Although the role of relics in Islam has often been contested, in many parts of the Islamic world images of the relic of the Prophet Muhammad’s sandal still circulate in a wide variety of media. These images are sometimes said to convey the baraka (blessing) of the Prophet. For centuries, tracings made from the original relic were copied in their turn from Morocco in the west to India in the east. Surprisingly, perhaps, the copying and dissemination of the relic as image were seen as amplifying rather than diminishing its aura and efficacy. This lecture will suggest that, far from rupturing a centuries-old tradition of copying and circulation, the advent of modern technologies of reproduction, such as lithography and photography, enabled its ultimate fulfillment.
NYU Abu Dhabi Institute
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