The Kharijites in Early Islamic Historical Tradition

The Kharijites in Early Islamic Historical Tradition

Islamic History

The Kharijites in Early Islamic Historical Tradition
Heroes and Villains

Author(s): Hannah-Lena Hagemann

Reviewed by: Christopher Anzalone, George Mason University, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, USA



The Kharijites (Khawarij), long the bogeymen of Islamic history held up as the epitome of religious violent extremism, were brought to the forefront of public discourse in Muslim and non-Muslim circles with the rapid expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS/ISIL)/Islamic State (IS) between 2013 and 2014. The book under review, which is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation, provides a book-length study of the Kharijites and ‘Kharijism’ during the first half-century of its existence, complementing previous academic publications by Jeffrey T. Kenney and Nelly Lahoud [Jeffrey T. Kenney, Muslim Rebels: Kharijites and the Politics of Extremism in Egypt (London: Oxford University Press, 2006) and Nelly Lahoud, The Jihadis’ Path to Self-Destruction (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010)]. Hagemann is more concerned with the “literary” history, rather than the empirical history, of the Kharijite movement, about how the dominant image, in mainstream Islamic historiography, of the Kharijites as pious and religious fanatics came to be and what purposes it served.

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