The Shia Revival
How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future
By Vali Nasr
(W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393062113, 287pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
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To most Western eyes, all Islamic movements look alike, and the central conflict in the Middle East is one between religion and secularism. Shockingly little has been written about the bitter divide between Shia and Sunni. Yet without understanding their ancient conflict--and its modern embodiment in the power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for political and spiritual leadership of the Muslim world--it is impossible to comprehend events across the so-called Shia Crescent, from East Africa through Iraq and Pakistan to India.
The provocative rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Saudi pressure on the United States not to unseat Saddam Hussein in 1991, the critical role of the Ayatollah Sistani and the religious establishment in Najaf (Iraq), the volatility of Pakistan today, and the consequences of the shift toward Shia power through American intervention--all this and more is explained in the light of the Shia/Sunni divide.