Monday, November 24, 2008

The Sunni/Shia Divide and the Future of Islam: Speaking of Faith award-winning radio

(This map is not from SOF)
Speaking of Faith - Week of November 20, 2008 - Vali Nasr with engaging interviewer: Krista Tippett

Nasr is professor of international politics in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. His latest book is The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future.

Intro to this program from Speaking of Faith website (available in archives online and for podcast for extended time):

We seek fresh insight into the history and the human and religious dynamics of Islam's Sunni-Shia divide. Our guest says that it is not so different from dynamics in periods of Western Christian history. But he says that by bringing the majority Shia to power in Iraq, the U.S. has changed the religions dynamics of the Middle East.

Hear online this radio program and/or the unedited interview with Vali Nasr

The rhythmic chest-slapping and chanting heard in the program is part of a religious ritual commemorating Ashura. Watch the video of the popular Iranian singer Mahmood Karimi leading the audience in Tehran.

Notes not necessarily related to the SOF material and broadcast:

Most Shias in Iraq actually live in the South, not the North of the country.

The Shi'ite or Shi'a Crescent is a recent geo-political term used to describe a region of the Middle East where the majority population is Shi'a, or where there is a strong Shi'a minority in the population. It has been used to describe the potential for cooperation among these areas in Middle Eastern politics. The corresponding term is especially common in German, where it is known as Schiitischer Halbmond ("shia halfmoon"). This term was used by Abdullah II, king of Jordan, after which it became popular in political debates.

The nations where Shi'a Muslims form a dominant majority are Azerbaijan, Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq, a plurality in Lebanon and large minorities in Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait,Saudi Arabia,India,UAE and Syria. The shape of these countries put together does in fact resemble a crescent moon or a half moon (see map).

Michael Bröning: The Myth of the Shia Crescent, in: Project Syndicate May 2008 (Text is also available in French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Czech)

Also find another interview with Vali Nasr here from Carnegie Council 2006
The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

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