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Book: The Rebel and the Imam in Early Islam

The writer discusses three key case studies – the revolt of Mukhtar b. Abi ‘Ubayd, the life of the Twelver Shi’i Imam Musa al-Kazim and the rebellion and subsequent death of the Zaydi Shi’i Imam Yahya b. ‘Abd Allah – in calling for a new line of inquiry which focuses on larger historiographical questions.

Engaging with contemporary debates about the sources that shape our understanding of the early Muslim world, Najam Haider proposes a new model for Muslim historical writing that draws on Late Antique historiography to challenge the imposition of modern notions of history on a pre-modern society. Haider discusses three key case studies – the revolt of Mukhtar b. Abi ‘Ubayd (d. 67/687), the life of the Twelver Shi’i Imam Musa al-Kazim (d. 183/799) and the rebellion and subsequent death of the Zaydi Shi’i Imam Yahya b. ‘Abd Allah (d. 187/803) – in calling for a new line of inquiry which focuses on larger historiographical questions. What were the rules that governed historical writing in the early Muslim world? What were the intended audiences for these works? In the process, he rejects artificial divisions between Sunni and Shi’i historical writing.

About the Author

Najam Haider is a Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College, New York. He is the author of The Origins of the Shi’a (Cambridge, 2011) focusing on the role of ritual and sacred space in the formation of Shi’i identity and Shi’i Islam (Cambridge, 2014) which examines three branches of Shi’i Islam – Zaydi, Twelver, and Ismaili, through a framework of memory.

Table of Contents

Modeling Islamic Historical Writing

The rise and fall of Mukhtar b. Abi Ubayd (d.67/687)

The life of Musa b.Jafar al-Kazim (d.183/799)

The last years of Yahya b. Abd Allah (d.187/803)

Reconsideration

Bibliographic Information

Title: The Rebel and the Imam in Early Islam: Explorations in Muslim Historiography

Editor: Najan Haider

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

 Language: English

Length: 316

ISBN: 9781139199223

Pub. Date: September 2019

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