Orality vs. Written Word • Plato and the ‘bastard brother’ • Oral essence of the Islamic tradition: books, hadith and Quran • Quran as simultaneously oral and written in its vision of itself • Kitab • Lawh al-mahfuz • But it’s not a ‘book’!
The Quran as Recitation for Non-Arabs • Ubiquitous in the Arab world • Shops, cars and street • TV shows • For non-Arabs?: • Touchstone of religious identify: • Ex. Boatman in Mali in city of Mopti • The Word manifest in this world…
“Yes, sir, please, I won’t make another mistake. Listen…” One more time, trembling and panting, he repeated the sparkling words. His eyes imploring, his voice faint, his small body moist with fever, he heart beating madly. Those words that he did not understand, for which he suffered like a martyr, he loved them for their mystery and somber beauty. That speech was unlike any other. It was speech that marked suffering, it was speech come from God, it was a miracle, as if God himself had pronounced the words. The teacher was right. The word that comes from God must be recited exactly, in the way that God had willed it fashioned. Whoever obliterates it deserves death… The teacher let go of the child’s ear, bleeding. Not a tear had run down the child’s fine face. His voice was calm and his delivery measured. The Word of God flowed, pure and supple, from his ardent lips. His aching head pulsed with the sound. It contained within it the totality of the world, all that is visible and all that is invisible, its future and its past. That Word that he gave birth to in his pain, it was the very architecture of the world, it was the world itself.” -Hamidou Kane, l’Aventure ambigue
Quran Reciters (qari’) • Different styles: 3 standard modes of reciting • hadr = rapid mode like normal talking speed • tadwir: medium • tartil = slow and musical • Quran reciter in… wait for it… • As opposed to ulama: • Boy reciters? • Saudi boy reciting • Senegalese woman reciting • Recitation in prayer