The hair of the Prophet: Relics and the affective presence of the absent beloved among Sufis in Denmark

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This paper explore the politics of (in)visibility in Islam by discussing the affective presence and agency of relics - in this case a single hair of the Prophet Muhammad. The relic is obviously not the Prophet, but it is also not-not the Prophet, as the hair is filled with the baraka (blessings) of the Prophet and thereby seems to confirm Sir James Frazer’s thesis of ‘sympathetic magic’ where part and wholes are forever connected. Based on a study of the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Saifi tariqa, this paper set out to ‘follow the hair’ in different settings in Denmark, Norway and Pakistan in order to discuss how it connects the visible and the invisible aspects of reality. I argue that the relic not only constitutes an affective presence of the beloved, but also that it becomes a significant agent in the establishment of an enchanted subaltern counter-public within Danish secular society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary Islam
Pages (from-to)49-65
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

    Research areas

  • Denmark, Freedom of speech, Islam, Naqshbandiyya, Pakistani diaspora, Subaltern counter-public, Sufism

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