This article contributes to the history of Shi Islam in Lebanon under the French Mandate by looking at Shii religious and cultural engagements with the problem of gender. In the first section, religious treatises written by ulama in the context of a politicized “culture war” waged over the proposed reformation of Ashura mourning practices during the 1920s and 1930s are analyzed to elucidate the relationship between idealised gender behavior and religious practice. In the second section the Shii modernist monthly journal al-Irfan is utilized to show how it advocated certain “proper” roles for men and women in an adequately pious Shii society. Finally, jokes and other materials published in al-Irfan are examined to demonstrate how multifaceted gender norms were in Shii Lebanon. These sources paint a rich historical portrait of Shii cultural politics by complicating conventional conceptualizations of Shii society under the Mandate and illustrating how Shii cultural identities have been produced and negotiated over time.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science