Haider, Najam, Shī’ī. An Introduction, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, 264p.

Shī'īDuring the formative period of Islam, in the first centuries after Muhammad’s death, different ideas and beliefs abounded. During this period two particular intellectual traditions emerged, Sunnism and Shī’ism. Sunnī Muslims endorsed the historical caliphate, while Shī’ī Muslims, supporters of ‘Ali, cousin of the Prophet and the fourth caliph, articulated their own distinctive doctrines. The Sunnī-Shī’ī schism is often framed as a dispute over the identity of the successor to Muhammad, whereas in reality, Sunnī and Shī’ī Muslims also differ on a number of seminal theological doctrines concerning the nature of God and legitimate political and religious authority. This book examines the development of Shī’ī Islam through the lenses of belief, narrative, and memory. This book also covers, for the first time in English, a wide range of Shī’ī communities from the demographically predominant Twelvers to the transnational Ismā’īlīs to the scholar-activist Zaydīs. The portrait of Shī’ism that emerges is that of a distinctive and vibrant community of Muslims with a remarkable capacity for reinvention and adaptation, grounded in a unique theological interpretation of Islam.

  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Theology:
    1. ‘Adl (rational divine justice)
    2. Imāmate (legitimate leadership)
    Part II. Origins:
    3. Community
    4. Fragmentation
    Part III. Constructing Shī’ism:
    5. Zaydism in the balance between Sunnī and Shī’a
    6. The weight of Ismā’īlī expectations
    7. Twelver Shī’ism and the problem of the hidden imām
    Part IV. Shī’ism in the Modern World:
    8. Zaydism at the crossroads
    9. (Nizārī) Ismā’īlism reconstituted
    10. The politicization of the Twelver Shī’a
    Conclusion: Sunnī-Shī’ī relations.

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