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Reliving KarbalaMartyrdom in South Asian Memory$
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Syed Akbar Hyder

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195373028

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373028.001.0001

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Commemorative Politics and Poetics

Commemorative Politics and Poetics

(p.73) 3 Commemorative Politics and Poetics
Reliving Karbala

Syed Akbar Hyder

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with popular interpretations and understandings of the history of Shii Muslims, and calls attention to the role of women through the invocation of the Imam Husain b. Ali’s sister, Zainab. In bringing to light the Shii readings of Islamic history, this chapter discusses various texts that are recited within the context of the majlis — from the different subgenres within the Urdu elegy to the sermons from the pulpit by zakirs. This chapter concerns itself centrally with how the majlis, through the invocations of Karbala, produces and reproduces a counterdiscourse to the hegemonic readings of the history of Islam. It explores gender dynamics that shape the narratives of femininity through the elaboration of the role of Zainab, who had accompanied Husain to Karbala and was her brother’s comrade in spirit. Thus, traditions of devotion and resistance are ascribed to her.

Keywords:   Karbala, Shii Muslims, Islam, history, women, femininity, Zainab, Husain b. Ali, majlis, elegy

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