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Lecture | FLARe lecture series

“And What Tombs!”: Making Rain with Relics in the Early Islamic Near East

Friday 26 February 2021
Framing Late Antique Religion Lecture Series
This is an online event. Please register to receive the link to the lecture.
Biblioteca Nacional de España, MS Graecus Vitr. 26-2, fol. 210v

Early Islamic texts witness several different Near Eastern communities practicing rainmaking rituals with the relics of holy persons. In some cases, these practices are criticized, seeming to fit within the context of early Muslims' critique of relic and tomb veneration. However, a more complicated picture emerges from these traditions than a general avoidance of (or ban on) using relics for bringing miracles like rain. Early reports depict both non-Muslims and Muslims using prophets' and martyrs' remains for bringing rain in ways that appear to be legitimized and even praised. This paper will bring together these variant traditions to examine the ambivalences about holy persons and places on view in these early Islamic traditions. 

About Adam Bursi

Adam Bursi is a post-doctoral research fellow at Utrecht University in the ERC project “SENSIS: The Senses of Islam.” His research studies early Islam in dialogue with other late antique religions, focusing on the ways that rituals related to relics, pilgrimage, and healing were interwoven with the formation and performance of communal membership among early Muslims. He has previously held positions as a fellow at the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and as a cataloguer of Syriac and Arabic manuscripts at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at Saint John's University. His articles have appeared in Studies in Late Antiquity, the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association, and Arabica.

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