"Hidden Empires and Muslim Sectarian Identities: The Emergence of Shi’a Sects in Early Islam (7th - 10th Centuries CE)"
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Mohammad Sagha, Humanities Teaching Fellow, University of Chicago.
Payam Mohseni, Director, Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs. Lecturer on Government, Department of Government, Harvard University.
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When and how did different sects or denominations emerge within Shi’ism? While Shi’ism as a general belief in the spiritual-political supremacy of Ali b. Abi Talib and the Ahl al-Bayt was an early phenomenon rooted in the immediate aftermath of the Prophet Muhammad’s demise in 11/632, Shi’ism as a distinct denomination with socio-political institutions did not emerge until later and neither did the diverse sectarian movements under Shi’ism, including Zaydi, Ismaili, Qarmati, Nusayri, and Twelver Shi’ism, among others. This talk will explore the role that underground revolutionary movements played in Shi’a sectarian formation in the early Islamic period from the uprising of al-Mukhtar b. Abi ʿUbayd (d. 67/687) through to the beginnings of the “Shiʿi Centuries” at the turn of the 4th Hijri/10th Common Era century that saw several Shi’a states emerge in rapid succession to establish transregional imperial projects across West and Central Asia as well as North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.