[BOOKS] ✬ The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future By Vali Nasr – Saudionline.co.uk

The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future summary The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, series The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, book The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, pdf The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future 4920b5c36a Iranian Born Scholar Vali Nasr Has Become One Of America S Leading Commentators On Current Events In The Middle East, Admired And Welcomed By Both Media And Government For His Concise And Coherent Analysis Wall Street Journal, Front Page Profile In This Remarkable Work Anderson Cooper , Nasr Brilliantly Dissects The Political And Theological Antagonisms Within Islam, Providing A Unique And Objective Understanding Of The , Year Bitter Struggle Between Shias And Sunnis And Shedding Crucial Light On Its Modern Day Consequences

10 thoughts on “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future

  1. says:

    This is obviously from the Shia perspective, but in my limited knowledge opinion which I d argue we all speak from I d say calling Khomeini the Sunnification of Shiism went a little far Basically, the author appeared to back peddle from his established opinion that Shia was the democratic and modernist alternative to a backward, fundamentalist Sunniism Of course Khomeini is Shia and there was a Safavid empire based in Iran but he tries to take what would be scary to the west and label it Sunni and lists good about the Shia Regardless, as long as one is aware of the continual bias of the book hard to believe one would not be it offers a great comparison and the information in it allows you to see what the author is saying The books point is to explain the difference and conflict between Shia and Sunni sects of Islam it would be wrong to allow this focus to encourage readers to see the world in these terms only that this is one religious issue to consider The reality, as it so often is, is far complicated.

  2. says:

    The first chapter of this book is the single best explanation I have ever seen explaining the distinction between Shias and Sunnis Nasr has performed a valuable service in writing this book Most explanations reduce the Shia Sunni distinction to a mere theological point, rendering both sides foolish in the telling Nasr explains the economic, political, and often ethnic differences that gave rise to such passionately held ideological differences And he does so in an easy to read, captivating account Chapter 2 does a terrific job of refuting any monolithic understanding of the categories laid out in Chapter 1 Chapter 3 describes the role of Arab nationalism in fomenting organized Shia dissent think Hezbollah Chapter 4 describes Khomeini s success as the basis for global Shia empowerment and organization, strategy and money I also recommend Ch 7, an account of current events in Iraq.However, as at least one other reader has pointed out, Nasr s insistence that the Shia Sunni split is THE defining political dichotomy should be balanced by other perspectives And I must agree with others, too, that Nasr s portrayal of the victimized Shias is harder to sympathize with in the face of Iran, Hezbollah, etc And yet, of course, historically, Shias certainly have been political and economic outcasts If you only read the first half of the book though, you may be left with the bizarre impression that Sunni prejudice against Shias generally, and Iranians specifically, functioned for the last 50 yrs or so as a geopolitically stabilizing force So you must push through to the afterword, which I can only refer to as his American idealism chapter, in which he insists that democracy and US commitment to genuine political reform in the region will ultimately prevail.Given the violence of the Sunni backlash in response to Shia ascendancy, it is hard to see how ideas like democracy can have much effect on stabilizing the Middle East Yet Nasr points to subtle changes within Iran as one indication that they can It is difficult in the extreme, given the shape of the Saudi govt., to name but one example, to imagine regional political reform as a solution And yet I don t suppose there is any other option.

  3. says:

    In spite of its obviously pro Shia bias, which many other readers have also noted, this is a superb book I cannot imagine a better introduction to the current sectarian religious strife in the Middle East and Central Asia, nor to the general theological as well as political differences between Shia and Sunni believers In fact, it s hard to imagine a better introduction to the history and theology of Islam, period Nasr achieves what I think I most admire in a writer of this sort of study, managing to treat his topic with scholarly rigor but without being dull He also manages to to use his 300 pages to offer 300 pages worth of information and insight, unlike so many books on contemporary politics and especially the War on Terror that generally seem to have about a 10 1 ratio of fluff repetition bombast to substance like 25 to 1 in the case of Thomas Friedman s books, but that s another story If I were to choose one book to give to someone interested in contemporary international politics, it might well be this one.

  4. says:

    Should be read both by Sunnah Muslims and non Muslims Let s face it, what do we know about the Shia Muslims Next to nothing, most probably And yet we want to discuss about them and some of us want to bomb them to the stone age Read Understand Chill out.

