Reviews

This collection of thirteen articles is for a part a result of a conference hold in Geneva on October 17 to 19, 2002 on “Images, Representations and Perceptions in the Shiite World”. The term “Other Shiites” means for the Editors non-Iranians Shiites. The objective of the volume is to highlight the diversity and multiplicity of Shiite Islam in countries and regions as diverse as Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The periods treated go from the late nineteenth century until now. Special significance has been given to rituals, especially to Muharram, as a way for minority Shiites to express identity in a Sunnite environment. The initial section entitled “Shia Minorities and the State” consists of five articles studying relations between Shiites and the authorities. The contribution by Gökhan Çetinsaya (“The Ottoman View of the Shiite Community of Iraq in the Late Nineteenth Century,” 19-40) is one of the most innovators: In the light of unstudied documents, the author analyses the feelings of Ottoman power vis-à-vis the expansion of the Shiite community in Iraq under Sultan Abdülhamid II. The author introduces several reports written by Ottoman authorities in Iraq explaining the reasons of the success of Shiism and proposing some measures to contain it. Hans-Lukas Kieser (“The Anatolian Alevi’s Ambivalent Encounter with Modernity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey,” 41-57) deals with the Alevis’ attitude to political change in Turkey in the 1910s to 1930s, and emphasises the ethnic division between Alevi Turks and Kurds. Hussein Gharbieh (“Hizbullah and the Legacy of Imam Musa al-Sadr,” 59-80) goes back to the political project of Musa Sadr (d. 1978) and to his influence on the Hezbollah. Daniel Meier (“The Shiites of Lebanon in the Post-War Era: a New Identity?,” 81-95) studies marriages among Shiites and Sunnite Palestinian refugees in Lebanon for casting light on the evolution of Shiite Lebanese identity. Mariam Abou Zahab (“The Politicization of the Shia Community in Pakistan in the 1970s and 1980s,” 97-112) analyses the respective impact of the Iranian revolution of 1978-9, and of the politicisation of Islam in Pakistan under Zia ul-Haqq (1977-88) on the evolution of the Shiite community of Pakistan. The author evokes the creation of the Imamiya Students Organisation (ISO) in 1972, very close to the politicised faction of the Iranian clergy. She sheds light on the Shiites’ mobilisation against the Hanafi rules promoted by Zia (on the payment by them of the zakat). M. Abou Zahab develops on the creation, in 1987, of a Shiite political party lead by ‘Allama ‘Arif Husayn al-Husayni and on this still unknown organisation supporting Khomeini’s ideology.

The second section, entitled “Rituals and Social Practices as Identity Markers,” contains four articles concerning exclusively the role of Muharram and ‘Ashura ceremonies. Yitzhak Nakash (“The Muharram Rituals and the Cult of the Saints among Iraqi Shiites,” 115-36) discusses the cultural practices of Iraqi Shiites. Sabrina Mervin (“‘Ashura’: Some Remarks on Ritual Practices in Different Shiite Communities (Lebanon and Syria),” 137-47) illustrates the diversity of the rituals of Muharram in Syria and Lebanon according to the participant’s community of origin, or to their affinities with reformers. Michel Boivin (“Representations and Symbols in Muharram and Other Rituals: Fragments of Shiite Worlds from Bombay to Karachi,” 149-72) stresses the diversity of Muharram rituals in the Indian subcontinent through two examples: the organisation of Muharram ceremonies in Bombay under British rule and in Karachi nowadays; the role of these ceremonies in the evolution of Khoja identity. The author also evokes some aspects of Shiite influence on the Sufis rituals in Gujarat and Sindh. Alessandro Monsutti (“Image of the Self, Image of the Other: Social Organization and the Role of ‘Ashura’ among the Hazaras of Quetta (Pakistan),” 173-91) deals with the role of the ceremonies of Muharram in the religious, social an political life of the Hazaras of Quetta. According to the author, the latter identify completely their individual and collective history with the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn. A historical overview of the community in Quetta is followed by considerations on ‘Ashura as a unique opportunity for Hazaras to reaffirm their religious identity and social aspirations vis-à-vis the others ethnic and religious groups of the city.

The third section, “Reinterpreting traditions,” comprises four more eclectic articles. Nile Green (“Shiism, Sufism and Sacred Space in the Deccan: Counter-Narratives of Saintly Identity in the Cult of Shah Nur,” 195-218) discusses the complicated relation between Shiite Islam and Sunnite Sufism in the Deccan through the study of the sanctuary of Shah Nur in Aurangabad — a religious figure claimed at the same time by the Shiites, the Sufis, the Sunnis, and even the Hindus of the city. Gabrielle van den Berg (“The ‘Sura of the Gift’ in the Oral Tradition of the Isma‘ilis of Tajik Badakhshan,” 219-30) is the only article of the volume that does not concern Imami but Ismaili Shiism. The author discusses the contemporary practice of an old Isma‘ili tradition of Badakhshan: the reciting by maddahs of Persian poems on mystical love of the principal figures of the Badakhshani Isma‘iliyya (cf. supra review No. 340). Werner Ende (“Success and Failure of a Shiite Modernist: Muhammad ibn Muhammad-Mahdi al-Khalisi (1890-1963),” 231-44) is a reinterpretation of the career of a famous Iraqi Shiite cleric. The author emphasises his role in the pan-Islamist movement of the 1950s, and the hostility of the Shiite clergy to many of his proposals (like the abolition of the mention of Imam ‘Ali in the call to prayer). Stephan Rosiny (“The Twelver Shia Online: Challenges for its Religious Authorities,” 245-62) studies the use of internet by the main marja‘-i taqlid in order to present their juridical opinions to the Shiites of the entire world.

Denis Hermann, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.2.B-345