Text language: German
The Ethiopian city of Harar is known as the religious center in the Eastern region of the Horn of Africa. This importance can be read from local terms as “city of saints” or “fourth holy city (of Islam)”. The shrines of the local saints and the practices, beliefs and symbols connected with them are playing an important role in the social life of Harar. But in which way does sacredness as precise reflection of a particular time and place influence modern society? And how does sacredness come to terms with global flows of Islamic reformations and may be able to represent a combination of local creation of meaning and global alternatives?
The present study analyzes the dynamic relationship between public discourses, religious practices and processes of social change in Harar. It is shown that the debate concerning sacredness in Islam represents more than just a controversy about theological contents. In fact, it reflects a competition between social groups, exceeding the meaning of local sacredness in a great way. The culturalization of religious practices and sacred places is an essential aspect of this debate.
Analyzing this, the present study deals with a basic problem of anthropologically motivated Islamic studies: Can the heterogeneous living environments of different Muslim societies be explained with the claim and dogmatics of a universalistic Islam? The discussions regarding sacredness can be considered as representative source material for this question, because they are placed at the border of a locally molded Islam on the one hand and the need for universal validity on the other hand.
This book is a contribution to the socio-scientific analysis of Muslim societies in Africa, to the ethnography and history of Ethiopia and to the relationship between religious practices, local power structures and translocal networks.