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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter 2017

Fī Lawḥin Maḥfūẓ: Towards a Phenomenological Analysis of the Quranic Tablet

From the book The Arts and Crafts of Literacy

  • Andrea Brigaglia


This article looks at the lawḥ (wooden tablet) in traditional Quranic education in Africa, through the lens of the phenomenology of religion. It argues that, the set of pedagogical practices that are sustained with the support of the lawḥ can be understood as a complex ritual of initiation into Islamic notions and beliefs. As in Eliade’s classical phenomenology, this ritual takes the form of a symbolic re-enactment of a primordial myth and acts as the support of a symbolic identification between the initiate and a sacred ancestor. A symbol, at the same time, of the archetypal Quran (al-lawḥ al-maḥfūẓ), of the metaphysical reality of the Prophet (al- ḥaqīqa al-muḥammadiyya), and of the pupil’s human form, the lawḥ allows for the symbolic identification of the protagonist of the initiation (the pupil) with the protagonist (the Prophet) of Islam’s most primordial myth (the revelation of the Quran).

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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