on July 10, 2009
Before reading any book i do my research on the authors. Having said that, Nasr was born in Tehran but left after the revolution. He may be considered "Anti-Iranian" and i therefore felt i should not give much weight to the chapter "rise of iran". He supports his ideas with facts and his writting is very good and clear. If you would like to learn about the Shia in general i would recommend this book, but if you want an un-biased perspective of the Shia in Iran specifically i wouldnt buy this book.
The whole Islamic world looks strikingly different from a Shia perspective, and Nasr's presentation of that view offers vast scope for fresh thinking. His book is so packed with insight that it took me a month to consume it. It puts the Shia into focus as an important religious minority, concerned with minority rights, and devoted more to justice than legalism. It is a faith born in protest against tyranny, which has therefore been treated as a treasonous heresy by most autocratic rulers of the Middle East. Nasr gives a detailed account of Shia fortunes in nations from Lebanon to India. In the process he powerfully challenges a host of misconceptions which commonly cloud our view of modern events. For example:
"Expecting to have more rights and powers under the emerging order, Shias have welcomed both the fall of Sunni domination and the rise of prospects for political change. This makes them in principle more likely to work with the United States. Greater democracy serves Shia interests across the region, and hence Shia revival is favorably disposed toward democratic change. The Shia universe of discourse is now the site of the entire Muslim world's most interesting and thorough debates about Islam's relationship with democracy and economic growth, and indeed about Islam's situation vis-a-vis modernity." (p. 179-180)
--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story