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Islam in the West

Iraqi Shi’i Communities in Transition and Dialogue

Series:

Kieran Flynn

This book studies the historical, religious and political concerns of the Iraqi Shi‘i community as interpreted by the members of that community who now live in the United Kingdom and Ireland, following the 2003-2010 war and occupation in Iraq. It opens up a creative space to explore dialogue between Islam and the West, looking at issues such as intra-Muslim conflict, Muslim-Christian relations, the changing face of Arab Islam and the experience of Iraq in the crossfire of violence and terrorism – all themes which are currently emerging in preaching and in discussion among Iraqi Shi‘a in exile. The book’s aim is to explore possibilities for dialogue with Iraqi Shi‘i communities who wish, in the midst of political, social and religious transition, to engage with elements of Christian theology such as pastoral and liberation theology.

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Chapter 6 Shi‘i Sermons and Narratives

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Introduction Thus far we have examined the political context that framed much of the popular discussion within the Iraqi Shi‘i community from 2003 until 2008. The context of war and occupation was the backdrop to all conversations and sermons. I now wish to examine the narratives that emerged from within the community as it ref lected on the reality of war, occupation and community building. I do this through examining some of the themes that emerged in the preaching within the community. By and large those preaching the sermons within the community sought to address the con- cerns and spiritual needs of the community, which were many and diverse. I have chosen nine sermons that best identify the narratives concerning life within the community during that period. Between November 2004 and March 2010 I attended prayers, meet- ings, majlis and gatherings at Dar Al Islam, Wilsden Green, London; the Al Kho‘ei Foundation, London; Abrar House, Edgware Road, London; the Imam ‘Ali Foundation, Brondesbury Park and the Ahul Bayt Centre, Milltown, Dublin. The sermons presented here are part of a larger research project comprising fifty-eight sermons undertaken at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin in 2011. In this chapter, I present five sermons as the qualitative data of my ref lection for analysis. These are representative of sermons that are preached throughout the years and many themes are repeated in the annual ritual cycle. I have picked these sermons because they were delivered in English and they...

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