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Committee Members

Ava Chamberlain (Other), Awad Halabi (Committee Member), Andrew Hsu (Other), Geoffery Owens (Committee Chair), Mark Verman (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Humanities (MHum)


This investigation focuses on locally specific manifestations of spirit possession found in Muslim societies throughout the world. Though allegedly founded on the same textual traditions, historians and anthropologists have observed that 'popular' and 'orthodox' Islamic practices have given rise to seemingly multiple, religiously inspired responses to societies' problems and to a variety of ritual acts. In spite of the numerous practices documented by scholars, a hidden narrative emerges, that Islamic spirit possession practices, whether licit or illicit, represent a phenomenon of tandem development between two distinct authorities, coexisting within a greater Islamic worldview. Muslims must deal with it in one way or another, due to a shared belief that spirit possession is an illness prevents the host and society from fully worshiping Allah. With this in mind, this study also addresses one aspect of the wider question about the relationship between the textual tradition and popular religious experience.

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Year Degree Awarded