Between History and Hagiography: The Mothers of the Imams in Imami Historical Memory

Michael Dann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter analyzes accounts of two prominent women of the early Imami (Twelver) Shi’i tradition, the mother of the Imam Hasan al-Askari (d. 874) and one of his concubines. It considers a group of polemical accounts regarding the crisis of succession that followed his death, in which these two women played an exceptional historical role. It also unpacks the construction of an extensive hagiographical portrait that would come to define the popular memory of Hasan’s concubine in particular. The phenomenon of dynastic succession that characterized Imami Shi’ism and Abbasid imperial practice alike was the central determining factor in the emergence of the two women onto the stage of history and the construction of the elaborate hagiographical tradition that came to surround them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConcubines and Courtesans
Subtitle of host publicationWomen and Slavery in Islamic History
EditorsMatthew S Gordon, Kathryn A Hain
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780190622183
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Arabic historiography
  • Concubinage
  • Gender
  • Islam
  • Islamic history
  • Religious tradition
  • Shi’i
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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