Women of Karbala Moving to America

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



University of Texas Press


When Muslims come to America, what changes take place in religious beliefs, rituals, and practices? With so many people from Muslim societies migrating to the United States in recent decades, this question becomes all the more relevant. After September 11, 2001, even the most insular of Americans suddenly became aware of Islam and Muslims. Americans who are less familiar with Islam and Muslims have generally assumed Islam to be a monolithic religion consisting of beliefs uniformly held by all Muslims without regard to regional, generational, class, and cultural distinctions. Furthermore, many Americans see Islam and Muslims as existing ‘‘out there in the Middle East,’’ far away from America. By looking at Shi’i Muslim women who have migrated from Iran, Pakistan, and India to Northern California, this chapter reminds us that Islam and Muslims are not just ‘‘out there’’ in the Middle East, North Africa, or Asia. They are also part of the United States. In fact, Muslims form the second largest religious group in the United States after Christians. Muslims and Islam are not ‘‘out there.’’ On the contrary, they are ‘‘in here.’’

Chapter of

Women of Karbala: Ritual Performance and Symbolic discourses in Modern Shi’i Islam


Kamran Scott Aghai

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