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Title:'Siku ya Arafa' and the 'Idd el-Hajj': knowledge, ritual and renewal in Tanzania
Author:Bruinhorst, Gerard C. van deISNI
Book title:Knowledge, renewal and religion: repositioning and changing ideological and material circumstances among the Swahili on the East African Coast
Editor:Larsen, Kjersti
City of publisher:Uppsala
Publisher:Nordiska Afrikainstitutet
Geographic term:Tanzania
Subjects:sacrificial rites
External link:http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:275690/fulltext01.pdf
Abstract:This chapter describes how an Islamic ritual linked to the hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca) is used to express and to deal with deeply felt political and social unease among Muslims in Tanzania. The Day of Arafa is, together with the Day of Sacrifice, the most important part of the Islamic pilgrimage. The rituals performed on this day consist of contemplation and prayers while standing on the plains of Arafa, near the Mountain of Mercy to the northeast of Mecca. In 2001 a large group of Tanzanian Muslims in Dar es Salaam organized a political rally simultaneously with the religious rituals on Arafa. The speeches and prayers focused on the marginalization of Muslims in the current Tanzanian society, and commemorated the victims of a series of clashes between riot police and protestors in the period 1998-2001. While textual knowledge is essential to an understanding of the symbolic idiom of Islamic rituals, at the same time the meaning of ritual performances cannot be reduced to texts. The protest meeting on the Day of Arafa can only be understood if the hajj rituals, including the sacrifices taking place near Mecca, as well as the sociopolitical context of State-religion relations in Tanzania, are taken into account. Islamic ritual, rather than being the expression of obedience to textual prescriptions, is shown to be a counternarrative in which Muslims are able to redefine their social identity in terms of membership of the global Muslim community, while at the same time they express local concerns carrying out local agendas. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]