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Sunnis and Shi'A

A Political History

Laurence Louer



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Princeton University Pres
01 August 2020
A compelling history of the ancient schism that continues to divide the Islamic world When Mohammed died in 632 without a male heir, Sunnis contended that the choice of a successor should fall to his closest companions, but Shi'a believed that God had inspired the Prophet to appoint his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, as leader. So began a schism that is nearly as old as Islam itself. Laurence Louer tells the story of this centuries-old rivalry, taking readers from the last days of Mohammed to the political and doctrinal clashes of Sunnis and Shi'a today. In a sweeping historical narrative spanning the Islamic world, Louer shows how the Sunni-Shi'a divide was never just a dispute over succession'at issue are questions about the very nature of Islamic political authority. She challenges the widespread perception of Sunnis and Shi'a as bitter enemies who are perpetually at war with each other, demonstrating how they have coexisted peacefully at various periods throughout the history of Islam. Louer traces how sectarian tensions have been enflamed or calmed depending on the political contingencies of the moment, whether to consolidate the rule of elites, assert clerical control over the state, or defy the powers that be. Timely and provocative, Sunnis and Shi'a provides needed perspective on the historical roots of today's conflicts and reveals how both branches of Islam have influenced and emulated each other in unexpected ways. This compelling and accessible book also examines the diverse regional contexts of the Sunni-Shi'a divide, examining how it has shaped societies and politics in countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, and Lebanon.
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 155mm, 
ISBN:   9780691207780
ISBN 10:   069120778X
Publication Date:  
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for Sunnis and Shi'A: A Political History

Laurence Louer has authored a compelling, authoritative overview of the historical trajectory of Sunni-Shi'a relations across the Middle East. With deeply informed discussion of how the relationship between Sunnis and Shi'a has varied over time and place in response to the political context, Louer offers a convincing rebuttal to the notion of the inevitability of eternal sectarian conflict. - Marc Lynch, The George Washington University

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