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Beattie, Hugh (1983) Tombs and footprints : Islamic shrines and pilgrimages in modern Iran and Afghanistan. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028784

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Abstract

The thesis examines the characteristic features of Islamic shrines and pilgrimages in Iran and Afghanistan, in doing so illustrating one aspect of the immense diversity of belief and practice to be found in the Islamic world. The origins of the shrine cults are outlined, the similarities between traditional Muslim and Christian attitudes to shrines are emphasized and the functions of the shrine and the mosque are contrasted. Iranian and Afghan shrines are classified, firstly in terms of the objects which form their principal attractions and the saints associated with them, and secondly in terms of the distances over which they attract pilgrims. The administration and endowments of shrines are described and the relationship between shrines and secular authorities analysed. Attention is drawn in particular to the lavish patronage of shrines by the Safavid Shahs in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The question which categories of people are most likely to visit shrines is raised; shrines are seen to play an especially prominent part in women's religious lives. The organisation and ritual of pilgrimage are described as far as the sources permit, as are the rituals which take place at the shrines themselves. In particular, the ritual of 'raising the standard', which is performed at or soon after New Year's Day at a number of shrines in northern Afghanistan and is believed to help to assure the prosperity of the community as well as the individual, is examined in some detail. People's motives for visiting shrines, economic, political, medical and social as well as strictly religious, are explored. Finally a wider question is raised, how the diversity of Islamic belief and practice of which these shrine and pilgrimage cults provide such striking evidence may best be accommodated within an analytical framework. Some criticisms are made of the models of Islam put forward by Spooner, Gulick, Gellner and Eickelmann, and an alternative approach is outlined.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028784
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/28784

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