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Accepted Paper:

Women's Pilgrimage to Fatima-Masoumeh's Shrine in Qom: Leisure, Mobility and Religious Practice  
Ladan Rahbari (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Iranian Shiite women practice pilgrimage to Fatima-Masoumeh's shrine in single-sex trips where boundaries of leisure, tourism and religious practice are blurred. While they view the pilgrimage as a spiritual and religious journey, they also interpret it as a political Shiite practice.

Paper long abstract:

Twelver Shiite pilgrimage tradition includes Haj as well as visitations to the shrines of Shiite Imams, Imam's (grand)children, and relatives. One pilgrimage site is Fatima-Masoumeh's shrine in Qom (Iran). Fatima-Masoumeh was the seventh Imam's daughter and the eighth Imam's sister in Twelver Shiism. Her shrine is a site of pilgrimage especially attractive for Muslim Shiite women because of her life story, personal characteristics, and political imagery. Masoumeh's birthday anniversary is the official 'Girls' Day' in Iran as she is the Shiite symbol of virginity and political activism through voluntary singlehood. It is believed that Masoumeh's grace insures younger women's piety and facilitates the adoption of a proper hijab in the form of chador. Today, Iranian Muslim women's pilgrimages to visit Masoumeh take place as individual and collective visitations in groups sometimes consisting only of women and girls. The single-sex trips are characterized as spiritual journeys where boundaries of leisure, tourism and religious practice are blurred. Conservative religious women - in their best chadors scented with rose water - can interact, laugh and pray while they perform pilgrimage without the limitations they face in mixed-gender spaces. By going on these journeys - usually in their own vehicles - women create bonds and connect their own experiences to Masoumeh's life events. While women practice pilgrimage for an array of individual reasons and as a religious obligation, visiting Masoumeh is also seen as a political practice that corroborate the 'minority' position of Shiism in Islamic history.

Panel P100
Migration, tourism, business: reconfiguring Muslim pilgrimage through the lens of women's new mobilities
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -