In the Vicinity of the Righteous: Ziyāra and the Veneration of Muslim Saints in Late Medieval Egypt
This first in-depth scholarly study of the institution of ziyāra (visiting tombs), and its central role in the cult of Muslim saints in late medieval Egypt (1200-1500 A.D.), makes an original contribution to the social history of religion. It explores the range of meanings that saints held for the contemporary imagination through richly textured descriptions and analysis of the great cemetery of al-Qarāfa, the rituals of the ziyāra, and the entertaining stories told to pious visitors about the saints. It thus provides a vivid sense of this vital expression of Muslim spirituality. Through an examination of legal debates surrounding ziyāra, the dichotomous view of 'high' versus 'popular' religion is effectively challenged in favor of a more fluid model of cultural discourse.