Rules of pilgrimage

I presented a radical re-reading of the laws relating to pilgrimage 2 years ago. There’s a complicated understanding of how rules (shariah) and Divine Love are intertwined, drawing on the fact that the Arabic for “oath” has the same root as “right hand” and “south”, the hypothesis that these intertwine the Sephirotic sign of “love” (the south) with the self-describing trope of judgement/law/oaths. And how this intertwining come together in the movement from the Northern city of Judgement (Medina) towards the  Southern state of Mecca, engendering a union symbolised by the sacred Cube, Kaba: this I understood as the perfect human body, the six Masculine orbs of the Sephirot, with the Feminine Shekhina in the centre.

There are rules in the Qur’an that prohibit the killing of land game during the pilgrimage, but the permission of hunting water animals. I focused on the signs of land and sea as Sephirotic intimation of difference/law and love, and the animals being aspects of perception-as-consumption.

I opened the Qur’an the other day (I found it cleaning the boot of my car) and happened upon the exact verses I described earlier. And I saw something that ought to have been obvious to me, but I had suppressed, in order to create my tafsir.

These rules are those of a religion. It doesn’t matter what they represent: it is the dutiful enactment of these rules that provide embodied regulation of the body by the religious deity, that form the religious subject. There is a body at the end of the pilgrimage, but not a Kabbalic cube. It’s a bio-cultural entity, a real body, but one circumcized, marked out by these rules: it is the religious body, marked as such by these totems and taboos. It doesn’t matter what the rules mean, only that they are sufficiently distinguished from the rules of other religions and of other social codes, to give birth to a unique, original identity.

Allah does not take you to task for your inadvertent oaths, but He will take you to task for oaths you make intentionally. The expiation in that case is to feed ten poor people with the average amount you feed your family, or clothe them, or free a slave. Anyone without the means to do so should fast three days. That is the expiation for breaking oaths when you have sworn them. Keep your oaths. In this way Allah makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be thankful. (5:89)

 O ye who believe! Kill not game while in the sacred precincts or in Ihram. If any of you doth so intentionally, the compensation is an offering, brought to the Ka’ba, of a domestic animal equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you; or by way of atonement, the feeding of the indigent; or its equivalent in fasts: that he may taste of the penalty of his deed. God forgives what is past: for repetition God will exact from him the penalty. For God is Exalted, and Lord of Retribution. (5:95)

 Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and its use for food, for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel; but forbidden is the pursuit of land game; as long as you are in the sacred precincts or in the Ihram (garment). And fear God, to Whom you shall be gathered back. (5:96)


One thought on “Rules of pilgrimage

  1. salamo alaykom. What is the translation of the quaran you are quoting from? I should like to get a copy. I like your “musings” although rarely understand what you are saying but the fault lies with me! Words are an impenetrable barrier to understanding

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