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Substitution and Sacrifice in the Classical Love Story of Al-Muraqqish Al-Akbar Author(s): Ruqayya Yasmine Khan Reviewed work(s): Source: History of Religions, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Aug., 1999), pp. 50-64 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/05/2012 06:43 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact The University of Chicago Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to History of Religions. Ruqayya YasmineKhan SUBSTITUTION AND SACRIFICE IN THE CLASSICAL LOVE STORY OF AL-MURAQQISH AL-AKBAR If substitution in fact the key to ... sacrifice, is thenthe only thing that the victim will never stand for is itself .... Seen in these terms, thetheoryof sacrifice merelya branch the moregeneral is of theory of symbolism, anyandeveryinsightful and to approach symbolism will helpus understand sacrifice ... (andvice versa).Thisbeingso, Freud'sInterpretation of Dreams is as important as his Totemand Taboofor the question of sacrifice and substitution.(BRIANK. SMITH and WENDY DONIGER, 1989)1 So proclaimBrianSmithandWendyDonigerin an articleentitled"Sacrifice and Substitution: Ritual Mystification and Mythical Demystification," which examines sacrificein ancientVedic texts. It is preciselythis "question of sacrifice and substitution" that is addressedby this essay although the sources considered by it are ancient Arabic ratherthan Sanskritic texts. Smith and Doniger echo the claims of previousgenerationsof scholarsand in theoristswhen they note that"substitution, use of a 'stand-in' place of the an originalwhich then 'represents' is at the very heartof sacrifice."2 it, They go on to declare, "Whetherconceived as a transactionleading to communication between the sacred and profane(Hubertand Mauss), or as a kind of self-deathleading to a new birth,or as a violent expressionand displacement of hostility towardanother(the god/fatherwith Freud,the community 1 Brian K. Smith and Wendy Doniger, "Sacrifice and Substitution:Ritual Mystification and Mythical Demystification,"Numen: International Review for the History of Religion 36 (1989): 195-96. 2 Ibid., 189. p. ? 1999 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0018-2710/2000/3901-0003$02.00 History of Religions 51 and its members with Girard),the general conclusions regardingsacrifice coincide. For all, sacrifice is defined by substitution."3 significance of The in substitution sacrificehas been theorizedin two distinctways. Some critics conceive of sacrifice as a substitutionthatreplacestwo entities (as do, e.g., Hubertand Mauss), whereas others (such as Girard)formulatesacrifice as a process entailing two substitutions.4Hubert and Mauss regarded the sacrificialvictim as a substitutefor both a divinity and the sacrificer.Likewise, Claude Levi-Strauss viewed sacrifice as "seek[ing] through substitution to establish continuity between two or more terms that are not To related."5 quote Levi-Strausshimself: "In sacrifice, the series of natural species (continuousand no longer continuous,orientatedand no longer reversible) plays the part of an intermediarybetween two polar terms, the sacrificerand the deity, between which initially there is no homology nor even any sortof relation.Forthe object of sacrificeis to establisha relation, not of resemblancebut of contiguity, by means of a series of successive identifications."6 Sigmund Freud described the sacrificial victim as a patricidal substitute:the sexual cathexis of the motherleads to castrationanxiety and, therefore,the desire to kill the father.But, as Smith and Doniger note, Freudconsideredthe patricidalsurrogateas "doubly representative" because the fear of the fatheris accompaniedby an idealizationof him, that is, the surrogatefunctionedboth as an object of hate and an object of love.7 For Rene Girard,who has been influenced by Freud, the very basis of sacrifice is substitution. In contrast to the aforementioned theorists, he formulatessacrifice as a process of double substitutioninstead of conceiving it as a substitution that replaces two entities.8 In his work Violence and the Sacred, Girardarguesthatthe double substitutionis a sophisticated and integral mechanism by which sacrificial violence is displaced onto 3 Ibid., p. 194. I am indebted to Smith and Doniger for pointing out this contrast. They write that "where Hubert and Mauss and Freud saw the victim as doubly representative (of both sacrificerand god in the first instance, and of the object of both love and hate in the second), Girardspeaks of a 'double substitution'in the ritual" (ibid., p. 192). 5 William Beers, Womenand Sacrifice: Male Narcissism and the Psychology of Religion (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992), p. 35. 