“Gli sciiti” by Anna Vanzan

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“Gli sciiti” by Anna Vanzan continues the extraordinary work begun with “I Sunniti” by Massimo Campanini, showing us in a synthetic and detailed way the largest and most relevant minority of Islam

“Gli sciiti” by Anna Vanzan

The birth of the Caliphate of Syria and Iraq has produced, among other disasters, the escalation of the conflict along the lines of the schism between Sunnis and Shiites, opening up various theaters of war: Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, even Afghanistan, as well as, of course, in Syria and Iraq. A struggle for regional hegemony involving the religious identities of millions of faithful in the area and in the diaspora. The book, presented again in an updated edition, clarifies the many aspects of Shiism, as a crucial political-religious component also in the complex relationship between the West and Islam.

The largest minority current of Islam

After reading Massimo Campanini’s “I Sunniti” I really couldn’t help but enjoy Anna Vanzan’s “Gli Sciiti”, a book that follows in the same footsteps by delving into a topic on which, however, I am decidedly less expert. As a Sunni, in fact, I have only recently begun to delve deeper into the Shiite world and I must say that the work done by the late Anna Vanzan is of absolute value and able to provide a 360° preparation on the history, variations and nuances of a decidedly more varied and complex galaxy than the Sunni one.


Indeed, the latter are indeed the majority current of Islam, and therefore inevitably rich in differences, but the Shiites, deeply binding themselves to the figure of the imam as the total and absolute guide of the community, over the centuries have produced much greater variations in the right inside, which makes them incredibly fascinating and complex for those who choose to study them in depth. Not only that, having then become deeply linked to Persian culture (predominantly Sunni until the 16th century), the union of the two elements gave birth to something new which, especially after the revolution of 1979, can only be studied and deepened to try to have a more correct and global view of the phenomena that are still taking place in the Islamic world today.

Synthetic and in-depth guide to the Shiite world

However, I would like to underline that, although Anna Vanzan is particularly linked to the Persian world, throughout the text the center of the discourse is absolutely the Shiite world, which is treated here in an excellent way, making it accessible even to those not accustomed to this universe, trying to highlight both the different religious currents within it and the specific concepts and dynamics of this creed.

Anna Vanzan

Obviously, as I have already said for Massimo Campanini’s “I sunniti”, this book can only be the basis for a longer journey, but I must admit that it has the advantage of giving a global view of this topic, allowing the reader to understand best where and what he is interested in investigating, an element that is not taken for granted which makes it a perfect base for future research, including that of the Medio Oriente e Dintorni. In fact, this text will undoubtedly be one of the basis for new and more in-depth articles, so as to be able to slowly dissect a topic as complex as it is interesting; obviously, I strongly advise you to buy it and I would like to congratulate the Il Mulino publishing house for the magnificent work done with both works.

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