The Introduction introduces the book’s underlying premises and main arguments, making a case for the study of ‘literary’ before ‘historical’ Khārijism. The chapter addresses the main challenges involved in studying early Islamic historiography and especially Khārijite history and then briefly summarises the literary approach adopted in this book that is meant to circumvent some of these challenges. It outlines the narrative analysis that is the focus of the subsequent chapters and illustrates why accounts of Khārijite history should not necessarily be read as hard facts, but rather as contributions to a discourse and thus as lines of arguments. The chapter also surveys previous scholarly engagements with Khārijism, almost all of which are concerned with reconstructing Khārijite history, and offers an initial discussion of the source material upon which the following analysis is based.
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