Twice a year, the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George on the island of Büyükada, off the coast of Istanbul, attracts tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims who come to make heterogenous and inventive votive offerings. Since these visitors are not Christians, their behavior is a form of exopraxis, which is the subject of the issue of Common Knowledge in which this contribution appears. Due to its scope and dynamism, this shared pilgrimage is perhaps the most important in the contemporary religious landscape of the Middle East, but it is part of a broader ecology that includes many mausoleums of Muslim saints and other Muslim holy places visited by Christians. The rationale and logic of such exopraxes is wild hope (in the Lévi-Straussian sense of wild). Pilgrims from one religious community travel to the sacred place of another not so much for communication or contact with its patron saint—the Muslim pilgrims to Büyükada pray for help to Allah, not to St. George or Jesus—as they travel to be in a place of hope at a time of personal need. This article analyzes how the proliferation of these votive exopraxes indicates both the tenuousness of the distinction between monotheist religions and their need of each other.
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Research Article| April 01 2020
Votive Exopraxis: Muslim Pilgrims at a Christian Orthodox Monastery (Büyükada, Istanbul)
Common Knowledge (2020) 26 (2): 261–275.
Benoît Fliche, Manoël Pénicaud; Votive Exopraxis: Muslim Pilgrims at a Christian Orthodox Monastery (Büyükada, Istanbul). Common Knowledge 1 April 2020; 26 (2): 261–275. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-8188868
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