Islam and Sectarianism: The Major Split and Its Manifestations

Document Type : Original Article


Research Center Region Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Leuven, Belgium



Sectarianism constitutes a major challenge to cultural diversity in today’s Middle East. It arises at the core of the crises that hit various parts of the region over the recent years. While the roots of the sectarian divide, as tackled in the context of this article, originate in the early history of Islam, its manifestations appear to take various forms and continue to re-emerge as one of the defining dimensions of the rifts and conflicts that persist to afflict the region today. The cultural diversity that once enriched the Middle East on various levels, and the historic coexistence among the region’s different communities, have been threatened and jeopardized by a few sectarian extremist groups whose atrocities reached every single social component with distinct religious, doctrinal or ideological tenets. Given the fact that the sectarian narrative has become a defining feature of major crises striking the Middle East, this article tackles the notion of sectarianism, delves into its evolution throughout the Islamic history, and analyses the associated threat it poses to cultural diversity today.


Volume 06, Issue 02
June 2022
Pages 11-23
  • Receive Date: 24 March 2022
  • Revise Date: 12 April 2022
  • Accept Date: 13 May 2022
  • First Publish Date: 13 May 2022