The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam (book)

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The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam (book)
Bibliographical Information
Bibliographical Information
AuthorSyed Husain Mohammad Jafri
LanguageEnglish
Genrehistorical-analytical
Published1979
Publisher
  • Longman Group Ltd
  • Oxford University Press

The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam is a book about the formation of Shiism from the early Islamic era to the period of Imam al-Sadiq (a). The book was authored by Syed Husain Mohammad Jafri, an Pakistani author.

According to this book, the incident of Saqifa caused a division among Muslims, and the primary core of Imam 'Ali’s (a) Shias were those who followed him in refusing to pledge their allegiance to Abu Bakr. The author believes that the period between the Event of Saqifa (11/632) and the selection of 'Uthman b. 'Affan as the caliph (24/644) is the formative period of Shiism, maintaining that the second stage of the development of Shiism began after Imam al-Husayn’s (a) martyrdom. Moreover, he holds that the period between 'Uthman’s caliphate and Imam 'Ali’s martyrdom marked a milestone in the history of Shiism. Furthermore, Imam al-Hasan’s (a) peace treaty had long-term outcomes in the development of Shiism.

The author believes that Shiite jurisprudential school took shape since the time of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a). Before that, the Shiite jurisprudence was not much different from the Sunni jurisprudence.

The Author

Syed Husain Mohammad Jafri (b. 1938) is a Shiite author from Pakistan.[1] He received his PhD degree from the University of Lucknow, India, and School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London.[2] He taught Islamic studies in the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and the University of Beirut.[3] He contributed to the writing of al-Munjid dictionary, and was the editor-in-chief of the Islamic quarterly of Hamdard Islamicus in Pakistan.[4] It is said that he seeks to do research on the sources of Nahj al-balagha and write a translation and exposition for the book in English.[5] He visited Aqa Buzurg Tihrani in Najaf, and knows English and Arabic.[6]

Motivation for Writing

Syed Husain Mohammad Jafri’s motivation for writing The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam was to assess the grounds of the formation of Shiism and its course of development by drawing on the available evidence, particularly historical texts. He believes that although the emergence of Islam was widely studied, the grounds of the early formation and development of Shiism was not properly noticed. In his view, the relevant works that were written before were under the influence of the works of 'Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi, Ibn Hazm al-Andulusi, and 'Abd al-Karim al-Shahristani on al-Milal wa-l-nihal (religions and creeds), which adopt an unrealistic antagonist approach to Shiism.[7]

The Author’s View of the Formation of Shiism

The author of The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam believes that the incident of Saqifa was the cause of division among Muslims.[8] On his account, ignorance of this incident in considering the history of Shiism would lead to inaccurate conclusions.[9] He believes that the primary core of Imam 'Ali’s (a) Shias consisted of those who refused to pledge allegiance to the caliphs that preceded the Imam (a).[10] In his view, historically speaking, the period between the incident of Saqifa and the Six-Member Council, which led to the selection of 'Uthman as the caliph, is the formative period of Shiism.[11] For this reason, he refers to the conflicts between 'Ali (a) and Shaykhayn as the relatively dormant period of the formation of Shiism.[12]

Jafri also believes that the period from the beginning of 'Uthman’s caliphate (24 AH) and Imam 'Ali’s (a) martyrdom (40 AH) is crucial to the formation and development of Shiism in several ways.[13] On his account, Imam al-Hasan’s (a) peace treaty had long-term outcomes for the formation of Shiism.[14] Moreover, Imam al-Husayn’s (a) martyrdom marked the second historical stage of Shiism, which is when Shiism began to be branched into sects.[15]

Husain Mohammad Jafri maintains that, until the period of Imam al-Baqir (a), the Shiite jurisprudence was not significantly different from the Sunni jurisprudence. It was in the period of Imam al-Baqir (a) that the Shiite jurisprudential school began to take shape,[16] although he believes that Imam 'Ali’s (a) rejection of 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Uf’s request to adopt the approach of Shaykhayn in order to be selected as the caliph paved the path for the formation of a distinctively Shiite jurisprudential school.[17]

Contents

Urdu translation of the book The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam

The book The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam is structured into eleven chapters:

Basic concepts: in this chapter, the author traces the roots of the division of the Islamic community into Shias and Sunnis.[18]

'Saqifa, the starting point of conspiracies: in this chapter, the author draws on Shiite and Sunni sources to provide an account of the Event of Saqifa.[19] He believes that the grounds for Abu Bakr’s selection as the caliph were prepared because of tribal rivalries between Muhajirun, Muhajirun’s fear of being dominated by Ansar if a war breaks out, the rivalries between Aws and Khazraj, and Abu Bakr’s own advantages such as agedness and close relations with the Prophet (s).[20]

Imam 'Ali (a) and Shaykhayn: in this chapter, the author assesses the conflicts between Imam 'Ali (a) and Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and 'Umar) as the “period of relative dormancy[21] in the history of the development of Shiism.”[22] He believes that Imam 'Ali’s (a) final allegiance to Abu Bakr was due to the martyrdom of Lady Fatima (a) and tribal riots during Abu Bakr’s caliphate. Moreover, he holds that confiscation of Fadak and Abu Bakr’s selection of 'Umar b. al-Khattab as his successor in caliphate were done to undermine Imam 'Ali’s advantages.[23]

