Muhammad and the Formation of Sacrifice

by Gerd Marie Adna (Author)
©2014 Monographs XIII, 279 Pages


Islam has a festival of sacrifice, id al-adha, which is celebrated each year in the month of pilgrimage. Simultaneous to the celebration and the sacrificial ritual in Mecca, during hajj, sheep, camels and cows are slaughtered all over the Muslim world. The story about how Abraham nearly sacrificed his son, Ishaq or Isma’il (Q 37), is important. Also other parts of the Qur’an contribute to the understanding of the id al-adha. Further, texts from the first 500 years after hijra contribute to a new comprehension of the theology of sacrifice in Islam. In this monograph insights from the wider field of religious and anthropological studies (esp. R.A. Rappaport) are applied to the source texts about sacrifices and rituals in pre-Islam and Islam.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Note on Transliteration, Dates and Technical Standards
  • Chapter 1: Sacrifice in Islam?
  • Chapter 2: Theoretical and Research Historical Perspectives
  • 2.1 Islamic sacrificial rituals seen in the light of Roy A. Rappaport’s Religion and Rituals in the Making of Humanity
  • 2.1.1 Ritual orders and self-referential and canonical messages
  • 2.1.2 Ultimate Sacred Postulates
  • 2.1.3 Sanctified expressions and logos
  • 2.1.4 Analogue and digital time
  • 2.2 From the history of the study of sacrifice
  • 2.2.1 Sacrificial terms and schemes
  • Sacrifice and terminology
  • The terms “sacrifice”, “offering”, “victim”, “immolation” and “slaughtering”
  • Sacrificial schemes
  • Sacrifice, communion and communication
  • 2.2.2 Sacrifice, community and gender
  • 2.2.3 Sacred and profane
  • 2.2.4 Complementary ideas about sacrifice
  • 2.3 Primary sources of the Islamic reception of sacrifice
  • 2.4 The Islamic sacrifice in scholarly discussions
  • 2.4.1 Historical and religious analyses of the pilgrimage to Mecca
  • 2.4.2 Studies of pre-Islamic and Islamic sacrifice in the Qurʿān and hadīth
  • 2.4.3 Discussions of the two sons and the Feast of Sacrifice, ʿīd al-aḍḥā
  • 2.4.4 Judicial analyses of the role of sacrifice and slaughtering in Islam
  • Chapter 3: The Qurʾān
  • 3.1 Selection of texts
  • 3.2 The offering of Ibrāhīm’s son according to Q 37
  • 3.2.1 Context of the narrative
  • 3.2.2 Q 37:99–113
  • 3.2.3 Episodes linked to the portrait of Ibrāhīm
  • Q 17:31–33 and Q 6:136–137, “You shall not kill”
  • Q 3:96–97a, Ibrāhīm’s religion and signs
  • Q 6:162, Prayer and service of sacrifice
  • 3.3 Other texts
  • 3.3.1 Sacrificial rituals
  • Q 22:26–35, Sacred rites and animal
  • Q 22:36–38, “Their flesh and blood does not reach God”
  • Q 2:67–73, Mūsā sacrifices a cow
  • Q 5:1–4, Permitted and non-permitted animals
  • Q 5:30–32, The offerings by Adam’s two sons
  • 3.3.2 Compensation
  • Q 2:196 and 48:25, 27, Ḥajj and sacrifice, fasting and almsgiving
  • Q 5:95–103, Killing or sacrifice
  • 3.3.3 Positive and negative statements
  • Q 108:1–3, “Pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him”
  • Q 3:183 and 46:28, Sacrifice and signs
  • Q 9:99, Coming close or sacrifice
  • Chapter 4: Pre-Islamic Sacrifices
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Ibn al-Kalbī’s description of the sacrificial rituals associated with pre-Islamic deities
  • 4.2.1 Deities and the superiority of Mecca
  • 4.2.2 Other idols that were worshipped according to Ibn al-Kalbī
  • 4.2.3 Divination arrows and oracles
  • 4.2.4 Deities, sacrifices and altars
  • 4.3 Ibn Isḥāq’s and Ibn Hishām’s descriptions
  • 4.3.1 Pre-Islamic Mecca and its surroundings
  • 4.3.2 Sacrifices and deities, and their abolition
  • 4.3.3 Ḥajj and sacred time in pre-Islamic Makka according to Ibn Isḥāq
  • 4.3.4 The Zamzam well and sacrifice
  • 4.4 Pre-Islamic and Islamic sacrifices described by al-Ṭabarī
