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The Clergy and the Modern Middle East: Shi’i Political Activism in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon

The book is based on exclusive interviews with high-profile Shi’i clerics in order to reveal how the Shi’i clerical elite perceives its role and engages in politics today.

The Shi’i clergy are amongst the most influential political players in the Middle East. For decades, scholars and observers have tried to understand the balance of power between, Shi’i ‘quietism’ and ‘activism’.

The book is based on exclusive interviews with high-profile Shi’i clerics in order to reveal how the Shi’i clerical elite perceives its role and engages in politics today. The book focuses on three ground-breaking events in the modern Middle East: the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the 2003 Iraq War, and the 2006 July war in Lebanon. By examining the nature and evolution of a Shi’i clerical network the book finds that, far from there being strategic differences between ‘quitest’ and ‘activist’ clerics, Shi’i mujtahid statesmen matured, from 1979 in Iran to 2003 Iraq, by way of a pragmatism which led to a strong form of transnational and associated whole in Lebanon in 2006.

In doing so, the book breaks down the established, and misleading, dichotomisation of the Shi’i clergy into ‘quietists’ and ‘activists’ and discovers that the decision of Shi’i clerical elites to become politically active or to stay out of politics are attributable to their ability to adapt to their political environments.

About the Author

Mohammad R. Kalantari is Research Fellow in International Relations of the Middle East and Deputy Director of Centre for Islamic & West Asian Studies at Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

Bibliographic Information

Title: The Clergy and the Modern Middle East: Shi’i Political Activism in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon

Author(s): Mohammad R. Kalantari

Publisher: I.B. Tauris

 Language: English

Length: 272 pages

ISBN: 9781838605568

Pub. Date: October 21, 2021

Click here to buy the Book

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