Today, I began listening to a series of podcasts sponsored by an excellent service in England called Back Door Broadcasting. The lectures are from a conference of experts in Shi’a Islam, who look at this branch of Islam in south Asia, an area little studied. Apparently around 15-20% of the Muslim population there are Shi’a, but they have historically occupied a more important position in the various societies there than numbers would indicate.
It is very difficult listening for the non-expert! There is, however, information to be gleaned for anyone with a general interest in Islam. For example, it used to be said in the popular media, that Islam, unlike Christianity was largely unified with only a politically-based division existing between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. These podcasts should put that myth to rest – there are multiple divisions within Shi’a Islam alone. When the West looks at the Shi’a also, we most often talk about Iran and now after the Iraq war, Iraq. But the keynote speech dealt with south Asia in general, and the first specific paper presented at this conference focussed on the Indian sub-continent around 1910, and divisions among Shi’a in Karachi.
I hope to listen to them all over the next few days….
Here is the link: