Contemporary discourses on Sunni-Shi’i relations, both in scholarship and in the popular media, tend to anachronistically treat current political conflicts between Shi’i and Sunni Muslims as emerging out of ideological and doctrinal disputes dating back to the succession of the Prophet Muhammad; or perpetual political disputes dating to the very origins of these two communities. This lecture challenges these assumptions by developing a methodological framework to approach this question, drawing from examples of medieval Shi’i-Sunni relations beyond the formative period of Islam. It examines the social and political interactions of Shi’i and Sunni Muslims in specific geographical locations and historical periods to help us better understand Shi’i and Sunni relations as dynamic, evolving, context dependent phenomena.
Simultaneous Arabic interpretation will be provided.
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