Epicenter research project

Illnesses of the Muslim heart

  • A visual anthropological study of protection, contagion, and purification among Muslims in Egypt

Illnesses of the Muslim Heart

This project sets out to explore how Muslims in contemporary Egypt seek to purify and protect themselves against hypocrisy, disbelief, and despair – malaises broadly conceived in Islam as illnesses of the heart (amrad al-qulub). These illnesses are reported to spread through social contact, exposure to certain forms of imagery and music, illegitimate acquisition of wealth and power, consumption of harmful (makhrur) or forbidden (haram) substances, as well as through the operation of envy (hasad), evil spirits (jinn), and magic (sihr). Key to the study is the use of participatory ethnographic film to capture the moment of infection. The filmic exploration takes as its prime focus situations of everyday living where people use religious forms of protection such as ritual cleansings, voluntary fastings, and small supplications to prevent infection.

Contact Researcher

Christian Suhr

Ma et PhD

Postdoc

suhr@hum.au.dk