"Licit Magic": The Touch And Sight Of Islamic Talismanic Scrolls
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CitationAlsaleh, Yasmine F. 2014. "Licit Magic": The Touch And Sight Of Islamic Talismanic Scrolls. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThe following study traces the production and history of the talismanic scroll as a medium through a Fatimid, Ayyubid, and Mamluk historical periods. My dissertation understands the protocol of manufacturing and utilizing talismanic scrolls. The dissertation is a study of the Qur'an, prayers and illustrations of these talismanic works. I begin by investigating a theory of the occult the medieval primary sources of the Neo-platonic tenth century Ikhwān al-Safa and al-Bunī (d.1225). I establish that talismans are generally categorized as science (`ilm). Next, a dynastic spotlight of talismanic scrolls creates a chronological framework for the dissertation. The Fatimid talismanic scrolls and the Ayyubid pilgrimage scrolls are both block-printed and are placed within the larger conceptual framework of pilgrimage and devotion. The two unpublished Mamluk scrolls from Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah are long beautiful handwritten scrolls that provide a perspective on how the occult is part of the daily life of the practitioner in the medieval Islamic culture. Through an in depth analysis of the written word and images, I establish that textually and visually there is a template for the creation of these sophisticated scrolls. Lastly, I discuss the efficacy of these scrolls, I use theories of linguistic anthropology and return to the Islamic primary sources to establish that there is a language of the occult and there are people that practiced the occult. The word of God and the Qur'ān empower the scrolls I studied. As for the people who practiced the occult, I turn to the tenth century Ibn al-Nadim and Ibn al-Khaldun (d.1406), the people of the occult are understood. Yet, keeping in mind, that there is always a tension with the theologians that condoned practices of Islamic magic.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12274637
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