Description: For a Western world anxious to understand Islam and, in particular, Shi’ism, this book arrives with urgently needed information and critical analysis. Hamid Dabashi exposes the soul of Shi’ism as a religion of protest—successful only when in a warring position, and losing its legitimacy when in power.
Dabashi makes his case through a detailed discussion of the Shi’i doctrinal foundations, a panoramic view of its historical unfolding, a varied investigation into its visual and performing arts, and finally a focus on the three major sites of its contemporary contestations: Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. In these states, Shi’ism seems to have ceased to be a sect within the larger context of Islam and has instead emerged to claim global political attention. Here we see Shi’ism in its combative mode—reminiscent of its traumatic birth in early Islamic history. Hezbollah in Lebanon claims Shi’ism, as do the militant insurgents in Iraq, the ruling Ayatollahs in Iran, and the masses of youthful demonstrators rebelling against their reign. All declare their active loyalties to a religion of protest that has defined them and their ancestry for almost fourteen hundred years.
Shi’sm: A Religion of Protest attends to the explosive conflicts in the Middle East with an abiding attention to historical facts, cultural forces, religious convictions, literary and artistic nuances, and metaphysical details. This timely book offers readers a bravely intelligent history of a world religion.
Description: In this era of superheated rhetoric and vitriolic exchanges between the leaders of Iran and Israel, the threat of nuclear violence looms. But the real roots of the enmity between the two nations mystify Washington policymakers, and no promising pathways to peace have emerged. This book traces the shifting relations among Israel, Iran, and the United States from 1948 to the present, uncovering for the first time the details of secret alliances, treacherous acts, and unsavory political maneuverings that have undermined Middle Eastern stability and disrupted U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the region.
Trita Parsi, a U.S. foreign policy expert with more than a decade of experience, is the only writer who has had access to senior American, Iranian, and Israeli decision makers. He dissects the complicated triangular relations of their countries, arguing that America’s hope for stability in Iraq and for peace in Israel is futile without a correct understanding of the Israeli-Iranian rivalry.
Parsi’s behind-the-scenes revelations about Middle East events will surprise even the most knowledgeable readers: Iran’s prime minister asks Israel to assassinate Khomeini, Israel reaches out to Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, the United States foils Iran’s plan to withdraw support from Hamas and Hezbollah, and more. This book not only revises our understanding of the Middle East’s recent past, it also spells out a course for the future. In today’s belligerent world, few topics, if any, could be more important.
Description: For many centuries it was accepted that civilization began with the Greeks and Romans. During the last two hundred years, however, archaeological discoveries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete, Syria, Anatolia, Iran, and the Indus Valley have revealed that rich cultures existed in these regions some two thousand years before the Greco-Roman era. In this fascinating work, H.W.F Saggs presents a wide-ranging survey of the more notable achievements of these societies, showing how much the ancient peoples of the Near and Middle East have influenced the patterns of our daily lives. Saggs discussesthe the invention of writing, tracing it from the earliest pictograms (designed for account-keeping) to the Phoenician alphabet, the source of the Greek and all European alphabets. He investigates teh curricula, teaching methods, and values of the schools from which scribes graduated. Analyzing the provisions of some of the law codes, he illustrates the operation of international law and the international trade that it made possible. Saggs highlights the creative ways that these ancient peoples used their natural resources, describing the vast works in stone created by the Egyptians, the development of technology in bronze and iron, and the introduction of useful plants into regions outside their natural habitat. In chapters on mathematics, astronomy, and medicine, he offers interesting explanations about how modern calculations of time derive from the ancient world, how the Egyptians practiced scientific surgery, and how the Babylonians used algebra. The book concludes with a discussion of ancient religion, showing its evolution from the most primitive forms toward monotheism.
Description:As Iran’s nuclear program evolves, U.S. decisionmakers will confront a series of critical policy choices involving complex considerations and policy trade-offs. These policy choices could involve dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapons; deterring Iran from using its nuclear weapons, if it were to acquire them; and reassuring U.S. regional partners. The U.S. Air Force will need to prepare to carry out whatever policies are chosen.
Description: Freedom House’s innovative publication Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance analyzes the status of women in the region, with a special focus on the gains and setbacks for women’s rights since the first edition was released in 2005. The study presents a comparative evaluation of conditions for women in seventeen countries and one territory: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine (Palestinian Authority and Israeli-Occupied Territories), Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The publication identifies the causes and consequences of gender inequality in the Middle East, and provides concrete recommendations for national and international policymakers and implementers.
Women’s rights in each country are assessed in five key areas: (1) Nondiscrimination and Access to Justice; (2) Autonomy, Security, and Freedom of the Person; (3) Economic Rights and Equal Opportunity; (4) Political Rights and Civic Voice; and (5) Social and Cultural Rights. the methodology is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the study results are presented through as set of numerical scores and analytical narrative reports.
Description: Israel and Iran have come to view each other as direct regional rivals. The two countries are not natural rivals; they have shared geopolitical interests, which led to years of cooperation both before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution. But their rivalry has intensified recently, particularly with the rise of fundamentalist leaders in Iran and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran posing grave strategic and ideological challenges to Israel.
Description: Iran is a land of contradictions. It is an Islamic republic, but one in which only 1.4 percent of the population attend Friday prayers. Iran’s religious culture encompasses the most censorious and dogmatic Shi’a Muslim clerics in the world, and yet its poetry insistently dwells on the joys of life-wine, beauty, sex. Iranian women are subject to one of the most restrictive dress codes in the Islamic world, but make up nearly 60 percent of the university student population. In A History of Iran, a leading expert on Iran chronicles the rich history of this complex nation from the Achaemenid Empire of sixth century B.C. to the present-day Islamic Republic. In accessible prose, Michael Axworthy explains the military, political, religious, and cultural forces that have shaped one of the oldest continuing civilizations in the world. Concluding with an assessment of the immense changes the nation has undergone since the revolution in 1979, A History of Iran offers general readers an essential point of entry into a troubled region.
Description: Examining the prolonged Arab-Israeli conflict, Lebanese civil war and the periodic upsurges of inter-state and internal tensions in the Gulf region, this book looks at how civilians are at the forefront of military conflicts and violence in the Middle East. The unsung heroes and real victims of wars in the Middle East are the civilian populations. Quickly forgotten, they have all too frequently been forced to endure the brutalities of war and its aftermath. Behind political calculations, military strategy and technological innovations, it is the unarmed civilian population that is expected to make the maximum sacrifices.Wars reflect the fears and trepidations of ordinary men and women about the ability of their leaders to lead their nations during critical times and to make sensible choices. Civilians suffer even when clear-cut victories are achieved in the battlefield and their problems often begin when the guns fall silent. Their attempts to reconstruct their lives and livelihood are, however, generally ignored, forgotten and unspoken. This book attempts to redress the balance, and reminds us that the ‘collateral damage’ of war actually has a serious and enduring impact upon Middle Eastern societies, and should not be neglected.