Described by Peter J. Chelkowski as “the sole form of serious drama to have developed in the world of Islam,” taʿziyeh is a performance form comprising elegiac, devotional performances in commemoration of the martyrdom of Husain ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (626–680 CE), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the third Imam of Shii Muslims.1 The revered Imam confronted the much larger army of Caliph Yazid ibn Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan on the desert plain of Karbala—south of modern Baghdad—where Husain and his followers bravely fought and became martyrs in 680 CE. According to tradition, the lamentation rituals for the Karbala martyrs were immediately performed by the Imam’s surviving family and supporters. Though performed differently in various localities today, the mourning rituals, known as Muharram, have developed into major communal events in Iran and other regions with large Shiʿi populations, where members of a village, a local...
Taʿziyeh Close-Up: A Conversation with Moslem Nadalizadeh
BABAK RAHIMI is the director of the Program for the Study of Religion at University of California San Diego. His monograph, Theater-State and Formation of the Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran: Studies on Safavid Muharram Rituals, 1590–1641 C.E. (Brill, 2011), traces the origins of the Iranian public sphere in the early-seventeenth-century Safavid Empire with a focus on the relationship between state-building, urban space, and ritual culture. Rahimi is also the co-editor (with Armando Salvatore and Roberto Tottoli) of The Wiley Blackwell History of Islam (2018), Muslim Pilgrimage in the Modern World (Peyman Eshaghi, co-editor, 2019), Theater in the Middle East: Between Performance and Politics (2020), and Performing Iran: Culture, Performance, Theatre (2021). Rahimi’s research interests concern the relationship between performance, religion, and technology. The historical and social contexts that inspire his research range from early modern Islamicate societies to the global south.
Babak Rahimi; Taʿziyeh Close-Up: A Conversation with Moslem Nadalizadeh. Ecumenica 1 May 2022; 15 (1): 66–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/ecumenica.15.1.0066
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