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BABISM. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, several important revivalist movements appeared throughout the Islamic world. Only one of these-but by no means the least important-emerged within the confines of Twelver Shiism. This was a militant messianic movement centered around the person of a young Iranian merchant, Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819-1850), the Bab, which was at its height during the late 1840s. Nowadays, it is possible to consider Babism from two distinct perspective ...more


BAB. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Iranian Shiism underwent radical changes. Among these was a marked improvement in the status and power of the clerical leadership-a development which began in the late eighteenth century and culminated in recent times with the Islamic Revolution, which placed full political authority in the hands of the clergy. Shi'i Islam has always emphasized the superiority of individual, "inspired" leadership over political power or consensus and has, througho ...more

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