This essay analyzes the performance of dhikr (the invocation of God through prayer, sons, and movement) in Aleppo, Syria, as an embodied practice mediated by specific repertoires of aesthetic and kinesthetic practices. In dhikr, aesthetic stimuli produce an experience of temporal transformation that participants narrate as "ecstasy." Performing dhikr also conditions a musical self, which in turn allows for the habituation of spiritual states. This suggests the importance of investigating the interface of embodied practices, temporality, and the aesthetics of spiritual practice. (Aesthetics, temporality, music, Islam, Syria).
Contemplative practices, from meditation to Zen, are growing in popularity as methods to inspire physical and mental health. "Contemplative Practices in Action: Spirituality, Meditation, and Health" offers readers an introduction to these practices and the ways they can be used in the service of well being, wisdom, healing, and stress reduction. Bringing together various traditions from the East and West, this thought-provoking work summarizes the history of each practice, highlights classic and emerging research proving its power, and details how each practice is performed. Expert authors offer step-by-step approaches to practice methods including the 8-Point Program of Passage Meditation, Centering Prayer, mindful stress management, mantram meditation, energizing meditation, yoga, and Zen. Beneficial practices from Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, and Islamic religions are also featured. Vignettes illustrate each of the practices, while the contributors explain how and why they are effective in facing challenges as varied as the loss of a partner or child, job loss, chronic pain or disease, or psychological disorders.
Abstract This article is an ethnography of the private performance of the five daily prayers of Islam among a group of middle class, educated women in Tehran. It goes beyond the public and formal spheres to explore religious experience in everyday life. What happens in a ritual when performed alone, without a public? I argue against the prevalent notion that repetition renders the formulas of rituals meaningless. Instead, over time, there is a proliferation of meanings emerging as a result of the undermining of the formality of the text by repetition. The ways in which creativity is exercised are analyzed in answer to the question of what makes one prayer session more satisfying than another—what is an efficacious salat? I argue that the length of time the prayers have been performed, the age of the reciter, and the literate practices of reading and debate are crucial in understanding how this ritual is brought to life by its practitioners.
"An essential introduction to the philosophy and practice of the mystical tradition of Islam."--Cover.
Sufi Meditation and Contemplation offers fresh translations of three classic Sufi texts from Mughal India: The Alms Bowl of Shaykh Kalimullah Shajehanabadi, The Compass of Truth by Dara Shikoh, and the Treatise on the Human Body attributed to Mu'in al-Din Chishti. These texts elucidate meditation practices and the resulting effects. All three come from the Mughal era in India, which witnessed a flowering of Sufism in innovative personalities, diverse mystical orders and bold literary expressions."Meditation is the way to instill the values in the heart, to such a depth that the heart itself is transformed. The heart then is not merely an organ in the body, and is not just on's own personal center; when properly activated through meditation, the heart opens up to reveal the very presence of God with one and with all. To find this state of loving intimacy is the advice of the Qur'an when it says, "So remember me, that I may remember you." And according to Sufi teachings, to meditate and contemplate is the way to draw God down to you and to allow yourself to be lifted up toward God." - from the foreword by Scott Kugle
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