Revivalism, Shi‘a Style

Energized Shi‘a represent a powerful challenge to Sunni extremism and jihadism.

Issue: Jan-Feb 2007

Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006), 288 pp., $25.95.

"Can you tell a Sunni from a Shi‘a?" Many people cannot describe the differences between these two major Muslim traditions. However, battles between Sunnis and Shi‘a dominate news from Iraq, and Sunni-Shi‘a relations are critical to the future of that country. In Lebanon, a major Shi‘a organization, Hizballah, plays a significant role in politics and, as the Israeli-Hizballah battles during the summer of 2006 show, this Shi‘a group has an impact on regional and global politics. In addition, Sunni and Shi‘a characteristics are important to the self-identification of competing major states like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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