Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 January 2022
The chapter examines the historical theological and hagiographical as well as contemporary portrayal of the figure of Fatima. It analyzes the significance of Fatima’s presence in women-only majalis in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Kuwait and to what extent her images and roles support women’s agency and contribute to the attainment of eschatological gender equality within Shi‘i ritual practices. Fatima is believed to be spiritually and, in some cases, physically present during commemoration ritual practices held by Shi‘i believers remembering the death of her son Imam Husayn. Fatima’s apparitions and other miraculous events during majalis are linked to the transformation of women’s empowerment within their communities. This is in addition to women’s recent increasing contribution to Shi‘i ritual practices, particularly those that traditionally have been regarded as male-dominated practices. Fatima’s apparitions are seen as a divine intervention in support of women’s transgression of these specific patriarchal religious boundaries. Women’s apparition narratives are instrumental in overcoming gender inequality in the performance of religious practices. Women’s claims for their right to participate in certain Shi‘i ritual practices is strengthened and, to a certain extent, legitimized through Fatima’s appearances.