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In a Pure Muslim LandShi'ism between Pakistan and the Middle East$
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Simon Wolfgang Fuchs

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469649795

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469649795.001.0001

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Theology, Sectarianism, and the Limits of Reform

Theology, Sectarianism, and the Limits of Reform

The Making of Shiʿism in the Land of the Pure

(p.53) Chapter Two Theology, Sectarianism, and the Limits of Reform
In a Pure Muslim Land

Simon Wolfgang Fuchs

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter investigates the first decades after the founding of Pakistan in 1947. Shi‘i immigrants from North India became pitted against a local Punjabi trend of reformist Shi‘i teaching that maintained close ties with the leading seminaries in Iraq. Young scholars accused the immigrants of being wolves in ‘ulama clothes who held dangerous “extremist” views. The traditionalists defended a transcendent vision of God that implied a radically contrasting conception of religious authority. This chapter pays attention to local and transnational dimensions of these theological debates because both sides attempted to marshal positions held by Iranian and Iraqi scholars in support of their particular views. Ayatollah Khomeini’s writings play a particularly important role in this regard. The chapter also argues that both reformist agendas and their traditionalist refutations were driven by the hope of reaching a rapprochement with the Sunnis. While reformist ‘ulama suggested discontinuing “offensive” Shi‘i rituals and rethinking the events of Karbala as a political struggle, traditionalist scholars propagated a Sufi-Shi‘i synthesis and universal access to the Hidden Imam.

Keywords:   Shi‘i reform, traditionalists, Punjab, theology, Khomeini, Karbala, Hidden Imam, Sunnis, Iraq

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