The Social Organization of the Ritual Setting

Patrick D. Gaffney

in The Prophet's Pulpit

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 1994 | ISBN: 9780520084711
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520914582 | DOI:
The Social Organization of the Ritual Setting

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By its very existence, the local mosque in any Islamic community embodies a paradox. On the one hand, it represents a universal and permanent ideal. It recreates the founding instance of “hierophany” when the divine will became human law. On the other hand, every actual mosque is contingent, incidental, and constrained by concrete facts. It reflects some particular and incomplete set of historical experiences, theological convictions, and sociocultural relations. At various times, Mecca itself has been spurned by pious Muslims critical of the way these shrines have been maintained or governed. Similarly, today there are Muslims who protest against the domination of these sites by the Saudi state. However, this history of reproaches leveled at the conditions of the actual site has contributed to the dissipation of this original spatial focus.

Keywords: hierophany; divine will; local mosque; Muslims; Mecca

Chapter.  5866 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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