PhD student (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies)


Forschungsbau "Weltbeziehungen" / C19.03.23

Office hours

by arrangement

Visiting address

Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Forschungsneubau „Weltbeziehungen“ C19
Nordhäuser Str. 63
99089 Erfurt

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Personal information

  • Since October 2023: Doctoral student at the Max-Weber-Kolleg in IGS "Resonant Self-World Relations” research group at the University of Erfurt
  • 2021-2023: MA in Religious Studies | Ruhr Universität, Bochum
  • 2015-2018: MA in Sociology | Tehran University, Iran
  • 2010-2014: BA in Persian Language and Literature | Tehran University, Iran

Research project

Encountering the uncertain ritual time

Rituals should be put in the right time and place to be transformative and efficacious. (Rappaport, 1992; Smith, 1987) But how do ritual performers recognize and perceive the right time? In my research, I aim to contextualize this question within the Shia 'ritual' calendar and explore how the recognition of the 'right time' is associated with the resonance of the ritual performance. I also explore how the efficacy of the ritual can be experienced, transformed, or redefined within the backdrop of temporal 'uncertainty'.

The Shia ritual calendar is replete with special times when both the Shia Imam(s) and the divine are believed to exhibit heightened responsiveness, and the potential for establishing a resonant relationship with them is intensified when rituals are performed at the designated 'right' time. I am specifically exploring the case of the month of Ramadan and the night of Qadr (Night of Decree), when it is believed that people's destinies are determined and transformed. The problem arises when this opportune time is shrouded in secrecy. On the one hand, this secrecy is deeply embedded in the tradition itself, with three possible nights being considered as Qadr. Conversely, the mediation of religious and political authorities introduces conflicting claims about the 'right’ time, complicating the establishment of resonant relationships through the ritual.

In light of these two levels of uncertainty, in my research I focus on the different narratives of Shia groups in Iran regarding the proper timing of the ritual.

I aim to address the following questions during my research: What concept of time do believers use to ensure the efficacy of the ritual? Is it normative (exoteric) time that can be calculated by science, or mediated by religious authorities or a unified calendar or is it sacred (esoteric) time? What are the narratives of the perception of ritual time and how do people reorient themselves to Shia history in relation to ritual time? How does their understanding of time either facilitate or hinder their longing for the resonance of their ritual performance?