Mecca and Eden: Ritual, Relics, and Territory in Islam
University of Chicago Press, 2006 - 333
Nineteenth-century philologist and Biblical critic William Robertson Smith famously concluded that the sacred status of holy places derives not from their intrinsic nature but from their social character. Building upon this insight, Mecca and Eden uses Islamic exegetical and legal texts to analyze the rituals and objects associated with the sanctuary at Mecca.
Integrating Islamic examples into the comparative study of religion, Brannon Wheeler shows how the treatment of rituals, relics, and territory is related to the more general mythological depiction of the origins of Islamic civilization. Along the way, Wheeler considers the contrast between Mecca and Eden in Muslim rituals, the dispersal and collection of relics of the prophet Muhammad, their relationship to the sanctuary at Mecca, and long tombs associated with the gigantic size of certain prophets mentioned in the Quran.
Mecca and Eden succeeds, as few books have done, in making Islamic sources available to the broader study of religion.
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Strona 7 - I would suggest that, among other things, ritual represents the creation of a controlled environment where the variables (ie, the accidents) of ordinary life may be displaced precisely because they are felt to be so overwhelmingly present and powerful. Ritual is a means of performing the way things ought to be in conscious tension to the way things are in such a way that this ritualized perfection is recollected in the ordinary, uncontrolled, course of things.
Strona 5 - Thus, while myth resolutely turns away from the continuous to segment and break down the world by means of distinctions, contrasts and oppositions, ritual moves in the opposite direction: starting from the discrete units that are imposed upon it by this preliminary conceptualization of reality, it strives to get back to the continuous, although the initial break with lived experience effected by mythic thought makes the task forever impossible.
Strona 1 - ... in full the lengthy passage in which he makes this connection because it is also such an excellent illustration of Robertson Smith's lucid exposition of sociological and jural matters: We have here another indication that the relations of holiness to the insti-tution of property are mainly negative. Holy places and things are not so much reserved for the use of the god as surrounded by a network of restrictions and disabilities which forbid them to be used by men except in particular ways, and...
Strona 7 - gnostic" dimension to ritual. It provides the means for demonstrating that we know what ought to have been done, what ought to have taken place. But, by the fact that it is ritual action rather than everyday action, it demonstrates that we know "what is the case.
Strona 6 - Ritual relies for its power on the fact that it is concerned with quite ordinary activities, that what it describes and displays is, in principle, possible for every occurrence of these acts. But it relies, as well, for its power on the perceived fact that, in actuality, such possibilities cannot be realized.