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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ
1/17 Short thread on Sunnism. A common mistake made by non-specialists would have us believe that the events following the death of Muḥammad in 632 AD precipitated the Shiʿi-Sunni divide. This is quite wrong. The demarcation of sectarian identities was brought into sharp
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
2/17 focus significantly later, around two to three centuries after death of Muḥammad. A fact overlooked by even capable historians is that religious identity markers such as Sunni require diachronic studies sympathetic of the intellectual ambiguity that marked early Islam
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
3/17 Take for instance the ahistorical claims made today in some quarters - and academic circles - that make retrospectively thinkers who lived before the fall of the Umayyads either Shiʿi or Sunni. The terms do not apply then, at least not in a meaningful way.
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
4/17 We are tempted to speak of the historian al-Ṭabarī (d. 923) as Sunni (and we're all guilty of using the term generically and imprecisely even). But is this not predicted on the yet to be proven assumption that pre-Seljuk (c. eleventh century) Sunnism is discernible?
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
5/17 That is not to say there weren't elements of Sunnism ("proto-Sunnism) that predated the Seljuks. Long before the Seljuks the ḥadīth folk had settled on the pivotal doctrine of the Rāshidūn (or, tarbīʿ), that is, the Four Caliphs. But we still don't have Sunnism tout court.
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
6/17 As we approach the end of the 9th century - and not yet close to the shores of the Seljuks - attempts are made to conceptualise a community markedly different from the earliest factions, namely Shiʿis and Khārijīs, in terms that suggest proto-Sunnism was a "response"
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
7/17 Patrcia Crone pointed this out a while back in her God's Rule. But long before her it was the towering and pivotal figure of Ibn Saʿd (d. 845) who makes one of the earliest attempts to draw the contours of Sunnism offering as the following key constituents:
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
8/17 clear conception of the first four caliphs, superiority of Quraysh, religious markers of ahl al-sunnah wa l-jamāʿah, ahl al-ḥadīth, historical memory of history of the Islamic community as that of the Prophet & the select individuals who carried forth his knowledge/practice
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
9/17 More evidence that the ninth century was a significant watershed moment in the consolidation of Sunnism is the known report of Ibn Sīrīn cited in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim of Muslim b. al-Ḥajjāj (d. 875) offers a minimalist and passive but revealing definition of Sunnism as
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
10/17 those skilled in ḥadīth criticism and those who oppose the people of opinion and unprecedented innovation (البدعة).
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
11/17 From late ninth/early tenth century a clearer conception of Sunni emerges, albeit still passive & defined against the "others". The tenth century authority al-Ājūrī (d. 970) cites a report that says, a Sunni is one that does not align with the known factions/innovations
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
12/17 Two things can be taken away from the above: one, the genesis of Sunnism as a religious marker postdates the earliest religious, sectarian, and dogmatic factions. Two, a Sunni is known by his non assertive stance towards the factionalism in early Islam.
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
13/17 The eleventh century Shafiʿi theologian Hibat Allāh b. al-Ḥasan al-Lālakāʾī (d. 1027) offers a similar definition of Sunnism, namely that which is defined extrinsically, that is, against the "others".
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
14/17 Who are these "others," the folk of innovation, against whom Sunnism defines itself? We find the answer in what is possible the oldest treatise on heresiography, the Kitāb al-Tanbīh wa l-radd ʿalā ahl al-ahwāʾ wa l-bidaʿ by al-Malaṭī (d. 987) [another tenth century figure]
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
15/17 According to Al-Malaṭī Sunnism is that which is neither Shiʿism nor Kharijism, and to a lesser extent Jahmī. The criteria is passive and negatively defined: If a person does not identify as Shiʿi, nor Khārijī, nor Jahmī, then he is Sunni.
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
16/17 In the Seljuk period, the late eleventh and twelfth century Sunnism takes one more positive definitional attributes, such as (1) probativeness of Quran and Sunnah; (2) Muḥammad as intercessor and founding figure; (3) assertive theological and doctrinal commitments (creed);
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Ahab Bdaiwi איהאבּ ܐܝܗܐܒ Jun 2
Replying to @bdaiwi_historia
17/17 (4) a developed moral and legal system (fiqh); (5) elaborated narrative of early communal history; (6) pious traditions such as Sufism; (7) institutions for the production of Sunni legalists; (8) vocal opposition to non-Sunni religiosities. END.
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