"Imams and Emirs" is a comparative study of Islamic sects in the contemporary Arab world, in particular those that share the same distinguishing features, including geographical isolation, territorial exclusiveness, intensity of rituals and duality of religious organisation. Khuri argues that conflicts among Muslims arise from the struggle between two opposing forces: religious, doctrinaire authorities (imams) and leaders who derive their authority from power and coercion (emirs). He discusses the role of dogma but also, uniquely, the critical factors that differentiate sects from religious communities and religions from sects. Following a thorough review of the structural characteristics of individual sects, Khuri addresses issues of religious change, dealing with the interplay between religions, states and nationalism. Here he explores the contradictions between modern state structures and the Islamic umma, showing how some religious concepts had begun to take on nationalistic meanings.
Khuri also addresses issues of religious change, dealing with the interplay between religions, state and nationalism, and discussing the contradictions between modern state structures and the Islamic umma. Already, he argues, some religious concepts are taking on nationalistic meanings.
Fuad I Khuri was a distinguished Lebanese writer and academic. Among his many teaching appointments, he has been Visiting Professor at the Universities of Chicago and Oregon, and Professor of Social Anthropology at the American University of Beirut. He has written widely on the contemporary Arab world, covering topics such as social and cultural change, tribal and peasant societies, and religious organisation in Islam. He died in 2003.