  • 4.4.1 Tawḥīd and time
  • 4.4.2 The aspect of time in Adam’s life
  • 4.4.3 Questions about slaughtering and food
  • 4.4.4 Adam’s offspring and sacrifice as a test
  • 4.4.5 Mortality and sacrifice, fire and sacrifice
  • 4.4.6 Al-Ṭabarī’s version of the biblical narrative about Qābil and Ḥābil
  • 4.4.7 Sacrifice and charity according to Islamic tradition
  • Chapter 5: The Sacrifice of Ibrāhīm
  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Al-Yaʿqūbī
  • 5.3 Al-Ṭabarī
  • 5.3.1 Ibrāhīm
  • 5.3.2 Ibrāhīm and his family in Mecca
  • 5.3.3 Son of the two sacrifices – versions by al-Ṭabarī and al-Shahrastānī
  • 5.3.4 The near sacrifice of Ibrāhīm’s son
  • Version A
  • Version B
  • Version C
  • Version D
  • An interlude
  • Version E, a poetic version
  • Version F
  • 5.4 Al-Kisāʾī’s and al-Thaʿlabī’s versions – some notes
  • Chapter 6: ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib’s Sacrifice
  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 Ibn Isḥāq and Ibn Ḥishām
  • 6.3 Al-Ṭabarī: Taʾrīkh
  • 6.3.1 Introduction
  • 6.3.2 The first version
  • 6.3.3 An interlude
  • 6.3.4 The second version
  • 6.3.5 Comparison and comments
  • 6.3.6 The narratives’ participants
  • God, gods and goddesses
  • The father
  • The sons and the youngest one
  • The Quraysh and other tribes
  • The custodian and the oracle
  • The two women
  • The camels
  • 6.3.7 Vows and oaths
  • 6.3.8 The place
  • 6.3.9 Words used for sacrifice and offerings
  • 6.3.10 Are two or more traditions combined?
  • 6.3.11 The conclusion, radiance and prophets
  • 6.4 Al-Shahrastānī
  • 6.5 Ibn Kathīr
  • Chapter 7: Sacrifices during Muḥammad’s Pilgrimages
  • 7.1 Introduction
  • 7.2 Slaughterings associated with the Ḥudaybiya treaty in the year 6/628, ʿumrat al-Qaḍiyya in the year 7/629 and ʿumrat al-Jiʿirrāna in 8/630
  • 7.2.1 Ibn Isḥāq and al-Ṭabarī
  • 7.2.2 Al-Wāqidī and Ibn Kathīr
  • 7.3 Abū Bakr’s ḥajj in the year 9/631
  • 7.3.1 Ibn Isḥāq
  • 7.3.2 Al-Wāqidī
  • 7.3.3 Ibn Kathīr
  • 7.4 Ḥajjat al-wadāʿ in the year 10/632
  • 7.4.1 Ibn Isḥāq
  • 7.4.2 Al-Wāqidī with some references to Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabarī and Ibn Kathīr
  • 7.5 Some comments on the sacrificial rituals practised during the six last years of the Prophet
  • Chapter 8: Prescriptive Views on Sacrifice
  • 8.1 Introduction
  • 8.2 Slaughtering of animals
  • 8.3 ʿaqīqa
  • 8.4 Slaughtering of animals during ḥajj and ʿīd al-aḍḥā
  • 8.4.1 Introduction
  • 8.4.2 Game (ṣayd)
  • 8.4.3 Sacrificial animals
  • 8.4.4 Do all animals have the same sacrificial value?
  • 8.5 The division and storage of meat
  • 8.6 The proper place for sacrifice
  • 8.7 The pilgrim and the pilgrimage
  • 8.7.1 Limitations, and a substitute for transgressions while in iḥrām
  • 8.7.2 Prevention from fulfilling the ḥajj (iḥṣār)
  • 8.8 Vows and substitutes
  • 8.9 Time and order
  • Chapter 9: Islamic Sacrifice and Ultimate Sacred Postulates
  • 9.1 Islamic sacrifice and ritual orders, self-referential and canonical messages
  • 9.2 Sacrifice, ritual and efficacy in communication
  • 9.3 The sacrifier and the sacrificer
  • 9.4 Sanctified expressions
  • 9.5 Ultimate Sacred Concern and Postulates
  • 9.6 Community and communion
  • 9.7 Hierarchy, simultaneity and Muḥammad’s role
  • 9.8 Rituals make the human being human; the ritual of ḥajj, including sacrifice, confirms the Muslim as a Muslim
  • 9.9 The sacred place
  • 9.10 Partial or complete sanctification?
  • 9.11 The obedient believer
  • 9.12 Muḥammad’s authority and example; he is the son of the two sacrifices
  • 9.13 When is the proper time for Islamic rituals?
  • 9.14 Substance of sacrifice in Islam – a critical assessment
  • Bibliography
  • 1. Sources
  • 1.1 The Qurʾān
  • 1.2 Other Source Texts
  • 2. Secondary Literature

