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The Origins of the Shī’a: Identity, Ritual, and Sacred Space in Eighth-Century Kūfa

The Sunnī-Shi’a schism is often framed as a dispute over the identity of the successor to Muhammad. In reality, however, this fracture only materialized a century later in the important southern Iraqi city of Kūfa (present-day Najaf). This book explores the birth and development of Shī’i identity. Through a critical analysis of legal texts, whose provenance has only recently been confirmed, the study shows how the early Shi’a carved out independent religious and social identities through specific ritual practices and within separate sacred spaces. In this way, the book addresses two seminal controversies in the study of early Islam, namely the dating of Kufan Shi’i identity, and the means by which the Shi’a differentiated themselves from mainstream Kufan society. This is an important, original, and path-breaking book that marks a significant development in the study of early Islamic society.

About the Author

Najam Haider, a Professor in the Department of Religion, completed his PhD at Princeton University (2007), M.Phil. at Oxford University (2000), and BA at Dartmouth College (1997). His courses bridge the gap between the classical and modern Muslim worlds with a particular emphasis on the impact of colonization and modernity on Islamic political and religious discourse. Prof. Haider’s research interests include early Islamic history, the methodology and development of Islamic law, and Shi‘ism.

Table of Contents

Part I. Narratives and Methods:
1. Kufa and the classical narratives of early Shi’ism
2. Confronting the source barrier: a new methodology
Part II. Case Studies:
3. In the name of God: the Basmala
4. Curses and invocations: the Qunūt in the ritual prayer
5. Drinking matters: the Islamic debate over prohibition
Part III. The Emergence of Shi’ism:
6. Dating sectarianism: early Zaydism and the politics of perpetual revolution
7. The problem of the ambiguous transmitter: ritual and the allocation of identity
8. The mosque and the procession: sacred spaces and the construction of community
9. Conclusion.

Bibliographic Information

Title: The Origins of the Shī’a: Identity, Ritual, and Sacred Space in Eighth-Century Kūfa

Author(s): Najam Haider

Publisher:Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition

Length: 298 pages

ISBN: 978-1107424951

Pub. Date: July 17, 2014

The Origins of the Shīa Identity, Ritual, and Sacred Space in Eighth-Century Kūfa

About Ali Teymoori

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