Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 January 2022
This chapter covers the historical and contemporary development of the rites of mourning within Shi‘i Islam. References from historical sources on the performance of mourning rituals since the Umayyad period lay the foundation for a critical discussion on what constitutes a ritual and when the performance of commemoration rituals started. Most women interviewed believed Zaynab, Husayn’s sister, to have initiated mourning practices for the first time in order to keep the memory of the killing of her brother alive. Others, mainly within Shi‘i scholarship, see the initiation of the practice as having been shaped later by men. This chapter serves as the foundation for the whole book as it introduces each ritual practice, understood as an act of resistance, with a particular focus on the role women play therein.