Muslims Through Discourse: Religion and Ritual in Gayo Society

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Princeton University Press, 1993 - Social Science - 358 pages

In this rich account of a Muslim society in highland Sumatra, Indonesia, John Bowen describes how men and women debate among themselves ideas of what Islam is and should be--as it pertains to all areas of their lives, from work to worship. Whereas many previous anthropological studies have concentrated on the purely local aspects of culture, this book captures and analyzes the tension between the local and universal in everyday life. Current religious differences among the Gayo stem from debates between "traditionalist" and "modernist" scholars that began in the 1930s, and reveal themselves in the ways Gayo discuss and perform worship, sacrifice, healing, and rites of birth and death, all within an Islamic framework.


Bowen considers the power these debates accord to language, especially in arguments over spells, rites of farming, hunting, and healing. Moreover, he traces in these debates a general conception of transacting with spirits that has shaped Gayo practices of sacrifice, worship, and aiding the dead. Bowen concludes by examining the development of competing religious ideas in the highlands, the alternative ritual forms and ideas they have pro-mulgated, and the implications of this phenomenon for the emergence of an Islamic public sphere.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
RELIGIOUS DISPUTES IN TAKČNGËN
18
ON MODERNISTS AND TRADITIONALISTS
21
SOCIAL AND MORAL CONTEXTS
30
ISLAMIC KNOWLEDGE IN THE HIGHLANDS 19001990
39
LANGUAGES OF PAST PIETY AND LEARNING
40
THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRADITIONALIST SCHOLARSHIP
47
SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS INNOVATION IN THE HIGHLANDS
55
PROTECTING THE CROPS AND THE COMMUNITY
185
ANCESTORS AND OTHER SACRED BEINGS
194
ADAM AND EVES CHILDREN
202
CAIN ABEL AND THE MARRIAGE OF TWINS
209
HUNTING HEALING AND SPIRITUAL SIBLINGSHIP
216
TRANSACTING THROUGH FOOD THE KENDURI AND ITS CRITICS
229
PRAYERS FOOD AND SACRIFICE
230
CELEBRATING THE PROPHET MUHAMMADS BIRTHDAY
237

RADICAL REFORM THROUGH ISLAMIC EDUCATION
61
SPELLS PRAYER AND THE POWER OF WORDS
77
DISTINCTIONS AMONG DOA
82
THE EFFICACY OF SPELLS
87
QURĀNIC KNOWLEDGE AND POWER
94
ACQUIRING POWER AND EXPECTING RESULTS
101
THE SOURCE OF HUMAN POWERS IN HISTORY
106
THE HUMAN EMBODIMENT OF CREATION
115
THE COMING OF ISLAM TO ACEH
124
THE HEALERS STRUGGLE
129
HEALERS AND KNOWLEDGE
131
FINDING THE JIN
135
RESTORING THE BALANCE
139
ASKING A SPIRIT TO DEPART
145
EXORCISM AND ACCOUNTABILITY
151
CASTING OUT THE SPIRITS
152
THE SOCIAL FRAMEWORK OF EXORCISM
162
FARMING ANCESTORS AND THE SACRED LANDSCAPE
173
SPEAKING WITH THE ANCESTOR
174
THE CHILDS ENTRY INTO THE WORLD
240
SPEAKING FOR THE DEAD
251
SPEAKING TO THE DEAD AT THE GRAVE
252
NEGOTIATING THE PASSAGE OF THE DEAD
259
CHANTING FOR THE DECEASED
262
SACRIFICE MERIT AND SELFINTEREST
273
SELFLESS SACRIFICE IN TAKČNGËN
279
WORSHIP AND PUBLIC LIFE
289
FORM AND FEELING IN WORSHIP
290
WORSHIPING TOGETHER
296
DISPUTATIONS
300
MOSQUE POLITICS
309
THE SOCIAL FORMS OF RELIGIOUS CHANGE
315
TWO MODES OF CULTURAL RATIONALIZATION
321
PUBLIC DISCOURSE AND THE STATE
325
GLOSSARY OF GAYO AND ARABIC TERMS
331
BIBLIOGRAPHY
335
INDEX
353
Copyright

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About the author (1993)

John R. Bowen is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washington University. He is author of Sumatran Politics and Poetics: Gayo History, 1900-1989 (Yale).

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