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Charismatic Community, The

Shi'ite Identity in Early Islam

Maria Massi Dakake

Publication Year: 2007

The Charismatic Community examines the rise and development of Shi>ite religious identity in early Islamic history, analyzing the complex historical and intellectual processes that shaped the sense of individual and communal religious vocation. The book reveals the profound and continually evolving connection between the spiritual ideals of the Shi>ite movement and the practical processes of community formation. Author Maria Massi Dakake traces the Qurite Imam, >Ali b. Abi Talib. Dakake argues that walaµyah pertains not only to the charisma of the Shi>ite leadership and devotion to them, but also to solidarity and loyalty among the members of the community itself. She also looks at the ways in which doctrinal developments reflected and served the practical needs of the Shi>ite community, the establishment of identifiable boundaries and minimum requirements of communal membership, the meaning of women’s affiliation and identification with the Shi>ite movement, and Shi>ite efforts to engender a more normative and less confrontational attitude toward the non-Shi>ite Muslim community.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Islam

The Charismatic Community

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pp. iii


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The present work grew out of my Ph.D. dissertation on the early development of the Shi˜ite community, completed at the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. The work has been completely revised and significantly expanded, with new chapters or sections on the relationship...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xi

Author’s Note

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pp. xii

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pp. 1-12

The emergence and existence of the Shi˜ite community within thelarger body of the Islamic ummah is a rather unique phenomenonin the history of Islamic civilization. Shi˜ism cannot adequately bedescribed as either a “sect” or a “school” of Islam or Islamic thought. Shi˜ites have always considered themselves to be an integral part of the fabric of the Islamic religious community—and in fact,...

PART I. The Principle of Walayah and the Origins of the Community

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1. Walayah in the Islamic Tradition

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pp. 15-31

In the search for an understanding of Shi˜ite identity in the earliest period of Shi˜ite history, few concepts are more important or more elusive than that of walåyah—a term that may designate, at one and the same time, the nature of the authority of the Shi˜ite Imåm, theprinciple underlying the relationship of the disciple to the...

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2. The Ghadir Khumm Tradition

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pp. 33-48

If the more well-developed Shi˜ite and Sufi notions of walåyah as a kind of spiritual distinction based upon proximity to the divine, or else to the intermediate figure of the spiritual master or Imåm, have a basis in Qur˘anic terminology, the two...

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3. Walayah, Authority, and Religious Community in the First Civil War

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pp. 49-69

The Prophet’s designation of ˜Ali as the mawlå of the believers in his reported statement at Ghadir Khumm indicated some kind of authority for ˜Ali, but it is significant that this authority was expressed in terms of “walåyah” rather than “imåmah”—a term that more precisely denotes the absolute...

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4. The Shite Community in the Aftermath of the First Civil War

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pp. 71-99

If the historical sources indicate that the Shi˜ite camp united fiercely behind ˜Ali toward the end of his life, expressing their absolute devotion, or walåyah, toward him and ˜adåwah or barå˘ah toward all of his many enemies, they also detail the gradual disintegration of this unity in the ideological...

Part II. Walayah, Faith, and the Charismatic Nature of Shiite Identity

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5. Walayah as the Essence of Religion

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pp. 103-123

In the early decades of the second century—a period that encompasses the imåmate of Muhammad al-Båqir and the early part of the imåmate of Ja˜far al-SEådiq—the concept of walåyah seems to become important once again, not only as an expression of ˜Alid authority but also as a principle of membership...

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6.Membership in the Shiite Community and Salvation

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pp. 125-139

Given the importance of walåyah to the Shi˜ite definition of faith, and its status as one of the five pillars of Islam in early Shi˜ite traditions—often in place of the shahådah—it is only natural that it would become a central issue in Shi˜ite views regarding the requirements for membership in the believing community and other worldly salvation...

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7. Predestination and the Mythological Origins of Shiite Identity

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pp. 141-155

If a certain analogy can be made between the Murji˘ite position onthe shahådah and the Shi˜ite position regarding walåyah, that is, that they are understood in their respective contexts as sufficient criteria for membership in the believing community and for eventual salvation, we can also see a similarity...

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8. The Charismatic Nature and Spiritual Distinction of the Shiites

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pp. 157-174

In the analysis of the early Shi˜ite hadith tradition as presented in the previous two chapters, we saw the somewhat amorphous beginnings of a more profound and elaborate construction of Shi˜ite identity...

Part III. Creating a Community within a Community

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9. Shiites and Non-Shiites

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pp. 177-189

The notion of walåyah that was so prevalent in the thought of early second-century Shi˜ites was both a polemical concept—being juxtaposed with ˜adåwah or barå˘ah—and a somewhat generalized one, signifying a basic belief in the righteousness...

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10. Degrees of Faith

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pp. 191-211

Sometime during or shortly after the imåmate of Ja˜far al-Sådiq, the term mu˘minun or “believers,” without qualification, came to be widely used in Imåmi Shi˜ite discourse to refer to fellow Imåmi Shi˜ites. The word imån (faith or belief) is used in many traditions attributed...

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11. “Rarer than Red Sulfur”

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pp. 213-235

As we have seen, Shi˜ism as a recognizable religious affiliation first emerged in the context of ˜Ali’s military and political camp during the First Civil War. The movement existed throughout the Umayyad period as a persecuted religio-political group, membership in which was voluntarist...

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12. Perforated Boundaries

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pp. 237-251

Once spiritual categories and hierarchies had been established, both within the Shi˜ite community, and between Shi˜ites and non-Shi˜ites, the theoretical framework had been laid for a distinct and theologically definable identity for the Shi˜ite community within the Islamic ummah..


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pp. 253-300


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pp. 301-311


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pp. 313-323

E-ISBN-13: 9780791480342
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791470336
Print-ISBN-10: 0791470334

Page Count: 335
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: SUNY series in Islam