YOU WEAK MINDED FOOL! HE'S USING AN OLD SHI'ITE MIND TRICK!

The Australian has what has just become one of my favorite headlines ever: "Sadr studying to become an all-powerful ayatollah."

While the story of Muqtada's returning to seminary to continue his education is a very interesting and potentially extremely significant development, (achieving the rank of mujtahid would mean that Sadr could issue binding legal-religious edicts for his followers, something which he cannot technically do now) the headline underscores the way in which western media tend to present the practice of Islam, and Shi'ism in particular, as if it were some sort of medieval holdover, in which the learned few deploy esoteric forms of knowledge to ignite the passions of huge multitudes. Here in the West we simply refer to this as "politics."

Juan Cole has more.

--Matthew Duss

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