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This third collective volume of the series The Presence of the Prophet explores the expressions of piety and devotion to the person of the Prophet and their individual and collective significance in early modern and modern times. The authors provide a rich collection of regional case studies on how the Prophet’s presence and aura are individually and collectively evoked in dreams, visions, and prayers, in the performance of poetry in his praise, in the devotion to relics related to him, and in the celebration of his birthday. They also highlight the role of the Prophetic figure in the identity formation of young Muslims and cover the controversies and compromises which nowadays shape the devotional practices centered on the Prophet.

Contributors
Nelly Amri, Emma Aubin-Boltanski, Sana Chavoshian, Rachida Chih, Vincent Geisser, Denis Gril, Mohamed Amine Hamidoune, David Jordan, Hanan Karam, Kai Kresse, Jamal Malik,Youssef Nouiouar, Luca Patrizi, Thomas Pierret, Stefan Reichmuth, Youssouf T. Sangaré, Besnik Sinani, Fabio Vicini and Ines Weinrich.
Ḥasan b. ʿAlī al-ʿUjaymī’s (d. 1113/1702) Khabāyā al-zawāyā “Secrets of the Lodges” & Risāla fī ṭuruq al-ṣūfiyya “Treatise on Sufi Orders”
Author:
The distinguished position of the seventeenth-century Ḥijāz attracted Sufis from across the Islamic world, making it the largest Sufi center of that era, with more than forty Sufi orders active during the Ottoman period. Most of the region’s many scholars were associated with Sufism and affiliated to these orders; their lives and Sufi activities more broadly were documented by one of their number, al-ʿUjaymī, in two texts. These texts, critically edited here for the first time, constitute some of the best evidence for the character of spiritual life in the Ḥijāz during the seventeenth and early eighteenth century.
A Critical Edition and Translation of Evagrius Ponticus’ Kephalaia Gnostika in Arabic
In the late fourth century, the early Christian monk and author Evagrius Ponticus wrote his magnum opus in Greek—entitled Kephalaia Gnostika (“Gnostic Chapters”)—a spiritual treatise on ascetic contemplation and unity with God. After Evagrius’ death, however, his theology attracted controversy, and many of his writings were suppressed or destroyed. As a result, complete copies of this important work principally survived only in Syriac translations and an Armenian adaptation, until the recent discovery of two Arabic copies at the so-called Monastery of the Syrians in Egypt. The present volume represents the first-ever critical edition and translation of the Kephalaia Gnostika in that language.
Sufism in Western Contexts explores both historical trajectories and multiple contemporary manifestations of Islamic mystical movements, ideas, and practices in diverse European, North and South American countries, as well as in Australia—all traditionally non-Muslim regions of the “global West”. From early French and British colonial administrators who admired Persian poetry to nineteenth-century American transcendentalists onto today’s female whirling dervishes and South Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant Sufi guides and their movements, the many faceted expressions of Sufism such as its role in Western esotericism and its new articulations in cyberspace are traced and analyzed by international experts in the field.
Historical and Contemporary Accounts
Narrating the pilgrimage to Mecca discusses a wide variety of historical and contemporary personal accounts of the pilgrimage to Mecca, most of which presented in English for the first time. The book addresses how being situated in a specific cultural context and moment in history informs the meanings attributed to the pilgrimage experience. The various contributions reflect on how, in their stories, pilgrims draw on multiple cultural discourses and practices that shape their daily lifeworlds to convey the ways in which the pilgrimage to Mecca speaks to their senses and moves them emotionally. Together, the written memoirs and oral accounts discussed in the book offer unique insights in Islam’s rich and evolving tradition of hajj and ʿumra storytelling.

Contributors
Kholoud Al-Ajarma, Piotr Bachtin, Vladimir Bobrovnikov, Marjo Buitelaar, Nadia Caidi, Simon Coleman, Thomas Ecker, Zahir Janmohamed, Khadija Kadrouch-Outmany, Ammeke Kateman, Yahya Nurgat, Jihan Safar, Neda Saghaee, Leila Seurat, Richard van Leeuwen and Miguel Ángel Vázquez.

