In this book, the writer hopes to shed light on the some of the questions that likely motivated a reader to pick it up in the first place: What are the differences between a Shiʻi and a Sunni Muslim? How did these differences develop over time in varying political contexts? Why do these identities appear to provoke so much conflict in the contemporary Muslim world?
The first two questions provide the central framework for much of the material in Chapters one through ten. In the conclusion, the writer turns to the third question and demonstrate how a complex and historically informed understanding of Shi‘ism can help us better understand the political developments in and religious geography of the modern Muslim world. Here the writer provides, for example, an analysis of the Sunni–Shi‘i civil war that erupted in Iraq in 1996 that draws on theology (i.e., the Imamate – Chapter 2), narrative (i.e., the disappearance of the twelfth Imam – Chapter 4), and historical experience (i.e., the relations between the Twelver Shi‘a and political authority –Chapters 7 and 10).
About the Author
Najam Haider is a Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College, New York. He is the author of The Origins of the Shi’a (Cambridge, 2011) focusing on the role of ritual and sacred space in the formation of Shi’i identity and Shi’i Islam (Cambridge, 2014) which examines three branches of Shi’i Islam – Zaydi, Twelver, and Ismaili, through a framework of memory.
Title: Shiʻi Islam, An Introduction
Editor: Najan Haider
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Pub. Date: August 2014