This May, Ashgate Publishing will release “Shi’i Reformation in Iran: The Life and Theology of Shari’at Sangelaji” by Ali Rahnema (American University of Paris). The publisher’s description follows:
Shi ‘ism caught the attention of the world as Iran experienced her revolution in 1979 and was subsequently cast in the mold of a monolithic discourse of radical political Islam. The spokespersons of Shi’i Islam, in or out of power, have not been the sole representatives of the faith. Nonconformist and uncompromising, the Shi‘i jurist and reformist Shari’at Sangelaji (1891–1944) challenged certain popular Shi‘i beliefs and the mainstream clerical establishment, guarding and propagating it. In Shi’i Reformation in Iran, Ali Rahnema offers a fresh understanding of Sangelaji’s reformist discourse from a theological standpoint, and takes readers into the heart of the key religious debates in Iran in the 1940s. Exploring Sangelaji’s life, theological position and disputations, Rahnema demonstrates that far from being change resistant, debates around why and how to reform the faith have long been at the heart of Shi’i Islam.
Drawing on the writings and sermons of Sangelaji, as well as interviews with his son, the book provides a detailed and comprehensive introduction to the reformist’s ideas. As such it offers scholars of religion and Middle Eastern politics alike a penetrating insight into the impact that these ideas have had on Shi’ism—an impact which is still felt today.
This February, I.B. Taurus will publish The Study of Shi’i Islam: History, Theology and Law edited by Farhad Daftary (The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London) and Gurdofarid Miskinzoda (The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London). The publisher’s description follows.
Shi’i Islam, with its rich and extensive history, has played a crucial role in the evolution of Islam as both a major world religion and civilization. The prolific achievements of Shi’i theologians, philosophers and others are testament to the spiritual and intellectual wealth of this community. Yet Shi’i studies has unjustly remained a long-neglected field, despite the important contribution that Shi’ism has made to Islamic traditions. Only in recent decades, partially spurred by global interest in political events of the Middle East, have scholars made some significant contributions in this area. The Study of Shi’i Islam presents papers originally delivered at the first international colloquium dedicated exclusively to Shi’i studies, held in 2010 at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. Within the book are eight sections, namely, history, the Qur’an and its Shi’i interpretations, hadith, law, authority, theology, rites and rituals, and intellectual traditions and philosophy.
Each section begins with an introduction contextualizing the aspects of studying Shi’i Islam particular to its theme, before going on to address topics such as the state of the field, methodology and tools, and the primary issues with which contemporary scholars of Shi’i studies are dealing. The scope and depth here covered makes this book of especial interest to researchers and students alike within the field of Islamic studies.
I.B. Tauris Publishing has published Shi’i Islam and Identity: Religion, Politics and Change in the Global Muslim Community (2012) by Lloyd Ridgeon (University of Glasgow). The publisher’s description follows.
The contemporary world is increasingly regarded as a global community in which traditional patterns of social organisation, faith and practice are rapidly being transformed. These changes are evident in many religious traditions, and Shi’i Islam is no exception. This book seeks to investigate the nature of contemporary Shi’ism, focusing on the creation of identities – showing the diversity of thought within the Shi’i world, the transnational nature of Shi’i networks, and the forces of tradition and modernity influencing current developments in Shi’i identity. Increasing contacts between East and West have made the presence of Shi’ism more visible in the modern world, especially in Europe. Shi’i Islam and Identity shows that it is no longer sufficient to speak of a ‘Shi’i Crescent'; rather, Shi’i worlds range from Senegal, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, to Turkey, Albania and European capitals such as London and Berlin.
From Columbia University Press, a new book by Laurence Louër (research fellow at CERI/ SciencesPo in Paris), Shi’ism and Politics in the Middle East (forthcoming May 2012). The publisher’s description follows.
Laurence Louër’s timely study immediately precedes the recent outbreak of unrest in Bahrain, triggering the escalation of the so-called Arab Spring of 2011. In addition to issues relating to the role of Shiite Islamist movements in regional politics, Louër provides background for the Bahraini conflict and Shiism’s wider implications as a political force in the Arab Middle East.
Louër’s study depicts Bahrain’s troubles as a phenomenon rooted in local perceptions of injustice rather than in the fallout from Shiite Iran’s foreign policies. More generally, her work argues that although Iran’s Islamic Revolution had an electrifying effect on Shiite movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf, in the end local political imperatives are the crucial driver of developments within Shiite movements—though Lebanon’s Hezbollah remains an exception. In addition, the rise of lay activists within Shiite movements across the Middle East and the emergence of Shiite anticlericalism has diminished the overwhelming influence of the Shiite clerical institution. Ultimately, Louër dispells the myth that Iran determines the politics of Iraq, Bahrain, and other Arab states with significant Shiite populations. Her book couldn’t be more necessary as revolution continues to spread across the Middle East.