6 Claude L6vi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, ed. Julian Pitt-Rivers and Ernest Gellner (London: Weidenfield & Nicholson, 1966), pp. 224-25. Also quoted in Beers, p. 35. 7 Smith and Doniger, p. 192. This "double face" of the father (as perceived by the child) is reminiscent of Girard'sassertion regarding "the blending of beneficent and maleficent that characterizesall mythical figures"(Rene Girard,Violence and the Sacred, trans. Patrick Gregory [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979], p. 251). 8 An early version of this "double substitution"formulationof sacrifice is considered by the orientalist W. Robertson Smith in his late nineteenth-centurywork Lectures on the Religion of the Semites. Smith suggests that historically substitutioncame to be an element of sacrifice because humanlife came to be regardedas sacrosanct,because humanlife came to be seen as unique. But Smith's own explication is that this rationale (i.e., that human life is too sacred for sacrifice) was based on a misreading of ritual forms (W. R. Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites [New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1969], pp. 364-65). 4 52 Substitution and Sacrifice Withoutthis double substitution,accordingto him, there is no surrogates.9 sacrifice. The All sacrificial ritesarebasedon two substitutions. firstis provided genby a of erativeviolence,whichsubstitutes single victimfor all members the comis The second,the only strictlyritualistic substitution, thatof a victim munity. for the surrogate victim. As we know,it is essentialthatthe victim be drawn of The is fromoutsidethe community. surrogate victim,by contrast, a member betweenthe originalvictim the community.... The need for some distinction and the ritualvictims can readilybe explained.If the sacrificialvictim be(as victim),then his deathwould longed to the community does the surrogate further violenceinsteadof dispellingit.?1 promote Girarduses the term "generative violence" to denote the collective violence "which substitutes a single victim for all members of the community";1 this single victim is a human victim termed the "surrogate victim." But the victim that actually is killed is an animal or "a ritual victim drawn from outside the community"that substitutes for the "surrogate victim," and it is this second substitutionthat is "the only strictly ritualistic substitution"according to Girard. SUBSTITUTION AS CONCEALMENT VERSUS SUBSTITUTION AS SACRIFICIALRITUAL If, as proclaim Smith and Doniger, the theory of sacrifice is indeed a branchof a theory of symbolism, then two intertwinedbut distinct functions of substitution are discerned: substitution as concealment and substitution as sacrificial ritual. Girard alludes to these two functions by relatingthe biblical story of how Jacob obtained the blessing of his father Isaac.12He writes that the slaughteredgoats are used in two ways in this one, they are made into the "savory meat"that Isaac asks to taste story:13 before issuing his blessings and, two, the goats' skins are what Jacob 9 In this article, I am primarily interested in the mechanism of double substitution as formulatedby Girard.I refrainfrom commenting on the merits of other components of his overarching and rather totalizing theory of sacrifice, such as his constructs of "mimetic desire" and the "monstrous double." 10 Girard, Violence and the Sacred, p. 269. l This collective violence is a representative,in Girard'sview, of a "'prior event'... a [prior]collective murder,an act of mob violence" (quoted in Burton Mack, "Introduction: Religion and Ritual,"in Violent Origins: Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation, ed. Robert Hamerton-Kelly [Stanford, Calif.: StanfordUniversity Press, 1987], p. 8). Here Girard borrows from Freud's thesis of a primal, collective murder, but he places stress in the direction of the surrogate-victimmechanism. 12 Girard, Violence and the Sacred, pp. 5-6. 13 There is some confusion inherent in Girard's interpretationof the biblical story. He asserts that "in order to receive his father's blessing rather than his curse, Jacob must present to Isaac the freshly slaughteredkids made into a 'savoury meat"' (ibid., p. 5). Yet it is not the presentationof the "savory meat"that prevents Jacob from getting the curse but History of Religions 53 hides underto make himself resemble Esau when he surreptitiouslyseeks blessings from his old father. Jacob, afraid that his father will not be fooled since he is not hairy like his brotherEsau, literally has his hands and neck covered with the furry goat skins. The slaughtered goats are used therefore to feed Isaac and to hide Jacob. In both these instances, substitutionis occurring, and in both of them animal replaces man: in the first instance, animal is used to feed Isaac so that Jacob receives his blessings; in the second