The Women of Karbala: Ritual Performance and Symbolic Discourses in Modern Shi'i Islam by Kamran Scot AghaieThe Women of Karbala: Ritual Performance and Symbolic Discourses in Modern Shi'i Islam by Kamran Scot Aghaie

The Women of Karbala: Ritual Performance and Symbolic Discourses in Modern Shi'i Islam

EditorKamran Scot Aghaie

Paperback | November 1, 2005

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 204 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Commemorating the Battle of Karbala, in which the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hosayn and seventy-two of his family members and supporters were martyred in 680 CE, is the central religious observance of Shi'i Islam. Though much has been written about the rituals that reenact and venerate Karbala, until now no one has studied women's participation in these observances. This collection of original essays by a multidisciplinary team of scholars analyzes the diverse roles that women have played in the Karbala rituals, as well as the varied ways in which gender-coded symbols have been used within religious and political discourses.

The contributors to this volume consider women as participants in and observers of the Karbala rituals in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, and the United States. They find that women's experiences in the Shi'i rituals vary considerably from one community to another, based on regional customs, personal preferences, religious interpretations, popular culture, and socioeconomic background. The authors also examine the gender symbolism within the rituals, showing how it reinforces distinctions between the genders while it also highlights the centrality of women to the symbolic repertory of Shi'ism. Overall, the authors conclude that while Shi'i rituals and symbols have in some ways been used to restrict women's social roles, in other ways they have served to provide women with a sense of independence and empowerment.

KAMRAN SCOT AGHAIE is Assistant Professor of Islamic and Iranian History at the University of Texas at Austin.
Title:The Women of Karbala: Ritual Performance and Symbolic Discourses in Modern Shi'i IslamFormat:PaperbackDimensions:309 pages, 8.97 × 6 × 0.81 inPublished:November 1, 2005Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292709595

ISBN - 13:9780292709591

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

  • A Note on Transliteration
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. Gendered Aspects of the Emergence and Historical Development of Shi'i Symbols and Rituals
  • Kamran Scot Aghaie
  • Part 1: Iran
    • Chapter 1. Ta'ziyeh: A Twist of History in Everyday Life (Negar Mottahedeh)
    • Chapter 2. The Gender Dynamics of Moharram Rituals in the Latter Years of Qajar Rule (Kamran Scot Aghaie)
    • Chapter 3. "Oh, My Heart Is Sad. It Is Moharram, the Month of Zaynab": The Role of Aesthetics and Women's Mourning Ceremonies in Shiraz (Ingvild Flaskerud)
    • Chapter 4. The Daughters of Karbala: Images of Women in Popular Shi'i Culture in Iran (Faegheh Shirazi)
    • Chapter 5. Iconography of the Women of Karbala: Tiles, Murals, Stamps, and Posters (Peter J. Chelkowski)
  • Part 2: The Arab World, South Asia, and the United States of America
    • Chapter 6. Sakineh, The Narrator of Karbala: An Ethnographic Description of a Women's Majles Ritual in Pakistan (Shemeem Burney Abbas)
    • Chapter 7. Sayyedeh Zaynab: The Conqueror of Damascus and Beyond (Syed Akbar Hyder)
    • Chapter 8. Gender and Moharram Rituals in an Isma'ili Sect of South Asian Muslims (Rehana Ghadially)
    • Chapter 9. Women of Karbala Moving to America: Shi'i Rituals in Iran, Pakistan, and California (Mary Elaine Hegland)
    • Chapter 10. Women's Religious Rituals in Iraq (Elizabeth Warnock Fernea and Basima Q. Bezirgan)
    • Chapter 11. From Mourning to Activism: Sayyedeh Zaynab, Lebanese Shi'i Women, and the Transformation of Ashura (Lara Z. Deeb)
  • Bibliography
  • Index