Shia Revival
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Shia Revival

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  947 ratings  ·  97 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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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
Valerie
Nov 17, 2008 Valerie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Khairul H.
Oct 24, 2007 Khairul H. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Mustafa
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.
John
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
Erez Davidi
In this book, Vali Nasr explains in depth the reasons behind the conflict between the Shia and Sunni. The first half of the book deals mostly with the theological differences between the Shia and Sunni and the more ancient conflicts between the two branches of Islam. The second half of the book, which I found to be much more interesting, deals with current events, mostly focusing on the current war in Iraq, the regime in Iran, and how the current rise of the Shia will shape the Islamic world.

In...more
Ben
Jun 10, 2008 Ben rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Nura Yusof
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...more
Martin
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
Steven Peterson
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...more
Ron
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
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...more
Ed
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...more
Allison Grandish
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...more
Jamie Rinaldi
Jul 12, 2007 Jamie Rinaldi rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Jon
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
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
Nicholas Reith
Though this book has it's flaws in scholarship, for example:
-Lack of Arabic sources
-Lack of balance leaning obviously toward a Shia perspective

it does provide a much needed and refreshingly different look at politics and history in the Middle East. Having been a student of "Arab studies," at one of the more progressive University departments devoted to the subject, it amazed me to finally open my eyes, reading this book, and realize how much the American and Western view of the region, even that...more
Alex
This book held a lot of useful information but it didn't sit all that well with me.
The author was obviously trying to write for a Western audience and framed almost everything in a 'how will this effect America' kind of way which is not only annoying but simplifies his previously complex arguments.
There was also a stunning lack of footnotes for a work that large and making such large claims. He's an expert in the field so I understand if he didn't have to do research but it makes it much harde...more
Darryl
Disappointing what a limited conceptualization of funcional democracy this presents. Essentially, the book seems to advocate for a "one person one vote" system in the Middle East, but it fails to acknowledge the importance of protecions for minority groups and positions in assuring that all members of a society, not just the majority, are represented and served by their government. Rather, the author decries the subjugation of Shia individuals on the basis of their substantial proporton of popul...more
Ben Heaney
Relevant at the moment, though seems to contain a pro-Shia undercurrent... The Shia history has lent itself to dramatics, and this book is a relevant take on the dynamic, romantic nature of the Shia standing within historical and modern day Islam.
Andrew Fortier
Shia Revival provides good information on the Shia-Sunni divide. However, it take a little to much liberty in its bias towards the Shia. Both parties have exasperated the divide in Islam, and if feel as though this book gives an overall pass to the Shia in particular.
Benjamin
May 22, 2008 Benjamin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in International Relations, the war in Iraq, the Middle East, and Islam
Shelves: middle-east
This is a very informative read for people who are just beginning to learn about the Middle East, and I wholeheartedly agree with New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins (who has his own Iraq book coming out in September) when he says that, "the more you learn about the Middle East, the less you understand."

The book summarizes the split between the Sunnis and the Shia and their history of relations. But the crux of this book is about the sectarian conflict between sunnis and shias that the...more
Jess
Nasr's basic argument is that Shi'a are becoming more politicized for two reasons:
1) Sunni fundamentalism supercharges the salience of Shi'a identity throughout the Muslim world
2) The war in Iraq provides an example of what democracy can do for Shi'a populations.

Though he draws a pretty grim outlook from this, I think his fundamental analysis is pretty lacking. He relies too heavily on US intelligence reports and, in my opinion, misjudges the spillover affect in Iran.

Still, the first chapter's e...more
Rob Withers
Re-read this. The Shia revival hasn't led to Nasr's best-case scenario, but he accurately predicts what a not-quite-best-case scenario might look like. And it's uncannily like what is transpiring right now.
Sam W
Dec 14, 2013 Sam W rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any military personnel
An incredibly valuable book for anyone trying to understand the main sectarian conflict that is defining the Middle East. This book covers the history of Shia Islam from the initial schism in Islamic leadership right up to the present day. The author tends to insert a lot of history into a small book, and some more analysis would have been nice, but again, I can't say enough about the window this provided me, an American, into the history present-day conflicts that shape one of the world's large...more
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...more
John Lilly
This is a really interesting book, given to me by my friend Peter Sims, particularly in light of the Iranian elections last week. It's an in depth, but readable explanation of the history of the Shia/Sunni relationship, but also a very broad look at the contemporary politics across the region. I have a pretty strong sense that there's some pro-Shia bias in the book (although as an outsider, it's difficult to assess how much, really) -- nonetheless, this was probably the single most useful book I...more
Sarah
It took me much longer than usual to get through this book, simply due to all of the detail Nasr includes and the scope of the problems he discusses (not to mention somewhat unfamiliar names and a lot of groups to keep straight). Fairly easy to read, excepting that.

I'm sure other reviews have brought this up, but I feel like there's a Shia bias in the work and will definitely try to find differing perspectives. There is no one right way to view the conflict in the Middle East, however, so even w...more
Niki Clinger
I loved this book. This is a really good way to help an American understand exactly what is going on in the Middle East.

I read bits of it for class in 2009 but I finally got a chance to read it for fun this year and I was thrilled I did. I enjoyed the CRAP out of this book.

Thanks Dr. Weinberg, as always, books you assign are more informative and helpful than I could have ever predicted. I actually was able to lead a discussion on Islam because of this book.
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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
More about Vali Nasr...
The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama'at-i Islami of Pakistan The Rise of Islamic Capitalism: Why the New Muslim Middle Class Is the Key to Defeating Extremism (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Free Press))

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