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Physically connecting to Islamic beginnings: Tabarruk bi al-athar, contagion and prestige.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Cultural Sciences.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Around the Muslim world there are claimed physical remnants from the Prophet and objects that he is claimed to have been in contact with. These are objects of veneration, and are looked upon as carriers of divine blessings, baraka, attainable through immediate or near immediate physical contact.

The practice of ‘seeking blessings from relics’, tabarruk bi al-athar is well established in Islamic tradition. The paper addresses the phenomenon through placing it within a wider theoretical context. The way in which ‘blessings’ are transmitted shows clear structural similarities with how spiritual ‘pollution’ is transmitted. The latter has been analysed with reference to a general ‘contagion avoidance system’ in human cognition as an evolutionary adaption.  There is nevertheless a problem of assuming a simple connection: How does a system designed by nature to avoid pathogens through evoking feelings of disgust transfer into a system of the opposite, seeking closeness and evoking positive emotions?

The paper suggests a possible solution in a hypothetical fashion, based on recent research concerning ‘relics’ in the context of contemporary celebrity worship, and the concepts of psychological essentialism, prestige and ‘info copying’. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keyword [en]
Islam, relics, contagion, prestige
National Category
Religious Studies History of Religions
Research subject
Humanities, Study of Religions
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-28783OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-28783DiVA: diva2:646975
Conference
ENDS AND BEGINNINGS, European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR)11th annual conference and Special conference of the IAHR, Södertörn University, Stockholm, 23-26 August, 2012
Projects
Mawlid, makt och modernitet
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2008-30036-57280-29
Available from: 2013-09-10 Created: 2013-09-10 Last updated: 2013-09-24Bibliographically approved

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Svensson, Jonas

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf