Shurat Legends, Ibadi Identities
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An analysis of a variety of early Islamic texts to understand processes of identity formation and community

In Shurat Legends, Ibadi Identities, Adam Gaiser explores the origins and early development of Islamic notions of martyrdom and of martyrdom literature. He examines the catalogs or lists of martyrs (martyrologies) of the early shur?t (Kh?rijites) in the context of late antiquity, showing that shur?t literature, as it can be reconstructed, shares continuity with the martyrologies of earlier Christians and other religious groups, especially in Iraq, and that this powerful literature was transmitted by seventh century shur?t through their successors, the Ib??iyya. Gaiser examines the sources of poems and narratives as quasi-historical accounts and their application in literary creations designed to meet particular communal needs, in particular, the need to establish and shape identity.

Gaiser shows how these accounts accumulated traits—such as all-night prayer vigils, stoic acceptance of death, and miracles—-of a wider ascetic and apocalyptic literature in the eighth century, including martyrdom narratives of Eastern Christianity. By establishing focal points of piety around which a communal identity could be fashioned, such accounts proved suitable for use in missionary activity in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Gaiser also documents the reshaping of these narratives for more quietist purposes: emphasizing moderated rather than violent action, diplomacy, and respect for other Islamic sects as also being monotheistic, rather than condemning them as sinful.

Along with refashioning narratives, Gaiser details the Ib??? efforts to compile collections into genealogies, both biographical dictionaries and lineages of the true faith linking individuals and communities to local saints and martyrs. He also shows how this more nuanced history led to the formation of rules and authorities governing the shur?t. Employing rarely examined manuscript materials to shed light on such processes as identity formation and communal boundary maintenance, Gaiser traces the course by which this martyrdom literature and its potentially dangerous implications came to be institutionalized, contained, and controlled.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 octobre 2016
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781611176773
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Shur t Legends, Ib Identities
Studies in Comparative Religion
Frederick M. Denny, Series Editor
Shur t Legends Ib Identities
Martyrdom, Asceticism, and the Making of an Early Islamic Community
Adam R. Gaiser

The University of South Carolina Press
2016 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press Columbia, South Carolina 29208
25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be found at
ISBN 978-1-61117-676-6 (cloth)
ISBN 978-1-61117-677-3 (ebook)
For Robin and Gordon Gaiser
What do we care if our souls go out [of our bodies]?
What good to you were bodies and limbs anyway?
We look forward to the Gardens [of paradise],
When our skulls lie in the dust like rotten melons.
Ab Bil l Mird s b. Udayya, from I. Abb s, Shi r al-Khaw rij , 1977

Series Editor s Preface
Notes on Transliteration, Dates, and Qur nic Citations

1. Late Antique and Early Islamic Contexts
2. Shur t Battles, Shur t Bodies
3. Shur t Boundaries
4. Ib Appropriations
5. Ib Boundaries

Series Editor s Preface

T his significant book addresses in a detailed and deeply researched manner a subject that is not often found in books about the earliest period of the new Muslim community within thirty years of the death of the Prophet Muhammad and its development from that time. Our author refers to the period in which Islam came into being as the late antique Middle East (p. 1). That term is for the attention of modern readers and refers to greater Syria (that is, the Levant), the Nile, the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, and Persia between the second and eighth centuries C.E . In his introduction the author continues by acknowledging the importance of the diverse ethnic, political, cultural and religious communities in those regions in that period.
An important focus of the book is the development of the earliest Islamic communities and ways in which they both agreed and disagreed with each other. Adam R. Gaiser addresses his main topic, the Ibadi Muslim community, through studying it in relationship to and in comparison with other early Muslim communities. The author has discovered significant early sources that provide indispensable information about the histories, practices, and convictions of the Ibadis and the roles of martyrdom and asceticism in their personal lives and communities.
This series has been publishing important books, including a fair number on Islam, for many years now. I think that this one will provide valuable information, analysis, and interpretation of the earliest Islamic history for contemporary scholarship and teaching across such disciplines as Islamic studies, comparative religion, and Middle Eastern history.
Frederick Mathewson Denny

