The importance and ramifications of saints, sainthood and pilgrimage in contemporary Iran and neighbouring countries are great, yet the academic conceptualizations of them and their entailments are sorely lacking. This book places the saints and their pilgrims in sharper focus, and offers important correctives to all-too-common Western misunderstandings, the foremost of which is the erroneous portrayal of Islam as primarily a body of legal doctrine and corresponding practice, and the associated principle that we can 'know' Islam if we 'know' Islamic law. In an effort to challenge such a limited, and limiting, perspective, this volume suggests that both anthropology, insofar as it can focus on experience and practice, and history, insofar as it can encompass more than an institutional/political 'names and dates' discourse, can reveal something of the dynamism of the faith, as more than the sum of its laws. The approaches demonstrated in this book on Shiite Pilgrimage offer windows into the beliefs and lives of 'ordinary' people, past and present, and thereby bring forth agendas akin to those of 'subaltern studies'. Finally, the memorializing documented in these chapters provides evidence, past and present, of widespread desires for a more concrete, even immanent, relationship that is direct, unmediated and, at least partly, involves forms of intercession - even though such desires for immanence in the Islamic world have previously been considered as limited to devotees of the Sufi saints or the Shi'i Imams or their progeny.
The importance and ramifications of saints, sainthood and pilgrimage in contemporary Iran and neighbouring countries are great, yet the academic conceptualizations of them and their entailments are sorely lacking. This book places the saints and their pilgrims in sharper focus, and offers important correctives to all-too-common Western misunderstandings, the foremost of which is the erroneous portrayal of Islam as primarily a body of legal doctrine and corresponding practice, and the associated principle that we can 'know' Islam if we 'know' Islamic law. In an effort to challenge such a limite.
This book is the first of its kind to use photographs of Iran's Qajar period to prove the level of ability of the medium to document and simultaneously pathologise the history, culture, story, and maybe struggle of African slave communities in Qajar Iran.
Author: Afsaneh Najmabadi
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2005-04-25
"This book is groundbreaking, at once highly original, courageous, and moving. It is sure to have a tremendous impact in Iranian studies, modern Middle East history, and the history of gender and sexuality."—Beth Baron, author of Egypt as a Woman "This is an extraordinary book. It rereads the story of Iranian modernity through the lens of gender and sexuality in ways that no other scholars have done."—Joan W. Scott, author of Gender and the Politics of History
Shi'i Islam has been the official religion of Iran from the Safavids (1501-1732) to the present day. The Shi'i world experience has provided a rich artistic tradition, encompassing painting, sculpture, and the production of artifacts and performance, which has helped to embed Shi'i identity in Iran as part of its national narrative. In what areas of material culture has Iranian Shi'ism manifested itself through objects or buildings that are unique within the overall culture of Islam? To what extent is the art and architecture of Iran from the Safavid period onwards identifiably Shi'i? What does this say about the relationship of nation, state, and faith in Iran? Here, leading experts trace the material heritage of Iranian Shi'ism within each of its political, religious, and cultural dimensions. This book is published by I.B. Tauris in association with the Iran Heritage Foundation.
Author: Nile Green
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2016-12-12
"This book provides the first ever overview of the history and development of Islam in Afghanistan. It covers every era from the conversion of Afghanistan through the medieval and early modern periods to the present day. Based on primary sources in Arabic, Persian, Pashto, Urdu and Uzbek, its depth and scope of coverage is unrivalled by any existing publication on Afghanistan. As well as state-sponsored religion, the chapters cover such issues as the rise of Sufism, Sharia, women's religiosity, transnational Islamism and the Taliban. Islam has been one of the most influential social and political forces in Afghan history. Providing idioms and organizations for both anti-state and anti-foreign mobilization, Islam has proven to be a vital socio-political resource in modern Afghanistan. Even as it has been deployed as the national cement of a multi-ethnic 'Emirate' and then 'Islamic Republic,' Islam has been no less a destabilizing force in dividing Afghan society. Yet despite the universal scholarly recognition of the centrality of Islam to Afghan history, its developmental trajectories have received relatively little sustained attention outside monographs and essays devoted to particular moments or movements. To help develop a more comprehensive, comparative and developmental picture of Afghanistan's Islam from the eighth century to the present, this edited volume brings together specialists on different periods, regions and languages. Each chapter forms a case study 'snapshot' of the Islamic beliefs, practices, institutions and authorities of a particular time and place in Afghanistan"--Provided by publishe
Author: A. Azfar Moin
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2012-10-16
At the end of the sixteenth century and the turn of the first Islamic millennium, the powerful Mughal emperor Akbar declared himself the most sacred being on earth. The holiest of all saints and above the distinctions of religion, he styled himself as the messiah reborn. Yet the Mughal emperor was not alone in doing so. In this field-changing study, A. Azfar Moin explores why Muslim sovereigns in this period began to imitate the exalted nature of Sufi saints. Uncovering a startling yet widespread phenomenon, he shows how the charismatic pull of sainthood (wilayat)—rather than the draw of religious law (sharia) or holy war (jihad)—inspired a new style of sovereignty in Islam. A work of history richly informed by the anthropology of religion and art, The Millennial Sovereign traces how royal dynastic cults and shrine-centered Sufism came together in the imperial cultures of Timurid Central Asia, Safavid Iran, and Mughal India. By juxtaposing imperial chronicles, paintings, and architecture with theories of sainthood, apocalyptic treatises, and manuals on astrology and magic, Moin uncovers a pattern of Islamic politics shaped by Sufi and millennial motifs. He shows how alchemical symbols and astrological rituals enveloped the body of the monarch, casting him as both spiritual guide and material lord. Ultimately, Moin offers a striking new perspective on the history of Islam and the religious and political developments linking South Asia and Iran in early-modern times.
