Sunday, July 26, 2015

Article in The Economist on The Emergence of Modern Shi'ism

Read the Article on The Economist

How Shiism evolved

Powers of persuasion

Modern Shiites have a long and complicated history

Zackery Heern, an American academic, is primarily concerned with the Shias, Islam’s second-largest denomination after the Sunnis. But he refreshingly teases out the parallels between the three movements, rather than their differences as most other commentators have done. He notes, in particular, their shared intolerance of alternatives in their pursuit of a single path to truth. “Sectarianism notwithstanding,” he writes, “Wahhabis, Idrisis and Usulis did have a common enemy in popular Sufism and each movement sought to suppress popular rituals that were thought to be un-Islamic.”  
Historians term the new movements, somewhat kindly, “revivalist”. Certainly all three upheld the right to challenge and reinterpret tradition afresh. Both the Wahhabis and the Usulis (unlike their Shia rivals, the Akhbaris) clung to their right to exercise ijtihad, or independent legal reasoning, rather than reliance on precedent. But whereas the Wahhabis limited ijtihad to interpretation of the sacred texts, Usulis insisted they could deduce rulings from rational arguments as well. Ibn Idris, the Sufi, relied on his intuition to revisit old texts...

WKMS interview on The Emergence of Modern Shi'ism

Listen to the full interview on WKMS

MSU History Professor on 'The Emergence of Modern Shi'ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq & Iran'

Murray State University Assistant Professor of History Dr. Zackery Heern says modern Shi'ism started with the "modernity" in general - around the 1700s, roughly the same time as the Enlightenment in Europe, birth of the United States and French Revolution. He's published a book titled The Emergence of Modern Shi'ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran. On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte speaks with Dr. Heern about his research and gains some context and clarity into the historical differences between Shi'ism and Sunnism...

Understanding the emergence of modern Shi‘ism

See full article on Your Middle East

Dr Zackery M. Heern, author of the new book 'The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran', has written a thought-provoking piece that helps us better grasp key developments in the Muslim Middle East.

I often complain that media related to the Middle East and Islam frequently lacks context. Indeed, news reports, related to the Middle East or otherwise, often assume that events occur without precedent and are unconnected to the past. Analysis, therefore, can be wildly misleading. The antidote for this absence of context is the study of history, which is why I tell my students that historians make good journalists. 
Unfortunately, however, history is often only invoked by pundits when the assertion is made that the Middle East has a long history of problems - violence, inequality, injustice, sectarianism, etc. These assumptions are biased in the worst way since they wrongly assume that the current state of affairs in the Middle East is identical to its seemingly unchanging history. On this faulty foundation, some analysts make doomsday prognostications that the Middle East will always be a problematic region since they assume that it always has been.
Instead of confining my contribution to this problem to exasperation, I wrote a book that situates modern Shi‘ism within the contexts of Iraq, Iran, the Middle East, and world history. In other words, the book is about Shi‘i Islam and its place in the modern world. By “modern” I do not mean the contemporary world, which is the domain of journalists and political scientists. I use the amorphous term “modern” in the historical sense. According to many historians, the modern world began sometime around 1750...