Readings 379


Notes on Guests of the Sheik


conservative Shi-ite village

attitudes to children/childlessness

why did she not veil?

importance of jewelry as insurance for women

what happens to women without women relatives (especially mother)

going out after dark

honor killing

customs: separation of sexes

tea and cigarettes; seating arrangements

sheik's son can't talk without being spoken to

women walk behind man

why wouldn't BJ want co-wives to share labor

prayer habits

Ramadan - 16th C. origin of Shi-ite observance

mourning of Hussein, when Ottomons took over area (they were Sunnis), so Shi'ites instituted own ritual

rules connected with fasting

calendric regulation (when chief mullah sees new moon)

kraya - religious ceremony, segregated, held at night, conducted by mullah, guests

social event for women

chanting, breast beating, invocation, teaching sermon, story of Hussein's martyrdom - very emotional; moment of silence

fast-breaking feast (Id el Fitr)

parades, hosted by sheik

tribal women and religion

- visiting local villages started with mother of Mohammed (Amina or Aminata)

- problem of what to call a woman whose husband has simply left (e.g., Mohammed's sister)

- does no children equal no respect in the community?

- gift-giving obligation to guests

- weaving household: women in one group, men in another, but both together in yard, with no wall- neighboring town educated population, irrigation waterway built by engineer

- doctor didn't like rural people, nor they him

- he'd converted to Islam; hence, not trustworthy

- comparison of houses, furniture, social relations between town and village

- new bridge prevented women's movement due to visibility


- character of Hossana and her husband (she said to be bad wife by others), so he takes a second wife, and she leaves

- after illness of wife's child, husband decides not to remarry

- 9 out of 10 households polygynous; some divorces

rules of equal treatment; rules of divorce support

arguments against polygamy (one at a time)

- disputes among co-wives

- effects of education adn employment on women's conduct

marriage and tradition

- arranged, so couple didn't see each other

- women working for men, not just wife for husband

- no guarantees for wife (against beating or acquisition of co-wife)

- description of ceremony - make-up ... communal project

- bride not supposed to notice anything

arrangement might cause parental disagreement, so could lead to multiple marriage

- also if man marries at middle age, his mother will be too old to make trouble

economic and social aspects

- bride payment

- husband buys wedding clohtes and gifts for wife; after that, she becomes like a slave

wives closer to each other than to husband, except for some competition to have the best marriage and to be the favorite

Readings 379