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Martyrs of Karbala

Shi'i Symbols and Rituals in Modern Iran

by Kamran Scot Aghaie

Publication Year: 2004

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. ix-xiv

This book explores the significant transformation of Iranian Shi

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pp. xv-xvi

I am indebted to Nosrat Hemmatiyan and Kamal Hosayni for their friendship, hospitality, and help when I was in Tehran conducting research. Hushang Dabbagh and his family were similarly supportive and welcoming when I was doing research in Isfahan and Shahreza.These two families included my father’s closest friends, and I view them ...

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1. A Brief Historical Background of Shi'ism and Moharram

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pp. 3-14

The two main sects or branches of Islam are Shiªism and Sunnism. Today, Shiªis make up between ten and fifteen percent of the world’s Muslim population, with approximately half of this number residing in Iran. Other major concentrations of Shiªis are in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Eastern Arabia, and parts of South Asia. The ...

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2. The Qajar Elites and Religious Patronage (1796–1925)

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pp. 15-29

Between 1796 and 1925, the Qajar dynasty ruled over a territory that roughly corresponds to the boundaries of modern Iran. This period marked the first time since the fall of the Safavids in 1722 that Iran was ruled by a relatively centralized monarchy. By the early nineteenth century, Qajar rule became more decentralized as Western imperialist ...

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3. Qajar Society and Religious Culture: Tehran as a Case Study

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pp. 30-46

The focus of the discussion now shifts away from the Qajar court and rural government. Many of the patterns of court patronage of Moharram rituals were reflected not only in rural government but also in other sectors of society in both Tehran and the provinces. This study, for purely practical reasons, focuses mainly upon the capital ...

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4. The Pahlavi Regime and the Emergence of Secular Modernism (1925–1979)

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pp. 47-66

As this study turns its focus from the Qajar period to the Pahlavi era, it becomes evident that there was a great deal of both continuity and change in relation to Moharram symbols and rituals. Whereas the relationship between the Qajars and their subjects was characterized by mediation, the Pahlavis slowly moved in a new direction. During ...

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5. Religious Rituals, Society, and Politics during the Pahlavi Period

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pp. 67-86

While the state tried with futility to control Moharram rituals, these same rituals continued to evolve independently of the state’s direct control. During the Qajar era, Moharram rituals (such as the taªziyeh, the rowzeh khani, and the Moharram procession) were among the most important means of promoting religious and political legitimacy. ...

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6. Hoseyn, “The Prince of Martyrs”

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pp. 87-112

By the 1960s and 1970s, Moharram rituals had become effective means for critiquing the shah’s regime and for expressing alternative social and political views. Lectures, often the centerpieces of these rituals, became increasingly politicized. Their use for this purpose was an important development within the oppositional discourse ...

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7. Fatemeh, Zeynab, and Emerging Discourses on Gender

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pp. 113-130

Like most regions of the world, Iran witnessed the emergence of a new discourse on gender during the twentieth century. While some aspects of this discourse can be traced back to social and political trends in the late Qajar period, it did not achieve full force until the Pahlavi era. It is useful to think of the chronology of this period as consisting ...

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8. The Islamic Republic

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pp. 131-153

There are numerous detailed accounts of the actual transfer of political power following the Islamic Revolution of 1978–79, so it is not necessary to recount this material. Here, the concern is the state’s use of religious symbolism to promote its own legitimacy following the 1978–79 revolution. In relation to the transfer of power, it is ...

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9. Conclusion

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pp. 154-162

Karbala symbols and rituals have been influenced in significant ways by the policies and agendas of the various regimes ruling Iran. However, while the state has been able to influence these symbols and rituals, it has not often been able to control them. The state’s ability to make use of Karbala symbols and rituals has been an important ...


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pp. 163-178


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pp. 179-194


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pp. 195-200

E-ISBN-13: 9780295800783
E-ISBN-10: 029580078X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295984551
Print-ISBN-10: 0295984554

Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 772529033
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Martyrs of Karbala

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Muslim martyrs -- Iraq -- Karbalāʼ.
  • Shīʻah -- Customs and practices.
  • Islam and politics -- Iran.
  • Shīʻah -- Iran -- History.
  • Shīʻah -- Iran -- Tehran -- Case studies.
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