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A Ramadan preliminary

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Chapter Summary

In Ramadan, more than at any other time, the goal is to attain spiritual excellence. Based on the implicit assumption of the link between corporeality and spiritual inferiority, Islamic texts highly value the subjugation of the body and its passions, conveying thereby the primacy of ʿaql over nafs. Mrs Omid's emphasis is less on the subjugation of the body than on the refinement of the spirit or 'soul'. In her view, the goal of the fast as with all acts of worship is to gain proximity to God by refining the spirit. The Ramadan ideal of attaining spiritual excellence heavily favours men. This is based on the prejudicial assumption that nafs is stronger in women and ʿaql more developed in men. To conclude, however, that women's piety is merely a reflection of anxieties over prior concepts like excess nafs, inferiority and physical pollution would be misleading.

Keywords: Islamic texts; Ramadan; spiritual excellence; spiritual inferiority; women's piety



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