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Reciting: The Voice of the Other

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Abstract:

The voice seems to have a unique place in Islam and especially in the Qur'anic recitation. Through a discussion of Levinas's concept of God, and Althusser's theory of interpellation, it is argued that the monotheistic religious experience has to do with a hearing of the voice of the other, which involves a struggle between an inaudible noise or voice and its control in a rational sentence. Further, since the Qur'an's first command is "recite" and reciting is a fundamental method of learning the sacred text, the event of hearing gains a different dimension in Islam. As the Moroccan psychoanalyst Abdelkebir Khatibi shows, the prophet Muhammad's sacrifice of his own voice or signature, creates a singular idiom in which a lost writing or voice encrypts the sacred text. The noise of a lost voice continues to haunt and encrypt the sacred word. I posit this voice as feminine and question the patriarchal foundations of the Islamic and monotheistic narratives.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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