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By Karen G. Ruffle

During this learn of devotional hagiographical texts and modern ritual performances of the Shi'a of Hyderabad, India, Karen Ruffle demonstrates how traditions of sainthood and localized cultural values form gender roles. Ruffle specializes in the yearly mourning assemblies hung on 7 Muharram to commemorate the battlefield marriage ceremony of Fatimah Kubra and her warrior-bridegroom Qasem, who was once martyred in 680 C.E. on the conflict of Karbala, Iraq, sooner than their marriage used to be consummated.

Ruffle argues that hagiography, an incredible textual culture in Islam, performs a dynamic function in developing the reminiscence, piety, and social sensibilities of a Shi'i neighborhood. in the course of the Hyderabadi rituals that idealize and venerate Qasem, Fatimah Kubra, and the opposite heroes of Karbala, a unique type of sainthood is produced. those saints, Ruffle explains, function socioethical position versions and non secular paragons whom Shi'i Muslims goal to mimic of their daily lives, enhancing their own spiritual perform and social selves. On a broader group point, Ruffle observes, such practices aid generate and make stronger staff identification, shared ethics, and gendered sensibilities. by way of placing gender and daily perform on the heart of her examine, Ruffle demanding situations Shi'i patriarchal narratives that current merely males as saints and brings to mild regularly neglected women's non secular practices.

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A retired professor of chemistry at the university and a popular majlis orator, Khan sat in the mourning assembly and listened to the invocatory poems (salām and marṡiya) commemorating the wedding and martyrdom of Qasem before deciding that it was more appropriate to speak on this topic rather than the one he had prepared. Discoursing on Qasem’s martyrdom is a familiar subject for Khan. For decades, his family has hosted one of Hyderabad’s most popular 7 Muharram mourning assemblies dedicated to Qasem.

This year, Sarah engaged in a more powerful ritual act of supplication by attending a perINTRODUCTION | 13 formance of bloody self-flagellation, watching men cut themselves with razor blades or flails in time with the rhythmic recitation of nauḥa mourning poems. At performances of bloody mātam, it is common to see a group of women standing in one corner of the shrine and periodically reaching out to take daubs of blood from the men’s bodies. Unmarried women smear this blood on their right palms, imitating the ritualized daubing of henna on the hands by young men and women at the 7 Muharram mehndī mourning assemblies dedicated to Qasem and Fatimah Kubra.

Abdur Rahman’s text is largely synthetic, compiling the many hagiographical accounts of Ghazi Miyan that were in circulation in North India for at least five centuries. 31 In Mirʾāt-e maṣʿūdī, ʿAbdur Rahman reports that Ghazi Miyan was the nephew of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna (r. 32 In such chronicles as Mirʾāt-e maṣʿūdī, Ghazi Miyan is the stereotypical warrior conquering “infidels” in the name of Islam. Romila Thapar observes that Ghazi Miyan’s “early exploits are enveloped in fantasy. . [T]he stories of his exploits as a warrior may well have surfaced at the time when Ghazi Miyan was acquiring popularity as a protector of the lowly.

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