3. Prophetic piety between individual and collective experience

This general theme involves the pious practice and devotion attached to the person of the Prophet on the personal as well as on social level, which can be seen as both resulting from and structuring individual and collective experience in the different periods in question. The linkage between individual and collective dimensions of the attachment to the Prophet will thus be at the centre of attention in this year. The focus will be on the different forms of prayer and Sufi recitation connected with the Prophet, as well as the place of  Prophetic tradition and its recitation and transmission as pious practice, and on the performative dimensions of the vast corpus of poetry in praise of the Prophet in different languages, and on the embodiment of the Prophetic model  by  everyday  ritual  practice.  Visual  and calligraphic evocations of the image of the Prophet  and  of  his  mosque  in  Medina  will  be given close attention, as also the festivals commemorating his birth and his ascension.


Three analytical fields

Three analytical fields seem to stand out here, for which the interaction with neighbouring disciplines seems to be essential for the project:

  • Structuring and (re-­)orientation of emotions, individual conscience, and embodiment by everyday practice.
  • Eschatological dimensions (present-­‐‑ and future-­‐‑oriented) inherent in pious practice and experience.
  • Collective dimensions of the commemoration of the Prophet in festivals.


Muslim’s «care  of  the  Self»

The first  field  involves  the  shaping  of  the  emotional  and  moral  economy  and  the  identiy  of the Muslims at  individual  as  well  as  collective  level,  by  identification  and  unification  with the  Prophet,  engendering  love  for  him,  and  calling  for  his  emulation.  This  is  connected  with a re-­‐‑orientation of honour and shame, and also  of  the  economy  of  »mercy»  (raḥma),  «love» (ḥubb), and «anger» (ġaḍab), and of  a  militant  spirit,  viewing  the  Prophet  as  «Sword  of  God» (Sayf Allāh), as Lord of Power (ṣāḥib al-­‐‑sulṭān) and as political and military leader (qāʾid, zaʿīm). Both individual identity and the moral self, and also the sence of unity with the Muslim community can be  regarded  as  resulting  from  the  pious  practices  connected  with  this  field. The  thesis  of  an  increasing  individualisation  of  the  Muslim  personality  and  of  the  Muslim’s «care  of  the  Self»  (Foucault)  in  the  early  modern  period,  and  its  development  until  the present, will be closer  scrutinized  in  the  course  of  these  explorations,  for  which  a  cooperation with  social  and  cultural  historians  and  historical  anthropologists,  especially  in  the  field  of mentality  history  and  the  history  of  emotions  (e.g.  at  the  Max-­‐‑Planck-­‐‑Institute  in  Berlin)  will be  sought.  The  striking   similarity   in   the   religious   attitudes   of   the   otherwise   strongly antagonist  Sufi  and   Salafi  groups  will  be  given   special  attention.  The  current  rise  of  interest in the Prophet as a healer and of his way as a way to bodily health, offered by the age-­‐‑old but strikingly re-­‐‑emerging “ʺProphetic Medicine”ʺ  (ṭibb-­‐‑i  nabawī)  among  Muslim  communities  all over  the  world  has  equally  to  be  discussed.


Eschatological  presence  of  the  Prophet

The second field approaches the hypothesis of  the  eschatological  presence  of  the  Prophet from the perspectives of the Prophetical model as an exemplary anthropology, whereby emulation  of  his  transmitted  orders  and  his  reputed  personal  behavior  comes  out  as  a «revival» of his presence.  At  the  same  time,  the  strong  hopes  of  the  Muslims  for  his intercession (shafāʿa) are equally discussed, as also the Prophetic presence  evoked  by  prayer, dreams and visions in Sufi as well as anti-­‐‑Sufi thought and practice. The comparison  with Christian mentalities and related to eschatological beliefs will be of crucial importance  for bringing out  the  similiarities  as  well  as  the  differences  between  the  eschatological  concepts  of the  two  religions.  The  comparative  dimension  will  therefore  include   historians   of Christianity  and  of  Christian  Theology.


Collective  commemoration  of  the  Prophet

The third field includes the different established -­sometimes institutionalized -­ ways  of collective  commemoration  of  the  Prophet,  mainly  by  festivals  like  those  of  his  Birth  (Mawlid) or his Ascension to  Heaven  (Miʿrāj),  with  its  different  festive  expressions  including  poetry and music  (relying  on  the  discussions  and  findings  of  the  first  year).  Religious  Studies, Historical and Cultural  Anthropology  are  clearly  required  partner  disciplines  for  assessing and comparing the socio-­‐‑cultural practices and functions of these festivals, and their change over  the  last  century.

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