instance, animal conceals Jacob so that he ratherthan Esau may receive Isaac's blessings, that is, animal conceals man to allow one brotherto usurp the place of another. Isaac's asking for "savory meats" before he can issue blessings can be interpretedas a concealed request for a human offering,14not so unlike God's request of Abrahamfor an offering of his son, Isaac (or Isma'il, according to Islamic tradition). The view of sacrifice as an offering to a hungry god, a god who will not grant favors to his propitiatorsunless he is fed, is found in many ancient myths and stories. To divert from the son, Jacob, the violence that could potentially be directed toward him by his father, an animal-acting as a buffer and ritual victim-is killed and substitutedfor the son, just as in the Abrahammyth, a ram is finally explicitly substituted for Isaac. But the second instance, that is, the goats' skins being used to conceal Jacob is a differentkind of phenomenon. In the earlier example, we have substitutionas sacrifice (i.e., animal slaughteredin the place of man), and in this second instance, we have substitution as concealment. An animal corporeally hides a man, and thus literally stands in for him. This physical form of concealment permits anotherform of concealment-a stratagem-whereby one brotherdishonestly usurps the place of another. This substitution as concealment (exemplified in the two interrelated concealments) has a crucial function with respect to the sacrificial substitution: it both reveals and conceals the displacement of violence from humanto animal, from surrogateor original victim to ritualvictim. As Girardpoints out, the stratagemconcerning the brothersis the narrativefocus of the Jacob story. This ruse or stratagempartly covers up or deflects rather his hiding in the goat skins. The meat dish is not what would have given him away; instead it is that had he not concealed himself with the goat skins, his father would have discerned the ruse because he, Jacob, was a "smooth" man whereas his brother Esau was a "hairy man." 14 It is interesting that the eating of Esau's venison by Isaac is strongly associated with their filial bond (an association that is somewhat suggestive of the links between consumption of animal and human flesh). In the biblical story, when Isaac asks Esau for the meal, he says (Gen. 27:3-4), "Go out to the field and take me some venison; and make me savoury meat, such that I love," and even in 25:28, we find that "Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison." 54 Substitution and Sacrifice attention from the substitution occurring in the sacrificial act. But while it covers it up, the other form of concealment-animal corporeallyhiding man-half reveals the targetingof a man as the original sacrificialvictim. On the level of the narrative's plot and symbolism, the instance of the animal corporeally hiding or standing in for a man signals and underscores that the animal has replaced man in other ways too. Girard notes that "only the first [substitution of one brotherfor another] receives explicit recognition in the text; however, this first one serves as the screen upon which the shadow of the second [substitutionof an animal for a man] is According to him, projected."15 [Sacrifice's] vitalityas an institution dependson its abilityto concealthe diswhichthe rite is based.It mustneverlose sight entirely,howplacement upon from ever,of the originalobject,or cease to be awareof the act of transference no can thatobjectto the ... [ritual] victim;withoutthatawareness substitution take place and the sacrificeloses all efficacy.The biblicalpassagediscussed The does not refer directlyto the above meets both requirements. narrative nor the sacrificialsubstitution, does it allow this strangedeceptionunderlying it with to passentirelyunnoticed. Rather, mixesthe actof substitution deception us another of substitution, act permitting a fleeting,sidelongglimpseof theproof cess. The narrative itself, then,mightbe saidto partake a sacrificial quality; while employing firstsubstitution this it claimsto revealone act of substitution another.16 to half-conceal I would argue that narrativesin which sacrifice figures prominentlyoften contain a ruse or trick or stratagem that is enacted in their plots.17 Such a ruse or stratagemmay showcase a substitution.In these narratives, the substitution inherent in this concealment or stratagemis "mixed"to borrow both Girard'sconcept and phraseology-with the substitution occurring in the ritual act of sacrifice, and the purpose of this "mixing" is to elliptically signal the displacement of violence from the original (human) object to the ritual (animal) victim that occurs in the sacrificial substitution. I deliberately use a word such as "elliptically" (just as Girard uses the phrase "fleeting, sidelong glimpse") to describe this process because the stratagemor concealment, as I have noted earlier,both hides the sacrificial substitution(it conceals the displacement) and it also reveals it. Oddly enough, despite the importanceof substitutionin scholarly analyses of sacrifice, it does not seem to have merited the attention it should 15 Girard, Violence and the Sacred, p. 5. 