Shamanism and Islam: Sufism, Healing Rituals and Spirits in the Muslim World

By Deweese, Devin A. | International Journal of Turkish Studies, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Shamanism and Islam: Sufism, Healing Rituals and Spirits in the Muslim World


Deweese, Devin A., International Journal of Turkish Studies


THIERRY ZARCONE and ANGELA HOBART ed. Shamanism and Islam: Sufism, Healing Rituals and Spirits in the Muslim World (London/New York: I. B. Tauris, 2012) (published in association with Centro Incontri Umani, Ascona, Switzerland). Pp 401. $ 99.00 cloth.

This volume's fourteen papers, presented at a conference held in Switzerland in 2008, deal with religious practices involving spheres of life (especially healing), specialized knowledge, and ritual techniques that are typically portrayed as outside the purview of an essentialized vision of "orthodox Islam," and are therefore relegated to a religious space labeled in some other way-in this volume, mostly as "shamanism." Six of the papers focus on Central Asia, two on Turkey, and the rest on other regions of the Muslim world or its borderlands. What unites them is their participation, to some degree, in an analytical stance that conceptually divides the engagement of religious specialists with healing or with "spirit possession" from their engagement with "Islam," and presumes a historical trajectory of development that embeds the "origins" of these practices in pre-Islamic or non-Islamic frameworks.

That analytical stance is most clearly enunciated in the papers on Central Asia and Turkey, above all in the three contributions of one of the co-editors, Thierry Zarcone (the introduction and two papers), and in the paper of Patrick Garrone. Zarcone's introduction, together with Garrone's paper, frames the central problem with the volume quite clearly: however much the "data" adduced in some of the papers is based on ethnographic fieldwork, its analysis and interpretation are firmly rooted in assumptions about historical developments that are neither explicitly argued nor problematized, but are instead simply taken for granted-above all, the assumption that "Islamized shamanism" is the product of Islam's impinging upon an earlier religious substrate that is best characterized as "shamanism" (the issue of who was or is devoted to shamanism is typically not addressed, unless in the nonspecific formulation that nomads clung to it).

This pre-determined analytical framework, that is, privileges shamanism as a coherent religious system and posits that Islam-understood likewise as a single definable thing-landed on top of it and did things to it, the result being an Islamized shamanism. It is long past time that such simplistic paradigms give way to new understandings-of Islam, of shamanism, and of their possible interaction-but Zarcone and Garrone insist that shamanism in Northern Asia or Siberia is the origin of the Islamized shamanism of Central Asia. This crude historical assumption is thus central to these authors' arguments, but it is implicit in the basic analytical framework underlying the entire volume.

The historical assumptions underlying the contributions of Zarcone and Garrone continue with generalized assertions that ought to have been laid to rest long ago. Chief among these is the claim that Islamization happened quickly in the sedentary oasis environments of Central Asia but faced stronger resistance in nomadic environments of the steppe and mountains, leaving formerly nomadic peoples of the region as the main venue for the development of Islamized shamanism, complete with the imagery of Islam as no more than a veneer atop a core reality of attachment to shamanism. In other contexts we might expect such a narrative to be accompanied by laments about the impact of shamanism upon an originally pristine Islam, yielding a tainted and corrupted version of Islam, but Zarcone and Garrone seem more inclined to lament the impact of Islam on "original shamanism," of which the pure variety can still be found, they assume, in its Siberian place of origin.

Zarcone's introduction combines the two central premises-that Islam and shamanism are two distinct systems that historically interacted, and that nomads, in particular, clung to shamanism-with further missteps. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Shamanism and Islam: Sufism, Healing Rituals and Spirits in the Muslim World
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.