In his detailed study of Shi‘i Islam, spanning over decades, Dr Daftary observes that Shi‘a Muslims have played a crucial role in furthering the manifold achievements of Islamic civilisations, throughout the Muslim history. Shi‘a scholars and literati of the various branches and regions, including scientists, philosophers, theologians, jurists and poets, have made seminal contributions to Islamic thought and culture. There have also been numerous Shi‘i dynasties, families or individual rulers who patronised scholars, poets and artists, as well as various institutions of learning. However, Shi‘i Islam has received scant attention from historians, especially in the West.
In his book A History of Shi‘i Islam, Dr Daftary draws on the scattered findings of modern scholarship to explain the formative era of Shi‘i Islam, when several Muslim groups were being formed through distinct doctrinal elaborations. He features all major interpretations of Shi‘i Islam, that account for almost the entirety of the Shi‘i Muslim population of the world today (ca. 200 million), in a single volume, for the time. This recognition and inclusion of multiple interpretations and communities make his book a comprehensive survey of Shi‘i Islam – a valuable work of reference for academics in the fields of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, and in the broader field of the History of Religions.