This fall heralded the start of a new—and timely—research group at the Weatherhead Center: the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs. This project engages in a multidisciplinary study of Shi’ism, the second largest denomination in Islam, at a crucial historical moment in which Shi’a majority states, actors, and social movements are gaining increasing prominence and relevance in world affairs. The research focuses on the intersection of Shi’ism and geopolitics and also moves beyond to incorporate traditionally disjointed subjects relating to the study of Shi’ism—from the Shi’a global diaspora to interfaith dialogue and sectarian de-escalation to Shi’a thought, history, identity, and diversity of confessional groups within Shi’ism itself.
The project’s new publication outlet, Visions, brings together these various strands of emerging research on the understanding of Shi’ism today. Visions constitutes an important step in addressing some of the shortcomings and disconnections in the field, by enriching our understanding and discussions over these complex and interwoven subjects, and serving as a springboard for more advanced academic and scholarly research and publications.
The Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs is also deeply committed to incorporating rigorous scholarly research and findings with contemporary challenges and dynamics facing interlinked Muslim communities across the globe. As such, project affiliates have spoken recently on a variety of topics such as current geopolitical developments, including “Iraq and the Geopolitics of Protest,” as well as an interactive roundtable discussion titled “Re-Drawing the Rules of the Game? Iran, Israel, and the Geopolitics of the Levant.”
In September, Project Director Payam Mohseni and Associate Mohammad Sagha conducted a series of youth workshops titled “Shi’ism in America” at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. The interactive workshops focused on several themes, including pluralism within Islam and how to approach interfaith dialogue within the framework of Shi’i Islam. Also discussed was the project’s focus on sectarian de-escalation and how Muslim Americans can positively engage with greater American civil society.
The next semester will bring more engaging interdisciplinary events and research, as the project gears up for an international symposium on theology and global affairs within transnational Shi’a communities. Stay up to date by checking the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs website or following us on Twitter and Facebook.
Project Associate Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi visits senior religious leaders and scholars from London’s Isma’ili Dawoodi Bohra community at Masjid al Husainy for a dialogue on interfaith efforts and shared Islamic heritage within Muslim diasporas communities. Used with permission from Payam Mohseni