This books reflects on sites such as shrines, monasteries or a revered mountain, cave or tree, shared by more than one religion in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Brazil. It explores how their multiple meanings, inherent ambiguity and shared rituals, transcending the confines of orthodoxy, may contribute to their power for the pilgrim.
Reclaiming the Faravahar is an ethnographic study of the contemporary Zoroastrians in Tehran. It examines hundreds of public discursive and ritual performances to show how they play upon national, religious, and ethnic categories to frame the Zoroastrian identity within the longstanding conflict between Iranian Shi?a and Arab Sunnis, defining and defending Zoroastrians' identity and values in Shi?i-dominated Iran. The book focuses on two main concerns of the community: continuity with the past, hence a claim of being the authentic Iranians; and distinction from the dominant Shi?a, thus appealing to fellow non-Zoroastrians who are disenchanted with the Islamic Republic. It also provides an historical sketch of Zoroastrians' condition after the Arab incursion into the Persian territory of seventh-century Iran and some of the challenges they have faced, such as emigration, conversion, absorption, and declining numbers. The book then explores the ways in which these challenges are received, understood, and articulated by today's community, and how the community makes a conscious effort to remain not only relevant in contemporary Iran but in a global context as well. The book will mainly appeal to scholars and students of religion, ritual, history, performance theories, discursive analysis, authoritarian regimes, and subalterns. Academics with an interest in Iran and the Shi?i tradition will take particular interest in the work.
This book discusses what it means to “perform the State,” what this action means in relation to the country of Iran and how these various performances are represented. The concept of the “State” as a modern phenomenon has had a powerful impact on the formation of the individual and collective, as well as on determining how political entities are perceived in their interactions with one another in the current global arena.
A country marked by controversy, Iran’s social, cultural and political dynamics are too often reduced to a few misleading clichés. Islamism is widely considered to shape all social relations in Iranian society and, while Iranian society is indeed Islamic, this term’s multiple meanings in everyday life and practices go far beyond the naïve and monolithic idea we are used to. The Thousand and One Borders of Iran analyses travel as a social practice, exploring how diasporas, margins and so-called peripheries are central in the construction of a national identity and thus revealing the complexities of Iranian history and society. Written by a leading anthropologist, it draws upon fieldwork carried out in Iran and Iranian migrant communities across Dubai, Tokyo and Los Angeles from 1998 to 2015. While casting new perspectives on the place of transnational relations in an increasingly globalized world, this work also sheds new light on the evolution of Iranian society, countering the explanation furnished by nationalist ideology that has been reproduced by the Islamic Republic itself. Its unique approach to the analysis of Iranian society through the theme of travel and borders considers the links and even the quarrels between the centre of Iranian society and the periphery, and the foreign elements that have contributed to society’s development. Travel is key to these interactions and, following the travels of merchants and workers, students or the faithful, elected officials and experts, or exiles and refugees, this book offers an anthropological study of travel that re-thinks Iranian history and national identity. This book would be of interest to students and scholars of Iranian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and Anthropology.
Today, almost a generation has passed since the Iran–Iraq war and the memory of it is set to diminish with each passing generation. The following questions emerge. Can we say that the gradual disappearance of war’s memory means that, increasingly, Iranians will see the Iran–Iraq war solely as an historical event? How can we defend or reject this idea? Today, with which elements and values should we look at the Iran–Iraq war memorials and ceremonies? To what extent will war museums and materials culture be influenced by these new values? In the period during and immediately after the Iran–Iraq war (1980-88), national bereavement and commemoration of martyrs was neither apparent in common state policy nor a social need. Even at the turn of the 21st century, anyone walking through Iranian cities, many of which had been the main scene of the bloody massacre and direct targets of the Iraqi Republican Guard, will have found traces of the terrible, almost unimaginable, human losses. However, today’s Iranians can see modern war memorials and monuments in many parts of the urban and rural landscape. Yet, at the same time, the changing landscape has separated Iranians from such remnants of the violence. It can be argued that many people, in their wish to look forward to a more hopeful future, do not wish to be reminded of this period in Iranian history. This book was originally published as a special issue of Visual Anthropology.
Author: Sohail Daulatzai
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
Release Date: 2012
“The same rebellion, the same impatience, the same anger that exists in the hearts of the dark people in Africa and Asia,” Malcolm X declared in a 1962 speech, “is existing in the hearts and minds of 20 million black people in this country who have been just as thoroughly colonized as the people in Africa and Asia.” Four decades later, the hip-hop artist Talib Kweli gave voice to a similar Pan-African sentiment in the song “K.O.S. (Determination)”: “The African diaspora represents strength in numbers, a giant can't slumber forever.” Linking discontent and unrest in Harlem and Los Angeles to anticolonial revolution in Algeria, Egypt, and elsewhere, Black leaders in the United States have frequently looked to the anti-imperialist movements and antiracist rhetoric of the Muslim Third World for inspiration. In Black Star, Crescent Moon, Sohail Daulatzai maps the rich, shared history between Black Muslims, Black radicals, and the Muslim Third World, showing how Black artists and activists imagined themselves not as national minorities but as part of a global majority, connected to larger communities of resistance. Daulatzai traces these interactions and alliances from the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power era to the “War on Terror,” placing them within a broader framework of American imperialism, Black identity, and the global nature of white oppression. From Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali to contemporary artists and activists like Rakim and Mos Def,Black Star, Crescent Moon reveals how Muslim resistance to imperialism came to occupy a central position within the Black radical imagination, offering a new perspective on the political and cultural history of Black internationalism from the 1950s to the present.