Holy Time and Popular Invented Rituals in Islam: Structures and Symbolism

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This paper tackles three popular invented rituals in the early centuries of Islam performed in the seventh and eighth months of the Islamic calendar; Rajab and Shaabān, namely the sacrifices of fara'a and 'atīra, fasting and prayers. In the light of sociocultural and psycho-cultural perspectives, the paper discusses the cultural and spiritual perceptions of time and space in Islam, and the reasons that make specific settings fertile soils suitable for inventing new rituals. Then, it analyses the structures and symbolism of these rituals as a means of dialogical relationship with the self, the other, and the group. The paper also sheds light on the piety folk developed by Sufism as a response to spiritual void and psychological needs that lead Muslims to invent new forms of worship. The paper will, then, analyse the scholarly debate over the legitimacy of these invented rituals and the festivities associated with them, and tackle the interpretative strategies to approve them in a long dialectical process with 'puritan' Muslims. In the end, it discusses the relationship of invented rituals to the embedded structure of power and it sheds light on the reasons behind the escalation of practicing these invented rituals in recent decades in the Arab Islamic world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-156
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 30 2018


  • Popular Culture
  • Invented rituals
  • Popular Sacrifices
  • Fasting
  • Prayer
  • Rajab
  • Shaaban
  • Popular Rituals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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