Flourishing of the Shiite movement: in this chapter, the author mentions the factors that prepared the ground for the flourishing of the Shiite movement. Moreover, he provides an account of how 'Uthman became a caliph, events during his caliphate, Imam 'Ali’s (a) position at the time of 'Uthman’s murder, people’s rush to Imam 'Ali (a) to ask him to accept the caliphate, his reasons for refusing to do so, and the grounds of the battles of Jamal, Siffin, and Nahrawan.[24]

Kufa, the center of Shiite activities: in this chapter, the author provides a history, population structure, and tendencies of people in Kufa. He gives an account of the circumstance of Kufa during Imam 'Ali’s (a) period, arguing that the city’s tendency toward Shiism was largely due to Yemenis and Persians who constituted the majority of its population. Moreover, he believes that people of the city were the first who pledged allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a) under the guidance of Malik al-Ashtar.[25] Nevertheless, the author divides people of Kufa into three groups: faithful followers of 'Ali (a) who were submissive to his commands, tribal leaders who tended toward Mu'awiya, and masses of people who tended toward 'Ali (a) but avoided dangers.[26]

Imam al-Hasan’s (a) peace treaty: in this section, the author introduces the character of Imam al-Hasan (a). He notes the grounds prepared by Mu'awiya to lead him to a peace treaty, believing that the silence of Shias at the time was because of Mu'awiya’s suppressions.[27] The author holds that Imam al-Hasan’s (a) fight against Mu'awiya is a dark part of the history of Islam, which is why he introduces and criticizes the sources of this event.[28]

Imam al-Husayn’s (a) martyrdom: in this chapter, the author analyzes what happened after Yazid’s caliphate until Imam al-Husayn’s (a) martyrdom.

Reflections of the Event of Karbala: this chapter studies how the Event of Karbala affected the history of Shiism and the formation of the uprisings of Repentants (Tawwabun) and al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi.[29]

Efforts on the path of truth: this chapter is devoted to internal issues and divisions of Shias in the periods of Imam al-Sajjad (a) and Imam al-Baqir (a).[30]

Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a): this chapter presents a biography of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and the circumstances of his time. The author believes that in this period Shias were divided into three groups: those who were rooted in Kaysaniyya; followers of Zayd b. 'Ali; and those who were influenced by Imam al-Sadiq (a).[31]

The creed of Imamate: in this chapter, the author argues that Imam al-Sadiq (a) asserted the two principles of textual evidence and divine (ladunni) knowledge for Imamate and formulated a jurisprudential school.[32]

Publication and Translation

Persian translation of the book The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam

The book, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, was written in 1976 in English. It was published by Longman Group Ltd in New York in 1979[33] and Oxford University Press and Longman Group United Kingdom in London.

In 1980, the book was translated by Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Ayatullahi into Persian, which was published by Daftar-i Nashr-i Farhang-i Islami in 292 pages. Until 2013, it was reprinted 18 times in Iran.

Notes

  1. Journal of OBITUARY: DR. Syed Husain Mohammad Jafri, p. 235-236.
  2. Jaʿfarī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh, p. 7.
  3. Jaʿfarī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh, p. 7.
  4. Jaʿfarī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh, p. 7.
  5. Jaʿfarī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh, p. 7.
  6. Uskūyī, mafhūm-i ʿamal-i ṣāliḥ dar niẓām-i akhlāqī-i Qurʾān, p. 76.
  7. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p. 22.
  8. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p. 5.
  9. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p. 22.
  10. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 51.
  11. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 51.
  12. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p. 41.
  13. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p. 54.
  14. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p. 103.
  15. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 55.
  16. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. .
  17. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 52.
  18. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 50.
  19. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 51.
  20. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 51.
  21. Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p. 41.
  22. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 51.
  23. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 51-52.
  24. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 52.
  25. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 53.
  26. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 53.
  27. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 53.
  28. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 53.
  29. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 54.
  30. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 55.
  31. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 56.
  32. Chehrāzī, Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām, p. 56.
  33. Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam. By S. Husain M. Jafri. London and New York: Longman Group Ltd., 1979.

References

  • Chehrāzī, Mansūr. Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh: Taḥlīl wa barrasī-yi ʿilal-i piydāyish-i tashayyuʿ wa siyr-i takwīnī-yi ān dar islām. kitābmāh-i tārīkh wa joghrāfīā, number 41, 1379 Sh.
  • Jafri, Syed Husain Mohammad. Mafhūm-i ʿamal-i ṣāliḥ dar niẓām-i akhlāqī-yi Qurʾān.Translated by Mīnā Uskūyī. Safina, number 25, winter 2008.
  • Jafri, Syed Husain Mohammad. The Origins and early development of Shi’a Islam. Qom: Ansaryian Publications.
  • Jaʿfarī, Ḥusayn Muḥammad. Tashayyuʿ dar masīr-i tārīkh. Translated by Muḥammad Taqī Āyatullāhī. Tehran: Daftar-i Nashr-i Farhang-i Islāmī, 1382 Sh.
  • Journal of OBITUARY: DR. Syed Husain Mohammad Jafri, Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society; Karachi Vol. 67, Iss. 1/2, (Jan-Jun 2019).