Shari’a, the framework of Islamic rules and norms, governs many aspects of human behavior. The contributors to Applying Shari’a in the West examine in depth how Muslims in the West shape their normative behavior on the basis of Shari’a and how Western societies and legal systems react thereto. With its explicit focus on social and family relations, these country and thematic studies provide a timely overview of the current state of Shari’a and outline aspects of possible future developments, studies, and policies.
How did our ancestors die? Whereas in our own day the subject of death is usually avoided, in pre-Industrial England the rituals and processes of death were present and immediate. People not only surrounded themselves with memento mori, they also sought to keep alive memories of those who had gone before. This continual confrontation with death was enhanced by a rich culture of visual artifacts. In The Art of Death, Nigel Llewellyn explores the meanings behind an astonishing range of these artifacts, and describes the attitudes and practices which lay behind their production and use.
Illustrated and explained in this book are an array of little-known objects and images such as death's head spoons, jewels and swords, mourning-rings and fans, wax effigies, church monuments, Dance of Death prints, funeral invitations and ephemera, as well as works by well-known artists, including Holbein, Hogarth and Blake.
Over the course of 130 years, Italian American Catholics in New York City have developed a varied repertoire of devotional art and architecture to create community-based sacred spaces in their homes and neighborhoods. These spaces exist outside of but in relationship to the consecrated halls of local parishes and are sites of worship in conventionally secular locations. Such ethnic building traditions and urban ethnic landscapes have long been neglected by all but a few scholars. Joseph Sciorra’s Built with Faith offers a place-centric, ethnographic study of the religious material culture of New York City’s Italian American Catholics.
Sciorra spent thirty-five years researching these community art forms and interviewing Italian immigrant and U.S.-born Catholics. By documenting the folklife of this group, Sciorra reveals how Italian Americans in the city use expressive culture and religious practices to transform everyday urban space into unique, communal sites of ethnically infused religiosity. The folk aesthetics practiced by individuals within their communities are integral to understanding how art is conceptualized, implemented, and esteemed outside of museum and gallery walls. Yard shrines, sidewalk altars, Nativity presepi, Christmas house displays, a stone-studded grotto, and neighborhood processions—often dismissed as kitsch or prized as folk art—all provide examples of the vibrant and varied ways contemporary Italian Americans use material culture, architecture, and public ceremonial display to shape the city’s religious and cultural landscapes.
Written in an accessible style that will appeal to general readers and scholars alike, Sciorra’s unique study contributes to our understanding of how value and meaning are reproduced at the confluences of everyday life.
Joseph Sciorra is the director of Academic and Cultural Programs at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College. He is the editor of Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives and co-editor of Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women's Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora.
For many Christians in America, becoming filled with Christ first requires being empty of themselves—a quality often overlooked in religious histories. In Emptiness, John Corrigan highlights for the first time the various ways that American Christianity has systematically promoted the cultivation of this feeling.
Corrigan examines different kinds of emptiness essential to American Christianity, such as the emptiness of deep longing, the emptying of the body through fasting or weeping, the emptiness of the wilderness, and the emptiness of historical time itself. He argues, furthermore, that emptiness is closely connected to the ways Christian groups differentiate themselves: many groups foster a sense of belonging not through affirmation, but rather avowal of what they and their doctrines are not. Through emptiness, American Christians are able to assert their identities as members of a religious community.
Drawing much-needed attention to a crucial aspect of American Christianity, Emptiness expands our understanding of historical and contemporary Christian practices.
Gates of Shabbat
Neil Waldman Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1991 Library of Congress BM685.S424 1991 | Dewey Decimal 296.41
Gates of Shabbat is a comprehesive how-to guide containing detailed yet concise information about the Jewish Sabbath at home and in the synagogue. A full appreciation of Jewish custom, ritual and tradition enriches the book, while detailed discussion of the many choices facing contemporary Jews gives it broad appeal. Designed for ease of use, Gates of Shabbat assumes no prior knowledge on the part of its readers, and is an excellent reference for Jews and non-Jews alike.
Gates of the Seasons
Peter S. Knobel Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1983 Library of Congress BM700.G35 1983 | Dewey Decimal 296.43
A survey of the sacred days of the Jewish yearly cycle providing detailed guidance on observing the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays, including Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) and Yom Ha-Atzma-ut (Israeli Independence Day). Gates of the Seasons provides historical background, essays, extensive notes, a bibliography, glossary and an index.
In the mountain valleys of Nepal, Tibetan communities have long been established through migrations from the North. Because of these migrations over the last few centuries, Tibetan lamaism, as one of the world’s great ritual traditions, can be studied in the Himalayas as a process that emerges through dialogue with the more ancient shamanic tradition which it confronts and criticizes.
Here for the first time is a thorough anthropological study of Tibetan lamaism combining textual analysis with richly contextualized ethnographic data. The rites studied are of the Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In contrast to the textual analyses that have viewed the culture as a finished entity, here we see an unbounded ritual process with unfinished interpretations.
Mumford’s focus is on the “dialogue” taking place between the lamaist and the shamanic regimes, as a historic development occurring between different cultural layers. The study powerfully demonstrates that interrelationships between subsystems within a given cultural matrix over time are critical to an understanding of religion as a cultural process.
Through a dual engagement with the unconscious in psychoanalysis and Islamic theological-medical reasoning, Stefania Pandolfo’s unsettling and innovative book reflects on the maladies of the soul at a time of tremendous global upheaval. Drawing on in-depth historical research and testimonies of contemporary patients and therapists in Morocco, Knot of the Soul offers both an ethnographic journey through madness and contemporary formations of despair and a philosophical and theological exploration of the vicissitudes of the soul.
Knot of the Soul moves from the experience of psychosis in psychiatric hospitals, to the visionary torments of the soul in poor urban neighborhoods, to the melancholy and religious imaginary of undocumented migration, culminating in the liturgical stage of the Qur’anic cure. Demonstrating how contemporary Islamic cures for madness address some of the core preoccupations of the psychoanalytic approach, she reveals how a religious and ethical relation to the “ordeal” of madness might actually allow for spiritual transformation.
This sophisticated and evocative work illuminates new dimensions of psychoanalysis and the ethical imagination while also sensitively examining the collective psychic strife that so many communities endure today.
The counting of the Omer begins with the escape from enslavement to the wandering path of freedom, leading to a mystical encounter with God, Sinai and Torah. This volume, beginning with its informative contextual introduction, provides a spiritual guide for a personal journey through the Omer toward meaningful and purposeful living. Beautiful and evocative readings for each day, matched with the daily Omer blessing, offer a transformative path from Passover to Shavuot.
Although popularized in Africa by Western missionaries, the Christian faith as practiced by Africans has acquired unique traits over time. Some of the most radical reinterpretations of Christianity are offered by those churches known as “AICs” (variously, African Initiated, African Instituted, or African Independent Churches)—new denominations founded by Africans skeptical of dogma offered by mainstream churches with roots in European empires. As these churches spread throughout the African diaspora, they have brought with them distinct practices relating to gender. Such practices range from the expectation that women avoid holy objects and sites during menstruation to the maintenance of church structures in which both men and women may be ordained and assigned the same duties and responsibilities.
How does having a female body affect one’s experience of indigenized Christianity in Africa? Spirit, Structure, and Flesh addresses this question by exploring the ways ritual, symbol, and dogma circumscribe, constrain, and liberate women in AICs. Through detailed description of worship and doctrine, as well as careful analyses of church history and organizational processes, Deidre Helen Crumbley explores gendered experiences of faith and power in three Nigerian indigenous AICs, demonstrating the roles of women in the day-to-day life of these churches.