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Gender, Sainthood, & Everyday Practice in South Asian Shiʿism$
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Karen G. Ruffle

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834756

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877975_ruffle

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Saints Are “Real” People

Saints Are “Real” People

Imitable Sainthood in Shiʿism

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter One Saints Are “Real” People
Source:
Gender, Sainthood, & Everyday Practice in South Asian Shiʿism
Author(s):

Karen G. Ruffle

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807877975_ruffle.6

This chapter begins with an ethnographic anecdote because Khan's experience delivering his discourse on Fatimah Kubra and the attendant emotional response of the majlis participants demonstrate that the theological and hagiographical construction of sainthood in the Shi'i tradition is complex, and provides significant space for the inclusion of female saints whose femininity is positively acknowledged and embraced. Khan's focus on Fatimah Kubra was not exceptional, nor was this a special one-time-only topic; the following chapters illustrate how the women of the ahl-e bait are constructed in the hagiographical texts and ritual performance of the mourning assembly. The heroes of Karbala are reified into certain distinguishable types, yet the characterization and symbolic function of these heroes are remarkably fluid and are subject to adaptation to fit new vernacular contexts.

Keywords:   ethnographic anecdote, Khan, Fatimah Kubra, majlis, Shi'i tradition, ahl-e bait

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