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ZarSpirit Possession, Music, and Healing Rituals in Egypt$
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Hager El Hadidi

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166976

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166976.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction

Hager El Hadidi

American University in Cairo Press

This book examines how different people in metropolitan Cairo experience zar as spirits, as rituals, and as a spiritual and initiatory path. Zar is a healing ritual complex practiced in societies around the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. It also refers to jinn spirits who possess humans and afflict them with troubles and ailments. In Egypt, the way of zar is one of the healing options that address jinn. People seek out zar initiation when in crisis for a variety of motivations and reasons. Drawing on years of extensive ethnographic fieldwork in different parts of Egypt and on personal experience, this book explores some aspects of Egyptian zar spirit possession that have rarely been addressed in the literature: the zar community (tayfat al-zar), zar rites and rituals, and songs and music within zar communities. This introduction discusses zar and spirit possession from an anthropological perspective and provides an overview of the chapters that follow.

Keywords:   healing ritual, jinn, Egypt, zar initiation, spirit possession, zar community, zar rite, zar song, zar music

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