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Muhammad and the Formation of Sacrifice


Gerd Marie Adna

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.
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A long time’s critical interest for and love of the Islamic culture is crystallised in this book. Ever since my first conscious awareness of the Afghani culture during my youth I have been curious about the “otherness” of Muslims from the Middle East and, later, about Norway’s new Muslim citizens. “Curiosity for otherness” does not suffice for academic research, but it has definitely been a good friend that kept me on the track when various difficulties in the writing process challenged me.

The idea for this project was born in the late 1990s. I had already worked on elements from early Islam in my Master thesis about tawḥīd. I realised that the question of “sacrifice in Islam” had not found much attention in research. I was lucky to be granted a three years’ scholarship from the Research Council of Norway (1999–2003), and became enrolled in the doctoral programme at the University of Bergen. The School of Mission and Theology (MHS) in Stavanger was so kind to offer me an office, an academic milieu, and an excellent library with an excellent staff. This specialised university became after some years my regular working place and is until date my stimulating academic home. The doctoral defence of my PhD thesis took place in the department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Bergen in 2007.

I am grateful to the seminars for Theology and for Religious and Islamic studies at the universities...

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