buyid was a climate of freedom and tolerance very favorable to the literary expression. Al-Mutanabbi seems to him the best expression of this climate.
M. Cahen, of Paris, addressed "the problem of shl'isme in Asia Turkish minor pre-Ottaman. "It shows that in Asia Minor has shi'isme most likely benefited from the Mongol occupation, since the Mongols resented mainly Sunni Islam, and believes he can think of "a kind Indoor shi'itisation Sunnism" but on a much popular plan more than doctrinal.
Mr. Fahd, Strasbourg, addressed Ja'far al Sadiq and tradition with many Arab scientific scholarship. 
Mr. Corbin, of Paris, has not been less scholarly dealing of "Imamology and philosophy" after stating that the shi'ite metaphysical system was in place by the Fourteenth century.
Ignorance of the German language, I can not say anything about the former RP Tramlich on "Shaykh in shi'ites brotherhoods."
Mr. Linant, of Paris, studying the principles and some practical aspects of "Imamite law" and it's close relationship with Sunni law, despite a number of differences which the author gives specific examples.
Mr. Brunschvig, of Paris, speaks about "usûl al-fiqh imâmites in their former stage and stressed that the hadith assigned to imâms naturally take place as considerable in this doctrinal statement and that it is in Baghdad, under the Bûyides that has flourished the literature which relates to it.
Mr. Nasr, in Tehran, has studied "the relations of the Shi'ism and Sufism".
Mr. Aubin, of Paris, showed that the dissemination of Shi'isme in Persia is made first in the popular classes.
Miss Lambton, of London, has analyzed the role of "'Persian ulama in the constitutional reform" of the beginning of the 20th century. The 'ulama, characters semi-official, could weigh on the government and put in custody, and on the other hand, they depended on, on the spiritual plan, of religious authorities in Najaf and Kerbelâ, outside of the Persia ; finally they exercised influence on the working classes.
Mr. Henri Masse, of Paris, has analyzed a few "poems devoted to Imâms" in translating fragments large enough of poets Mohtasham (XVI century) and Yaghmâ (Xixth century).
Mr. Cerulli, of Rome, has given valuable guidance on "the Persian theaters" using a collection of manuscripts of religious theater which he visited. This interesting text is shown some photographs.
These texts obviously do not constitute a structure built and coherent, but their very diversity is valuable and informed manner of very interesting one aspect of Islam that had been implanted finally and so very strong in the empire of Iran and in some neighboring regions. That is the first stone, a stone of waiting, which, it is hoped that she will give birth to systematic studies and even more developed on a significant problem and hitherto little examined."
The distortion those names went through was unbelievable yet understandable. However, it is perhaps incorrect to say that these people collectively authored for the book 'Superbrain of Islam' because anyone who has read the book knows that that book does not cover these topics. All one finds is that there was a research based conference about Twelver Shias and their belief in Imamate, and somehow a number of the topics did cover the life and contribution of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s) as well. Though from the looks of it, the book 'Le Shi'isme Imamite' does not seem to have covered Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) in the same way, at all, as the book 'Superbrain of Islam' does. It can't even be considered a rough translation of the original text it claims to be from.

Despite the fact that the book 'Le Shi'isme Imamite' was based on an important conference and the conference itself was a great initiative towards academic research on Shia Islam in the west, yet its content has very little or nothing to do with the scientific contributions of the sixth Shiite Imam. In contrast, the book 'Le shi'isme imamite quarante ans après: hommage à Etan Kohlberg' was published in 2009, which was a tribute by Etan Kohlberg and colleagues upon the 40th anniversary of the conference 'Le Shi'isme Imamite' - dealt with the topic of Imam Jafar as Sadiq (a.s) in more detail than the 1968 conference did. This text is taken from publisher's site:
In the spring of 1968 when France and many places in the world were shaken by significant social and political protest movements, some great scholars gathered in the old and prestigious University of Strasbourg and would trigger a turning point in islamologiques studies West. Indeed, for the first time, global researchers met in a symposium devoted exclusively to Imami Shi'ism. The lectures and discussions led to the publication of an excellent collection of articles: The Imamite Shi'ism. Strasbourg Conference (6-9 May 1968), Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1970
Thus, this volume of homage is intended as a testament to the growing rise of Shia Imami studies and undeniable debt to these scholars gathered, their forty years, Strasbourg, as well as the immense work of 'Etan Kohlberg.
However, both of these books didn't discuss Imam Jafar as-Sadiq's scientific contributions but discussed his life, history and Imamate. As for the book 'Superbrain of Islam', it was first published in Iran, as 'Maghze Mutafakkir Jehan e Shia' by Zabihullah Mansuri, the Persian author. It was also translated in Arabic, as 'Al-Imam Al-Sadiq Kama Arfahu Ulma-e-gharb' or مجموعة من العلماء والمفكرين الإمام الصادق في نظر علماء الغرب ترجمة: الدكتور نور الدين آل علي ' which means Imam Jafar as-Sadiq from the perspective of Western scholars.

