The concept of a "Shi’i identity" seems like a given
that many take for granted; Shi’i s are one of the two
major sects of the modern Islamic era, and much of the
literature defines Islam as a tree with two branches,
one Sunni and one Shi’i. But such reductionism is
not and never has been appropriate to the subject. On
the contrary, the nature of Shi’i identity is difficult to
define. That is, what is the connection, or the bond,
that allows individuals scattered around different
parts of the world to feel the same? Subsequently,
does being Shi’i amount to an expression of a
belief? Or is it a political claim? Is it an affiliation
to a religious doctrine? Is it a denomination? Or a
large demographic group somehow tied together? Or
something else altogether?
This paper was published in Almuntaqa, the peer-reviewed English-language journal dedicated to the social sciences and humanities and the full article is available for free to read or download on Jstor.