Two major events occurred in the early centuries of Islam that determined its historical and spiritual development in the centuries that followed: the formation of the sacred scriptures, namely the Qur'an and the Hadith, and the chronic violence that surrounded the succession of the Prophet, manifesting in repression, revolution, massacre, and civil war. This is the first book to evaluate the writing of Islam's major scriptural sources within the context of these bloody, brutal conflicts. Conducting a philological and historical study of little-kwn though significant ancient texts, Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi rebuilds a Shi'ite understanding of Islam's early history and the genesis of its holy scriptures. At the same time, he proposes a fresh interpretative framework and a new data set for theorizing the early history of Islam, isolating the contradictions between Shi'ite and Sunni sources and their contribution to the tensions that rile these groups today.
Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi is professor of classical Islamic thought at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Sorbonne University (Paris). He is also senior research fellow at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (London). His publications largely concern Shi'i Islam and the history of the Qur'an and include The Divine Guide in Early Shi'ism and The Spirituality of Shi'i Islam. He is also the general editor of Dictionnaire du Coran.