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Public Violence in Islamic SocietiesPower, Discipline, and the Construction of the Public Sphere, 7th-19th Centuries CE$
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Christian Lange and Maribel Fierro

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748637317

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637317.001.0001

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The case of Jacd b. Dirham and the punishment of ‘heretics’ in the early caliphate

The case of Jacd b. Dirham and the punishment of ‘heretics’ in the early caliphate

(p.27) 1 The case of Jacd b. Dirham and the punishment of ‘heretics’ in the early caliphate
Public Violence in Islamic Societies

Gerald Hawting

Edinburgh University Press

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

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