The Succession to Muhammad

Peace, one and all…

As part of my ongoing attempt to post resources for the study of early Islam, in all its diversity, I’m posting a powerpoint presentation on the succession to Muhammad (alaihi salatu wa salam). As with other such materials, I’m posting this to help encourage learning and informed discussion. These materials are available free of charge. My only request is that you acknowledge your source (


Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman

‘Heresy’ in the Medieval Islamic World: Course Outline

Peace, one and all…

In a recent post, I referred to my forthcoming course (‘Heresy’ in the Medieval Islamic World).  I’ve recently finished the relevant paperwork and so I thought I’d share the basic course outline with you all (God willing).

My aim here is to encourage discussion, as well as to share my academic work in general.  The basic structure of the course is a 10 week programme (two hours each week).


Course Outline

I. Introduction: Sources, Texts and Questions
In this session, we will look at the course structure and outline, as well as looking at our key historical sources and some of the questions they raise

II. What is Heresy in an Islamic context?
In this session, we will explore the nature of heresy a little more closely.  In particular, we will explore some of the meanings of heresy before attempting to ask what heresy might be in a medieval Islamic context.

III. Seeking Muhammad’s Legacy
All of the sectarian movements we will look at in this course consciously attempted to anchor their respective world views in their perception of Muhammad’s legacy.  In this session, we will look more closely at what that legacy was.  In particular, we will look at the emergence of the Sunni-Shia divide after Muhammad’s death.

IV. The Khawarij
In this session, we will look at the history and thought of perhaps the earliest identifiable sectarian movement, that of the khawarij (literally ‘those who go out’).  We will look at some of their key ideas in their historical context.

V. The Early Messianic Groups: the Ghulat Shia and the meaning of Ghuluww
Messianic thought was another important strain amongst ‘heretical’ movements.  In this session, we will explore the history and thought of a number of early messianic movements, before assessing the impact of their ideas upon the wider Islamic world.

VI. The Emergence of the Ismailis
The Ismaili school of thought is a long established and important part of the broader Shii tradition.  In this session, we will look at the emergence of the Ismailiyya as an identifiable religious group in the early fourth century hijri.

VII. Classical Ismaili Thought
In this session, we will look more closely at the thought of the Classical Ismaili period, starting with the rise of the Fatimid dynasty until the collapse of the Nizari state at Alamut in the thirteenth century

VIII. The Hurufiyya
In this session, we will explore later messianic thought in post-Mongol Iran.  In this session, we will look at the Hurufi movement, started by Fazlallah Astarabadi.

IX. The Nurbakhshiyya
In this session, we will look at the Nurbakhshi movement of eastern Iran.

X. Course Conclusion

Bibliographies for the Study of Early Islam

Peace, one and all…

Having at last worked out how to upload word documents, etc, I decided to overhaul my bibliographical posts.  I’ve removed the earlier versions (as they were far too unwieldy and time consuming) and have instead uploaded the original word documents themselves.

The first bibliography contains journal articles relating to the study of early Shi’i history and theology.  The second bibliography contains articles relating more generally to the study of Islamic history (political, social and religious).  Bibliography number 3 offers references on specific aspects of early Islamic history.  All three are works in progress.  There are a lot more references to go in yet!

Allahu Ackbar!!!  Sometimes new technology really does make our lives easier!

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Early Islamic History/Historiography

Peace, one and all…


I’ve uploaded some Lecture Notes (word format) and their accompanying powerpoint slides on the sources for Early Islamic history and historiography, for you to use.  Al hamdu lillah, being aware that all things come from God, I’m happy for anyone to make use of these materials.  The only thing I ask is that you explicitly acknowledge your source (

And Allah is sufficient as a witness.

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman