Machlis, Elisheva, Shi’i Sectarianism in the Middle East: Modernisation and the Quest for Islamic Universalism, Londres, I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2014, 256p.

MachlisThe eruption of violent sectarianism in Iraq following the US invasion   in 2003 brought the question of Sunni-Shi’i relations in the country  to the forefront of the international public agenda. Empowerment of  the Shi’i majority for the first time in the history of modern Iraq  and the emergence of a factious political system strengthened the  popular belief that contemporary Shi’ism is inherently sectarian.

Challenging this widely accepted consensus and providing a more   ecumenical depiction of Islam, Elisheva Machlis here assesses the  relationship between sectarianism and universalism in Shi’i thought by   examining the scholarly interaction between Iran, Iraq and Lebanon in   the twentieth century. The author presents a multifaceted and complex   analysis of the shifting sectarian identity of Shi’ism in the   transition to the modern era, exploring questions of leadership,  religious identity, group membership and transnationalism. Examining   the relationship between intellectual thought and socio-political   development in the region, this book provides a new perspective  concerning the future of an increasingly globalised Muslim world.

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