16 Ibid. 17 Among the more well-known examples of this is Hesiod's Prometheanmyth in which the Titan substitutes the sacrificial meat for the leftovers (i.e., the bones) and thereby tricks Zeus and the other gods into missing out on the choice parts of the meal (Jean-PierreVernant, "At Man's Table: Hesiod's FoundationMyth of Sacrifice,"in The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks, ed. Marcel Detienne and Jean-PierreVernant [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989], p. 23). History of Religions 55 in criticism of depictions of sacrifice in early Arabic literature.Foremost among recent critics who have discussed the significance of sacrifice in classical Arabic literatureis Suzanne Stetkevych whose illuminatingwork has demonstratedthe relevance of sacrifice as a "category of the rite of passage" to the pre-Islamic ode (qasidah).'8 In this article, I seek to contributeto existing scholarshipon sacrificein early Arabicliterature through an examination of substitution and its functions in an Arabic love story in which an animal slaughter is centrally framed. The pre-Islamic love story of the poet al-Muraqqishal-Akbar exemdouble substitution.19 also illustratesthe It plifies the paradigmof Girard's intertwining of concealment and sacrifice; in it, the aforementionednarrative quality of mixing an "act of substitutionwith another act of substitution"is strikinglypresent.Indeed,the two stories, the Biblical Hebraic Just story and the classical Arabic narrative,"are mutually revealing."20 as goat skins hide (and point toward) Jacob as the original victim in the Hebraic story, a ram's bones point toward (and hide) the original victim in the Arabic tale. Concealments in both stories are characterizedby substitutions, and this interplay between concealment and substitution acts to simultaneously obscure and draw attention to the sacrificial substitutions. Moreover, in Genesis, the entity to whom the sacrifice is offered feeds on animal flesh, while in the Arabic story,the sacrificersthemselves feed on the meat. While the meat is consumed in both narratives,it is the animal remains-the skins in the Hebraic story and the animal bones in the Arabic story-that are pivotal to the enactmentof the ruses embedded in both myths (here reminiscent of Hesiod's Prometheanmyth). THE LOVE STORY OF AL-MURAQQISH The love story of al-Muraqqishbegins with the marriageof the beloved and ends with the death of the lover. The nodal event that links these two Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993), and Reorientations/Arabic and Persian Poetry (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994). Stetkevych draws on the writing of HubertMauss on sacrifice and Arnold Van Gennep'sritual paradigmto demonstrate that sacrifice informs the very core of poetry whose thematics are concerned with blood vengeance (tha'r). I am much indebted to the work of Stetkevych on sacrifice, yet it seems that she has not given due consideration to the crucial role played by substitutionin sacrifice. As a consequence, she arrives at a view of blood vengeance as a "subclass of sacrifice"-a view that I would question (Mute Immortals, p. 80). Michael Sells, who also addresses this issue in Stetkevych's analysis, notes that "whatever the validity of Girard's theory [of surrogate-victim]as a whole, the notion that the breakdownof sacrifice leads to a sacrificial crisis fits the qasida exceedingly well." He suggests "seeing blood-vengeance not as the equivalent of sacrifice, but as a dialectical and inverted equivalent that the sacrifice is meant to displace" (Michael Sells, "The Qasida and the West: Self-Reflective 20 Stereotype and Critical Encounter,"Al-CArabiyya [1987]: 344). 19Although this story is purportedto be pre-Islamic (dating from the sixth century or so), it appearedin its canonical forms in eighth- and tenth-centurycompilations. 20 Girard employs this term in Violence and the Sacred (n. 7 above), p. 6. 