Smelling Baraka Everyday Islam and Islamic Normativity

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James Edmonds


everyday Islam


The category of “everyday Islam” has recently emerged to indicate the complex and ambiguous lives of Muslims. Fadil and Fernando critique this turn to the “everyday” for excluding the legibility of certain types of Muslim existence. In this paper, I argue that baraka emerges in and beyond the performances of selawat by Habib Syech bin Abdul Qadir Assegaf (Habib Syech) in Indonesia, namely that it operates like a smell, and in so doing provides an answer to Fadil and Fernando’s critique. The “ingenious magic” of smelly baraka evades the either/or dichotomy of the moderate Muslim performer of selawat and the Salafi reformer. It is only through engaging the reiteration of normativity as well as ethical ambiguity in everyday life that we are able to write and present the everyday lives of our interlocutors, take seriously the political stakes of representing Islam in the contemporary world, and engage in ethical advocacy for our often misrepresented subjects.

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