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The development of Iraqi Shiʼa mourning rituals in modern Iraq: the ʻAshurā rituals and visitation of Al-Arbʻain

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This study is based on a submission of anthropological, historical, and literary approaches. The ethnographic study of the Shi'a holy shrines between November 2011 and January 2012 is based on my visit to Iraq. The study lasted almost ten weeks,

This study is based on a submission of anthropological, historical, and literary approaches. The ethnographic study of the Shi'a holy shrines between November 2011 and January 2012 is based on my visit to Iraq. The study lasted almost ten weeks, to include the two events under discussion: `Ashurā and Al-Arb`ain, in Karbala of that year. This thesis argues that the mourning rituals of `Ashurā and the Forty Day Visitation Zyarat Al-Arb`ain contribute to the social or individual life of Iraqi Shi'a. They also make significant contributions through creating a symbolic language to communicate for the community, as well as communicating with their essential symbolic structure. Second, the Forty Day Visitation Zyarat Al-Arb`ain is one of the most significant collective mourning rituals, one that expresses unity and solidarity of the Iraqi Shi'a community, and helps them to represent their collective power, and maintain their collective existence. This study uses two of Victor Turner's tripartite models. For `Ashurā the rite of passage rituals is used, which consists of the separation, margin, and re-aggregation phase. Through this process of entering and leaving time and social structure, it helps in changing the social status of the participants. The other model used for Al-Arb`ain is pilgrimage as a social process, which includes three levels of communitas: existential, normative, and ideological communitas. The Shi'a in Iraq are holding a position similar to Turner's notion of communitas since they are living within a society that is Muslim and yet even though they are a larger population of the society, they still become marginalized by the Sunni population socially, economically, and politically. Social relations and links play a significant role for Shi'a in `Ashurā and Al-Arb`ain as a reflection between their social status as an undefined communitas and the general structure of Iraqi society.

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2012

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Noaidi - the one who sees: bringing to light the religious experience among the 17th-18th century Sámi

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The ancient religious practices and beliefs of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, known as the Sámi, have been misrepresented and misinterpreted by well meaning ethnographers and researchers who view such practices and beliefs through an Descartes-Cartesian, objective-subjective lens. This

The ancient religious practices and beliefs of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, known as the Sámi, have been misrepresented and misinterpreted by well meaning ethnographers and researchers who view such practices and beliefs through an Descartes-Cartesian, objective-subjective lens. This thesis develops a more accurate, intersubjective paradigm that is used to illuminate more clearly the religious workings of the 17th-18th Century Sámi. Drawing upon the intersubjective theories presented by A. Irving Hallowell, Tim Ingold and Kenneth Morrison, ethnographic examples from the writings of early Lutheran missionaries and priests demonstrate that the Sámi lived in a world that can be best understood by the employ of the categories of Person (ontology), Power (epistemology) and Gift (axiology).

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2014

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Velayat-e Faqih: innovation or within tradition

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The concept of Velayat-e Faqih as a type of Shi’ite Islamic government gained popularity three decades ago, after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The new constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was based on Velayat-e Fagih, proposed by the

The concept of Velayat-e Faqih as a type of Shi’ite Islamic government gained popularity three decades ago, after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The new constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was based on Velayat-e Fagih, proposed by the Imam Khomeini many consider him as the leader of the Islamic Revolution and the founder of the Iranian Islamic Republic. What is Velayat-e Faqih? Who can be the Vali Faqih? Why wasn't this idea proposed before Islamic Revolution in 1979? Did all the Shi’ite religious scholars endorse this idea or the Vali Faqih himself? All of these questions ultimately lead us to ask whether this concept has been drawn from Shi’ite Islamic discourses or it may perhaps be considered a novelty: a secularization of religion. These questions are increasingly discussed in academia and in the large public arena. Moreover, this discourse has divided Shi’ite Muslims into three groups: supporters of the Velayat-e Faqih, its opponents, and the silent group. It is important to analyze the position of all those groups including the silent group who did not publicly endorse or reject the theory. The theory of Velayat-e Faqih has emerged from the Imamate doctrine, which constitutes a cornerstone of Shi'ite sect of Islam. It is necessary to understand this political doctrine in relation to the context within which this concept of leadership had emerged. In order to overcome the ambiguities surrounding the relationship between Velayat-e Faqih and the position of Islamic jurist as a source of guidance and imitation (Marje Taqleed), it is necessary to discuss the various dimension of guardianship in the absence of the infallible Imam. Furthermore, the focus of this research is to review whether the concept of Velayat-e Faqih was innovated after the Islamic Revolution of Iran or existed within the Shi’ite tradition.

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2016