The Charismatic Community Shi`ite Identity in Early Islam by Maria Massi Dakake (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007. 300 pages.)

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Devin Stewart



A revised and expanded version of a dissertation completed at Princeton
University in 2000, this book describes the emergence of a distinct Shi`ite
communal identity within the larger Islamic community in the period
between the First CivilWar (656-61) and the end of the second/eighth century.
It draws on the Shi`ite hadith of the Imami (Twelver) tradition in order
to construct a rich picture of the developing Shi`ite community, stressing
the Shi`ites’ ideas about their relationship to the Imam, to each other, and
to non-Shi`ites, particularly the Islamic ummah at large.
The work is divided into an introduction and three sections of four chapters
each, presenting three major theses. The first four chapters concentrate
on the concept of walOEyOE, usually translated as loyalty or allegiance but, as
the author suggests, containing a denotation akin to charisma. She argues that
from the beginning, Shi`ism’s crucial characteristic was allegiance to Ali ibn
Abi Talib during the First CivilWar. Even after his assassination and the end
of the war, allegiance to his cause remained fundamental and he remained the
primary focus for the Shi`ites’ location of charismatic authority ...

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