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Shia Revival

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,692 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
The Shia Revival is a historical account of sectarian conflicts in the Muslim world, and how the future rests in finding a peaceful solution to the ancient rivalries between the Shias and the Sunnis. Nasr provides an understanding of this 1,400-year bitter struggle between the two sects - tracing its roots from the succession of the Prophet Muhammad - forcing us to differe ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc. (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Julian Haigh
This is obviously from the Shia perspective, but in my limited-knowledge opinion (which I'd argue we all speak from) I'd say calling Khomeini the Sunnification of Shiism went a little far. Basically, the author appeared to back-peddle from his established opinion that Shia was the democratic and modernist alternative to a backward, fundamentalist Sunniism. Of course Khomeini is Shia and there was a Safavid empire based in Iran - but he tries to take what would be scary to the west and label it S ...more
Nov 17, 2008 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone confused about Islam & current ME political conflicts
The first chapter of this book is the single best explanation I have ever seen explaining the distinction between Shias and Sunnis. Nasr has performed a valuable service in writing this book. Most explanations reduce the Shia/Sunni distinction to a mere theological point, rendering both sides foolish in the telling. Nasr explains the economic, political, and often ethnic differences that gave rise to such passionately held ideological differences. And he does so in an easy-to-read, captivating a ...more
In spite of its obviously pro-Shia bias, which many other readers have also noted, this is a superb book; I cannot imagine a better introduction to the current sectarian religious strife in the Middle East and Central Asia, nor to the general theological as well as political differences between Shia and Sunni believers. In fact, it's hard to imagine a better introduction to the history and theology of Islam, period. Nasr achieves what I think I most admire in a writer of this sort of study, mana ...more
Jun 10, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: Max Gasteen
This book basically has two parts and both are very informative. The first part is a sort of history or introduction to the Shias, who they are, and how they fit in the middle east vis-a-vis the Sunnis. The second part of the book is less historical, more of an analysis of the current situation along with thoughts on how the middle east is shaping up and what the rise of the Shias (and, the rise of Iran's influence - read influence, not domination or control) could do to change the region.

It app
Khairul H.
Oct 24, 2007 Khairul H. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in current affairs
Shelves: politics, religion
Should be read both by (Sunnah) Muslims and non-Muslims. Let's face it, what do we know about the Shia Muslims? Next to nothing, most probably. And yet we want to discuss about them and some of us want to bomb them to the stone age. Read. Understand. Chill out.
Stephanie Bluth
I don't want to speak ill of Vali Nasr and I hope this review doesn't come off like I am. I've never met him, but I know of him and he seems much loved and respected. That being said, I kind of really hated this book. I think what happened is you have a man who knows SO MUCH about this and tried to write a book for a general audience and then handed the transcript off to an editor who didn't really get it and didn't want to come across as stupid, so they gave the green light to have it published ...more
Richard K
From a completely neutral perspective the wool seemed biased towards the Shia perspective with very little good things to say for the Sunni side of the argument. Hence, whilst a good read, I would caution caveat emptor
Interesting central hypothesis about how the position of Shiites within the Muslim world is changing, but wasn't overly impressed with his argument. Too much of it felt a bit anecdotal.
Aug 24, 2015 Jean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the biggest asset of the book lies in the simplicity and depth of analysis that Nasir provides in regards to sectarian violence in the ME today. It foreshadows the rise of salafist, radical group IS in northern Iraq and Syria through providing a background to the rise of fundamental Sunni islam as a violent reactionary movement to confront the rise of Shi'a Islam and the perceived loss of sunni dominance in the ME. It gives a great overview of the powers at work in Iraq and the interconne ...more
Nura Yusof
Aug 08, 2011 Nura Yusof rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sectarian conflict that has taken and is taking place in the Middle East is certainly not what the Prophet had in mind in propagating Islam, in my opinion.

Are the Shia, Muslims? Are the Sunnis right? Honestly, no one knows. Instead, we have both groups, each trying to out-shout each other, saying that theirs is the true Islam. And most often, by violent means.

What a waste of time and resources. They are sitting on huge deposits of oil which could greatly help them build their countries and
Apr 24, 2015 Fernando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are a few paradigms to explain regional violence in the Middle East. The Sunni - Shia divide is one of them, also known as "civil war within Islam". This book is probably the best articulation of that paradigm, starting from the origins of the split to current events. The author traces upheavals in the region to readjustments of political and social trends between these two main branches of Islam.

