Monday, January 16, 2006

Fun with Reading: Intro to Shi'i Islam

Reading An Introduction to Shi'i Islam I found this quote petinent, pages 236-7 (bolded emphasis added) :
There is thus a strange paradox in Shi'i Islam in that two apparently contradictory attitudes are both equally praised and commended. The Imams are praised for their patient endurance of suffering at the hands of those with political power; they are commended for their use of taqiyya (religious dissumulation) in the face of overwhelming odds. And yet the same greatest Shi'ite hero, the Imam Husayn, is praised and commended for not submitting to tyranny and raising up (qiyamat) and fighting even in the face of overwhelming odds and the certainty of martyrdom.

This paradox had indeed given Shi'is religious justification for an
extraordinary political versatility. Those who wish to lead the Shi'i masses can, if opposition seems overwhelmingly superior or it is expedient to do so, enjoin upon the Shi'is the patient endurance (mazlumiyyat) of the Imams. And yet when the opportunity seems right, the Shi'i masses can be whipped up into the frenzy of revolution by appeal to the spirit of uprising (qiyam) of Husayn. ...

One further feature of the Shi'i world-view, which is also a feature of many centuries of being a persecuted minority, is the need for a scapecoat. Although it is centuries since Shi'ism was made the official religion of Iran, this world-view is still strong among Iranian Shi'is. ...

Since the Revolution, the Iraqi government, American imperialism and the international Zionist conspiracy have become the major external scapecoats, while the Baha'is have resumed their role as the internal scapegoats.

1 comment:

Dag said...

This blog is becoming very exciting. Thanks to all.