Sachedina is interested in theological issues related to Shiism and Sunnism, as well as subjects such as Islamic Biomedical Ethics, Islamic Law, Islam and Human Rights.
Abdulaziz Sachedina is one of the prominent scholars in the field of Islamic Studies in the West. He continues his studies and classes at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University in Virginia, USA and at the Religious Studies Department of the same university. Sachedina is interested in theological issues related to Shiism and Sunnism, as well as subjects such as Islamic Biomedical Ethics, Islamic Law, Islam and Human Rights. This conversation, which is about Shi’ism, was done in May 2019. His interest in Shiism and approach to current issues have been discussed.
My interest in Islamic studies in general, and in Shi’ite studies in particular, began early in my life. I was brought up in a religious family. Both my parents followed Shi’ite school of thought and my father was a self-taught scholar. However, it was my personal interest in Islam that prompted me to pursue Shi’ite and Sunnite studies. You can never do Shi’ite studies without investigating the Sunni tradition. Tanzania, with its diverse cultural and religious population was quite ecumenical. As a rule, people adhered to pluralism and harmonious co-exitence. Different ethnic and religious groups lived together in this British ruled country. On looking back to my intellectual and personal religious development the spiritual dimensions of Shi’ite religious practices had a major impact upon my interests in Shi’ism. Retrospectively, Shi’ite tradition combined Sufism and Islamic juridical tradition.
Having grown up under the colonial rule and having been educated in different ideas of reformation under Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian and African leaders in the early part of the 20th century, I developed a keen interest in the future of the Muslim communities in 20th century. This led me to look into a number of Muslim leaders who were involved in the movement for independence and improvement of their peoples under the colonial rule. On many occasions the history of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in Karbala played an important emotional role in spurring the spiritual and ethical interest in understanding the grounds for such revolutionary moments in the national histories of some communities, including the Shi’ite community in India and East Africa. The history of Muslim peoples in South Asia was rich and had a number of instances that related to the future of the idea of ultimate caliph of God, al-Mahdi. I regard my deep interest as the source of future studies in Islam.
Title: A Conversation with Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina on Shiʻa
Author(s): Betül Yurtalan
Published in: Turkish Journal of Shiite Studies, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2019.
Length: 9 page