Muslims through Discourse: Religion and Ritual in Gayo Society / Edition 1

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Overview

In this rich account of a Muslim society in highland Sumatra, Indonesia, John Bowen describes how men and women debate among themselves ideas of what Islam is and should be--as it pertains to all areas of their lives, from work to worship. Whereas many previous anthropological studies have concentrated on the purely local aspects of culture, this book captures and analyzes the tension between the local and universal in everyday life. Current religious differences among the Gayo stem from debates between "traditionalist" and "modernist" scholars that began in the 1930s, and reveal themselves in the ways Gayo discuss and perform worship, sacrifice, healing, and rites of birth and death, all within an Islamic framework.

Bowen considers the power these debates accord to language, especially in arguments over spells, rites of farming, hunting, and healing. Moreover, he traces in these debates a general conception of transacting with spirits that has shaped Gayo practices of sacrifice, worship, and aiding the dead. Bowen concludes by examining the development of competing religious ideas in the highlands, the alternative ritual forms and ideas they have pro-mulgated, and the implications of this phenomenon for the emergence of an Islamic public sphere.

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Editorial Reviews

History of Religions
Bowen's observations that anthropologists, historians of religion, and other scholars of Islam have neglected the study of Islamic ritual practice, and that Indonesianists have for too long neglected the study of Islamic textual traditions, point to significant problems in all of these fields. It is hoped that Bowen's work will inspire Islamicists to pay greater attention to the varieties of Muslim ritual practice and inspire Indonesianists to consider more seriously the importance of the Islamic textual tradition in what is, after all, the world's most populous Muslim society.
From the Publisher

"Bowen's observations that anthropologists, historians of religion, and other scholars of Islam have neglected the study of Islamic ritual practice, and that Indonesianists have for too long neglected the study of Islamic textual traditions, point to significant problems in all of these fields. It is hoped that Bowen's work will inspire Islamicists to pay greater attention to the varieties of Muslim ritual practice and inspire Indonesianists to consider more seriously the importance of the Islamic textual tradition in what is, after all, the world's most populous Muslim society."--History of Religions
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691028705
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/19/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.15 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on Transcription
Pt. 1 A Genealogy of Divergent Understandings
Ch. 1 Introduction 3
Ch. 2 Religious Disputes in Takengen 18
On Modernists and Traditionalists 21
Social and Moral Contexts 30
Ch. 3 Islamic Knowledge in the Highlands, 1900-1990 39
Languages of Past Piety and Learning 40
The Development of Traditionalist Scholarship 47
Muhammadiyah: Social and Religious Innovation in the Highlands 55
Radical Reform through Islamic Education 61
Pt. 2 Powerful Speech and Spirit Transactions
Ch. 4 Spells, Prayer, and the Power of Words 77
Distinctions among Doa 82
The Efficacy of Spells 87
Quranic Knowledge and Power 94
Acquiring Power and Expecting Results 101
Ch. 5 The Source of Human Powers in History 106
The Creation of the World 106
The Human Embodiment of Creation 115
The Coming of Islam to Aceh 124
Ch. 6 The Healer's Struggle 129
Healers and Knowledge 131
Finding the Jin 135
Restoring the Balance 139
Asking a Spirit to Depart 145
Ch. 7 Exorcism and Accountability 151
Casting Out the Spirits 152
The Social Framework of Exorcism 162
Ch. 8 Farming, Ancestors, and the Sacred Landscape 173
Speaking with the Ancestor 174
Protecting the Crops and the Community 185
Ancestors and Other Sacred Beings 194
Ch. 9 Adam and Eve's Children 202
The Origins of Rice 202
Cain, Abel, and the Marriage of Twins 209
Hunting, Healing, and Spiritual Siblingship 216
Pt. 3 Negotiating Public Rituals
Ch. 10 Transacting through Food: The Kenduri and Its Critics 229
Prayers, Food, and Sacrifice 230
Celebrating the Prophet Muhammad's Birthday 237
The Child's Entry into the World 240
Ch. 11 Speaking for the Dead 251
Speaking to the Dead at the Grave 252
Negotiating the Passage of the Dead 259
Chanting for the Deceased 262
Ch. 12 Sacrifice, Merit, and Self-Interest 273
Generating Merit in Isak 273
"Selfless Sacrifice" in Takengen 279
Ch. 13 Worship and Public Life 289
Form and Feeling in Worship 290
Worshiping Together 296
Disputations 300
Mosque Politics 309
Ch. 14 The Social Forms of Religious Change 315
Creating Private and Public Spheres 315
Two Modes of Cultural Rationalization 321
Public Discourse and the State 325
Glossary of Gayo and Arabic Terms 331
Bibliography 335
Index 353
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