The Shi'is of Iraq provides a comprehensive history of Iraq's majority group and its turbulent relations with the ruling Sunni minority. Yitzhak Nakash challenges the widely held belief that Shi'i society and politics in Iraq are a reflection of Iranian Shi'ism, pointing to the strong Arab attributes of Iraqi Shi'ism. He contends that behind the power struggle in Iraq between Arab Sunnis and Shi'is there exist two sectarian groups that are quite similar. The tension fueling the sectarian problem between Sunnis and Shi'is is political rather than ethnic or cultural, and it reflects the competition of the two groups over the right to rule and to define the meaning of nationalism in Iraq. A new introduction brings this book into the new century and illuminates the role that Shi'is could play in postwar Iraq.
Yitzhak Nakash teaches Middle Eastern history at Brandeis University. His publications on Iraq and Shi'i Islam have gained recognition in the United States and Europe as well as in the Arab world and in Iran. He is currently completing a new book focusing on Shi'ism and nationalism in the Arab world.
PrefaceA Note on TransliterationAbbreviationsIntroduction3Ch. 1The Making of Iraqi Shii Society13Iraq the Frontier14The Shrine Cities18The Conversion of the Tribes to Shiism25The Nature of the Conversion43Ch. 2Years of Upheaval49The Impact of Two Revolutions50Muslim Unity and the Jihad Movement55The 1919 Plebiscite61The 1920 Revolt66Ch. 3Exercising Social Control75Containing the Mujtahids75Managing the Tribal Shaykhs88Baghdad and the Shrine Cities94The Blow to the Status of Persians100Human Dilemmas105Ch. 4The Search for Political Representation109Recognizing the State109The 1935 Revolt120The Bid for Power125The Radical Options132Ch. 5The Commemoration of 'Ashura'141The Nature of the Muharram Observances142The Mujtahids and the Muharram Observances154The State and 'Ashura'157Ch. 6Pilgrimage to the Shrine Cities and the Cult of the Saints163Foreign Pilgrimage164Internal Visitation173Ch. 7The Corpse Traffic184Development and Socioeconomic Functions185The Religious Creed versus the Social Order192The State and the Corpse Traffic197Ch. 8Shii Money and the Shrine Cities205The Building of an Economic Base206The Oudh Bequest211The Consequences of Dependency on Foreign Funds229Ch. 9The Shii Madrasa in Iraq238Features and Functions241Signs of Decline247A New Iraqi Shii Madrasa262Conclusion269Epilogue: The Gulf War and its Aftermath273Appendix 1 The Constitution of the Buraq Quarter of Najaf283Appendix 2 Important Shii Shrines, Tombs, and Holy Sites in Iraq285Appendix 3 Shii Holy Burial Sites287Bibliography289Index303