A Ritual Demystified

The Work of Anti-wonder among Sufi Reformists and Traditionalists in a Macedonian Roma Neighborhood

in Religion and Society
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  • 1 University College London g.oustinova-stjepanovic@ed.ac.uk
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This article describes how an iconic mystical Sufi ritual of body wounding, zarf, was stripped of its mystical credentials and conventional efficacy amid tensions between Rifai reformists and traditionalists in a small Roma neighborhood in Skopje, Macedonia. The death of a sorcerer and a funeral event-series set the scene for acts of ‘anti-wonder’ and demystification by the Rifai reformists. Despite the history of socialist secularism and inadvertently secularizing Islamic reforms in the region, demystification signaled not the loss of enchantment per se, but a competition for legitimate forms of wonder. In addition to accounting for socio-historical context and relational forms of Islam, the real challenge is how to see a demystified ritual for its explicit intellectual capacity to stimulate speculation about itself.

Religion and Society

Advances in Research

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