Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 January 2022
Chapter 4 focuses on the controversial practice of (self-)flagellation (tatbir), which involves using swords and knives to cut the body. This highly controversial ritual practice, which is traditionally performed by men, is increasingly practiced by Shirazi Shi‘i women. Shirazi Shi‘i women in London claim that they initiated this practice among women for the first time in 2007, which has influenced and inspired other Shi‘i women to practice tatbir in other European countries and in the Middle East, including Kuwait and recently Bahrain. The chapter examines to what extent the increasing number of women performing tatbir in Europe can be regarded as a form of female religious empowerment, thus influencing the gender dynamics within Shi‘i ritual practices not only in London but also among other Shi‘i communities in other European countries and in the Middle East.