Abstract

When Moroccan pilgrims narrate their hajj experiences, they speak of the importance of the pilgrimage as a sacred journey that freed them from sins and, importantly, gave them the opportunity to ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy. They often describe this journey by referring to the five senses: sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing, which are discussed in this chapter as part of the pilgrimage as a ‘sensational form’. Taking the narratives of Moroccan pilgrims as point of departure, the pilgrimage experience is discussed through its capacity to address the physical senses of pilgrims through which their emotions are evoked. It is demonstrated that although pilgrims often assert that their experience was one ‘beyond words’, by using their senses as a medium of expression, pilgrims try to demonstrate the religious and spiritual connectedness to the holy sites they visited during their pilgrimage, their piety in performing the ritual, and the authenticity of their experience. It is argued that at a personal level, the use of senses in descriptions of the pilgrimage allows individual pilgrims to memorialize the sacred time and space upon return through narrating their embodied experiences of hajj. At a group level, sharing hajj experiences stimulates feelings and emotions for both those who have previously been on hajj and those who have not (yet) visited Mecca.

Open Access
In: Narrating the Pilgrimage to Mecca
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Abstract

This chapter explores how pilgrims’ specific positionality informs their appropriation of the Islamic heritage by focusing on the ways the meanings they attribute to their pilgrimage experiences connect to their life stories. To this end, the pilgrimage accounts of two young adult pilgrims from the Netherlands are analysed to ask how age and gender intersect. It is argued that rather than viewing pilgrimage as a fitting conclusion of one’s life trajectory, for these young pilgrims visiting Mecca serves the purpose of preparing them for adult life first and foremost. It is demonstrated how both pilgrims explicitly interpret their pilgrimage experience in terms of overcoming previous biographical hindrances and repositioning themselves as active agents in their social networks and in Dutch society more widely. In particular, it is shown how in line with the main developmental tasks that characterize emergent adulthood, their accounts illustrate a reconsideration of agency and communion and a focus on activities that aim to shift the balance between the two.

Open Access
In: Narrating the Pilgrimage to Mecca
Author:

Abstract

In this chapter two hajj travelogues written by Persian princes in the nineteenth century are compared. The two texts are successively introduced by outlining their trajectory, historical context, and major features. The similarities between the two texts will be pointed out by discussing the genre markers of Persian travelogues outlined by Hanaway and the authors’s perceptions and assessments of European culture in the Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire will be discussed, as well as their portrayal of the Sunni-Shiʿi divide. In conclusion, it is argued that both hajj travelogues are typical exponents of Persian travelogues in the nineteenth century and show resembling perceptions but, in some cases, different judgements due to varying personal preferences.

Open Access
In: Narrating the Pilgrimage to Mecca

Abstract

This chapter presents and contextualizes a poem written in the sixteenth century in Aljamiado (Spanish of the sixteenth century rendered with the Arabic alphabet). In this text, written in Spanish coplas, the author describes different aspects of a hajj pilgrimage—likely undertaken at the beginning of the sixteenth century by a Mudejar from Aragon, who travelled from Spain to Mecca. The poem is a statement of the hybrid identity of its author (a traditional Spanish poetic form to express a Muslim message), and a testament to the poet’s (and his community of coreligionists’) resilience, because he remained and sustained his Muslim identity in the face of an administrative policy that had forbidden any and all expressions of Islam in Spain. As such, this was an act of counter hegemony that defied the persecution of Moriscos and Islam in Habsburg Spain. For all Muslims, performing the pilgrimage to Mecca is an achievement, for a Mudejar it was more than that, given the difficulties the Spanish authorities imposed on such travels. And for a Morisco, copying and keeping a manuscript version of this poem hidden at home, was an act of defiance and a form of jihad.

Open Access
In: Narrating the Pilgrimage to Mecca

Abstract

Much of the Shiʿi pilgrimage experience on the hajj is about experiencing, negotiating, and ultimately, pushing up against the Saudi government’s attempt to monopolize definitions and parameters of religious expression. In this auto-ethnographic memoir of his pilgrimages to Mecca as a North American Shiʿi Muslim, the author addresses the following questions: How does one’s experience of the hajj change if you can wall of the Saudi state by plugging in your headphones and listen to a Shiʿi prayer or even a Shiʿi preacher of your own choosing? How does this change, if at all, the minority Muslim’s narrative of being an ‘outsider’ in Mecca, especially given that Shiʿi Muslims have long enjoyed a tenuous relationship not just with the Saudi state but also with other pilgrims? Finally, how does these new technologies have a capacity to change the power relations between Shiʿa pilgrims and Saudi religious authorities in Mecca and what limits are still there on Shiʿi religious performativity through prayer and bodily postures?

Open Access
In: Narrating the Pilgrimage to Mecca