| XII →

Note on Transliteration, Dates and Technical Standards

The transliteration follows in general the Encyclopaedia of Islam system with the two modifications customary in works in English (i.e., q instead of and j instead of dj). Also in quotations taken from the Encyclopaedia of Islam I have made this modification. Still, due to varying transliteration customs prevailing in different languages and to changes during the last two centuries, there will be some deviating transliterations.

Sometimes, the a of the definite article al- is omitted in a continuous Arabictranscription. I have chosen to write all nouns ending with a aʾmarbūṭa without the h at the end of the word.

Arabic names are predominantly written in full, in the transcribed way, as, e.g., Mūsā (Moses). However, some of the often mentioned city names are written in their regular Anglicized version: Mecca (Makka), Medina (Madīna), Mina (Minā). I have chosen to use “God” and “Allāh” interchangeably.

Dates are usually given according to both the Islamic calendar, viz. Hijrī = “AH”, and to the Christian calendar, viz. Anno Domini = “AD”, e.g., “Ibn Ishāq (d. 150/767)”.

The numbering of Qurʾānic verses differs in some Qurʾān editions and in some translations. Therefore, sometimes there will be written two numbers, like “14 (15)”.

Only few abbreviations are used throughout the text; in the bibliography, the Encyclopedia of Islam is called EI.

| 1 →

Chapter 1

Sacrifice in Islam?

A festival of sacrifice, ʿīd al-aḍḥā, takes up a prominent position in Islam, celebrated annually in the month of pilgrimage, dhū l-ijja. At the same time as the ajj and the sacrificial ritual take place in Mecca, sheep, goats, camels and cows are slaughtered all over the Muslim world. The performance of this sacrificial ritual in a religion that regards God as totally omnipotent and in no need of offerings, gives cause to many questions, some of which will be discussed in this study.

There are many possibilities for anyone who intends to study sacrifice in Islam. My approach has been delimited by a chosen theme (the formation of sacrificial rituals in early Islam), a certain body of texts (the Qurʾān and some early Muslim writers), and a clearly defined analytical perspective (ritual theory as it has been formulated by Roy A. Rappaport). On the following pages, I will introduce my points of departure: the theme, the texts, and the perspective.

I would like to begin by presenting some of the questions related to the development of the ʿumra, the ajj (including the Farewell-ajj of Muammad some months before he died in 10/632), and ʿīd al-aḍḥā that I will pose, and try to answer, in this study. First, does the Islamic offering really contain a sacrifice in the sense the concept is usually used in the history of religions, like Widengren defines it, for example?

As a sacrifice one designates the religious act, the ritual, which through the consecration of a living creature or a species of plant, or a liquid substance or an object to a deity – in case of a living creature, with or without killing – establishes a connection between this deity and the person who performs the ritual. It is thereby assumed that the ritual is able to influence the deity in a way hoped for by the sacrificer.1

Alternatively, are the aspects of fellowship among the believers, loyalty towards Muammad’s example and the idea of charity the essential base and goals? ← 1 | 2 → What reasons are there for obeying Allāh through sacrificial rituals similar to those Muammad performed during his first and only ajj in Islamic times? Further, why does a sacrificial ritual take place in Islam at all? How important is this sacrificial part of the pilgrimage ritual, which is to be undertaken to fulfil the ihrām-status of the Muslim? What obstacles might affect or even hinder the practice of sacrifice? Why is a sacrifice required in the Islamic ritual when a bloody sacrifice seems to have no ability to change God and his actions? Does early Islam see the sacrifice as something more than an isolated ritual slaughtering? Has the sacrificial ritual become an empty ritual or is it a ritual that expresses something else, for instance, something different from a regular slaughtering in Allāh’s name?

