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Mareike Beez (Alumna BGSMCS)

Der zwölferschiitische Martyriumsdiskurs im Iran des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts

PhD Research (2008 - 2013):

Der zwölferschiitische Martyriumsdiskurs im Iran des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts

In 680 AD Muhammad’s grandson and third Shī‘ī Imām, Husain b. ‘Alī, was killed in a battle with the Umayyad army on the plain of Karbalā’, fighting for the political and spiritual leadership of the Muslim community. The battle at Karbalā’ and Imām Husain’s death became the defining event of Shī‘ī history as a community.

Martyrdom – that is being killed and dieing for the sake of God – and its commemoration gradually evolved into one important component of Shī‘ī belief. In my study I argue that there is a specifically Shī‘ī notion of martyrdom exceeding the general concept of dieing for the sake of God in Islam, centering the prophet’s family and seeking for salvation by their help.

By a comparison of Persian literature about martyrdom I will trace the various stages of the perceptional change of this notion focusing on the depiction of Imām Husain. The sources to be studied were published in a period from the 1850s till 1916 (Qajar era, 1779-1925) and late 1960s till 1979 (Pahlavi era, 1925-1979). They comprise the maqtal genre – literature about the Karbalā’ narrative commemorating the calamities of the prophet’s family and the Imāms’ violent deaths – and since late 1960s monographs and scholarly essays about the philosophy and uprising of Imām Husain’s movement tieing in with the maqtal genre. Notions such as martyrdom (šahādat), sacrifice (ğān-nižārī, fidākārī), felicity (sa‘ādat), salvation/liberation (nağāt), oppression (ãulm) and justice (‘adālat) recur in texts from both periods and are to shed light on the Twelver Shī‘ī concept of martyrdom.

My study “Das zwölferschiitische Martyriumskonzept im Iran des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts” aims at making a contribution to the history of ideas in Islam.

First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sabine Schmidtke

Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gudrun Krämer

Third Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Michael Bongardt