By Amyn B. Sajoo
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Additional info for A Companion to Muslim Cultures
1: Prince Farrukh-Nizhad lifts an elephant, convincing two brothers from a warring army to convert to Islam. Illustration from the Hamzanama, Mughal India, attributed to Mahesa and Kesava Dasa, c. 1570. PL. 2: Shahzia Sikander’s ‘Pleasure Pillars’ (2001), a layered adaptation of the Persian miniature style of painting, done on Wasli paper with vegetable colour, dry pigment, watercolour, ink and tea. PL. 3: A market in the ancient city of Kashgar, an administrative and social hub at the western end of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China.
Secular culture may also serve religious ends in highly non-traditional ways, such as when ‘Muslim rap’ makes the music charts. Objects like rosaries or, in Egypt, the eye of Horus, can acquire a sacred quality through use in rituals. Waugh regards popular piety as engaging key aspects of how we see ourselves and our solidarities; as such, it becomes ‘an essential part of the journey of modernity’. S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (London, 1948), p. 27; T. Bennett, ‘Culture’, in T.
This embrace of a Muslim identity that was pluralist in the making laid the foundations for a complex narrative. How could it be otherwise in the unfolding of an umma whose member-groups spanned all of the Middle East and Mediterranean, the Balkans, vast tracts of Asia and much of sub-Saharan Africa? Arabic, the language of the Quran, is spoken by less than a quarter of the world’s Muslims. Local custom or adat has deeply influenced how a Muslim, whether Shia or Sunni, actually puts into practice the norms of theology, ethics and law, including the very ‘pillars’ of the faith.