Najam Haider

Najam Haider

Research Interest


Ph.D., Princeton University, 2007
M.Phil., Oxford University, 2000
B.A., Dartmouth College, 1997


Najam Haider, Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College, completed his PhD at Princeton University (2007), M.Phil. at Oxford University (2000), and BA at Dartmouth College (1997). His courses bridge the gap between the classical and modern Muslim worlds with a particular emphasis on the impact of colonization on Islamic political, religious, and cultural discourse. Professor Haider’s research interests include early Islamic history, the methodology and development of Islamic law, the interplay between ritual and sacred space, and Shi‘i Islam. His first book entitled The Origins of the Shi‘a was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and focused on the role of ritual and sacred space in the formation of Shī‘ī identity. His second book Shī‘ī Islam (Cambridge 2014) offered a comprehensive overview of three branches of Shī‘ī Islam – Zaydī, Twelver, and Ismā‘īlī – through a framework of theology and memory. His third book The Rebel and the Imam (Cambridge 2019) examined early Islamic historical writing through the lens of Classical rhetoric with a focus on genre and composition.  His new project is centered on notions of time and space as embodied in Islamic legal works.

Select Publications

"How To Make a Zaydi Imam: Zaydi Reports on the Revolt of Ṣāḥib Fakhkh Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī" (d. 169/786), JAOS 144 (2024)

The Rebel and the Imam in Early Islam (Cambridge 2019)

"The Death of Musa al-Kazim: Knowledge and Suicide in Shi'i Legal Discourse" in Martyrdom, Self-Sacrifice, and Self-Immolation, ed. Margo Kitts (Oxford, 2018).

Shī‘ī Islam: An Introduction (Cambridge 2014)

Law and Religion in Classical Islamic Thought, eds. Michael Cook, Najam Haider, Intisar Rabb, Asma Sayeed (Palgrave: 2013).

“The Geography of the Isnād: Possibilities for the Reconstruction of Local Ritual Practice in the 2nd/8th Century,” Der Islam 90 (2013):306-346.

“A Kufan Jurist in Yemen: Contextualizing Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kufī's Kitāb al-Mutakhab,” Arabica 59 (2012): 200-17

The Origins of the Shi‘a: Identity, Ritual, and Sacred Space in 8th century Kufa (Cambridge, 2011)