Inspired by Michael Taussig, I suggest that the challenge is not to undo the invisible but to find a language that runs along the seam where the visible and the invisible connect and disconnect. As the examples in later chapters will show, dream-visions often direct dreamers to concrete actions such as visiting the saints, distributing alms, or joining a Sufi order. Yet in reality they are only air: meaningless, fleeting, and inconsequential. The most long-term guest Nura ever had stayed for twenty-five years. Why then, one might ask, begin a book on dreams and imaginations with the end of a dream interpretation program? Amira Mittermaier guides the reader through landscapes of the imagination that feature Muslim dream interpreters who draw on Freud, reformists who dismiss all forms of divination as superstition, a Sufi devotional group that keeps a diary of dreams related to its shaykh, and ordinary believers who speak of moving encounters with the Prophet Muhammad. Presumably fearing messianic rumblings, Al Azhar, the seat and voice of Sunni Islam, went into a frenzy, quickly issuing a decree prohibiting the broadcast of dreams to the masses. Tripp, Charles Islam and the Moral Economy: The Challenge of Capitalism.
Often the difference between acceptable and unacceptable practices is a matter of scope and audience. Articles in the Cultural Anthropology Journal on this site are freely available to download, save, reproduce, and transmit for non-commercial, scholarly, and educational purposes. The experience of openness and togetherness at the square today seems a distant memory. He could also have said that the saintly legal scholar dwells in the realm of God's mercy fī raḥmat Allāh , which would have implied that death is not an end but rather an awakening. Instead it points to an evocative logic in which examples do not merely represent; they also do things. While dream-visions are not categorically denied, dreams cannot live up to the imperative of certitude that is embraced by reformist reason. Its history can and has been told in images.
Still, it could be argued that beginning with material conditions and political contestations gives in to the narrative conventions of secular storytelling. Berkeley: University of California Press. By the summer of 2011, security had become a central concern across Cairo and rumors were running wild. According to Ibn Sīrīn, when a dead person wears a crown or green clothes, this means that he is doing well in the afterlife. Dream interpretation in his view exceeds distinctions between the public and the private, the psychological and the political. I completed this essay in late August, 2013, after the military had ousted President Mohamed Morsi and killed over eight-hundred pro-Morsi protesters. When she runs out of supplies or money, she trusts that God will provide, concretely in the form of one of her guests bringing fruit, vegetables, bread, cigarettes, or tobacco to the khidma.
I want to open up a space for thinking differently about modes of giving that background the future. Others have a home in Cairo but enjoy spending time at the khidma because it is a place of dhikr, devotion to God. This is a revolutionary move away from the focus on binary distinctions that lay at the heart of structuralism. New York: Cambridge University Press. Frequently Egyptian journalists correlated the resurgence of magic, humbug, and superstitions with political, economic, and social instabilities, arguing that historically, people turn to the supernatural especially during crises. It was one of the rare times where one could have hope for the abolition of the injustice lived. This relationship entitles a transferal of this divine ability to interpret dreams.
It dawned on me that this was turning into one of those absurd moments when anthropologists explain to their informants what they would have liked to hear from them. The shaykh legitimizes his practice by insisting that it is grounded in years of study and that it is a divine gift, both at once. Berkeley: University of California Press. However, dreams and their interpretation trouble rationality and the institutions that are at the pursuit of defining Islam for the community. Justice here does not mean that the rich ought to give to the poor, but rather proceeds from acknowledging the profound dependency and interdependency of humans.
Just as the bazarkh is made manifest through dreams, mass media makes the unknown visible through technology. Nura never lays claim on her guests. While not denying the theoretical possibility of dream-visions, al-Qardāwī tries to contain their effectiveness. The khidma that I describe in the article is one of my favorite places in Cairo. No need to call beforehand; no need to come at a certain time of day or day of the week. Some of what Tahrir Square called for—togetherness in difference, justice, sharing, openness, possibility—already existed and still exists in spaces such as the khidma. If the imam had read the dream manual, he would know that seeing the dead in a dream can be quite informative.
In this sense the perpetual attempts of the secular modern to erase its own dreamy sides attest not to the effectiveness of these attempts but to their ongoing failure. The founding of the Ottoman Empire was supposedly inspired by a dream seen by Osman. I suggest that the Egyptian uprising along with similar ruptures elsewhere invites us to think anew about the political potentials of seemingly apolitical spaces and practices. Although he denies ever having announced the coming of Judgment Day, he believes that his interpretations are ethically and politically awakening. The Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto supported the writing of the manuscript.
And of course the mind tells you that it's wrong. Nor do I want to revive the stereotypical notion of an all-encompassing Egyptian or Arab or Muslim culture of hospitality. At the same time, on the ground, many Egyptians continue to engage in distributive practices that do not mesh with the logic of neoliberalism, microenterprise, and productivity. As such the khidma exemplifies an alternative mode of relating to Others, of living an implicit form of justice. Maybe the woman was not Saudi Arabian but Palestinian. We turn next to an appreciation of political comedy.
Is that so hard to understand? Thus this is another refraction of what we could call the joyful practice of anthropology. Inevitably, in the months following the uprising, guests at times also started talking politics. Social-justice discourse, by contrast, may fluctuate between different temporal horizons: sometimes it seeks to address present need at a societal level; other times it calls for long-term structural change and economic growth. In 2011, it became a refuge from the clashes and protests downtown—political arguments, violence, and confusion. Interestingly, Ridā was not entirely consistent in devaluing the dream's evidential potential.
Simultaneously he denounced the supposed rationality of Western Orientalists who claimed to be using a mode of critical analysis to disprove the divine origins of the Qur'anic revelation 1996, 49. She never voiced an opinion on the revolution or the elections, and when I asked her whether she had been to any of the protests, she shook her head. The act of giving is never hers alone. Bread is a staple food in Egypt that has been state-subsidized for decades. Dreams are nothing but foam. Since the Unknown is out of reach and the gate of prophecy is closed, the dream arises as an object that needs to be controlled and domesticated. I can feel the Wiper wipe away the dream traces.