The Persian author and scholar Zabihullah Mansuri who first published the book 'Superbrain of Islam' or 'Maghze Mutafakkir' has also authored other books which are claimed to be translations but are not. His credibility is doubted by Iranian scholars as he is known to add his own words and ideas to the works he translates. This is perhaps the reason why Iranian critics and scholars have also expressed their suspicion about the book Maghze Mutafakkir and have cautioned against quoting the book:

http://khabaronline.ir/detail/243033/culture/religion
http://khabaronline.ir/detail/242605/culture/religion
http://khabaronline.ir/detail/243040/culture/religion
http://www.niksalehi.com/din-andishe/archives/183998.php
http://khabaronline.ir/detail/242701/

Secretary of 'Seyyed Hossein Nasr' (who is also cited as one of the authors in the book) also hints towards the same, he writes in response to an inquiry about the book:
"Maghze mutafakkir" is a very free and diluted work based on a conference in the University of Strassbourg in France. Dr. Nasr participated in that conference. The authentic text of the lecture was published in France including Dr. Nasr's essay. 
Sincerely,
Setara Habib, Secretary to Seyyed Hossein Nasr
So, even though the book claims to be based on the conference which was held in Strasbourg, it is primarily and mojorly the work of Zabihullah Mansuri's mind then it is of the original research committee.

Here's the list of the names of scholars as they are rightly spelled, the ones in blue are the scholars who were part of the conference while the ones in green are additional scholars who have written about Shia Islam, but of course none of them had any role in the book 'Superbrain of Islam':

Armand Abel of Brussels
Jean Aubin of Paris
Robert Brunschvig of Paris
Claude Cahen of Paris
Henry Corbin of Strasbourg
Toufic Fahd of Strasbourg
Francesco Gabrieli of Rome
Richard Gramlich of Strasbourg
Anne Lambton of London
Yvon Linant de Bellefonds
Henri Massé of Paris
Seyyed Hossein Nasr of Tehran
Charles Pellat of Paris
Musa Sadr of Lebanon
George Vajda of Paris
Prof. Elyash of California
Doreen Hinchcliffe of London
Joseph Matuz of Freiburg, Germany
Hans Muller of Freiburg Germany
Hans Romer of Freiburg, Germany
Enrico Cerulli of Rome
Gerard Lecomte of Paris
Wilfred Madelung of Chicago
Roger Arnaldez of Lyon
Fritz Meier of Bale

At the end of it, there is one important question that needs to be answered, which is about the sayings of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) as we find in the book. The issue is whether these ahadith are find in other books of ahadith or not. Though a great number of ahadith are found in Bihar-al-Anwar, Al-Kafi, Wasael-ush-Shia and Manaqib that may relate to the topics covered in the book but they aren't the same as what we read in the book. A few ahadith which I tried to match against the given references, I could locate some yet failed to locate others.

The minor possibility of coming across vaguely similar or relevant ahadith among the huge hadith literature remains open, but based on current facts and knowledge it appears that the author has indeed fabricated traditions and sayings into the book, which is something that truly discredits all the information in the book.

Sadly, one concludes that 'Superbrain of Islam', long cherished by it's readers... is unauthentic if you cite it, and rather a work of fiction if you read it. Well-known Islamic researcher and historian, Dr. Ghulam Husain Ibrahimi says:
"Even the title of the book 'Superbrain of Shia Islam' is criticizable and an incorrect and inappropriate term. We should not use the phrase super brain or mastermind for the status of Imamate which is ordained by God. In my opinion, even calling Imam mastermind is a false phrase and it is the result of (our) ignorance of the status of Imamate. Is Imam as-Sadiq Bertrand Russell or Einstein ?"
 (It is as if we are talking about Bertrand Russell or Einstein not Imam Sadiq, may peace be upon him).