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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.
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"An essential introduction to the philosophy and practice of the mystical tradition of Islam."--Cover.
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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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Publisher description: As David White explains in the Introduction to Tantra in Practice, Tantra is an Asian body of beliefs and practices that seeks to channel the divine energy that grounds the universe, in creative and liberating ways. The subsequent chapters reflect the wide geographical and temporal scope of Tantra by examining thirty-six texts from China, India, Japan, Nepal, and Tibet, ranging from the seventh century to the present day, and representing the full range of Tantric experience--Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and even Islamic. Each text has been chosen and translated, often for the first time, by an international expert in the field who also provides detailed background material. Students of Asian religions and general readers alike will find the book rich and informative. The book includes plays, transcribed interviews, poetry, parodies, inscriptions, instructional texts, scriptures, philosophical conjectures, dreams, and astronomical speculations, each text illustrating one of the diverse traditions and practices of Tantra. Thus, the nineteenth-century Indian Buddhist Garland of Gems, a series of songs, warns against the illusion of appearance by referring to bees, yogurt, and the fire of Malaya Mountain; while fourteenth-century Chinese Buddhist manuscripts detail how to prosper through the Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper by burning incense, making offerings to scriptures, and chanting incantations. In a transcribed conversation, a modern Hindu priest in Bengal candidly explains how he serves the black Goddess Kali and feeds temple skulls lentils, wine, or rice; a seventeenth-century Nepalese Hindu praise-poem hammered into the golden doors to the temple of the Goddess Taleju lists a king's faults and begs her forgiveness and grace. An introduction accompanies each text, identifying its period and genre, discussing the history and influence of the work, and identifying points of particular interest or difficulty. The first book to bring together texts from the entire range of Tantric phenomena, Tantra in Practice continues the Princeton Readings in Religions series. The breadth of work included, geographic areas spanned, and expert scholarship highlighting each piece serve to expand our understanding of what it means to practice Tantra.

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