SHRINES (MASHHADS AND MAQÅMÅT )
experience. In some cases, as I intend to show, a change in one’s way of life, such as a process of penance, or the choice of a life of seclusion and asceticism, was motivated by a ziyåra. Or the other way round: such changes culminated in the performance of a ziyåra.13 I did not nd, however, any evidence of a lingering sense of the guilt, reminiscent of guilt described as burdening Sumption’s Christian pilgrims, sending a Muslim pilgrim on his way to a sanctuary. No wonder—the Muslim perception of sin and salvation is much more optimistic than the Christian, if only because it does not charge man with the primordial sin. As a consequence, perhaps, Islam has no developed doctrine of atonement, and—needless to say—pilgrimage never became part of a penitential system in a manner known from medieval Christianity.14 Moreover, a ziyåra could be a happy and relaxing experience: an occasion for an outing with family members and friends, feasting and eating sweets. Especially as, in most cases, a ziyåra was a visit to local or regional sites, devoid of long-distance travel and its hardships, an aspect so prominent in western pilgrimages.15 Victor Turner suggests that all sites of pilgrimage are held to be places in which miracles have occurred and continue to occur. Even pilgrims who do not expect to witness an actual miracle with their own eyes, trust that their religious belief will be invigorated and their chances to attain salvation enhanced, if they only expose themselves to the benecent presence of a saint.16 The Muslim sources seem to conrm his observation. For example: Abd al-Mawlå b. Muªammad, a visitor to the grave of Ab¨ Umar, tells of a wondrous event he witnessed there. He was all alone, reciting s¨rat al-baqara, when he heard a voice rising from the grave to correct his mistaken reading of verse 68.17 The wandering ascetic al-Haraw saw the Prophet in his
13 For pilgrimage as a vehicle for self transformation, and the search for a new religious identity, see Bitton-Ashkelony, Encountering, 10 (citing A. Dupront). 14 Lazarus-Yafeh, “Concept of Redemption,” 48. On the Islamic concepts of sin, sinfulness and repentance, see Padwick, Muslim Devotions, 173–219. 15 The relative rarity of pilgrims from distant lands at local shrines gave additional weight to their visits. ¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis stresses the merits of his deceased uncle, shaykh Ab¨ Umar, by saying that he had met a man from India and an Ajam (foreigner) at his grave (¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis, Srat Ab Umar, lines 69–80; see also Taylor, In the Vicinity, 83). 16 Turner, Image, 6. 17 Ab¨ Shåma, Taråjim, 75. See similar stories in Diem, The Living, 2:143–144. For the belief that the dead recite the Qurån in their graves, see ibid., 2:151–152.