Infinite and stable

At first I referred to the Sadrist Movement. Later I settled on Sadrist Trend (after reading it somewhere that sounded authoritative) and I noted that some called it the Sadrist Current. Both of these are reasonably common ways of referring to a school of political thought. But if you ask a member of the social movement known as the Sadrists how they would prefer to be known, they will probably say al-Khatt al-Sadri, the Sadrist Line.

When this was explained to me I immediately thought of “family line”. The movement’s figurehead, Moqtada al-Sadr, is descended from a long line of respected religious scholars. His family includes the “vanished imam” Musa al-Sadr, the important Iraqi scholar and political activist, Baqir al-Sadr, and Muqtada’s father Sadeq al-Sadr, for whom Baghdad’s “Sadr City” is named. It would make sense to speak of the Sadr family as the Sadrist Line, but I couldn’t see how it would apply more generally to a movement of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who identify with the movement.

I was missing the point.

The word “line” is not just about family history. It is used as a counterpoint to words like “trend” and especially “current”. These terms suggest impermanence and instability. A line, however, is infinite and stable. Like a line, the movement is stable and will continue on forever, even after its present day participants have passed on.

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