Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Society by Shaun Marmon

Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Society

byShaun Marmon

Hardcover | September 1, 1992

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In this thought-provoking interdisciplinary work, Shaun Marmon describes how eunuchs, as a category of people who embodied ambiguity, both defined and mediated critical thresholds of moral and physical space in the household, in the palace and in the tomb of pre-modern Islamic society. Theauthor's central focus is on the sacred society of eunuchs who guarded the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina for over six centuries and whose last representatives still perform many of their time honored rituals to this day. Through Marmon's account, the "sacred" eunuchs of Medina becomehistorical guides into uncharted dimensions of Islamic ritual, political symbolism, social order, gender and time.

About The Author

Shaun Marmon is at Princeton University.

Details & Specs

Title:Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic SocietyFormat:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 8.54 × 5.83 × 0.63 inPublished:September 1, 1992Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195071018

ISBN - 13:9780195071016

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The figure of the eunuch in non-Western cultures has long been an object of mystery and mystification to the West. This thought-provoking interdisciplinary work goes beyond sensationalism and stereotypes to offer a sensitive reconstruction of the historical role of the eunuch in Islam. In doing so, Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Society offers an original and path-breaking exploration into some of the most fundamental aspects of Islamic religion, society, and culture. Shaun Marmon describes how the eunuch as a category of person embodied ambiguity and played a crucial role in premodern Islamic society as both the guardian and mediator of critical thresholds of moral and physical space in the household, in the palace, and in the tomb. Making use of techniques from literary analysis, social history and anthropology, she brings together a wide array of sources ranging from literary works, historical chronicles, biographies, pilgrimage diaries, travelers' accounts, and previously unexamined archival material. Through Marmon's account, the "sacred" eunuchs of

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"Marmon provides a richly textured account of the ways in which the eunuchs functioned as ideal mediators between the sacred charisma (baraka) associated with the Prophet's physical remains and generations of pilgrims to his tomb...this book is a vital contribution to our understanding ofthese intriguing agents of mediation in medieval Muslim society."--American Historical Review