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The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan

Ethnic and Religious Implications in the Greater Middle East

Authors: Ezzatyar, Ali

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  • Presents never-before-heard, first-hand accounts on the role of a pivotal figure in Middle East history
  • Outlines powerful policy arguments for the present-day Middle East
  • Explores why the Kurds have been an unlikely ally against extremist factions in the region
  • Offers compelling insight on religious adherence and nationalism in the Middle East
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eBook $89.00
price for Mexico (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56324-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $119.99
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  • ISBN 978-1-137-56525-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $119.99
price for Mexico
  • ISBN 978-1-349-95396-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

Amidst changing notions of religion and identity in the modern Middle East, this book uncovers the hidden story of Ahmad Moftizadeh, the nonviolent religious leader of Iran’s Kurds during the Iranian Revolution. The characters of Ayatollah Khomeini and a number of other prominent revolutionaries surface through never before heard first-hand accounts of that era’s events. The author further surveys the underlying causes of conflict and extremism today by placing this dramatic biography in the context of a rapidly-evolving region after the First World War. The author’s coverage of some of the twentieth century Middle East’s most defining events leads him to powerful policy arguments for a region in turmoil.

About the authors

Ali Ezzatyar is a lawyer and US diplomat. Prior to joining the Foreign Service and the US Agency for International Development, he practiced law at a number of prominent international firms and served as Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. His articles on the Middle East have been featured in publications such as the Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor; he has appeared as an analyst on broadcasts such as BBC World, Al Jazeera, and NPR, among others.

Opinions expressed in this book are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States Government.


Reviews

“American scholar-diplomat Ali Ezzatyar has given Western readers a fascinating study of the fierce complexities of the Greater Middle East since World War II.  It is built around a scrupulous reconstruction of the life and work of Iranian Kurdish Sunni leader Ahmad Moftizadeh (1933-1993). Using personal interviews and rare documentation in Kurdish and Farsi, Ezzatyar shows us the intricate spiritual and political life of Iranian Kurds under the Shahs and the Islamic Republic from the inside and from the ground up, and he argues that their secular nationalism has securely immunized them from political Islamism (even in Moftizadeh’s democratic version). He then widens the lens to the region as a whole, arguing passionately for recognition that Kurds have a unique constructive role to play as allies of the West and potential anchors of modern values. A scholarly treat, and food for political thought as well.” (Thomas W. Simons, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan; author of Islam in a Globalizing World; and Visiting Scholar, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, USA)

“In profiling a single individual in the least known region of Kurdish settlement, Ali Ezzatyar manages to illuminate the situation of Kurds not just in Iran, but also in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. In prodigiously researching the life of Iranian Sunni Kurdish religious and political leader Ahmad Moftizadeh, he traces the rise and fall of one attempt at Kurdish autonomy, prefigures others, and underscores the persistence and importance of these movements. Ezzatyar concludes with some provocative but well-argued implications for American policy in this complex and highly conflicted region.” (James Dobbins, Former Assistant Secretary of State and Senior Fellow and Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security at the RAND Corporation)

“In this historically rich yet ever topical and lively read, Ali Ezzatyar reaches back a couple centuries to explain the relative significance of Islam and nationalism in forging today's Kurdish identity. Appealing to the self interest of regional governments, he makes a pitch for greater respect for Kurdish nationalism as a potentially moderate and constructive political force in the region.” (Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow and Director of Research on Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution and author of The Future of Land Warfare)

“This intriguing work illuminates a largely overlooked aspect of two great struggles that have shaken the Middle East: one for Kurdish rights, the other for freedom in Iran.  Through the lens of history and biography, it tells an untold story that is as fascinating as it is important.” (Stephen Kinzer, Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute of International Affairs and author of Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future)

“In this masterful study, Ali Ezzatyar brings to life key events and a key personality of Iranian Kurdistan in the earliest months following the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Those events involved key figures of the new system, including Ayatollahs Khomeini, Taleghani, and Beheshti, and shaped the direction of the nascent Islamic Republic, particularly its attitude toward its important Kurdish minority.  Decisions taken then have reverberated over three decades and across borders into today's Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.” (Ambassador John Limbert, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran)

“This is an important, original, and timely book that makes a major contribution to historiography of the Middle East. Ezzatyar’s monograph demonstrates ... that neither political Islam nor secular authoritarian ideologies will address the challenges facing Kurds whether in Iran, Iraq, Turkey or Syria ... [and simultaneously] emphasizes ... Muslim values embedded in tolerant nationalisms recognizing full and complete rights of minorities. It is these values that will help to bring about inclusive functioning societies and countries in the Middle East. [The book] makes a significant contribution to studies of the Middle East, Iran, Sunnism, Kurdish history, nationalism, society, and culture. What more can anyone do in one book?” (Robert Olson, Professor of Middle East History and Politics at the University of Kentucky, USA and author of the Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion: 1880-1925)

“Ali Ezzatyar’s study of the career of Ahmad Moftizadeh—a seemingly improbable progressive, non-violent Kurdish-Iranian Islamist—offers compelling insights into how an ethnic nationalism of a Muslim people supplants forms of political Islam. This revealing book also draws on new and original research to paint first-hand character studies of many important historical figures. The author argues persuasively that enabling Kurdish parties can help enhance stability and prosperity at the expense of religious extremism—a potent and timely message indeed.” (Michael M. Gunter, Professor of Political Science at Tennessee Technological University, USA and author of The Kurds: A Modern History)

The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan is both an engaging biography and a much-needed history of modern Iranian Kurdistan. Although the birthplace of modern Kurdish nationalism, little is written about the Kurds of Iran. Ali Ezzatyar makes up for this deficit in a book that provides insights into Iranian Kurdistan, Sunni Islam in Shiite Iran, and life in outer regions of the Islamic Republic. I strongly recommend this fascinating and clearly written book to anyone interested in the Kurds or modern Iran.” (Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith, author of “The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End”)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $89.00
price for Mexico (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56324-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $119.99
price for Mexico
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56525-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $119.99
price for Mexico
  • ISBN 978-1-349-95396-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan
Book Subtitle
Ethnic and Religious Implications in the Greater Middle East
Authors
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-56324-8
DOI
10.1057/978-1-137-56324-8
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-56525-9
Softcover ISBN
978-1-349-95396-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XV, 246
Number of Illustrations
2 b/w illustrations, 13 illustrations in colour
Topics