Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution (Princeton Series on the Middle East) / Edition 1

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The author highlights the three main aspects of Shi'a Islam: its historical development, especially the history of the Imams; the rituals, including flagellation and passion plays; and the rule of the mullahs, known as the "government of experts." Shi'ism is as old as Islam. It began as an exclusively Arab political issue of succession to Muhammad, and was later embraced by the Iranians. At the core of Shi'i religious practice are rituals of mourning and atonement. Halm describes the elegies of mourning and the ta'ziye (passion plays) and includes travelers' accounts over the course of several centuries that establish striking similarities between Iranian and particular Christian practices. Halm explains the exalted position of the religious scholars, the mullahs and ayatollahs, who established themselves as clergy in the Safavid empire and defined themselves as "administrators" for the Hidden Imam. Their authority is based on idtschtihad, the rational interpretation of the Koran and the traditions of the Imans. The relationship between the rulers of Iran and the mullahs has always been tense. The Khomeini revolution was the powerful culmination of a lengthy history of conflict.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Halm (history, Univ. of Tbingen) attempts here to lessen the reader's confusion about the bewildering events in the Middle East. His work has three parts: the first, "The House of SorrowThe Twelve Imams," recounts the history and doctrine of Shi'a, the "party" of Ali ibn Ali Tahib and his 11 heirs, regarded as the true imams and only legitimate successors to the prophet Muhammed. Part 2, "The Deluge of WeepingFlagellant Procession and Passion Play," describes distinctive Shi'ite rituals that display grief and penitence over the martyrdoms of the successive imams. Most valuable in terms of modern history is the third part, "The Government of the ExpertIslam of the Mullahs," which discusses the forming of the Shi'ite hierarchy of mullahs and ayatollahs and how they came to religious and political power. Two minor criticisms of an otherwise excellent source: the hardcover is rather pricey, and the brief bibliography will not satisfy serious scholars. Recommended for academic libraries.James F. DeRoche, Alexandria, Va.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558761353
  • Publisher: Wiener, Markus Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/1996
  • Series: Princeton Series on the Middle East
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 260

Table of Contents

Remarks on the spelling of Arabic and Persian words and names
Pt. 1 The House of Sorrow: The Twelve Imams
1 The Commander of the Faithful: Ali ibn Abi Talib (656-661) 3
2 The Abdication of al-Hasan (661) 7
3 The Tragedy of Karbala (680) 8
4 The Origins of Shi'i Religious Tradition: The Campaign of the "Penitents" (684) 16
5 Withdrawal from Politics: The Sixth Imam, Ja'far as-Sadiq (702-765) 21
6 The Deportation of the Seventh Imam (796) 24
7 The Eighth Imam Ali ar-Rida as Heir Apparent (816) 25
8 The Shrine of Qom 26
9 The Imams in Samarra (836-873) 27
10 The Occultation of the Twelfth Imam (873) 28
11 The Fourteen Infallible Ones 30
12 The Return of the Mahdi 34
Pt. 2 The Deluge of Weeping: Flagellant Procession and Passion Play
1 The Origins of the Ashura Ritual 41
2 European Reports from the Time of the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1722) 44
3 The Elegy 57
4 The Ten Days of Muharram 61
5 The Passion Play 63
6 Chest Beaters and Flagellants 78
Pt. 3 The Government of the Expert: The Islam of the Mullahs
1 The Representative of the Hidden Imam 88
2 The Imam's Money: the "Fifth" 91
3 Participation in the Government (Tenth to Eleventh Centuries) 94
4 The Foundation of Shi'a Law : the "Four Books" 97
5 The New Center: al-Hilla (Thirteenth to Fourteenth Centuries) 100
6 The Basis of the Authority of the Mullahs: the Principle of Ijtihad 101
7 The Emergence of the Shi'a Clergy (Sixteenth Century) 106
8 Monarchy and Clergy as Rivals (Seventeenth Century) 109
9 Rationalists and Traditionalists (Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries) 112
10 Secular and Spiritual Arm (Nineteenth Century) 115
11 Marja' at-taqlid: the Source of Imitation 118
12 The Struggle against Westernization 123
13 The Rise of Qom 127
14 Shi'i Revolutionary Ideology 131
15 Khomeini and the "Government of the Expert" 138
16 The Leader of the Revolution 145
17 Illustrating Ijtihad Using the Example of Birth Control 150
18 The Successor to the Rahbar 152
19 The Shi'ites as a Party in the Middle East Conflicts 157
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