Performing Religion: Actors, Contexts and Texts

Performing Religion: Actors, Contexts and Texts

Performing Religion: Actors, Contexts and Texts

Case Studies on Islam

Edited by Ines Weinrich

Publisher: Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) (2016)

Performing Religion investigates the relationship between texts, actors, and contexts in the study of Muslim devotion. Research in Islamic Studies to date has taken texts primarily as a medium of information. This volume emphasizes the material quality of texts, both written and oral. It focuses on the sound and rhythm of their performance, on non-verbal elements, and practices of framing and embedding. Performing Religion also looks at the interpretation of religious practices which are not based on lengthy textual foundations but nevertheless constitute an important part of believers’ lives.

The assembled case studies encompass contemporary as well as historic perspectives and include examples from Andalusia, Egypt, Italy, Greater Syria, Turkey, Central Asia, Yemen, Iran, and India. Part I explores objects, actions, and notions in the context of the acquisition of blessing (baraka). Part II asks how believers use, alter, and publically enact texts in ritual settings and what kinds of performance are inscribed into the text. Part III analyses the negotiation of meanings, aesthetics, and identity which occurs in new and often transcultural contexts. Rather than viewing texts as a repository of ideas, the present volume accentuates their ritual functions and the aesthetic experiences they provide.


Table of Contents

  • Introduction: From Texts to Performances
  • Part I: Objects, Actions, and Notions in the Context of Blessing

– Antique Phallic Symbol or Mobile Relic? Remarks on the Cult of the qubaʿ in Ḥaḍramawt

– Shared Rituals through ziyārāt in Lebanon: A Typology of Christian and Muslim Practices

– Conforming to and Breaking with Social Norms: Two Contrary Modes of baraka

– The Quest for Sufi Transmissions as Links to the Prophet: Murtaḍā al-Zabīdī (d. 1791) and his Encyclopedic Collections of Sufi salāsil

  • Part II: The Staging and Performance of Texts

– Between Poem and Ritual: The Burda by al-Būṣīrī (d. 1294-1297)

– A “Deserted Site of Display”: Performing the Crafts’ risāla in Pre-socialist Central Asia

– Woe, a Hundred Woes! 19th-Century Muḥarram Elegies in Iran as Performative Poetry

– Preaching Performances Revisited: The Narrative Restaging of Sermons in the Travelogue of Ibn Jubayr (d. 1217)

– Everyday Islamic Practice in Modern Egyptian Literature

  • Part III: Negotiating Meaning, Aesthetics, and Identity

– The Open Ritual: Indeterminacy in a Modern Sufi Ceremony

– Essentializing Difference: Text, Knowledge, and Ritual Performance in a Sufi Brotherhood in Italy

– Burning With Love: Consumerism and Recent Trends in Islamic Music in Turkey


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