Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2007 book: The Birth of The Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam by Marion Holmes Katz (NYU)

In the medieval period, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (the mawlid) was celebrated in popular narratives and ceremonies that expressed the religious agendas and aspirations of ordinary Muslims, including women. 
This book examines the Mawlid from its origins to the present day and provides a new insight into how an aspect of everyday Islamic piety has been transformed by modernity. The book gives a window into the religious lives of medieval Muslim women, rather than focusing on the limitations that were placed on them and shows how medieval popular Islam was coherent and meaningful, not just a set of deviations from scholarly norms. Concise in both historical and textual analysis, this book is an important contribution to our understanding of contemporary Muslim devotional practices and will be of great interest to postgraduate students and researchers of Islam, religious studies and medieval studies. 
Editorial Reviews
The Muslim World Book Review: Wadham College, Oxford, Ahmed Weir 
In this work on devotional Sunni piety, Marion Jolmes Katz immerses herself, as a participant and observer, into the world of the mawlid, displaying an empathetic understanding of how the mawlid can touch the believer's heart. It is a work of historical theology tracing the mawlid from its birth at some point in the eleventh century to its dead-hearted critics of the twentieth century.] [ Within her chapters on the historical development of the mawlid, Katz devotes considerable energy to the discussion of qiyam, or 'standing'. In this she uncovers some gems. She traces the first recorded instance of standing to the Egyptian scholar Taj al-Din al-Subki. This happened in the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus in the fourteenth century during a public recitation of Al-Sarsari's ode, 'Writing in gold is but little for the praise of Mustafa'. 
About the Author
Marion Holmes Katz is Associate Professor and the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University, USA. Her research interests are Islamic law, ritual and gender.