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Splashed by the Saint

Ritual Reading and Islamic Sanctity in West Java

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Sanctity is a concept recognized by Muslims throughout the Islamic world, and often motivates observances with highly localized characteristics. Julian Millie spent a year attending a supplication ritual in which Muslims of West Java directed their prayers to Allah through ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaelani (d. 1166). This man, whose tomb even today is a popular pilgrimage site in Baghdad, is widely considered the most powerful intercessor of all the saints of Islam. The supplication takes the form of reading or singing the narrative proofs of ‘Abd al-Qadir’s saintliness in a ritual context. The ritual has deep roots in the Sundanese culture of West Java. The book captures the variety of understandings that participants bring to the ritual when it is held in various contexts, including Java’s largest Sufi order, religious schools and private homes.

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