“Doing Good, Like Sayyida Zaynab”: Lebanese Shi‘I Women’s Participation in the Public Sphere

  • Lara Deeb
Part of the Culture and Religion in International Relations book series (CRIR)


Over the past two decades, women’s participation in public welfare has increased substantially in the southern al-dahiyya al-janubiyya suburbs of Beirut (henceforth al-Dahiyya).1 The visibility of women in public activities has accompanied the establishment or growth of numerous Islamic community welfare and/or charitable associations, known as jam‘iyyat khayriyya. Both phenomena reflect a strong commitment to public welfare and community service in the area; a commitment linked to the religious and political groundings of the Shi‘i Islamic movement in Lebanon, most prominently represented today by Hizbullah. Particularly for women in this area of Beirut, commitment to community service, al-iltizam bi-l-‘amal al-ijtima‘i, is manifest on a personal level as well as a public one. Moreover, it extends well beyond paying one’s khums (a Shi‘i religious tax) or seeking employment in the administrative offices of jam‘iyyat to volunteering long hours in face-to-face work assisting the poor.


Community Service Public Sphere Muslim Woman Public Welfare Community Work 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Armando Salvatore and Mark LeVine 2005

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  • Lara Deeb

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