Hanna Nieber: "‘They all just want to get healthy!’ Drinking the Qur’an between forming religious and medical subjectivities in Zanzibar"
This article investigates how the practice of drinking kombe (drinking washed off Qur’anic verses) informs subjectivities in the nexus of ‘religion’, ‘medicine’ and their Swahili approximations dini and dawa. Situated in Zanzibar, it is mostly referred to as dawa ya kiislamu, bringing ‘medicine’ and ‘religion’ together and providing space for multiple enactments of subjectivities. Most prominently, Christians’ use of kombe requests a different engagement with kombe and accentuates the ambiguity of drinking kombe as an embodiment of Islamic scripture conveyed by Islamic connotations of the Qur’an that heals, on the one hand, and drinking kombe as treatment irrespective of ‘religious’ affiliation, on the other. This becomes particularly pertinent in the discourse justifying drinking the Qur’an against anticipated criticism. These justifications enable the practice of drinking kombe to reveal different implications for the formation and cultivation of subjectivities with respect to the flexible ground of enacting dawa ya kiislamu.
Nieber, Hanna. 2017. "‘They all just want to get healthy!’ Drinking the Qur’an between forming religious and medical subjectivities in Zanzibar", Journal of Material Culture 22 (4): 453-475.