As many pointed out, it's a one sided analysis from the Shia perspective. I don't think it is
Mehwish Mughal
What I liked:
- Accessible narrative
- Engaging

What I did not like:
- Not just biased towards Shia-Islam but also towards one particular sect within Shi'ism (12 Imams)
- Oversimplification of issues.
- At times it felt like the author was forcing the entire Middle Eastern issues to fit into the Shia-Sunni conflict box

I think in order to understand the Shia-Sunni split within the historical framework with minimum subjectivity, the best book around is Shi'ite Islam by Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn T
Ghada Arafat
I am really hesitant to give this book 3 starts but I gave it that because it is a great book in terms of covering many untouched issues and it leaves the reader with enough curiosity to read more on the issue.
What was apparent for me in the book, which I did not like especially that the author has a big academic back ground, is his apparent sympathy with Shies. I noticed that when ever he talks about bloody acts committed by Shies he is giving them the excuse that they were retaliated. He stres
Aug 24, 2014 Sjonni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Shia Revival" is an in-depth exposé of the troubled relationship between the two major Islamic denominations and explores the consequences on neighbouring regimes of the advent of a majority Shia rule in Iraq while, in Iran, the impetus and meaning of the Revolution further wane.

Written in a tone that communicates Shia sensibilites with balance and depth, this book addresses head on the divide that splits Islam in two arch-rival factions. The Western reader (moi, in this case), being usuall
Feb 12, 2014 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me understand fundamental differences between Shia and Sunni approaches to the world. At one point the author offered the analogy of Catholic vs Protestant in Northern Ireland to describe the often uneasy co-existence of the two sects, where nationalism and religion get intertwined. I finally understood the significance of the Twelfth Imam and how that colors one's perspective and expectations of the world. I'm glad that I stuck with the book, especially as it explained much of ...more
Bob Duke
Apr 17, 2015 Bob Duke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very necessary reading. The book was written before the rise of the Islamic state but foresaw the deepening conflict between Shia and Sunni. In the complexities of the Middle East it appears that post Khomeini Shia Iran may be the best force for calming this troubled area. The recent proposed agreement between Washington and Tehran in regard to nuclear weapons is a positive manifestation of this. The danger to this agreement are the hard liners in Iran and the posturing Republicans in the US. Wh ...more
Jun 21, 2016 Hans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One will never fully understand the Politics and conflicts of the Middle East without understanding the key difference between the intricacies of Shia and Sunni Islam. This begins with understanding the long history and evolution of the two sects, how they diverged and how their ideological differences set them up for an existential conflict since they both only accept the idea of "There can only be one". True Islam. This has and will continue to drive conflict in the Middle East and will only g ...more
David Harris
Oct 04, 2015 David Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a more succinct review of this book, I highly recommend the one by Valerie above, who briefly describes the contents of each chapter in the course of her review.

I don't know that I would recommend this as a first book for someone with very little knowledge of Islam. It might be better to start with something like _After the Prophet_ (Hazleton) or a book on the basics of Shi'a Islam. Once you have that background, you'll be much better positioned to take advantage of the wea
May 30, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nasr's decision to go the unscholarly route is disappointing, and he makes some embellishments here and there to make his point. However, his prediction that the Sunni Shia conflict would become front and center in the Middle East seems to have come true, and he explains well the central role that the Iran-Gulf Arab conflict has taken in perpetuating this schism in Islam. However, his argument that Shi'ism would overtake Sunnism in its influence with the U.S. is pretty far fetched. It's a good r ...more
Apr 18, 2015 Mehdi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The conflict between Shia and Sunni is real no matter how one pretend to be just a secular Muslim. Shiite muslims have been oppressed for centuries by Sunnis. Moreover Sunnis are more attractive to radical Islam than of a Shia. It's funny how some people accuse Asad in Syria of being a SHIA regime and a dictator who kill and suppressed SUNNI majority but these blind hypocrites didnt lift a finger when Saddam was killing SHIAS by thousand and millions and used chemical weapons upon them in SHIA m ...more
Steven Peterson
Oct 31, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an accessible and useful volume for those who want to know more about what is at stake with the Shia versus Sunni disputes. At the outset, the author, Vali Nasr, notes that (page 20): "The Shia-Sunni conflict is at once a struggle for the soul of Islam. . .and a manifestation of the kind of tribal wars of ethnicities and identities, so seemingly archaic at times, yet so surprisingly vital, with which humanity has become wearily familiar."

