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Accepted Paper:

Therapeutic Fasting: Experiencing the Ontological Truth, Engaging in the Divine Time, and Embodying the Hope of Reviving the Sunnah  
Müge Akpinar (FU Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Based on my ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey on a holistic health network that observes Islamic medicine, I inquire into my interlocutors' truth claims about therapeutic fasting in relation to the ontological turn in anthropology and a teleological understanding of history.

Paper long abstract:

Building on Holbraad's (2012) ontologically informed concept of "truth beyond doubt", I will demonstrate that the intersection of my interlocutors' truth claims about the health benefits of fasting ingrained in Islamic-Sufi discursive traditions and the findings of the 2016 Nobel Prize-winning study on the physiological effects of autophagy caused by cellular starvation instantiates a "truth event". I will show that this intersection resembles the coincidental overlap of "the mythical paths of diviners" and "the paths of consultants" (ibid). I will proceed to discuss that my research participants' interpretations of the sunnah and Sufi healing practices about therapeutic fasting are also reflective of a certain kind of engagement with history, which attends to the divine time as "pure duration" beyond the world (Bergson 1910, Iqbal 1930), where the past, the present, and the future were foretold in the Quran and the hadith, rendering history a teleological reading of time. While a teleological understanding of history is not necessarily "linear" (Bryant and Knight 2019, 141), my informants' resorting to the notion of "the end times" to describe the lived present retains the successive perception and actualization of time in the world. By keeping my interlocutors' faith and hope alive with the motivation of reviving the sunnah in the end times, the intersection of their truth claims and the results of the autophagy study becomes affirmative of this teleological understanding of history, where the truth about the health benefits of fasting is perceived to have eventually been revealed in the course of history.

Panel P060b
Muslim imaginaries beyond mediation: Islam, the divine, and radical hope/transformation II
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -