TIP SHEET: Sectarian Violence in Iraq; Bombing of Golden Mosque

To assist in your reporting on the current wave of sectarian violence in Iraq, please consider the following source from the University of Virginia, who is an expert on Islam, has studied at the Golden Mosque of Samarra and has returned from six months in Iran:

Abdulaziz Sachedina, religious studies professor

Religious studies professor Abdulaziz Sachedina is an expert on Shiite Islam, Islamic extremists, the concept of Holy War and Middle Eastern politics. He has written encyclopedia entries on the Iraqi holy cities of Karbala and Najaf for the “Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World” (Oxford Univ. Press); a book chapter on “Justifications of Violence in Islamic Tradition”; and articles about the political role played by Islam in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

Born in Tanzania to a West Indian family, he has lived throughout the Middle East, including having studied at the Golden Mosque of Samarra that was just bombed. When asked about his reaction to the bombing, Sachedina said, “This is the shrine where at one time I sat with my teachers to study law and theology. Even when the adjacent blue dome was a Sunni mosque, the two communities came together to worship and pay their respects to the family of the Prophet Muhammad buried under the golden dome. It is heart breaking and deeply disturbing to see Muslims engaged in destroying the monument celebrating the spiritual heritage of Islam.”

Sachedina studied Islam at Aligarh Muslim University in Iaas@virginia.edundia and at the Madrasa of Ayatollah Milani in Mashhad, Iran before earning his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Since then he has taught in both Iran and Jordan, and has just returned from a six-month sabbatical in Iran.

He is a past director of the Muhammadi Islamic Center in Toronto, and speaks seven languages fluently, including Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Swahili.

Contact: Sachedina is currently traveling in California, but can be reached easily by mobile phone at (434) 284-3824. Less reliable is his email: aas@virginia.edu

Add’l assistance: Charlotte Crystal, ccrystal@virginia.edu, (434) 924-6858

To locate expert sources regarding other topics, please contact Kathleen Valenzi, kvalenzi@virginia.edu, (434) 924-6857, or Carolyn Dillard, cdillard@virginia.edu, (434) 982-3030.