Holy Places in Islam
Early Islam and the Search for a Model
International Conference, University of Edinburgh, 5-7 December 2013
Pollock Halls, South Hall
From the emergence of Islam, Muslim societies were confronted with the notion of the holiness of specific sites. They developed different positions on this issue, which ranged from adopting specific sites to dismissing or destroying them. In addition, several new Islamic holy sites emerged.
The international conference is part of the project Holy Places in Islam, which aims to investigate the modalities that led to the formation and development of different positions with regard to holy places in various Muslim societies. In order to analyse these processes the project seeks to integrate both material culture and literary texts. Texts, such as pilgrimage guides, geographical descriptions, or theological treatises in fact not only carry important information to locate and identify holy places, but also help to reconstruct the discourse which was created around a specific place or around the notion of the holiness of places in general. At the same time material culture reflects how the sense of holiness was embodied and given substance. The same material will also be interrogated in order to explain how a site was forgotten or erased by societies.
The first conference – Early Islam and the Search for a Model – will mainly focus on the emergence of holy places in early Islam and the developing models to establish and substantiate the holiness of specific sites. It will bring together international scholars from various disciplines to stimulate further research and cooperation in this field.