Book Launch. The Rebel & the Imam in Early Islam:

October 16, 2019
6:00 pm-8:00 pm | London

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

Launch of Najam Haider' new book; The Rebel and the Imam in Early Islam .

Najam Haider will be joined by Sarah Savant (AKU-ISMC), Karen Bauer (IIS) and Hugh Kennedy (SOAS).

Engaging with contemporary debates about the sources that shape our understanding of the early Muslim world, Najam Haider proposes a new model for Muslim historical writing that draws on Late Antique historiography to challenge the imposition of modern notions of history on a pre-modern society. Haider discusses three key case studies - the revolt of Mukhtar b. Abi 'Ubayd (d. 67/687), the life of the Twelver Shi'i Imam Musa al-Kazim (d. 183/799) and the rebellion and subsequent death of the Zaydi Shi'i Imam Yahya b. 'Abd Allah (d. 187/803) - in calling for a new line of inquiry which focuses on larger historiographical questions. What were the rules that governed historical writing in the early Muslim world? What were the intended audiences for these works? In the process, he rejects artificial divisions between Sunni and Shi'i historical writing.


Najam Haider is a Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College, New York. He is the author of The Origins of the Shi'a (Cambridge, 2011) focusing on the role of ritual and sacred space in the formation of Shi'i identity and Shi'i Islam (Cambridge, 2014) which examines three branches of Shi'i Islam – Zaydi, Twelver, and Ismaili, through a framework of memory. He has travelled extensively in the Middle East, including Syria where he was a Fulbright scholar and Yemen where he studied with traditional Zaydi scholars. 


Sarah Savant is a Professor at Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC), and Principal Investigator of KITAB . Professor Bowen Savant is a cultural historian specialising in the Middle East and Iran ca. 600-1500. Her research interests include early Islam, the study of religion, historiography, Late Antique Iran and Iraq and Prophetic biography. She serves as president of Middle East Medievalists and as an ex-officio member of the editorial board of its online, open-access journal, Al-ʿUsur al-Wusta.

Karen Bauer (PhD, Princeton) is a Senior Research Associate in the Qur’anic Studies Unit of the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), London. She specialises in Islamic social and intellectual history. Her specific interests include the Qur’an and Qur’anic exegesis, the history of emotions in early Islam, and gender in Islamic history and thought. Dr Bauer is currently working on An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume 2: Women, which is an anthology of translations of Qur’anic verses and commentaries on the subject of women.

Hugh Kennedy is a Professor of Arabic at SOAS and formerly Professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of St Andrews. He studied at the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Beirut, and read Arabic and Persian at Cambridge. He specialises in the history of the early Islamic Middle East, Muslim Spain and the Crusades. He is author of The Early Abbasid Caliphate, The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates, Crusader Castles and Muslim Spain and Portugal.


This event is free but booking is essential. Book as soon as possible.

*The talk will be followed by a reception.


Room 215, 2nd floor,
Aga Khan Centre,
10 Handyside Street,
London N1C 4DN