Muhammad's Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society

Muhammad's Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society

by Leor Halevi
     
 

In his probing study of the role of death rites in the making of Islamic society, Leor Halevi imaginatively plays prescriptive texts against material culture and advances new ways of interpreting highly contested sources. His original research reveals that religious scholars of the early Islamic period produced codes of funerary law not only to define the handling

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Overview

In his probing study of the role of death rites in the making of Islamic society, Leor Halevi imaginatively plays prescriptive texts against material culture and advances new ways of interpreting highly contested sources. His original research reveals that religious scholars of the early Islamic period produced codes of funerary law not only to define the handling of a Muslim corpse but also to transform everyday urban practices. Relying on oral traditions, these scholars established new social patterns in the cities of Arabia, Mesopotamia, and the eastern Mediterranean. They distinguished Islamic rites from Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian rites and changed the way men and women interacted publicly and privately.

In each chapter Halevi explores a different layer of human interaction, following the movement of the corpse from the deathbed to the grave. In the process he analyzes the real and imaginary relationships between husbands and wives, prayer leaders and mourners, and even dreamers and the dead. He describes how Muslims wailed for the deceased, prepared corpses for burial, marched in funerary processions, and prayed for the dead, highlighting the specific economic and political factors involved in these rituals as well as key religious and sexual divisions.

Offering a unique perspective on the making of Islamic social and religious ideals during this early period, Halevi forges a fascinating link between the development of funerary rites and the efforts of an emerging religion to carve out its own, distinct identity. Muhammad's Grave is a groundbreaking history of the rise of Islam and the roots of contemporary Muslim attitudes toward the body and society.

Columbia University Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231137423
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
05/01/2007
Series:
A Columbia University Publication
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Map     xvi
Introduction: Funerary Traditions and the Making of Islamic Society     1
Tradition, Law, and Practice     5
Tombstones: Markers of Social and Religious Change, 650-800     14
Commemorating the Muslim Fathers     17
The Process of Islamization     20
Traditionist Opposition to Tombstones     32
Early Shi'ite Versus Late Sunni Concessions     38
The Paradox of Islamization     41
Washing the Corpse in Arabia and Mesopotamia     43
Everyman's Prophet and His Wives     45
Washing Corpses in Medina     51
The Sexual Boundary in Iraqi Law     55
Beautifying the Body     64
Islamicizing the Corpse     68
The Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian Contexts     76
Shrouds: Worldly Possessions in an Economy of Salvation     84
Remembering Muhammad's Shrouds After the Arab Conquests     85
Sources of Religious or Worldly Distinction     94
Family Debts     100
Shroud Gifts in the Age of the Caliphs     106
Wailing for the Dead in the House of Islam     114
The Birth of Tragedy inal-Jahiliyya     116
Reactions to a Ritual of Mourning     119
Padlocking the Women in Kufa     127
Women in Defense of Lament     135
The Rise of Islam and the Question of Women     138
Urban Processions and Communal Prayers: Opportunities for Social, Economic, and Religious Distinction     143
The Urban Context: Cemeteries     146
Against Pomp in Processions     149
Ethiopian Biers for Notable Women     153
Muslim Participation in Jews' or Christians' Funerals     155
Communal Prayer for Imperfect Muslims     160
The Politics of Burial and Tomb Construction     165
The Funeral Hierarchy: Governors, Patriarchs, and Husbands     168
An Imam of Their Own     177
Gestures of Leadership, or The Imam and the Hermaphrodite     179
Inserting the Corpse Into the Tomb     182
A Prayer for God's Slave     186
Low Graves Facing Mecca     187
The Marwanid Reconstruction of Muhammad's Sepulcher     191
The Torture of Spirit and Corpse in the Grave     197
The Qur'anic al-Barzakh Between Bones and Soul     202
The Journey of the Spirit and the Sojourn in the Grave     207
Purgation or Retribution in the Grave     215
The Efficaciousness of Rituals and the Afterlife     226
Epilogue: Death Rites and the Process of Islamic Socialization     234
List of Abbreviations     241
Notes     243
Bibliography
Records of Material Culture     339
Primary Sources     343
Secondary Sources     351
Index     379

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