Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Tabsir contributor El-Sayed el-Aswad recently published an article entitled “The Perceptibility of the Invisible Cosmology: Religious Rituals and Embodied Spirituality among the Bahraini Shi’a” in Anthropology of the Middle East, Volume 5, Number 2, Winter 2010 , pp. 59-76. The article is available to subscribers of the journal or for purchase. The abstract is cited here:

This article analyses the relationship between the seen and the unseen in the cosmology and practices of Bahraini Shi’a. Rather than contrasting the visible and the invisible, the study delineates the hierarchical relations between them, within a whole or cosmology, as reflected in various discursive and non-discursive actions that are supported by the religious beliefs of Bahraini Shi’a. Issues of the Hidden Imam, concealment, dissimulation and other unseen dimensions of the cosmos are discussed. The article finds that the Shi’a construct the invisible in their social world by using visible ways of creatively enacting their hidden thoughts and beliefs, as represented in their religious discourses, rituals and body symbolism. Their belief in a divine higher power provides a source of emotional, spiritual and socio-political empowerment.