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Open AccessArticle

Why Is There So Little Shia–Sunni Dialogue? Understanding the Deficit of Intra-Muslim Dialogue and Interreligious Peacemaking

1
Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, 75120 Uppsala, Sweden
2
Danish Institute for International Studies, Østbanegade 117, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
3
Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg, 40530 Göteborg, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Earlier versions of this paper have been presented at the research workshops “Islamist Armed Conflicts and the Prospects for Conflict Resolution,” 28–30 September 2018, Schwarzenberg, Switzerland, and “Sunni–Shia Relations in Europe: How to Study Them?”, 13–14 December 2018, Turku, Finland.
Religions 2019, 10(10), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100567
Received: 29 August 2019 / Revised: 27 September 2019 / Accepted: 30 September 2019 / Published: 4 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Despite a growth in fatalities resulting from organized violence with Shia–Sunni dimensions over the last two decades, in this study, we show, using existing data-bases on interreligious dialogue and peacemaking, that only less than two percent of the interreligious peacemaking organizations in the world are specialized in dialogue between Shias and Sunnis. Why is there so little institutionalized Shia–Sunni dialogue occurring when the need for such dialogue is evident? This study identifies and discusses this lack of institutional initiatives designed to prevent violence, manage conflicts and facilitate processes of intra-Muslim de-sectarianization. We discuss what we see as the three seemingly most obvious explanations—(1) the dismissal of the relevance of a Shia–Sunni cleavage, (2) the inappropriateness of the interreligious dialogue concept in the Muslim context, and (3) the substitution of institutional interreligious dialogue by other channels. Although we suggest that the third is the most potent explanation to pursue, we do not aim to provide a comprehensive explanation for the Shia–Sunni religious dialogue deficit. Instead, our aspiration is mainly to present and substantiate a puzzle that has not been identified or discussed in previous research. This can set an agenda for a reinvigorated research endeavor into the contemporary challenges for interreligious peacemaking. View Full-Text
Keywords: interreligious dialogue; interreligious peacemaking; Civil War; organized violence; Sunni; Shia; sectarianism; Middle East; regional power struggle interreligious dialogue; interreligious peacemaking; Civil War; organized violence; Sunni; Shia; sectarianism; Middle East; regional power struggle
MDPI and ACS Style

Krause, D.; Svensson, I.; Larsson, G. Why Is There So Little Shia–Sunni Dialogue? Understanding the Deficit of Intra-Muslim Dialogue and Interreligious Peacemaking. Religions 2019, 10, 567.

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