18 Suzanne 56 Substitution and Sacrifice occurrencesis the slaughterof a ram. The two renditionsof the story on which I rely are recordedin the eighth-centuryanthology al-Mufad.daliyat and the tenth-centuryKitab al-Aghani.21Both versions of the love story are interspersed,and in fact end, with the poetry of al-Muraqqish.22 The two renditions on which I rely are virtually identical, and where there are importantdiscrepancies I note and discuss them. In addition to these two renditions,there exists a variantnarrativein the Kitab al-Aghani that also relates the events surrounding marriageof Asma'.23A few interesting the similarities are to be found in terms of plot and narrative symbolism between this variant story and the two renditions on which I base my analysis, but I have chosen not to include an examination of the variant in this article primarilybecause it does not contain an animal slaughter. Below I provide a brief synopsis of the story. falls cousin with whomhe Al-Muraqqish in love with Asma3,the paternal has grownup. Whenhe seeks permission fromhis uncle to marry her, his uncle CAufal-Burak tells him he will not agree to the union unless al-Muraqqish of showshe has the stature a chief andhas frequented courtsof kings.24 the After beingpromised betrothal Asma' shouldhe succeedin this endeavor, a to the of and In kingas a panegyrist. the meantime, poetdeparts joinsthecourt a Yemeni according to one version,25his uncle CAuffaces a year of drought and when a man from Murad proposes marriage to his daughter, Asma', and offers him a hundred camels, CAufaccepts the proposal. Thus, this man from another tribe departs with Asma' for his home. Soon thereafter, al-Muraqqish returns and his brothers and cousins, feeling both pity and fear about having to inform him of Asma's marriage, announce to him that she has died, and they take him to a grave, wherein, prior to the poet's return, they have buried the bones of a ram that they have killed and eaten. The poet begins to visit the grave regularly, 21 Abuial-CAbbas al-Mufaddalb. Muhammadal-Dabbi, Diwan al-Mufaddaliyat,Arabic text, ed. CharlesLyall (Beirut:Matbacatal-Aba' al-Yasu'iyin, 1920) (hereaftercited as Mufad.daliyat), 1:459-62. Abu al-Farajal-Isfahani, Kitab al-Aghani, 24 vols., ed. Muhammed Abu al-FadlIbrahim(Cairo:Al-Hay'ah al-Misriyyahal-'Ammahli al-Kitab, 1992) (hereafter cited as Aghdni), 6:129-33. 22 According to CAmr al-Shaybani, as related in both the Mufaddaliyat and the Aghdni, ibn al-Muraqqishal-Akbar'sreal name is CAmr Sacd ibn Malik ibn Dubaycah ibn Qays ibn Thaclabah.The Thaclabahwere a branch of the tribal confederation of Bakr ibn Wa'il. Both sources also relate that other narratorsconsider him to be named after his paternaluncle, 'Auf, father of Asma', his beloved. His laqab or nom de plume is the active participle of raqqasha, meaning "to embellish, to adorn"speech or "to dot or rule a page." Al-Muraqqishcame from a family of poets. His father Sacd was a poet, his nephew, al-Muraqqish al-Asgar (son of his brotherSufyan), was a poet, and this younger al-Muraqqish'snephew was Tarafaibn al-'Abd, one of the poets of the Mucallaqah.His family was also known for being a warriorfamily. In the Harb al-Basus, one of his uncles, 'Amr ibn Malik, "was the chief who took Muhalhil, the leader of Taghlib, captive" (Aghani, 6:127-28). 23 Aghdni, 6:133-34. 24 The Aghani account words this as la uzawwijukahattd tucraf bil-ba's (p. 129). The Mufaddaliyat story relates lan uzawwijakahahatta tar'asa (ayy takuna ra'isan) wa ta'tiya al-mulak (p. 459). 25 The other one, the Aghani version, merely relates that "he was stricken with a difficult time" or wa-asaba CAuf zaman shadid (6:129). History of Religions 57 and one day, while he is dozing off at the gravesite, he overhears his brother's two sons fighting over an ankle bone, each claiming it was his. Al-Muraqqish then hears one boy say to the other, "This is the ankle bone of the ram which they slaughtered and buried, and told al-Muraqqishthat the grave was Asma"'s; father gave it to me." Hence, al-Muraqqish learns of the whole story from his brother's sons. At this point, the narrative after noting that the poet had become very weak and sickly, goes on to relate that on hearing that Asma' was still alive, he saddles his camel and, with a slave woman of his and her husband, rides off to find his beloved. But he grows increasingly ill during the journey, and when they arrive in the land of Murad, the slave and her husband take al-Muraqqish to a cave where they lay him down to rest. The slave woman's husband, observing that al-Muraqqish is on the verge of death, persuades his wife to leave him there, and they both ride off. But not before al-Muraqqish,who has overheard the exchange between the two, manages to write a few verses addressed to his brothers on the leather of his saddle. Once the slave couple reaches the tribe, the verses on the saddle reveal their treachery, and the couple is killed by al-Muraqqish's brothers, while one brother sets out to find him. The important conclusion to this story is that al-Muraqqishwho is still in the cave, virtually dead after having been attacked by hyenas, is discovered by-lo and behold-the shepherdof Asma''s husband.The poet, on hearing that the shepherddaily conveys goat milk to his mistress, gives him his signet ring to drop