Reviews

Despite the presence of an important Shiite community in Afghanistan, concentrated for the most part in Hazarajat (the central, mountainous part of the country’s territory), only very few studies have been dealing with it.  This voluminous work about the Shiites of Afghanistan is composed of eight chapters.  In the first one, on the origin of Shiism in this country, the author insists on the formation of the first communities during the Mongol and Timurid periods (early thirteenth – early sixteenth centuries).  The second chapter is about the demography of the Shiite population in contemporary Afghanistan; an important part focuses on the consequences of the massive emigration of the last three decades due to the successive wars—the situation is analysed region by region, city by city.  The third and fourth chapters deal with the role of Shiites in Afghan economy and politics since the nineteen century, though the author shows interested essentially in the last quarter of the twentieth century.  The fifth chapter, on education, notably introduces the country’s most actives Shiite theological schools.  The sixth chapter talks about the social stratification within the Shiite community, as well as the question of living conditions—the author deplores that “jihad warlords (rahbarha-yi jihadi)” still remain at the top of the social hierarchy.  The seventh chapter, about culture, goes back to the traditions of the Shiite populations of Afghanistan, and their relation with mass-medias.  The last chapter concerns beliefs and rituals.  Albeit if the book shows too often purely descriptive, and not enough analytical, it provides the readership a lot of detailed information, particularly useful given the poor state of research on the subject.  The bibliography of sources and modern works in Persian language is extremely rich.

Denis Hermann, French Institute of Research in Iran, Tehran
CER: I-5.2.B-422