For all those readers and commentators who have been asking for updates, thank you for visiting and taking time out to read this blog. This space was created in Spring 2012 as part of a graduate syllabus requirement for a course on Shi’ism at Columbia University and therefore the conversation is situated largely on academic discourse on Shi’ism.
I realize that this is a useful space to share nuanced ideas and to start a meaningful discussion on Shi’ism, which is significantly sparse in the virtual world presently. Much of the debates and arguments taking place about Shi’ism in the global public sphere are unfortunately mostly focused on violent issues with manifestly negative connotations ( and for a good reason too) such as politically motivated sectarianism, Shia genocide in Pakistan, the civil war in Iraq or associated with the Shia personality of the repressive regimes and groups in Iran and Lebanon etc.
Perhaps we need to rethink Shi’ism, highlight the universal message of the Ahle Bayt (the Prophet’s family), throw light on the actual sociology of Shi’i communities more than the theology and present Shia Muslims as ordinary Muslims living ordinary lives, rather than as distinctly ‘religious’ or ‘political’ entities or statistics, who are represented by political groups and organizations at their convenience. To quote one of my mentors, Professor Hamid Dabashi , we need to “alter the very language of thinking, speaking and writing about Shi’sim’ because the ‘very language we have been using about Islam and Shi’ism is an occupied territory and needs to be liberated for a wider and more welcoming feast”.