Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures

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Religious Practices: Prophecy and Women Prophets: Overview
(3,452 words)

There were active prophetesses in the Arabian Peninsula before and at the rise of Islam. The kāhina (diviner-prophetess) of pre-Islamic times functioned in ways similar to that of her male counterpart, the kāhin. She delivered the words of an oracle in a state of ecstasy, sometimes in bursts of rhymed prose, called sajʿ. She also practiced divination, including in matters important to the tribe as a whole such as war, and acted as a mediator. Kāhināt are sometimes said to consult with aṣḥāb (familiar spirits), and some may have belonged to priestly families (see, for example, Ibn Khaldūn, Tā…

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Clarke, Lynda, “Religious Practices: Prophecy and Women Prophets: Overview”, in: Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, General Editor Suad Joseph. Consulted online on 03 February 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1872-5309_ewic_EWICCOM_0616>
First published online: 2009

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