Religion and Folk Cosmology: Scenarios of the Visible and Invisible in Rural Egypt

Religion and Folk Cosmology: Scenarios of the Visible and Invisible in Rural Egypt

Religion and Folk Cosmology: Scenarios of the Visible and Invisible in Rural Egypt

Religion and Folk Cosmology: Scenarios of the Visible and Invisible in Rural Egypt

Synopsis

This study refutes both the Western dominant paradigm of modernity and the Eurocentric stereotype of traditional Muslim culture, and demonstrates that rural Egyptians have their own paradigm of secular modernism that does not negate religious or sacred orientations. Islam is associated with ongoing attempts at religious purification and cultural unification and is inimical to cultural homogenization encouraged by Western globalization.

Excerpt

The folk song below, prayerfully alive, captures the divine unity and oneness underlying the apparent multiplicity and diversity of cosmological, social, economic, and psychological phenomena and presents a meaningful introduction to rural Egyptians’ holistic cosmological thought:

Water irrigates the trees, but their fruits are not one.
al-maya bi-tisgī ashshajar, lākin aththamar mush wāhid.

Palm trees are alike, yet their fruits are not one.
wa an-nakhl yashbah li-ba’ ḍu lākin aththamar mush wāḥid.

Sea and river are water, but their taste is not one.
wa l-baḥr wa an-nahr maya, lākin aṭṭaʿ m mush wāhid.

The sky is highly elevated, but there is not one pillar.
wa as-samā marfūʾah, lākin balā ʾamad wāḥid.

All people are created from dust, but their forms are not one.
wa an-nās makhlūka min at-turāb, lākin ash-shabah mush wāḥid.

The stomach (uterus) is the same, but the offspring are not one.
wa l-baṭin wāḥida, lākin al-khalaf mush wāḥid.

Brothers are from the same blood, but their tempers are not one.
wa l-ikhwān yabgu ashigga, lākin aṭ-ṭabʾ mush wāḥid.

This life is transitory, and all people will drink from one cup (death).
wa ad-dunyā fāniya, wa kull an-nās shāriba min kās wāḥid.

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