Edmund Hayes is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leiden. He gained his doctorate with honours from the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in June 2015. He works on early Islamic history, in particular Shiʿi history, focusing on the intersection of intellectual developments and social and political dynamics. He also has interests in group dynamics, ethnicity, and gender and sexuality.
He is working on a book entitled Agents of the Hidden Imam: the Birth Pangs of Twelver Shiʿism, 850-950 CE. He has published, or has articles forthcoming in Iranian Studies, Comparative Islamic Studies and the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies.
He is investigating letters as a case-study in the embodiment of authority in pre-modern society. In particular, he uses a comparative perspective to place Shiʿi excommunication letters from the Imams within a typology of excommunication and anathematization practices in Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and Muslim (Shiʿi and Sunni) communities. This allows us to understand how the ecclesiastical punishment of excommunication can complement, replace or subvert coercive governmental power. He is also looking at tax-demand letters and the relationship between fiscal policy and religious protest in early Islam. This involves investigating the development of Islamic canonical revenues, ghanīma, fayʾ, kharāj, khums, anfāl, ṣadaqa, and zakāt, the ways in which these terms overlap and relate to each other, and the ways in which they were both practically applied and conceptualized by early Islamic jurists and thinkers.