In This Review

Shi'ism and Social Protest
Shi'ism and Social Protest
Edited by Juan R. I. Cole and Nikki R. Keddie
Yale University Press, 1986, 321 pp

With roots deep in centuries-old religious faith and in the modern urge of disinherited groups for social change, the political manifestations of Shi'ism are much more than fanatical outbursts of terrorism and violence. As this first-rate book shows, Shia activism must be taken very seriously indeed by Middle East governments (which are mainly Sunni in composition and support) and by outside powers. Is there a "Shia international" centered in Tehran, bent on sweeping through and transforming the Muslim world? In some respects, yes. But the expert authors of this volume generally find that within each country, including Iran, the ties of national identity remain strong and that Shia fundamentalism is more likely to take nationalist than universalist form.