How did the pre-Islamic sacrifices that were undertaken in Mecca and Mina, influence the idea of the Islamic sacrifice during ajj and ʿīd al-aḍḥā? Why is any ritually clean animal a valid victim in the feast’s sacrificial ritual when Allāh found a ram for Ibrāhīm’s son in the first place? What is Muammad’s role in this and the later sacrificial act during ajj? Is his life to be compared to Ibrāhīm’s life – or to Ibrāhīm’s son’s life? Is there an idea of a sacrificial prototype behind the immolation and the rituals connected to it?

My assumption is that the early Islamic sacrifice2 is related to the complexity of ajj and its model narratives – where the biography of Muammad and his family and friends is immensely important. These texts and narratives are developed through the rituals (ʿibadāt) and through the regulations (manāsik) for the pilgrimage and the sacrificial rituals in Mecca and Mina, but also more and more in connection with the rituals of ʿīd al-aḍḥā all over the Muslim world.

In early Islamic literature, there are several narratives and smaller texts, which tell about sacrificial rituals or comment on sacrificial matters. The story about Ibrāhim almost sacrificing his son (Qurʾān 37) and the attributed interpretations, which during the early years of Islam were divided on the question whether Ishaq or Ismā’il was the intended sacrifice, are significant.

Another sacrifice to which I refer, is found in the narrative of the Prophet Muammad’s father, ʿAbd Allāh, who was nearly sacrificed by his father ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hishām. Admittedly of less significance than Ibrāhīm’s sacrifice, it is still important for the later evaluation of Muammad’s status. But it is ← 2 | 3 → relevant to ask why the symbolic narrative of the near sacrifice of Muammad’s father is seldom taken into consideration regarding the ajj and ʿīd al-aḍḥā even though it has many similarities with the Abrahamic sacrifice.

Al-Tabari (d. 310/923) is – as far as I know – the oldest source3 for the following sentence addressed to Muammad, "O son of the two sacrifices (yā ibn al-dhabīhayni)!”4 Later, al-Shahrastāni (d. 548/1153) takes up the same idea and says, "The Prophet is glorious, peace be upon him, and he said: ‘I am the son of the two sacrifices (anā ibnu al-dhabīḥayni)’.”5 In the late 19th century, the often quoted historian, al-Ālūsī, refers that Muammad said about himself, “I am the son of the two sacrifices (anā ibnu al-dhablayni).”6 Most often these two sacrifices seem to be understood as the near sacrifices of Ibrāhim and ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib. Consequently, I want to examine these narratives that are found in different early Islamic sources.

Additionally, other texts that interact with these texts, either thematically or symbolically, will be considered. The Qurʾān (suwar 2, 22, 108 and more) will contribute to the understanding of the two sacrifices and the sacrificial activity during ʿīd al-aḍḥā?7 One last relevant question linked to these sacrifices is what sort of sanctity, hierarchy and understanding of time is defined in these sacrificial rituals. Here, the sources are in addition to those mentioned above, al-Wāqidi’s (d. 207/822) important work about the challenger Muammad.8 This study aims at answering these and other questions, and these answers will hopefully enlighten my main subject of inquiry: Is there one ultimate concern behind the two sacrifices?

Moreover, Islamic texts from the five first centuries AH will be subjects of my investigation, in particular the above mentioned narratives from al-abari’s History of the Messengers and the Kings from the beginning of the 10th century AD, but also other texts, for instance by the early hadīth collector and jurist ← 3 | 4 → Mālik ibn Anas (d. 179/795),9 the historian al-Yaʿqūbī (d. ca. 293/905),10 and the historian Ibn al-Kalbī (d. 206/821) with his exciting text about pre-Islam, The Book of the Idols.11 The literature in the genre of the Histories of the Prophets (Qiā al-anbiyā)12 put down in writing in the 10th and 11th centuries AD is also interesting regarding the development of the reception of the tradition of the sacrificial rituals. In a few cases Ibn Rushd (d. 595/1198),13 Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373),14 and others are consulted to see whether the views of Mālik ibn Anas in particular, are still taken into consideration in the 6th/14th Century. All this literature will contribute to a new comprehension of the formation of sacrifice in early Islam.

