By Aurelia Ardito
The intensive relationship between a teacher – Anīsa – and her disciples forms the foundation of the Qubaysiyya or female religious circles of Damascus. Strong commitment to education within homes, mosques and schools, activism in philanthropic initiatives, and constant support for women and girls — all these factors have made the Qubaysiyya key to social changes occurring in Syria. At present these circles are consolidating their religious authority both among women and recognized religious authorities which are traditionally male-dominated. Particularly active in Damascus since the 1980s, the circles are now increasingly gaining a public presence and are providing women with a range of action which goes beyond both family bonds and Syrian national borders.