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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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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 ḳ 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 ṭaʾmarbūṭa 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.

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