Charm of Graves

Perceptions of Death & After-Death Among the Negev Bedouin

By Gideon M. Kressel, Sasson Bar-Zvi, Aref Abu-Rabi'a

The authors provide a comprehensive picture of burial, mourning rituals, commemoration practices and veneration of the dead among the Negev Bedouin. A primary emphasis is the pivotal linkages between the living and the dead embodied in the intermediary role of healers, sorcerers, seers and other arbitrators between heaven and earth, who supplicate -- publicly and privately -- at the gravesite of chosen awliy?h (deceased saints). This book brings together integrated findings of three scholars, based on decades of field work that combine close to 65 years of scrutiny. It maps out the locations and particularities of venerated tombs, the identity of the occupants and their individual abilities vis-a-vis the Almighty. Attitudes, beliefs and customs surrounding each gravesite, when combined on a longitudinal scale, reveal changes over time in beliefs and practices in grave worship and burial, mourning and condolence customs. Analysis of the data reveals that the dynamic of grave worship among the Negev Bedouin throws light on ancient traditions in a complex relationship with mainstream Islamic doctrine and the impact of modernity on Bedouin conduct and belief. The authors' observations and interviews with practitioners about their beliefs are compared and augmented with references that exist in the professional literature, including grave worship elsewhere in the Arab world. The Charm of Graves is essential reading for anthropologists, scholars of the sociology of religion, and students of Islam at university and popular levels. The topic has received only marginal attention in existing anthropological works and has been keenly awaited.


Publication Date: 11/1/2014
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781845197087

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