Shi'ism in America

The book Shi'ism in America examines the various challenges that American Shi’is encounter in the American socio-political milieu including the construction of ethnic borders within the community, political engagement, the community’s attempts at acculturation and its engagement in academic discourse.

Shi'ism in America
Shi'ism in America.jpg
AuthorLiyakat Nathani Takim
PublisherNYU Press

About the authorEdit

Liyakat Nathani Takim is Sharjah Chair in Global Islam at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. A native of Zanzibar, Tanzania, he is the author of many works, including The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma and Religious Authority in Shi’ite Islam.

About the bookEdit

This book published in NYU Press (September 1, 2009), has 295 pages and best sellers rank of 1,937,852 in Books.

Takim in his book intends to examine the origins and contemporary experience of the Shi’i community in America including the origins of Shi’ism, Shi’ism during the occultation, the authority of Shi’i scholars, and studies on Shi’ism.

Abstract of chaptersEdit

Chapter 1: The Origins and Early History of the American Shi’i CommunityEdit

This chapter gives a history of Shi'is and their population in American cities and its political and historical factors. The author tries to examine Sufism in the American context, the relationship between Sufi movements in America, and how some of them are related to Shi'ism.

Chapter 2: The American Shi’i Community: Ethnicity and IdentityEdit

This chapter gives information about the ethnic structures in many of the communities in America, fascinating descriptions of marriages customs in different ethnic groups, and also a discussion of variations in and importance of Muharram observances (the murder of Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet). It shows how members of the Shi’i community coped with the challenges of cultural negotiations, redefinitions, and re-appropriation in a new cultural context.

Chapter 3: Sunni–Shi’i Interaction in AmericaEdit

Dr. Takim provides some evidence about sectarian differences and political and ideological battles regarding this issue. After revolution in Iran Many Muslims were inspired by the revolution and experienced a sense of rebirth. As a result, the rising of Shi'ism increased conflict between Sunnis and Shi'is among majority of Americans who did not understand the heterogeneity of Muslims.

Chapter 4: Shi’i Leadership and AmericaEdit

This chapter examines some intracommunity issues like the system of marji' al-taqlid (the Shi’i leadership that refers to the most learned judicial authority in the Shi’i community whose rulings on Islamic law are followed by those who acknowledge him as their source of reference or marji'), and counts some of its advantages over Sunni jurisprudence, including the superior ability to handle modern situations, and a general independence of religious jurisprudence from the political leadership.

Chapter 5: Shi’i Outreach Activities in AmericaEdit

This chapter focuses on Shi’ism among the African American community and Shi’is' experience as juxtaposed with those of immigrants and African American Sunnis, and the general weakness, so far, of Shi'i communities in reaching out to and including native Muslims, Muslims of other ethnicities than their own communities, and non-Muslims. The author also refers to the impact of the horrific events of September 11, 2001.