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The Emergence of Modern Shi’ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran

Thought provoking and challenging, this book examines the foundations of modern Islam, and provides fascinating insight into the region’s religious and political developments both past and present.

Scholars often locate the origins of the modern Islamic world in European colonialism or Islamic reactions to European modernity. The Emergence of Modern Shi’ism focuses instead on the rise of Islamic movements indigenous to the Middle East, which developed in direct response to the collapse and decentralization of the so-called Islamic gunpowder empires. In other words, new Shi’i, Sunni, and Sufi movements emerged as the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal empires decentralized and disintegrated.

Professor Heern specifically highlights the emergence of modern Usuli Shi’ism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Therefore, this book outlines the historical background and ideological roots of the most powerful movement in modern Shi’i history. The long-term impact of the Usuli revival was that Shi’i scholars gained unprecedented social, political, and economic power in Iran and southern Iraq. Usuli clerics claimed authority to issue binding legal judgments, which, they argued, must be observed by all Shi’is. By the early nineteenth century, Usulism became a popular, fiercely independent, transnational Islamic movement. Usuli clerics continue to operate at the heart of social and political developments in contemporary Iraq and Iran.

About the Author

Zackery M. Heern is an academic, specializing in the Middle East and Islamic Studies. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Idaho State University. Oneworld Publications published his latest book, titled “The Emergence of Modern Shi’ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran.” According to The Economist, Heern “refreshingly teases out the parallels between the three movements” of Usuli Shi’ism, neo-Sufism, and Wahhabi Sufism. In an article published by Your Middle East, Heern argues that “the birth of modernity in the Islamic world is associated with the political decentralization of the so-called Islamic gunpowder empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals.”

Bibliographic Information

Title: The Emergence of Modern Shi’ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran

Author(s): Zackery M. Heern

Publisher: ‎Oneworld Publications

Length: 240 pages

ISBN: 978-1780744964

Pub. Date: July 14, 2015

The Emergence of Modern Shiism

About Ali Teymoori

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