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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

After the Prophet Muhammad died in 632 CE, the early Shiʿis claimed that ‘Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in law, was his only legitimate successor. They also insisted that only the Prophet’s family members, the ahl al-bayt, were qualified to lead the Muslim community after him. When ‘Ali became the fourth Caliph of the Muslim community in 656 CE, Shiʿism emerged as a recognized religious movement in Islam. What sets Shiʿism apart from the majority Sunnis is the notion of the divinely inspired and charismatic leadership of the imams. This article focuses on Shiʿism in America by describing the four major Shiʿi groups: the Twelver Shiʿis, the Nizari Ismaʿilis, the Bohra Ismaʿilis, and the Zaydis. It examines the ethnic factor in American Shiʿism, nationalism and American Shiʿism, women and American Shiʿism, religious leadership in the Shiʿi community, and outreach programs by Shiʿi centers. It also looks at the Universal Muslim Association of America, the conversion of African Americans to Shiʿism, the impact of 9/11 on the American Shiʿi community, and political awareness among American Muslims.

Keywords: Shiʿism, Islam, America, Twelver Shiʿis, Nizari Ismaʿilis, Bohra Ismaʿilis, Zaydis, nationalism, African Americans, American Muslims

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