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A New York Times Bestseller

"Historically incisive, geographically broad-reaching, and brimming with illuminating anecdotes."―Max Rodenbeck, New York overview of Books

Iranian-born pupil Vali Nasr has turn into one in every of America's prime commentators on present occasions within the heart East, in demand and welcomed by means of either media and executive for his "concise and coherent" research (Wall road Journal, front-page profile). during this "remarkable paintings" (Anderson Cooper), Nasr brilliantly dissects the political and theological antagonisms inside of Islam, supplying a different and aim realizing of the 1,400-year sour fight among Shias and Sunnis and laying off an important gentle on its modern day outcomes.

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Their area and impact grew as they battled Mongol rulers. In 1501, Ismail I defeated the Mongols as soon as and for all and demonstrated the Safavid dynasty. Ismail used to be a warrior and a poet with extremist Shia ideals. His creed mixed the Sufi religious doctrines of the Safawiya order with esoteric Shia teachings. His warriors, the Qizilbash, actually worshipped him as a demigod. The Safavids weren't content material to rule over a website that will stay Sunni. they'd a real zeal for Shiism and desired to convey Iran into the ambit of that religion. additionally they have been severe opponents of the Sunni Ottoman Turks to the west and the Sunni Mughal Empire and Turkoman tribes to the east. particularly, the Ottomans and the Safavids competed for domination within the heartland of the Muslim international. 1 That pageant took sectarian overtones because the Safavids grew to become a Shia empire and the Ottoman emperors—who governed over Arab lands and formally laid declare to the caliphate and made Istanbul its seat in 1517—became the spokesmen of Sunnism. it's not that there has been a lot of a true caliphate for Shias and Sunnis to struggle over by means of the 16th century. What the Ottomans inherited was once no longer a functioning establishment however the only symbolic management of the Sunni international. The extra concrete concentration of fight was once the competing assertions of dynastic and imperial Shia or Sunni energy over the bigger area. The Safavids have been the champions of Shia aspirations to neighborhood hegemony. The Safavid version used to be now not rule by means of the imams yet strength to the shahs. The Safavid dynasty was once a brand new type of motor vehicle for Shia pursuits. The Ottomans and the Safavids fought many wars. For a short time the Safavids managed Iraq (in influence, the jap flank of the Arab world). yet quickly adequate the road among the 2 rival empires got here to persist with greatly an analogous direction as today’s border among Iran at the east and Iraq and Turkey to its west. whereas the Safavids used their energy to make Shiism the faith of Iran, as a lot by means of coercion as via persuasion, the Ottomans placed the Shia to the sword in Anatolia. in simple terms the Alawi offshoot of Shiism survives in what's at the present time southern Turkey. during this weather of antagonism, Shiism gave Iran its specified identification, in order that Iranians are individual from so much Arabs and Turks not just by way of language and tradition but additionally through non secular trust and perform. The boundary among Shiism and Sunnism hence got here to coincide with the boundary among empires, with what's this day southern Iraq extending as a type of Shia salient into Sunnism’s flank. less than the Safavids, Shia spiritual studying and creative expression flourished. They outfitted their capital in Isfahan, in relevant Iran, and the outstanding structure of that urban is a Safavid legacy. The Safavids introduced Shia ulama from Lebanon’s Jabal Amel mountains, the Qatif quarter of the Arabian peninsula, and Bahrain—the backwaters of the Muslim world—to construct new facilities of Shia studying. 2 To deepen Shiism’s roots in Iran, additionally they actively propagated the religion one of the population, hoping on itinerant dervishes who went from city to city and village to village to inform humans the nice Shia tales.

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