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Author: Adam Bursi


Within some of the earliest textual and material evidence for the history of Islam, pilgrimage appears as an important ritual of devotion, identity, and community. Yet modern scholarship has given little attention to early Muslims’ sensory experiences of pilgrimage sites and what they physically encountered while there. This article examines the importance of smell within Islamic pilgrimage practices of the first/seventh and second/eighth centuries. Drawing upon literary and material evidence, I reconstruct several olfactory components of pilgrimage in this period, including intensive usage of perfume and incense at pilgrimage destinations such as the Kaʿba and the Dome of the Rock, as well as pilgrims’ collection and ingestion of scented materials from these locations. I then argue that the prominence of pleasing aromas at these sacred spaces is connecting to early Islamic ideas about the proximity of paradise to these pilgrimage sites.

Open Access
In: Arabica
Andalusi, Judaeo-Arabic, and Other Near Eastern Studies in Honor of Ross Brann
Volume Editors: Adam Bursi, S.J. Pearce, and Hamza Zafer
'His Pen and Ink are a Powerful Mirror' is a volume of collected essays in honor of Ross Brann, written by his students and friends on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The essays engage with a diverse range of Andalusi and Mediterranean literature, art, and history. Each essay begins from the organic hybridity of Andalusi literary and cultural history as its point of departure, introduce new texts, ideas, and objects into the disciplinary conversation or radically reassesses well-known ones, and represent the theoretical, methodological, and material impacts Brann has had and continues to have on the study of the literature and culture of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in al-Andalus.

Contributors include: Ali Humayn Akhtar, Esperanza Alfonso, Peter Cole, Jonathan Decter, Elisabeth Hollender, Uriah Kfir, S.J. Pearce, F.E. Peters, Arturo Prats, Cynthia Robinson, Tova Rosen, Aurora Salvatierra, Raymond P. Scheindlin, Jessica Streit, David Torollo.
In: 'His Pen and Ink Are a Powerful Mirror'