On this episode of the Order From Ashes podcast, Marsin Alshamary explains why, despite some setbacks, Shia clerics in Iraq still wield a great deal of authority.

Protest movements have rejected religion in politics, while corrupt politicians have sullied the reputations of religious factions. But clerics and their institutions remain powerful players in Iraqi society even as their roles change.

This episode of Order From Ashes is the second in “Shia Power,” a four-part series about the transformation of Shia politics in Iraq, and what Iraq’s experience teaches us about the role of religion in politics everywhere.

In episode 1 of “Shia Power,” Sajad Jiyad and host Thanassis Cambanis chart the powerful role of religion and the Shia clergy in the creation of a new Iraqi order after Saddam Hussein. In episode 2, Marsin Alshammary draws on her fieldwork in the seminaries of Najaf to argue that clerical authority has not diminished, despite setbacks over the last twenty years. In episode 3, Taif Alkhudary chronicles the revolutionary efforts of the Tishreen protest movement to establish an alternative to religious politics. In episode 4, the final in this series, Ali Al-Mawlawi connects some of today’s sectarian rhetoric to Iraq’s long history of anti-Shia prejudice.



  • Marsin Alshamary, assistant professor of political science, Boston College
  • Thanassis Cambanis, director, Century International