Everyday Shi'ism in South Asia

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Karen Ruffle
  • Bognor Regis, England: 
    Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
    , March
     368 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The first textbook to focus on the history of lived Shi'ism in South Asia

Everyday Shi'ism in South Asia is an introduction to the everyday life and cultural memory of Shi’i women and men, focusing on the religious worlds of both individuals and communities at particular historical moments and places in the Indian subcontinent. Author Karen Ruffle draws upon an array primary sources, images, and ethnographic data to present topical case studies offering broad snapshots Shi'i life as well as microscopic analyses of ritual practices, material objects, architectural and artistic forms, and more.

Focusing exclusively on South Asian Shi'ism, an area mostly ignored by contemporary scholars who focus on the Arab lands of Iran and Iraq, the author shifts readers' analytical focus from the center of Islam to its periphery. Ruffle provides new perspectives on the diverse ways that the Shi'a intersect with not only South Asian religious culture and history, but also the wider Islamic humanistic tradition. Written for an academic audience, yet accessible to general readers, this unique resource:

  • Explores Shi’i religious practice and the relationship between religious normativity and everyday religious life and material culture
  • Contextualizes Muharram rituals, public performances, festivals, vow-making, and material objects and practices of South Asian Shi'a
  • Draws from author's studies and fieldwork throughout India and Pakistan, featuring numerous color photographs
  • Places Shi'i religious symbols, cultural values, and social systems in historical context
  • Includes an extended survey of scholarship on South Asian Shi’ism from the seventeenth century to the present

Everyday Shi'ism in South Asia is an important resource for scholars and students in disciplines including Islamic studies, South Asian studies, religious studies, anthropology, art history, material culture studies, history, and gender studies, and for English-speaking members of South Asian Shi'i communities.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Karen Ruffle, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Historical Studies and the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto where she specializes in the study of South Asian Shi'ism. Her research and teaching interests focus on Shi'i devotional texts and ritual and material practices in South Asia. She is the author of Gender, Sainthood, and Everyday Practice in South Asian Shi'ism.



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