Islamic Time

Islamic Time

Introduction to Anthropology


N.B. Clocks go back on 25th October: good example of how, in industrial societies, the important ‘clock’ time is not closely related to the physical world (e.g. sunrise and sunset).

Good anthropology is all about getting deep into the culture being studied. Concepts of time both individual time such as age, important events, and the calendar of the culture and worth studying.

1. Islamic Time

Delaney (p87) focuses on Islamic calendar:

e.g.: dates starting from 622 CE

Lunar months, so the year is 354 or 355 days long

Ramadan: the dawn to dusk fast, in 2008 ended 2/10: was that marked in your diary, calendar etc.? If not what does that tell you about the publisher who issued it?

Time can be about power and control

Serious followers of Islam pray 5 times a day facing Mecca: so time and space are linked. Should wash hands and feet before prayer: how many times a day do you wash your feet?

Time is linked to issues about bodies

2. Halloween

Contrast between USA, ‘Trick or Treat’ – a short time when children are ‘licensed’, ‘allowed’ to beg and threaten neighbours.

In USA same urban legends pop up every Halloween (razor blades in apples, poisoned sweets). See Brunvand, J.H. (ed) Encyclopedia of Urban Legends p186-187. So it is a ‘carnivalesque’ (license, costumes, power roles inverted) time and a time of danger.

3. Halloween as New Year’s Eve

For neopagans and feminist witches, such as believers in Starhawk’s Reclaiming Witchcraft, Halloween is New Year’s Eve: their year starts on Nov 1st. In San Francisco there is often a public performance of the witches spiral dance, a ceremony to remember the Ancestors, the Beloved Dead and the Mighty Dead and to start the New Year. See Salomonsen, J. Enchanted Feminism Chapter 6 pp189-211.

4. Mexican Day of the Dead

In Mexico, and places in the USA where Americans of Mexican origin have settled, Nov 1st and 2nd are a time of great...

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