The Shi‘i World in the Contemporary Era

The Shi‘i World in the Contemporary Era

Dr. Elisheva Machlis


Course no.

2018-9 fall semester

3 credits

Sundays: 10:00-12:00, 14:00-16:00

Office hours: by appointment



The Islamic Revolution in Iran and the rise of radical Jihadist movements brought sectarianism back to the center-stage of politics in the Middle East. Empowerment of the Shi'is in Iraq following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, further intensified the sectarian rift in the region. This course will analyse the challenges facing the Shi‘i world in the domestic and regional arenas as a result of geo-strategic changes in the Arab and Muslim arena. The aim is to assess a variety of countries and movements within the Shi‘i world while looking into question of ideology, identity, interests and strategy. The course will provide tools to understand the rising significance of Shi‘i players in the region and their complex relationship with Sunnis.



  1. Introduction: The Return of Sectarianism

Nasr, Vali. The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future (New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006).


  1. Sunna and Shi'i Historical Overview

M. Sharon, “The Development of the Debate around the Legitimacy of Authority in Early Islam”, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam (1984).


  1. The Pan-Islamic Movement

Martin Kramer, S. Islam Assembled: The Advent of the Muslim Congresses (Columbia University Press, 1986), 1-25, 166-170.


  1. Iraq: Nationalism and the Sectarian Question

Zubaida, Sami. “The Fragments Imagine the Nation: The Case of Iraq”, International Journal of Middle East Studies 34 (2002), 205-215.

Marr, Phoebe. “The Development of a Nationalist Ideology in Iraq, 1920-1941”, The Muslim World 75: 2 (1985), 97-101.


  1. Shi'i Reformism

Hamid Enayat, Modern Islamic Political Thought: The Response of the Shi‘i and Sunni Muslims to the Twentieth Century (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005), 41-51.

Elisheva Machlis, Shi‘i sectarianism in the Middle East: Modernization and the Quest for Islamic Universalism (I.B. Tauris, 2014).


  1. Wahhabi Islam and the Saudi State

David Commins, Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia (I.B. Tauris, 2006).


  1. Shi'is in the Gulf Countries

Y. Nakash, Reaching for Power: The Shi'a in the Modern Arab World (2011)


  1. The Islamic Revolution and its Religious Message

H. Dabashi, Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundatation of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1993).

E. Machlis, “Alī Sharī'atī and the Notion of tawhīd: Re-exploring the Question of God's Unity”, Die Welt des Islams (2014).


  1.  Hizbullah

Martin Kramer, “Redeeming Jerusalem: The Pan-Islamic Premise of Hizballah” in David Menashri (ed.) The Iranian Revolution and the Muslim World (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990), 105-30.


  1.  Jihadist Movements

Nibras Kazimi, "Zarqawi’s Anti-Shi’a Legacy: Original or Borrowed?", Current trends in Islamist ideology, (2006).


  1. Iraq after 2003

Ronen Zeidel, " Sunni Discontent in Iraq: An Historical Perspective In Amnon Cohen and Noga Efrati (eds.) Post-Saddam Iraq: New Realities, Old Identities, Changing Patterns (Sussex Academic Press, 2011), 129-145.


  1. Syria and the Sectarian Question


  1. The Arab Spring, Sunni and Shi'i Relations



Mid-term exam (19%)

Final (81%)

Dates will be sent to you in due course.

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