The average listener to BBC radio 4's program In Our Time is not expected to know much about Islam and therefore may barely know about the Sunni Shia divide in that religion. In the latest episode the Sunni-Shia split was the subject and in 43 minutes the bare basics were told.
Much is still missing. Host Melvyn Bragg tried to get through to the eventual religious meaning of the divide, but if at all some tip of the iceberg was revealed, somehow, the foucs went to the Shia beliefs. And I wouldn't be surprised if the listener was left in confusion. The podcast followers have a lot more content at their disposal. Content to either replace or complement this last episode of In Our Time.
A very good podcast that takes the divide and places it in a contemporary picture is Speaking of Faith's issue in which host Krista Tippett speaks with Vali Nasr. For a more extensive historic background I'd point everyone to the University of California San Diego. An unfortunate circumstance is that UCSD removes the podcast courses at the end of the semester, but recurring courses that are relevant are: UCSD's MMW3 by Chamberlain, UCSD's MMW 3 by Herbst and MMW 4. MMW3 is the course out of which you will find several lectures apply to the origins of Islam and here you will learn extensively about the origins of the Sunni-Shia divide. Professor Chamberlain has a more theological touch to his teachings and this may serve exactly best here, but overall I find the lectures by Professor Herbst more accessible and commendable in general. In MMW4, the Islamic empire is central in the beginning and the Sunni Ulama will be worked out more, as well as the ongoing repression of Shia Islam.
More In Our Time:
The Augustan Age,
The trial of king Charles I,