A host of persons have assisted me in the various stages of this research, and it is my hope that I have not neglected any of them here. Several of my colleagues at Florida State University gave their encouragement, support, and help over the years. Special thanks go to John Kelsay, Tara Baldrick-Morrone, John Corrigan, Matthew Goff, David Levenson, Nicole Kelley, Joseph Hellweg, Harold Short, and Thomas Whitley. Additionally the Florida State University Office of Sponsored Research extended me several internal grants toward the completion of this project.
This book would have been unthinkable without the steadfast encouragement and assistance of Dr. Abdulrahman al-Salimi, who in addition to his unfailing collegiality sent me images of several manuscripts, allowed me access to his family library in Bidiyya, and smoothed the way for me to access manuscripts in the Wiz rat al-Tur th al-Qawm wa l-Thaq fa. Thanks also to his brother, Hamza al-Salimi, for his generous hospitality and to the students of the Ma had al- Ul m al-Shara iyya for their enthusiasm as well as the texts that they so selflessly placed in my hands. My gratitude goes to Hil l b. Jum a al-Muqaym and Mu af b. S lim al-Shukayl at the library of Sayyid Mu ammad b. A mad in Seeb for opening their doors to me and allowing me unfettered access to the manuscripts there.
My colleagues in the Ib studies community-there are now too many to name-deserve mention for their many helpful comments at conferences over the years. I would be remiss, however, if I did not specifically thank Wilferd Madelung, Josef Van Ess, Valerie Hoffman, Amal Ghazal, Angeliki Ziaka, Ersilia Francesca, Cyrille Aillet, Moez Dridi, Muhammad Hasan, and Douglas Leonard for their encouragement. Special thanks to John Wilkinson for his friendship and for his many insights into the Ib iyya.
To Ahmad Obeidat I owe an immeasurable debt for his countless hours of assistance in translating the poetry that I utilized in this study. Without his expertise in Arabic, this project would have long ago foundered. To Helena de Jes s de Felipe Rodr guez go thanks for tracking down the coloquintida fruit (a.k.a. colocynth, Citrullus colocynthis , bitter apple-the an al mentioned in Ab Bil l s poem and translated in the epigraph of this book); reserving poetic license, I have translated it as melon.
Before she passed away suddenly in September 2014, Annie Higgins shared her own translations of some of the shur t poems. We will all miss her ever bright personality. Tom Sizgorich passed away in January 2011 before seeing anything written of this book, but I owe him my thanks for his many suggestions during its gestation. He was an outstanding scholar and a generous colleague; I m sorry we had such a short time together.
Finally, my thanks to Robin and Gordon Gaiser for their support (both financial and familial) over the years; to my wife, Carolina, a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices she makes to allow our work to continue; and to my daughter, Adela, thanks for her stickers, Little Ponies, and besitos .
Notes on Transliteration, Dates, and Qur nic Citations

Transliterations from Arabic follow the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies system, which has all but become the standard system in the United States. Each date is given either as a stand-alone date followed by the designator C.E . or as hijri year or century first followed by a slash and then common-era year or century. For Qur nic citations I use the 1923 Egyptian printed recension of afs from im, which has become the standard version.

T he late antique Middle East forms the context in which the Prophet Mu ammad s mission, with the Qur n articulating its central message of submission to God, gave way to the early Islamic conquests and then, not thirty years after the death of the Prophet, witnessed the emergence of the Mu akkima and first shur t . Although the term late antique Middle East would have meant little to the peoples living in that region at that time, it is a convenient way of designating the area roughly comprised by greater Syria (that is, the Levant), the Nile, the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, and Persia between the second and eighth centuries C.E . At this time this region presented a complex tapestry of religio-political entities encompassing Byzantine, Ethiopian, Nestorian (that is, Church of the East), Jacobite (that is, Syriac Orthodox Church), and so-called gnostic Christians as well as Jews, Zoroastrians, Manicheans, stoics, pagans, and others. In the Arabian Peninsula itself Jews and modest numbers of Christians had long lived-not only in the famous and ill-fated Christian community at Najr n but also in Oman, Ba rayn, and the islands of the gulf. These various groups populated the areas of the world in which the pre-Islamic Arabs held frequent commerce and later, after the coming of Islam and the early Islamic conquests, over which the Muslims exercised political control. It is also amid these various religious affiliations, congregations, and denominations and in this area of the world, initially in Mesopotamia, that the collections of Islamic sectarians known to most as the khaw rij (sing. kh rij , Anglicized as the Kh rijites) arose, the first among them being known as the Mu akkima. 1 The khaw rij , at least up until the second fitna (and probably beyond it), used the term shur t (sing. sh r , meaning exchanger ) to refer to themselves.
Initially opposed to Al b. Ab lib s decision to arbitrate the battle of iff n in 37/657, the Mu akkima survived their virtual annihilation by Al s army at the battle of Nahraw n in 38/658 and spread throughout the early Islamic world. They continued to rebel against Al , and after one of their number murdered him in the mosque in K fa, they rose against the Al s successor (and original opponent at iff n), the Umayyad caliph Mu wiya b. Ab Sufy n. Indeed, Islamic sources record ten further Kh rijite (that is, shur t ) engagements with Al and Mu wiya and over the following two decades four more significant shur t -inspired rebellions against Mu wiya and his son and successor Yaz d. 2 These early conflicts-some fifteen of them in a twenty-three-year period-resulted in the violent deaths of many who fought them and subsequently created a pool of poetry and narrative that circulated among the remaining shur t . As they continued to spread and develop into separate subsects, the stories of their martyrs-or in the style of the shur t themselves, those who had sold their earthly lives to God in exchange for his paradise-continued to inspire them and inform their sense of mission. 3 It was also during the second civil war ( fitna ) following the death of Mu wiya th

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