The volume begins with a description of the separ
Apr 23, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an illuminating perspective on current Middle East politics by an Iranian-born and U.S. educated writer, who has credentials as a member of the faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School and associate chair of research at the Department of National Security Affairs. The overall argument of his book is that the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the war in Iraq have set in motion the reversal of an age-old balance of power between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East. After a millennium or ...more
Alif Fikri
Feb 05, 2008 Alif Fikri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Kalau seorang editor New York Times mengatakan buku ini memiliki plot yang cepat, mengikat, dan menegangkan, saya rasa itu bukanlah suatu hal yang berlebihan.

Pertama kali saya lihat buku ini awalnya selain karena judul bukunya adalah karena nama "Nasr" memiliki tempat tersendiri. Setelah membaca sinopsisnya, saya langsung mencari tahu siapa "Nasr" yang satu ini. Ternyata dugaan saya benar, singa melahirkan singa. Nasr di sini adalah putra seorang intelektual ternama dari Iran, Seyyed Hussein Na
Jun 04, 2008 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: afghanistan
Dealing with the Middle East without understanding the very basic differences between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam would be like trying to bring peace to Northern Ireland while remaining ignorant of the divisions between Protestant and Catholic Christians.

Vali Nasr writes very well. His brief survey of the theological, geographic and class based differences between the two major sources of Islamic thought is clear and (it seems) very precise.

This book will go a long way in helping one
Jun 11, 2013 A rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Just a warning: I have mixed feelings about this book and they come in difficult-to-articulate forms, so this review is going to be a mess.

First, I do not think I was the target audience for this book. I was expecting a more accessible overview of the Sunnis-Shia conflict, while the author was expecting his readers to come in with a fair bit of knowledge already (at least it felt that way to me). However, even this observation of mine is a bit complicated by the fact that the author seems to os
Jamie Rinaldi
Jul 12, 2007 Jamie Rinaldi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone trying to understand the current conflict in the Islamic world
Over the last three years, I think we've all become painful aware of the sectarian struggle between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq. Although the political and armed struggle in Iraq probably represents the most intense manifestation of the Shia/Sunni struggle, this conflicts plays out in other Arab regions to significant effect - it was the conflict between the Sunni PLO and the Shias in southern Lebanon in the late 1970's and early 1980's that led to the foundation of the Hezbollah as a means f ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost a decade before the rise of ISIS, Vali Nasr presented a stark vision of what the Middle East could become if sectarian violence was allowed to fester in the wake of the fall of Arab Nationalism and the Strongmen that guarded it. This book should be required reading for all in the West trying to understand the morass of political, religious and tribal links that shape the volatile region--and why strife between the Sunni and Shia may reverberate globally for decades to come. A work of shre ...more
Jul 07, 2008 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nasr falls on the sectarian side of the debate over how the contemporary and future Middle East will organize itself. Unlike scholars such as Moshe Ma'oz--who argue that local and regional balances of power will define the Middle East's power struggles and hotspots--Nasr understands the future of the Middle East in terms of a general split along Sunni-Shi'i lines. According to this logic, major cleaveages cut across--as opposed to along or within--national borders. As a result, the differences b ...more
Charis Flanders
Nasr's work is remarkably prescient as he elucidates the struggle between Sunnis and Shiites that he predicts will come to define the Middle East in a much more stratified and violent way than we had seen thus far. The wars in Iraq and Syria as well as the morphing Iranian nuclear weapons deal, all recent developments, bear out his thesis and provide a precedent for considering his solutions.
Mike Lindgren
Dan Mayland's assignation for the second annual Men's Book Club is this staggeringly tedious account of the history and politics of the Shia branch of Islam, unreadable except by specialists, academics, and people with seriously way too much time on their hands. A particularly irritating choice given that my father and I, like all educated, middle-class liberals, are in theory in favor of learning about different cultures, religions, blah blah blah, and are thus trapped by our own good conscienc ...more
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Son of renowned Iranian academic Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Vali Nasr was born in Tehran in 1960, went to school in England at age 16, and immigrated to the U.S. after the 1979 Revolution. He received his BA from Tufts University in International Relations summa cum laude. He earned his masters in International Economics and Middle East Studies from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1984, then ...more
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“The Shia-Sunni conflict is at once a struggle for the soul of Islam… and a manifestation of the kind of tribal wars of ethnicities and identities… with which humanity has become wearily familiar.” 0 likes
“Ultimately, the character of the region [the Middle East] will be decided in the crucible of Shia revival and the Sunni response to it.” 0 likes
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