The Shiites pp 121-124 | Cite as

The Role of Liturgy in Reinforcing Communal Identity

  • David Pinault


In the previous chapter I remarked that the men’s associations sponsor many of the Muharram majalis held in Hyderabad’s Old City. A given guruh may also provide for the performance of matam immediately after the sermon and prayers are concluded. In such cases a nauha-khan or dirge-reciter from the guild will direct this portion of the liturgy. The nauha-khan recites lamentation poetry, accompanied usually by three or four assistants who chant responses or choruses for each poem. Members of the congregation who wish to participate fully in matam, primarily young men, will gather in a semicircle around the nauha-khan; older men and young children stand at the periphery of the crowd, while women cluster near the purdah to watch as best they can. The guild’s chanter is thus the focal point of any matam liturgy sponsored by the men’s association.


Focal Point Actual Performance Religious Study Central Importance Procession Route 
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  1. 1.
    See Mahmoud Ayoub, Redemptive Suffering in Islam (The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1978), 142–144 and 198–216, for a discussion of the intercessory benefits of bewailing the martyrs of Karbala.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© David Pinault 1992

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  • David Pinault

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