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Chapter Summary

In the course of researching this book, the author has often been asked if the Ibn Saba tradition exhibits an intrinsically anti-Semitic scandalization of early Shīʿism - an anti-Semitism avant la lettre. The answer is much more complicated than a simple yes or no. It is undeniable that in modern times the story has been used with such ends in mind, particularly in modern Salafī polemics against Shīʿism. The profoundest lesson of Ibn Sabaʾ and the Sabaʾīya, lies elsewhere, at least with regard to the history of the origins of Shīʿism. While Ibn Sabaʾ certainly did not mastermind the formation of a sect hell-bent on leading Muslims into perdition, the historical individual behind the lore probably did represent the sectarian, tendentious reverence for ʿAlī that one finds expressed in the rajʿa archetype.

Keywords:Ibn Sabaʾ tradition; Sabaʾīya; Shīʿism



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