The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam

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The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam
The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam.jpg
AuthorSyed Husain Mohammad Jafri
PublisherOxford University Press

The book The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam attempts to clarify the historical past of the Arabs in the form of Shi'ism, and to analyze their present problems.

About the author[edit | edit source]

Syed Husain Mohammad Jafri, referred to as S.H.M. Jafri, was a Pakistani Shia Muslim scholar. He served as the Chairman of "Islamic Pakistan Study Centre", Aga Khan University of Karachi, Pakistan. He remained Director of the "Pakistan Study Centre", University of Karachi and holds two Ph.D. degrees. He died in January 2019.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book published in Oxford University Press; 1st edition (April 4, 2002), has 344 pages and best sellers rank of 5,041,420 in Books.

This book, creates for the English-speaking reader a unique picture of the Arab World. It assumes some general knowledge of Shia Islam and is written much like a history book.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Chapter 1: Conceptual Foundations[edit | edit source]

This chapter provides a brief form of introduction to Shia terminology. Then the author examines the division of the community of Islam into Sunni and Shi'i branches which has commonly been explained in terms of purely political differences.

Chapter 2: Saqifa: The First Manifestations[edit | edit source]

In any attempt to determine the origins of Shi'i feelings in Islam, one must try to examine in detail the earliest incident in which such feelings manifest themselves. So, the author in this chapter pays attention to a characteristic historiographical problem, Saqifa incident and the events which followed the assembly of Saqifa.

Chapter 3: Ali and the First Two Caliphs[edit | edit source]

This chapter shows the difference between Ali’s active role during Muhammad's lifetime and his completely inactive and isolated life in the period immediately after the Prophet's death. The most active and enthusiastic participant in all the enterprises in the cause of Islam and a great warrior in the forefront of all the battles fought under Muhammad, Ali suddenly reverted to leading a quiet life, almost confined to the four walls of his house.

Chapter 4: The Re-emergence of the 'Ali’s Party[edit | edit source]

In this chapter the author examines that how Shi'ism managed to survive the multitude of decisive political defeats inflicted on the movement over the years. Ali had some followers who supported his cause mainly on political grounds, especially after he made Kufa his capital. In addition to a large political following, Ali left behind him a zealous personal party which had sworn to him that they would be "friends to those whom he befriended, and enemies of those to whom he was hostile.

Chapter 5: Kufa: Stage of Shi’i Activities[edit | edit source]

This chapter endeavors to examine in brief the nature and composition of the city of Kufa and the characteristic tendencies of its people.

Chapter 6: The Abdication of Hasan[edit | edit source]

After the death of Ali and the abdication of his son Hasan, when Mu'awiya took control of Kufa, the strong tribal, and clan leaders were made to serve as the intermediaries in the power structure of the province. The central authority in Damascus was concerned with exercising power both over and through them. The old style tribalism was reinforced and governmental power was grounded on a tribal organization in which tribal leaders supported and in turn were supported by the government. At the time of Ali's death, the tribal leaders were on one side of the scale, the committed Shi'at Ali on the other, while the great masses were wavering between the two.

Chapter 7: The Martyrdom of Husayn[edit | edit source]

This chapter intends firstly to analyze how it became so easy for the Umayyads to destroy Husayn and crush the Shi'i movement behind him; and secondly, to determine the elements of purely religious sentiment among those who readily sacrificed their lives with Husayn and thus made another step forward towards the consolidation of Shi'i thought in Islam.

Chapter 8: The Reaction after Karbala[edit | edit source]

This chapter deals with the movement of the Tawwabun, (penitents) who let themselves die as a way of repenting for their inability to fulfil their commitments to the grandson of the Prophet. Shortly before the Tawwabun marched against the Syrians, Mukhtar arrived in Kufa and tried to gain the Support of Sulayman b. Surad and his followers for his own plan to rise against the Umayyads. The Tawwabun, however, refused to join him.

Chapter 9: The Struggle for Legitimacy[edit | edit source]

This chapter deals with a problem within the Shi'a itself. In this phase, the second phase of Shi'ism which entered with the death of Husayn, a rather specific direction, a well-defined trend of thought, an ideal of polity, and an underlying principle of religious adherence were established which can easily be distinguished as the Shi'i interpretation of Islam. At this time, the basic principle remained the same, disagreements arose over the specific criteria for deciding who the divinely inspired leader was, and this led to the internal division of Shi'i Islam.

Chapter 10: The Imamate of Ja'far as-Sadiq[edit | edit source]

The author in this chapter restores a historical foundation providing a background for the Imamate of Ja'far as- Sadiq, the sixth Imam and the eldest son of Muhammad al- Baqir, who was born in Medina either in 80/699-700 or 83/703-704.

Chapter 11: The Doctrine of the Imamate[edit | edit source]

This chapter offers to the reader an assessment of a developed stage of a concept of religious leadership as it emerged from its rudimentary foundations. The author here tends to trace the origins and early development of those religious inclinations through which the Shi'is eventually came to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Muslim community.

Source[edit | edit source]