in his beloved's drinkingvessel-which the shepherddoes. Asma' recognizes her lover's ring and calls her husband,who questions the shepherd.When they learn that al-Muraqqish is lying nearly dead in the cave, they quickly ride towardit and find him still alive. They bring him back to their home to tend to him, but he is too sick, and he dies there in Asma's presence. NARRATIVE PLOT: SUBSTITUTION AS CONCEALMENT In this love story, the ram's bones cover up what has happened to Asma' or conceal Asma's plight only by virtue of the bones themselves being concealed or hidden underground.26 Not only are the ram's bones concealed through burial, but they are actually dressed or wrapped in a robe or sheet according to both renditions of the narrative-an exemplification of the "sacrificial preparation" that a victim undergoes in order to become wholly sacrificeable.27 That the ram itself is physically concealed to such a degree just confirms how one of its important functions as a substitute for Asma' is to conceal. In the narrative plot, this stratagem (i.e., the substitution of 26 In Arabic, the verb dafana (used in both texts of the romance) means "to bury" and "to keep a secret." 27 As Girardhas pointed out, "Once the victims have been obtained, [ritualisticthought] strives in various ways to make them conform to its own image of the original victim" (Girard, Violence and the Sacred, p. 272). Reminiscent here also is Smith's observation regarding human sacrifices in which the victim, although human, is not from the tribal community that sacrifices him, and hence, "it is considered necessary to make believe that the victim is a tribesman, or even, as in the human sacrifices of the Mexicans, to dress and treat him as the representative of the deity to whom he is to be offered" (Smith [n. 8 above], p. 363). 58 Substitution and Sacrifice the slaughteredram for the marriedwoman) works in three differentways to conceal. First, it hides from the poet both the fact of and the conditions surroundingthe beloved's marriageto another man. Second, it conceals from him the paternal uncle's deception, that is, the uncle's breach of a solemn promiseto the poet thathe would wed Asma' to him. Third,it covers up the ruse engaged in by al-Muraqqish's brothersand paternalcousins from the poet-lover these other events and deceptions, who, by hiding become complicit in one themselves. But if concealment is one function of the ram'sbones as substitute for bride, another is revelation. The ram's corpse bears a degree of selfreferentialitybecause only for a time does the burial of the bones conceal the event of the bride'smarriage-eventually the animal'sankle bone also points towardor uncovers the story of the wedding.28On the level of plot, the ram first stands in for (i.e., replaces and, thereby, conceals) the bride and then stands for (i.e., represents or reveals) the bride. SUBSTITUTION, EXCHANGE, AND SACRIFICEIN THE MARRIAGE OF ASMA' The substitution(animal replacing woman) on which is based this stratagem or deception is "mixed" with ritualistic substitutionsin the romance narrative.Again, I would maintainthat the purpose of this "mixing"is to elliptically signal displacement from humanto animal victims that occur in the sacrificial substitutions.As a powerful multivalent symbol, the ram functions as a ritual victim that substitutes for a number of parties: the bride, the husband,the poet-lover's male kin, and the poet-lover himself. Just as Freud views certain key words in a dream as constituting "nodal points"on which a greatnumberof dreamthoughtsconverge, and because they have several meanings in connection with the interpretationof the dream,likewise the ram, as symbol, is overdeterminedin this narrativethat is, "it is representedmany times over" in the story.29 The substitutionof the ramfor the bride,apartfrom its importancein the plot, also has symbolic value. Symbolically, the substitutionrenders the ram's sacrifice a narrativeretelling of the beloved's marriage.What happens in the narrativeplot (i.e., the ram uncovers the story of the wedding) is also trueof the narrativesymbolism of the story:the ram'ssacrificesymbolically retells or reveals the story of how the beloved was marriedoff. Thatthe animal'ssacrificefunctionsas a retellingof the beloved'smarriage induces us to ask how sacrifice is associated with her marriage. 28 In both versions of the love story, the Arabic word that is used for ankle bone is kacb. This word also means "die or dice" since, as Charles Lyall notes in the Mufaddaliydt,the Arabs used to cast a sheep's ankle bone like a die in games of chance. How apt a double meaning for a bone that not only reveals the history of what happened to Asma' but also seals al-Muraqqish'sfate. 