Shi’ism A Religion of Protest

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In Shi'ism; A Religion of Protest, Hamid Dabashi attempts to reveal the soul of Shi'ism as a religion of protest in both warring and power positions, mostly in Iran, but also in Iraq and Lebanon.

Shi’ism; A Religion of Protest
Shi’ism A Religion of Protest.jpg
AuthorHamid Dabashi
PublisherThe Belknap Press of Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts

About the Author[edit | edit source]

Iranian Professor at Columbia University, Hamid Dabashi, has written more than a dozen books on Iranian Studies and Comparative. Dabashi was born in 1951 and raised in Ahvaz. He received his education in Iran and then in the United States, where he earned a dual Ph.D. in sociology of culture and Islamic studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard.

Being the author of numerous articles, he has also delivered many public speeches on topics ranging from Islamism, feminism, globalization, and ideologies and resistance strategies to visual and performing arts in a global context. He has written over 100 chapters, essays, articles, book reviews, and edited four books. His writings have been translated into several languages, and he is a well-known cultural critic.

He has been a columnist for the Egyptian weekly al-Ahram for over a decade, and he is a frequent contributor to Aljazeera and CNN.

About the book[edit | edit source]

In 2011, the Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press published the latest book of Hamid Dabashi named Shi'ism; A Religion of Protest with 488 pages in London, England.

In The New York Review of Book, Malise Ruthven wrote: “Dabashi’s extraordinarily rich and powerful book takes Shiism out of the sectarian ghettos

In this book, Hamid Dabashi tried to show the soul of Shi’ism as a religion of protest both in a warring position and in power, mostly in Iran and, of course, in Iraq and Lebanon.

Chapter reviews[edit | edit source]

The book is divided into 4 chapters, and each one has 3 sections.

Chapter I: Doctrinal Foundation[edit | edit source]

The author starts from early Islam, at the time of Prophet, and by reviewing its incidents, tries to describe the emergence of Shi’ism and explains the historical origins of Shi'ism, as well as the doctrinal principles on which it is based. In its three sections of this chapter: "Death of a Prophet" (indicate the life of Prophet from childhood to death), "Birth of a Revolutionary Faith" (shows the Birth of Shi’ism and why some people choose this way willingly), and "The Karbala Complex" (defining the meaning of Shahid for Imam Hussain; Shahid is a hero lost his life in militant struggles against the monarchy), the author shows that all these three incidents are the base of establishing Shi’ism.

Chapter II: Historical Unfolding[edit | edit source]

This chapter provides a detailed account of Shi'ism's development and its encounter with European colonial modernity from its origin in the seventh century to the dawn of the nineteenth century.  

In the first section of this chapter, "In the Battlefields of History," the author expresses the social uprising and the emergence of the power dynasty throughout history, tries to show the different reasons for revolution. In the next part,  "In the Company of Kings, Caliphs, and Conquerors," he talks about the changes in these revolutions in the Safavid Dynasty in the 16th century to become "public reason" and "At the Dawn of Colonial Modernity," he explains what happened to the Shi'ism after the fall of Safavid.

Chapter III: Visual and Performing Arts[edit | edit source]

Compared with other historical experiences Shi'ism has had in modernity, he believes this split is one of the most traumatic ones. It is because Shi’i scholars and scholars of Shi’ism (two separate things) are so productively lost in the thicket of Shi'ism doctrinal and historical details that they haven’t had the time or inclination to see through this split.

Therefore, in 3 sections, "Shi'ism and the Crisis of Cultural Modernity," "On Ressentiment and the Politics of Despair," and "An Aesthetic of Emancipation," the author divides Shi'i consciousness into two segments by categorizing it as a politics of despair on the one hand, and an aesthetic of formal emancipation on the other. One of the reasons for this matter is European Colonialism which, in his view, terminate the "Public reason."

Chapter IV: Contemporary Contestations[edit | edit source]

The last chapter of this book is divided into three sections: "The Un/Making of a Politics of Despair," "Toward a New Syncretic Cosmopolitanism," And "Contemporary Sites of Contestation."

In this chapter, the author discusses the contemporary crescendo of Shiism, specifically its expressions in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. He talks about the Iran Islamic revolution, Iraq war and Lebanon crises in the 20th century. He believes political Shi'ism has been thematically exhausted so that a renewed cosmopolitan modernity is the result of unifying its exhausted politics and alienated aesthetics. What's more, the contemporary sites of contestation between power-seeking and the collective will resist it will save and rescue Shi'ism from the paradox of success-in-failure and failure-in-success.

Source[edit | edit source]