The case of Ja<sup>c</sup>d b. Dirham and the punishment of ‘heretics’ in the early caliphate

Gerald Hawting

in Public Violence in Islamic Societies

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637317
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653164 | DOI:
The case of Jacd b. Dirham and the punishment of ‘heretics’ in the early caliphate

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This chapter focuses on Ja'd b. Dirham, a heretic executed in Iraq towards the end of the rule of the Umayyad Caliph Hishām b. 'Abd al-Malik. It is widely reported that Ja'd's execution took place on the Day of Sacrifices and in the manner similar to the slaughter of goat/sheep offerings (dhabh). However, on several accounts, the event was unclear and obscure: there is confusion on the location and the date of the event. If these accounts are taken to reflect a historical event, they raise some questions on the understanding of the Day of Sacrifices in the early Islam and on how heretics were dealt with in the late Umayyad period. To clarify the execution of Ja'd, this chapter presents some alternative narratives of the event. These alternative evidences written in the later 3rd/9th century are: the Ansab al-sharaf of al-Baladhuri; the writings directed against the ‘Jahmiyya’ by traditionists al-Bukhar and Uthman b. Sa'id al-Darimi; and the report of Abu Bakr al-Khallal citing A'mad b. Hanbal. The chapter also discusses Ja'd's religious unorthodoxy. He was accused of protesting against the view that God has friends as human beings do or speak in the same way that humans do.

Keywords: Ja'd b. Dirham; Abd al-Malik; dhabh; Ansab al-sharaf; Jahmiyya; heretic

Chapter.  6982 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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