Daniel Peterson

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

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The Zaydiyya are a branch of Shi’i Islam, often termed “moderate” or even “the practical group of the Shi’a,” that diverged from other Shi’i factions in the course of the dispute over the succession to the imamate that followed the death of the fourth imam, ‘Ali Zayn al-Abidin’, in 713. Rejecting the claims of Muhammad al-Baqir, the Zaydis instead chose Zayd ibn ‘Ali (d. 740), a grandson of the martyred Husayn, as the fifth imam (hence their name, and hence the common nickname for them, “Fivers”). One reason they preferred Zayd was his activist revolutionary stance against the Umayyad dynasty. Indeed, Zayd was the first descendant of Husayn to rebel openly against the Umayyads, which led to his violent death in 740. Thus, their supposed “practicality” or theological moderation—which is actually no more than their relative doctrinal affinity to Sunnism, implicitly privileged as the norm—did not entail political moderation.

Article.  5697 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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