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.