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What Use Have you for Bodies and Limbs Anyway? Khariji and Ibaji Concepts of Shira in their Near Eastern Context

Thursday, February 7, 2013
12:00 AM
1644 School of Social Work Building

ISIS Lecture: Adam Gaiser- Florida State University

Adam Gaiser is a Professor in the Department of Religion at Florida State University.  His work focuses on Islamic sectarinaism, Kharijites, Ibadites, and Martyrdom.  We will also be workshopping Professor Gaisers book Muslims, Scholars, soldiers: The Origin and Elaboration of the ibadi Imamate Tradition on Friday, February 8th from
11:30-1:30 pm.

What use have you for bodies and limbs anyway?  Khariji and Ibadi concepts of Shia in their Near Eastern Context

This paper seeks to further extend our understanding of the contexts surrounding some core ideas and images associated with the earliest Khawarij: specifically, it examines one aspect of the concept of shira’ – “exchange,” or “selling” – implying the exchange of one’s self for the cause of God, and thereby indicating a willingness on the part of the shari for martyrdom.  Focusing on the notion of shira’ and related concepts in Kharijite poetry, concentrating especially on attitudes toward the body, and comparing what is found therein to early Eastern Christian, Manichean and so-called “gnostic” writings concerned with a conceptual spirit-body opposition or outright dualism, the paper contends that shira’ sits comfortably among the various articulations of martyrdom and asceticism in the late antique Near East (especially what is today Iraq-Iran), and can be viewed as a variant – albeit a specifically Kharijite variant – on commonly, though broadly, held themes related to the rejection of the material world.  The paper also hopes to make a point about the inheritance of these concepts by the Iba?iyya, who traced themselves to the early Kharijites and saw themselves as adopting, in some senses, their mantle.

Gaiser's CV

Adam Gaiser, Florida State University