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Deconstructing and reconstructing the Sharīʿa: The Bābī and Bahāʾī solutions to the problem of immutability

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Chapter Summary

For well over a century now, Muslims have struggled in countless ways to reinterpret, protect, deconstruct, modernize or stabilize their faith in response to sometimes overwhelming pressures from an outside world intent on ceaseless material and social adventure. The nineteenth century witnessed a number of Muslim millenarian movements, from North Africa to China. Most of these advocated some form of violent overthrow of the status quo, mainly through jihad, but only one promulgated a wholesale dismantling and recreation of the sharīʿa. This was the Shiʿite sect of Babism, which produced the only religious movement in Islamic history to have broken successfully with Islam, namely Bahāʾīsm.

Keywords: Babism; Bahāʾīsm; Muslim millenarian movements; Sharīʿa



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