Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Shi'i Islam: An Introduction

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Shi'i Islam: An Introduction

Article excerpt

Shi'i Islam: An Introduction. By Najam Haider. West Nyack, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 244 pp. $27.99, paper.

Haider's volume is by no means an introduction to the Shiite tradition in Islam. Rather, it is the author's analysis of features of Shiism that have drawn his attention, emphasizing details that for a reader little acquainted with the sect will likely be difficult to follow and of little interest.

According to his Columbia University website biography, Haider is an assistant professor of religion at Barnard College, and his courses "bridge the gap between the classical and modern Muslim worlds with a particular emphasis on the impact of colonization on Islamic political and religious discourse." Haider is, therefore, not only fond of the more obscure aspects of Shiism but fashionably leftist and occasionally post-modernist in his approach.

Thus, while discussing the transformation over time of the Khoja Shiites and their absorption into Niza'ri Isma'ilism, the reader is forced to suffer through rather predictable but, nonetheless, lamentable quotations from leftist sociologist Frantz Fanon and Palestinian apologist Edward Said, culminating in a sharp critique of the movement's current leader, Aga Khan, IV, for what Haider calls his "modernist" ideas and attachment to capitalism. …

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