  5. says:

    I don t want to speak ill of Vali Nasr and I hope this review doesn t come off like I am I ve never met him, but I know of him and he seems much loved and respected That being said, I kind of really hated this book I think what happened is you have a man who knows SO MUCH about this and tried to write a book for a general audience and then handed the transcript off to an editor who didn t really get it and didn t want to come across as stupid, so they gave the green light to have it published There is just SO MUCH information and, in my opinion, it s not organized well, he throws names and places around and I was confused most of the time Full disclosure, I don t know much of anything on the Middle East, or Islam But I m pretty smart and I learn quickly, but this book tested my patience and my self doubt I just didn t understand a thing.I m not saying don t try to read this It could just be me Everyone else loved it I m glad I struggled through it I think I m gonna read a really basic book on Islam and the history of mid and near east and then come back to this one Maybe that will help.

  6. says:

    This book basically has two parts and both are very informative The first part is a sort of history or introduction to the Shias, who they are, and how they fit in the middle east vis a vis the Sunnis The second part of the book is less historical, of an analysis of the current situation along with thoughts on how the middle east is shaping up and what the rise of the Shias and, the rise of Iran s influence read influence, not domination or control could do to change the region.It appears to be a very Pro Shia book, but the audience Americans must be considered Nasr has a big hurdle to get over in this country as the popular perception of Shias in the USA was created during the Iranian Revolution and we tend to think of Shias as, in the words of a friend of the author, blood thirsty, baby eating monsters Nasr does a great job in unveiling a frame of the region that most Americans are lost on the raging Shia Sunni rivalry that burns ever brighter today since the decline of Arab nationalism and the rise of Saudi influence and Sunni extremist groups such as al Qaeda.

  7. says:

    This is a popular work on what Vali Nasr calls the Shia Revival, and it must be understood that this is, or less, an introduction to the topic Nasr works in broad strokes, but essentially argues that since the Iranian Revolution Shia communities have been empowered and are taking control of their own destiny He spends a great deal of time examining Iraq the first Shia Arab country to undergo this revival and Iran its point of origin Ultimately, he argues that a great deal of the Sunni extremism we see today ISIS, for example is a result of fears of loss of Sunni dominance, so groups have formed to maintain it by force This is certainly true, but Nasr fails to connect the rise of extremist groups to other regional trends For example, it is only the in the Afterward that Nasr analyses MENA history after 2005, given this book s original publication in 2005 Yet, movements like the Arab Spring appear to be a simple footnote, notable only for their backlash of or support to Shia governance Admittedly, that book is focused specifically on Shiism in the modern Middle East and Central Asia, but connecting these trends to larger pictures would have been welcome.It must be mentioned that Nasr is unapologetically pro Shia He makes some good arguments about the necessity of the Shia revival, but he also tends to paint Shia leaders in far favorable light than Sunni leaders This is not an issue for most cases, but Nasr s analysis overall seems unbalanced.Nevertheless, this is a good intro to the subject, but far reading is necessary to work out the details.

  8. says:

    From a completely neutral perspective the wool seemed biased towards the Shia perspective with very little good things to say for the Sunni side of the argument Hence, whilst a good read, I would caution caveat emptor

  9. says:

    Interesting central hypothesis about how the position of Shiites within the Muslim world is changing, but wasn t overly impressed with his argument Too much of it felt a bit anecdotal.

  10. says:

