Leading the Faithful: Religious Authority in the Contemporary Middle East

In: Sociology of Islam
Mehran Kamrava Georgetown University-Qatar, Doha, Qatar

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The post-2011 Middle East has witnessed an increasing politicization of religious authority across the Middle East and among almost all faith communities. Unfolding political and social developments, along with steadily shifting posture and functions of the state vis-à-vis the various religious communities has propelled religious leaders into the role of their communities’ political protectors as well as chief liaisons with state leaders and institutions. This has occurred simultaneous with a diffusion of authority within majoritarian religious communities (in both Sunni and Shiʿa majority societies), along with an inverse centralization of religious authority among minority communities such as the Zaydis, the Maronites, and Chaldians.

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