Muslim Preacher in the Modern World

Muslim Preacher in the Modern World: A Jordanian Case Study in Comparative Perspective

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    Muslim Preacher in the Modern World
    Book Description:

    Richard Antoun documents and exemplifies the single most important institution for the propagation of Islam, the Friday congregational sermon delivered in the mosque by the Muslim preacher. In his analysis of various sermons collected in a Jordanian village and in Amman, the author vividly demonstrates the scope of the Islamic corpus (beliefs, ritual norms, and ethics), its flexibility with respect to current social issues and specific social structures, and its capacity for interpretation and manipulation.

    Focusing on the pivotal role of preacher as "culture broker," Antoun compares the process of "the social organization of tradition" in rural Jordan with similar processes outside the Muslim world. He then highlights the experiential dimension of Islam. The sermons discussed range over such topics as family ethics, political attitudes, pilgrimage, education, magic, work, compassion, and individual salvation.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6007-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Key to Transliteration of Arabic Letters and Symbols
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    This is a book about the Islamic sermon and the Muslim preacher, a book that explores the potentiality and diversity of the Muslim preaching tradition. It is also a book about the process by which religious beliefs, ritual norms, and ethics are transmitted selectively by knowledgeable religious specialists or culture brokers to the people of their communities. Such a study is as much concerned with the symbolic message of the sermon as it is with the articulation of that message with society, whether with kinship group, village community, State, or community of believers.

    The aim of the study is threefold....

  8. 1 The Social Organization of Tradition
    (pp. 13-44)

    In modern times Robert Redfield, M. N. Srinivas, and McKim Marriot were the first to write analytically about the process of “the social organization of tradition.”¹ The social organization of tradition is the process of constant interchange of cultural materials necessarily involving choice and interpretation between the self-styled “learned” (but also so styled by the common people) men and women of a society and the great majority of people whom Redfield designated as “folk” in earlier works and “peasants” in later works.² This process usually involves some kind of accommodation between what the learned men (“literati” or “intelligensia” as Redfield...

  9. 2 Islam in Its Local Environment: The Village, Its Constituent Units, and the Peasant Predicament
    (pp. 45-66)

    Kufr al-Ma is an Arab village located in the denuded eastern foothills of the Jordan Valley. It is one of two hundred cereal-growing villages of the Ajlun district of northwestern Transjordan. Its population of two thousand is composed entirely of Sunni Muslims. Approaching the village along a dirt road from its eastern side, one sees that only a few ancient olive trees soften the unrelieved bleakness of the stone-strewn soil.¹ Nothing in the outer aspect of the village itself suggests that it differs from the hill settlements which surround it—neither its close-jammed, brown, clay-covered houses, its dusty paths, nor...

  10. 3 The Role of the Preacher, the Content of the Sermon: The Case of Luqman
    (pp. 67-105)

    For Muslims the first and model preacher(khaṭīb)was the Prophet, Muhammad. Muhammad injected into this role a specific moral and sociopolitical content that had hitherto been absent since the Quran had been sent to provide guidance in the darkness of this world and to impel men to take action to propagate and fulfill its message. However, in Arabia before Islam a number of speaking roles existed: the poet(shā‘ir), the chief(sayyid)—who was often said to be the possessor of special spiritual gifts—and the soothsayer(kāhin), who delivered oracles in rhymed prose, blessed followers, cursed enemies, and...

  11. 4 The Rhetoric of Religion: An Analysis of Rahm (Womb, Kinship, Compassion)
    (pp. 106-125)

    The Islamic sermon is a rhetorical form, that is, an argument whose elements are linked images and symbols composed in such a way as to express an underlying message through the organizing metaphor of kinship. This chapter explores both the metaphor and the modes of articulation of that sermon within its social and cultural context. In the course of this exploration several questions will be examined: Is the Islamic sermon an example of formal speech? If so, does that formal speech, as Bloch (1975) argues, preclude the handling of specific issues? If not, what is the nature of the articulation...

  12. 5 The Islamic Sermon (Khutba), The Islamic Preacher (Khatib), and Modernity
    (pp. 126-142)

    Although the process of Islamization has proceeded in the Middle East for over 1300 years little is known about the process by which Islamic norms have been transmitted (or mistransmitted) to the vast bulk of the peasant population (fellahin).¹ Little is known about the content of these norms, the character of their transmitters—the Islamic preachers—or about the implications of these norms for social change and the transformation of the families, communities, and polities to whom they are addressed.

    It may well be that the most significant change that has occurred in the Middle East since World War II...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 143-153)
  14. 6 Islamic Ritual and Modernity: The Pilgrimage (Hajj) Interpreted
    (pp. 154-182)

    The Pilgrimage to Mecca(ḥajj)is one of the five pillars of Islam.¹ Muslims commemorate it every year in their home communities irregardless of those who are going on the Hajj themselves. The preacher is a key figure in focusing the ethical, motivational, and social structural implications of the Pilgrimage in his Friday congregational sermons during the Pilgrimage season. As a focus of piety and ritual devotion by millions of Muslims on an annual basis, directly by participation and vicariously by celebration, the Hajj is also a rich focus for symbolic interpretation. This chapter will first document and illustrate that...

  15. 7 Religion and Politics: “Parties” (Aḥzāb), Processes, and the Complicated Relationship between “People’s Religion” and “Government Religion”
    (pp. 183-218)

    Unless one appreciates the inextricable religious quality of polity, history, and society for believing Muslims, one not only misses but also misconstrues the significance of events in the Muslim world at the end of the twentieth century. From a Muslim perspective the good life is the next life, and life in this world, though not devalued since it is part of God’s creation, is preparatory for the next. The community exists to bear witness to God in the darkness of this world, darkness compared to the light of the next.¹ Every mundane act of the community, therefore, as W. Cantwell...

  16. 8 The Interpretation of Islam by Muslim Preachers in the Modern World: Five Views of the Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascent
    (pp. 219-234)

    Oh worshipers of God, oh ye who follow the path of the Messenger of God, on the morning after the night journey, the Messenger of God, may God bless and grant him salvation, said to Umm Hani, the daughter of his uncle, Abu Talib, while he was in her house after the night journey:“Oh Umm Hani, I prayed the last supper prayer with you in this valley, then I was taken[by God]to Jerusalem and I prayed there. Then I returned and prayed in your house the noon prayer.” Umm Hani said, “Don’t tell people what you’ve told...

  17. 9 Islamization, Islamic Fundamentalism, Islamic Resurgence, and the Reinterpretation of Tradition in the Modern World
    (pp. 235-268)

    Discussions of Islam in the modern world often use a number of phrases which presume to describe a phenomenon, a process, and a set of beliefs without defining the terms in a clear-cut fashion or noting their relationship with one another. The two most commonly used phrases are “fundamentalist Islam” (sometimes referred to as “militant Islam,” “neofundamentalism,” or “faith-driven politics”) and “Islamic revival” (otherwise referred to as “Islamic resurgence,” “renewal,” “awakening,” or reassertion”).¹ One term that has rarely been used in these discussions but is nevertheless familiar to students of Islam is “Islamization.” In the discussion that follows I shall...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 269-282)
  19. Index
    (pp. 283-289)