The Study of Shi͑i Islam in Western Academia
Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This paper will examine the historical study of Shi͑ism in Western Academia. It will argue that until the last four decades, Western scholarship studied Shi͑i Islam primarily through a Sunni lens. It will also show that since the 1980s, various socio-political factors like the Islamic revolution in Iran, the emergence of Ḥizbullāh in Lebanon and the American invasion of Iraq forced Western scholars to look at Shi͑ism in a different light. Consequently, they explored different facets of Shi͑ism ranging from the Shi͑i concept of centralized authority during the occultation of the Imam to Shi͑i liturgies, rituals and Shi͑i political theory.