Summary Charles Hirschkind. 2001. “The Ethics of Listening: Cassette-Sermon Audition in Contemporary Egypt.” American Ethnologist 28, no. 3: 623-49.

The Ethics of Listening: Cassette-Sermon Audition in Contemporary Egypt

Hirschkind (2001) discusses the Ethical methods of listening to tape-recorded sermons among Muslims living in Egypt to enable them exercise ethical discipline. Auditing sermons was a regular practice among young men and preachers living in Cairo. The groups appreciated the technology of recording their preaching and auditions on cassettes to improve their work. Moreover, cassette sermons enabled them to live like devout Muslims. Proper audition of sermons demands for affective-volitional responsiveness from listeners referred as ethical performance. Hirsckind (2001) explains that understanding speeches in sermons requires listeners to hear with their hearts to deepen their hearing capacity. Hearing with the heart requires total body involvement and synthesis of moral reflexes that are disciplined (624).

What is Cassette Discipline?

Cassettes discipline ensures that cassettes are listened to while operating barbershop, cafes, driving taxi, buses and at home after returning from work. Tapes are sold on sidewalks, at bus stations, in front of trains, and bookstores located in the city. Cassettes discuss on social trends of Islam, women dressing, long white shirts worn by Egyptian men, scented oils, and incense. Run al-Azhar mosque is held responsible of conformity towards commercial Islamic texts. Some sermons are restricted if they deviate from accepted Islamic standards (625).

What are Ethics of listening to cassettes?

Young Islamic men rarely played cassettes in rigourous manner. They would not listen to cassettes at specific times during the day, such as when having mosque study groups. Cassette auditions of sermons was a regulated activity sometimes done in solitary or with friends. People conducted auditions in the evening after work or from school. Auditions of cassettes happened without ablutions (the act of worshippers cleansing their bodies before mosque prayers. People using the tapes attended the mosque on Friday and extended the sermon listening to tapes. Tapes were used for relaxation, to purify the soul and enrich knowledge. Tapes lead Islam to prayer, reading of the Quran, thinking deeper about the religion and draw them closer to God. Listening to cassettes removes fear, worries about money, and instead reminds people of the presence of God. Tapes remind people of judgment waiting for them, thus feeling them with repentance and humility. Tapes teach on common errors done and warns people not to repeat them.

Paul Stoller. 2009. “Wood, New World Circuits, Art, Intersections, Weaving the World.” The

Power of the Between. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 89-119.

Stoller (2009) celebrates the power of the between by showing how that it transforms people, changes their perception, knowledge, and living styles. Stoller explains how careers are shaped in decades of thorough research and reading. He tells tales of his apprenticeship tales to a Niger sorcerer, studies with Claude Levi-Strauss in Paris and his formed friendships with street vendors in the city of New York. They all bring together philosophical reflections on power, health, illness, love, and memory. It is the story of distinguished career and medications done towards agreeing with the impermanent nature of things (92).

How is the power of between realized?

Stoller (2009) indicates that fate places people between languages, culture, realities, and countries. Stoller demonstrates that sudden turns connect relativism with rationality, rivers with sand dunes, postcolonial politicians with ancient deities, West African villages with Harlem streets, urban art collectors with rural traders and finally sorcerer methods and chemotherapist (96).

What is the impact of anthropology on human culture?

Anthropology aims at discovering interrelationships between scientific human being models. Stoller asserts that a complete human being is a result of interactions between systems such as physical, biological, psychological, social, and cultural. People’s culture is influenced by their physical well-being. Responses to pressure and constraints towards the systems and the methods used to alter and manipulate them helps them to satisfy their needs (100-105).

Works cited

One reply on “Summary Charles Hirschkind. 2001. “The Ethics of Listening: Cassette-Sermon Audition in Contemporary Egypt.” American Ethnologist 28, no. 3: 623-49.”

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