Heinz Halm's "Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution"
In his 176-page volume, the leading German Islamist, Heinz Halm is able to trace the roots of the Iranian Revolution back throughout the history of the Shi'ism. Contrary to many western thinkers and Iranian militants, Halm feels as though Shi'i Islam's character was not inherently revolutionary, but that the transition to revolution marked a milestone and a watershed in the history of Shi'i thought and history. The title of his book, "Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution" really synopsizes Halm's point quite adequately. Heinz Halm is currently a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Tubingen and is the author of numerous other works on Sunni Islam, Shi'ism and Isma'ilism. Some of his works include: "The Empire of the Mahdi", "The Rise of the Fatimids", and "Shi'ism".
"Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution" is broken up into three sections, which play their respective parts in relaying Halm's message. Part 1 deals directly with the origins of Shi'ism and is labeled "The House of Sorrows: The Twelve Imams." In this section Halm attributes Abu Miknaf's report of the Campaign of the Penitents or tawwabun to be of the key documents that allows us to understand the emergence of early Shi'ism. Halm went as far as to say that Abu Miknaf's text and, therefore what is related in it, "already demonstrated all the essential elements that characterize the Shi'i religion today." He went on to say that the "self accusations of the partisans
peaked in acknowledgement of their own shame and their desire to atone for this (the massacre at Karbala) with death." Halm's thesis in this section is that self-sacrifice characteristic of the Shi'is was exemplified, and even developed in this march of the tawwabun. And, this particular characteristic was politically instrumentalized during the revolution of 1979 and during the war with Iraq. Further, Halm traces the non-political character of the...
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