    If you re looking for a succinct review of this book, I highly recommend the one by Valerie above, who briefly describes the contents of each chapter in the course of her review.I don t know that I would recommend this as a first book for someone with very little knowledge of Islam It might be better to start with something like _After the Prophet_ Hazleton or a book on the basics of Shi a Islam Once you have that background, you ll be much better positioned to take advantage of the wealth of information in this book.I ll comment on a few of the chapters below The first chapter provides a lot of detailed information about the history of Shi ism as well as some incidental cultural differences such as in dress, honorific titles such as Seyyid and Shah, and manner of prayer And it has a lot of very interesting information about the difference between Shi a rites as practiced in India, where other local religions have influened Shi i culture, versus Iran and versus Iraq and other parts of the Arab world There s also a lot of interesting information on the tombs of the imams and other Shi i pilgrimage sites Later in the chapter, there s some mention of the similarities between Shi ites and Sufis as I understand it, Sufism has drawn from both branches of Islam, ie is not exclusively one or the other and examples of cooperation between them in countering extremist Sunni movements such as wahhabism and salafism Toward the end of the chapter, the author points out some interesting information about Beshar Al Assad s Alawi sect, which derives from Shi a Islam and which, interestingly, sought and obtained from Lebanese and Iranian religious authorities a fatwa proclaiming them Shi a just to prove that they are even Muslim at all And that as a protection against Sunnis who, in many cases, don t consider Shi ites true Muslims Truth is truly stranger than fiction.There s also an excerpt of several paragraphs from an interesting Rudyard Kipling story about observing Ashoura as a British official in Lahore in this chapter.Chapter 2 talks about the concept of ayatollas and how, in traditional Shi ite thought, they never sought a political role It was Khomeini who, with his theory of velay t e feqih, first came up with the idea of a supreme leader On page 69, two schools of Shi ite thought are presented These are the Usuli or fundamentalists and the Akhbari or traditionalists The latter are found mostly in Bahrain today, although apparently many have been lured over to the Usuli side in the wake of the rise of the Iranian Republic The Usulis expect the ulama clerics to use reasoning to devise new ways of thinking to deal with innovations that arise in society and to push the law in new directions The Akhbaris reject this idea, relying solely on the Quran and the Hadith and the recorded opinions of the Imams in constructing law.The main sole branch of Shi ite law, Ja afari law, which some tolerant Sunni Muslims are willing to accept as a fifth school of law alongside the four Sunni schools, differs from those other schools in terms of inheritance, religious taxes, commerce and personal status, and it codifies a very odd practice known as temporary marriage.Chapter 3 talks about Arab nationalism and how, at first, Shi ites had embraced it After a while, though, it became clear that they were not going to be beneficiaries of it, ie that it was just one movement which would make Shi ites victims of it And it s interesting to note that, when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Shi ites greeted them as liberators That s certainly understandable considering the hardships they had had to endure as a result of the Palestinian presence But Hezbollah, under the leadership of Iran, soon brought the Shi ites into line with their desire to undermine the Arab Israeli peace process As Friedman points out in his book _Between Beirut and Jerusalem_, the Israelis missed out on an opportunity to ally themselves with the Lebanese Shi ites But I suppose they are not entirely to blame given that Iran was determined to interfere.Chapter 4 is perhaps the most interesting chapter in the book It talks about the rise of Iran and the relationship between Khomeini and other high level Shi ite clerics such as Abu al Qasim al Khoi The latter vociferously rejected Khomeini s concentration of religious and political power into one body, and he competed with Khomeini for influence all over the Shi ite world I believe Ayatollah Al Khoi foresaw the problems Shi ites in Bahrain and Lebanon and other countries in which they lacked political recognition would face as a result of Khomeini s encouragement for them to rise up And, indeed, we see today that a Sunni minority in Bahrain continues to repress the Shi ite majority there all these years later Saudi Arabia, too, has an abysmal track record in its treatment of its Shi ite citizens In fact, all of Iran s efforts to export its Shi ite revolution have pretty much failed despite her best efforts Whereas Iranians probably could have done a lot to use their considerable influence to promote their co religionists in these areas if Khomeini hadn t been so determined to lash out at his perceived enemies rather than to try to work out compromises with them.I d like to comment on one last chapter, as well That is chapter 8 which is entitled The Rise of Iran Ever since Khat mi won the presidential elections in 1996, the public has made it clear in election after election that it wants reform, but the authoritarian mullas are determined to keep their grasp on power no matter what, and the people be damned The description of evening events at the Jamkaran mosque near Qom and of Iranian pilgrims increasing support of Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq make it clear that, though they wish to remain close to their Shi ite roots, they are fed up with sanctimonious leaders who seem to care nothing about helping to move Iran forward out of poverty and into a brighter future.This chapter also talks about the increase in repression which Shi ite Muslims in eastern Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have had to endure as a result of Iranian posturing against the Arab Gulf It seems pretty clear then that the Islamic Republic hasn t done much at all to improve the lot of Shi ite Muslims outside of Iran Even repulsive is their decision to name a street in Tehran after Anwar Sadat s murderer.I also want to point out that several of the reviews of this book express the opinion that the book is biased in favor of the Shi a viewpoint I m not sure I agree Certainly, Iran under the Islamic Republic discriminates against and horribly mistreats religious minorities, among them Sunni Muslims They ve also stirred up trouble abroad through their support of terrorism in a variety of countries And I am sure there are probably other examples of Shi ite aggression I m not aware of But my sense is that, throughout history, it s the Shi a who have pretty consistently been the victims of Sunni aggression and not the other way around.

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