This work is based on studies of Arabic texts and the application of ritual and sacrificial theories, especially with the help of some major analytical concepts found in the monograph Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity by the late Roy A. Rappaport.15 During the 20th century, the research on ritual and sacrifice has looked upon the sacrificial rituals within the Abrahamic and other religions in different ways. Recent contributions (e.g. J. Drexler, B. Gladigow and H. Seiwert) are especially pointing at the complexity of sacrificial rituals. Rappaport goes even further and combines anthropological and religious ritual theories into a meaningful whole, which will be used to illuminate the Muslim sacrificial praxis as found in early Islamic writings.

1 My translation; German: “Unter einem Opfer versteht man die religiöse Handlung, den Ritus, der durch die Weihung eines lebenden Wesens, einer Pflanzenart, einer Flüssigkeit oder eines Gegenstandes an eine Gottheit – wenn es sich um ein lebendes Wesen handelt, mit oder ohne Tötung – eine Verbindung schafft zwischen dieser Gottheit und dem Menschen, der den Ritus ausführt, von welchem man annimmt, daß er die Gottheit in einer vom Opfernden gewünschten Richtung beeinflussen kann” (Widengren 1969: 280).

2 I have chosen to use the term “Islamic sacrifice” and not the more extensive “Arabic sacrifice” that Chelhod (1955) uses already in the title, Le sacrifice chez les arabes, of his book. Even if I draw examples from pre-Islamic sacrifices, they are described by Muslims in an Islamic context. The majority of examples Chelhod brings are Islamic, and he emphasises that “libations” and “funeral traditions” among “the Arabs” are “Arabic sacrifices” and not solely “Islamic” (Chelhod 1955: 140–143).

3 Rubin (1990: 105) points to an early source al-Azraqī, Akbār Makka. However, the last Arabic edition that Wüstenfeld uses for his edition (1861) is from the transmitter Abū assan Muammad ibn Nūfiʿī al-Khuzāʿī who died after 350/961 according to Fück (1960: 826–827). Hence, al-abarī is earlier even if they partly use the same sources.

4 Al-abarī (d. 310/923) 1987 vol. 2: 83 [Arabic vol. 1: 291].

5 Al-Shahrastānī (d. 548/1153), Jolivet and Monnot 1993: 506: “Je suis le fils des deux victimes sacrificielles”. Cf. Badrān Arabic: 1240; Kaylānī: 239.

6 Al-Ālūsī (d. 1924) 1896 (1883?): vol. 3: 46–49. S.P. Stetkevych (1993: 38) only mentions the al-Ālūsī-source when she refers to the saying of the Prophet.

7 Even if the ʿīd is never mentioned in the Qurʾān.

8 Al-Wāqidī (d. 207/822) 1966. Cf. Leder 2002: 102–103. The Life of Muammad: Al-Wāqidī’s Kitāb al-Maghāzl. 2011. Rizwi F. Faizer (ed.) Translated by R.F. Faizer, Amal Ismail and AbdulKader Tayob. Milton Park / New York: Routledge.

9 Mālik ibn Anas (d. 179/795) 1951.

10 Al-Yaʿqūbī (d. ca 293/905) 1960.

11 Ibn al-Kalbī (d. 206/821) (1914 and 1924) 1965 and 1952.

12 Al-Thaʿlabi (d. 427/1035) 1991 and al-Kisāʾī (3rd-4th/10th century) 1922 and 1978.

13 Ibn Rushd (d. 595/1198) (1994 and 1996) 2000.

14 Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373) 1996.

15 Rappaport 1999.

| 5 →

Chapter 2

Theoretical and Research Historical Perspectives

2.1 Islamic sacrificial rituals seen in the light of Roy A. Rappaport’s Religion and Rituals in the Making of Humanity

Islam is not one of the main religions dealt with in Roy A. Rappaport’s Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity. He hardly mentions early Islam, and does not comment on Islam’s sacrificial practices at all. Instead, his main examples are taken from his research among the Maring people of Papua New Guinea, from the rituals and related activities of Jews, American Indians and a variety of other ethnic and religious groups, and from rituals associated with secular institutions such as the Olympic Games and certain theatrical traditions.1

Rappaport compares various elements of both religious and social rituals. The connections that he identifies promise to be a useful tool in my description and analysis of the Islamic material. Although his discussion is in some respects unfinished, due to the fact that his monograph was published posthumously in 1999,2 it is nevertheless of broad scope and considerable interest, and I shall therefore use it to throw some light on the Islamic rituals connected to pilgrimage and sacrifice.

