The Representation Problem Of Muharram Rituals in Digital Platforms

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Kaynamazoğlu Z. S.

İslam ve Yorum Sempozyumu V, Malatya, Turkey, 20 - 23 May 2021, vol.2, pp.293-305

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 2
  • City: Malatya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.293-305
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes



The Karbala case, which can be named as the "chosen trauma" of the Shia, preserves its vitality in the common memory of Islamic societies even today and constitutes the psychological front of the practical religiosity of the Shia. After the martyrdom of Husayn, the mourning was not limited to the family members he left behind. The martyrdom of Husayn was mourned by large masses of people every year in Muharram and various ceremonies were established in different geographies for centuries for this purpose. In the beginning, assemblies (majālis) were held in the houses, in the process, it spread to the streets and turned into public ceremonies, and finally it evolved into its current form by gaining a carnival-like identity.


Muharram ceremonies, which consist of elements such as house assemblies, processions, grave visits and taziyah performances, face a serious problem related to their representation on digital platforms, especially on Youtube. Although self-injury rituals, which are a part of Muharram ceremonies, have a relatively short history and are subject to serious criticism by today's Shiite ulama, they are mentioned and shared more than any other ritual on digital platforms for various reasons. This situation creates a completely negative image about the ceremonies.


Although it has been complained that the bloody side of the Muharram ceremonies was deliberately put into circulation by the media in order to show the Islamic religion and the Shia sect as unpleasent, it is clear that the problem is wider. Because such bloody images are not only shared by media outlets, individuals also share photos and videos through digital platforms. For this reason, the way media organs reflect ceremonies and the psychological and social reasons that encourage individuals to transfer such bloody images to the internet should be investigated together. The desire to manifest faith, the concern to prove that there is a more severe mourning than the rival religious groups, display of force  can be listed as the main reasons for individual sharing. In addition, channels that have no religious motives and are concerned about taking advantage of the interest in violent and bloody sharing on digital platforms also increase the dissemination of such images. In this study, the reasons and results of the representation problem of the aforementioned ceremonies will be investigated.


Keywords: shia, karbala, muharram ceremonies, taziyah, digital media.