Book: Books as Bodies and as Sacred Beings
Chapter: Embodying the Qu’ran
Katharina Wilkens builds on her previous research on imbibing Qurʾanic verses and ideologies of reading (2012 ) to describe the aesthetic ideology that governs rituals of embodying and sounding the Qurʾan as well as drinking its letters. The description of the Prophet Mohammed as “a walking Qurʾan” epitomizes the goal of Qur’anic memorization to sanctify the student by embodying the scripture. Combining these examples with a review of recent academic theories about the aesthetics of religion, Wilkens lays out the case for distinguishing semantic from aesthetic ideologies of literacy in Islamic discourse as well as in academic studies of it.