“In the world”, goes on the ḥadīṯ of the prophet Muhammad (d. 632), “perfume and women have been made dear to me (ḥubbiba ilayya)”. Regardless of the scholarly debate on the historicity controversies around the origins and development of the ḥadīṯ compilations, it deserves mentioning that at least since the time of the emblematic “Treatise” (Risāla) of Muḥammad b. Idrīs al‑Šāfiʿī (d. 820), the prophetic traditions have emerged as exerting normative influence on the ethos of Muslim daily life. Illustrative as it may be, the saying above is not alone within the source material to elucidate aspects of perfume application in Muslim perceptions. A review of the textual corpus of the “authentic” prophetic traditions (Ṣiḥāḥ) reveals numerous accounts on the application of perfume and perfume related substances. Although one would expect to see the common ʿiṭr term to designate “perfume”, we rather find that the Arabic ṭīb has been favoured over it. References to perfumes are found through ...
Olfactory Visuals A Case of Saffron Prohibition in Ḥadīṯ Commentary
A review of the Ṣiḥāḥ corpus of prophetic traditions reveals multiple accounts on the application of perfume. Here the social role perfume and cosmetics could assume in Muslim worldview is examined through a closer look at the specific case of the prophetic saffron prohibition for men, expounded upon in the authoritative Fatḥ al‑Bārī bi‑Šarḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al‑Buḫārī commentary of Ibn Ḥaǧar al‑ʿAsqalānī (d. 1449). Prohibition of saffron usage by men is put in the light of a historically established interpretative and linguistic tradition supported by drawing on a solid body of previous sources, mainly within the Šāfiʿīte maḏhab. In case we need to build a hierarchy of sensory perceptions in order to decode the cultural role of saffron, it is difficult to say whether the olfactory or the visual element prevails. Yet, both saffron smell and colour can be perceived as pointing to a meaning beyond themselves. A saffron ban imposed in such a manner is made reasonable only within the discourses of legally charged ḥadīṯ interpretation; it is here where aspects of smell and sight play a significatory role with regards to cultural practices and occupy a transcendentally substantiated position.
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Atanas Shinikov, « Olfactory Visuals A Case of Saffron Prohibition in Ḥadīṯ Commentary », Bulletin d’études orientales, LXIV | 2016, 277-291.
Atanas Shinikov, « Olfactory Visuals A Case of Saffron Prohibition in Ḥadīṯ Commentary », Bulletin d’études orientales [Online], LXIV | 2016, Online since 01 April 2018, connection on 24 March 2017. URL : http://beo.revues.org/4721 ; DOI : 10.4000/beo.4721Top of page
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