Viewed in the light of the broader academic discussion about ritual, I have chosen some of Rappaport’s terms that are likely to enrich my discussion about sacrifice in Islam. These fall into various groups of concepts: firstly, ritual order, self-referential and canonical messages, secondly, Ultimate Sacred Postulates and sanctified expressions, and thirdly, the contrasted ideas of analogue and digital time, eternity and mundane time, hierarchy and simultaneity. ← 5 | 6 →

2.1.1 Ritual orders and self-referential and canonical messages

Let me begin with a quotation that presents Rappaport’s perspective on liturgical order, since this might serve as a suitable and valid theoretical starting point for the discussion of sacrifices in early Islam. “It is simple, that liturgical orders can and do organize, or even construct socially, the temporal orders of at least some societies, and that ‘temporal’ orders, when organized by ritual, make a place for eternity as well as for mundane time.”3

This perspective offers an approach to many aspects of sacred and mundane time and the rituals that cover both these aspects of religious and worldly life. The development of the rituals of sacrifice relating to the Islamic ajj seems to demonstrate an increasingly settled, prescribed order. The ajj became a far more complex affair than ever the rituals of Ibrāhīm and ʿAbd al Muṭṭalib had been. In this context it is legitimate to ask whether early Islamic teaching actively transformed pre-Islamic texts to account for this complexity.

Rappaport has defined ritual as “the performance of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances not entirely encoded by the performers”.4 Evidently, this is a rather open definition that leaves the performer facing an intricate task, namely, to discover the profounder significance of his or her ritual. Rappaport “privileges ritual over belief, form over content, and general, abstract argument over the interpretation of the historically particular”.5 This illustrates an important aspect of his research, which allows for the ritual of the Islamic pilgrimage to be as important as the theologically formed teaching about it, although the aspect of dogma will not be overlooked in this study.

Rappaport’s theory of liturgical orders provides a background for an analysis of the Islamic pilgrimage (ajj and manāsik) and of sacrificial rituals,6 in terms of the system that constitutes this liturgical order. In Rappaport’s terminology “liturgical order” does not refer to individual rituals in isolation, but to “the more or less invariant sequences of rituals that make up cycles and other series as well”.7

In keeping with Rappaport’s definition, I will call the ajj rituals of early Islam “liturgical orders”, since the elements of the ajj constitute a complete ← 6 | 7 → liturgy with essential religious and liturgical signs. In this system, time (the month of dhū l-ijja), and place (Mecca and Mina, or wherever Muslims happen to be celebrating the festival of īd al-aḍḥā) are essential. This will be discussed with the help of Rappaport’s idea of placing “ritual over belief, form over content”.8 He states that “liturgical orders, even those performed in solitude, are public orders and participation in them constitutes an acceptance of a public order regardless of the private state of the belief of the performer”.9

This raises a question with regard to the intention (niyya) that the Muslim is supposed to utter, even if only silently, before and often during the pilgrimage ritual (despite receiving no mention in the Qurʾān and my other main sources). Is participation in the pilgrimage and sacrificial ritual a public Muslim act even when the pilgrim does not understand the content of the rituals and does not anticipate the consequences of what he or she is doing? What sort of attitude is required according to our texts? Rappaport says that “acceptance is not a private state, but a public act, visible both to witnesses and to performers themselves”.10

To describe the double stream of messages that rituals involve, Rappaport uses the terms self-referential and canonical messages.11 These he compares respectively with doing and saying. Self-referential messages are shown through actions, while canonical messages are realised through utterances.12 Self-referential messages express something about the participants, and can be classified according to three levels, which are characterised as orders of meaning: “low” (referring to distinction), “middle” (referring to similarities) and “high” (referring to identity). These orders can be distinguished but not separated.13 There is not just a hierarchy of subjectivity but also one of integration. Self-referential messages are transmitted through participation.14 “Self-referential messages are sanctified, which is to say certified, through their association with the highly invariant canonical stream.”15

Concerning “canon”16 and “canonical messages”, which carry the self-referential messages through the rituals to the public and to the participants themselves, Rappaport says, ← 7 | 8 →


XIII, 279
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (July)
Opfer Wallfahrt Rituale Propheten Islam
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. XIV, 279 pp.

Biographical notes

Gerd Marie Adna (Author)

Gerd Marie Ådna is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger (Norway). Her research interests include early Islam and ritual studies as well as contemporary Islam with emphasis on migration and family issues. She is an expert in Christian-Muslim dialogue in Norway and Europe.


Title: Muhammad and the Formation of Sacrifice
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
295 pages