29 Sigmund Freud, Interpretation of Dreams, trans. James Strachey (New York: Avon, 1967), pp. 317-18. History of Religions 59 In this love story, an analogy is made between the rituals of animal sacrificeand marriage,notjust between animalsacrificeand virgin defloration, as has been discussed by critics such as Suzanne Stetkevych and Adnan Haydar with respect to The MuCallaqahof Imru' l-Qays.30 The because of distinctionbetween marriageand virgin deflorationis important the issue of bride wealth, which only arises in the context of matrimony. While the metaphoricallinks between animal sacrifice and virgin defloration in pre-Islamicpoetry and anecdoteshave been addressedby some critics, the connectionsin these sources between animalsacrificeand marriage as a form of "gift exchange" have not received equal attention. The anthropologicalidea that marriageis "a most basic form of gift exchange, in which it is women who are the most precious of gifts" is formulatedby Levi-Straussin his ElementaryStructuresof Kinship,a work thatdrawson Mauss'sidea of "contractualsacrifice"or sacrifice as gift as articulatedin his Essay on the Gift.31Levi-Straussstatesthat"thetotalrelationshipof exchange which constitutesmarriageis not establishedbetween a man and a woman,but between two groupsof men, andthe womanfiguresonly as one of the objects in the exchange, not as one of the partners."32 It is precisely throughthis concept of exchange that sacrifice is associated with the beloved's marriage:to prevent starvationfrom afflicting the entirecommunity,to preventthe sacrificeof the communalentity,a woman acting as a surrogate victim is traded for a hundred camels. Here, the idea of the bride as a "sacrificialgift" need not oppose the idea of her as a "surrogatevictim."33 According to one scholar, "Thereis a distinct overbetween sacrifice as substitutionand sacrifice as gift ... Sacrifice as lap gift is equivalent to sacrifice as substitution because the unifying conThe cept in both gift and substitutionis that of exchange."34 symbolism of the droughtplays a powerful role in framingthe exchange of the daughter/ bride as a sacrifice.Actually, only the renditionin the Mufad.daliyat relates that after having promised Asma' in matrimonyto al-Muraqqish,his paternaluncle CAuf faces a year of drought.The Aghani version states thathe faced a difficult and severe time. Whatever the natureof the crisis, both versions attemptto establish a causal link between this droughtor severe time and the uncle's acceptance of a hundredcamels in exchange for his daughteras a bride. Both the drought and the potential fraternalconflict (referredto earlier) are examples, in Girard'sterms, of "the generative Gayle Rubin, Economy of Sex," in Towards an Anthropologyof Women,ed. Rayna R. Reiter (New York:Monthly Review Press, 1975), p. 173. 32 Claude Levi-Strauss,ElementaryStructuresof Kinship,p. 115, quoted in Rubin,p. 174. 33 Indeed, the Arabic word for "gift"-hadiya-also means "bride" or "victim to be slaughtered in Mecca." It should be mentioned that a hundredcamels is also the standard bloodwite according to early Arabic sources. 34 Beers (n. 5 above), p. 27. 30 Stetkevych, Mute Immortals (n. 18 above), chap. 7. 31 "The Trafficin Women: Notes on the Political 60 Substitution and Sacrifice violence which substitutesa single victim for all membersof the community." This generative violence is first displaced into a surrogatehuman victim and then onto ritualvictims such as the ram or the camels. Apposite here is Girard's observationthat "the only reality a scapegoatphenomenon can affect is the social climate, and we may assume that mythology is always due to a disturbanceof that climate, followed by a scapegoat-induced returnto serenity.It does not matter,of course, whether or not the real cause of that disturbanceis exteriorto the society, whetherit is a real epidemic of plague or some bout of internaldiscord."35 drawingattenBy tion to factors of hungerand the exchange of meat, the droughtsymbolism implicitly suggests that the bride is, in a sense, communally "eaten"for it is through exchanging her that the clan obtains the meat of the hundred camels. Eating (especially meat eating), as we have inferredfrom both the Hebraic myth and the ram's role in this story, appears to be an integral component of sacrificialritual. The symbolism of the rich stranger-husband makes prominentthe importance of bartering in the marriage of Asma3. Both story accounts imply that cupidity was a factor in the uncle's decision to accept the proposal for it is related that a wealthy man from Murad enticed him with the bride wealth, and so he marriedthis man to his daughter,Asma'. The Arabic sentence isfa-arghabahufil-mal, fa-zawwajahu Asma'. Hence, in additionto an alimentarycomponent, there exists an economic dimension to marriageas sacrifice in the classical Arabic love story of al-Muraqqish. Initially, by introducingthe specter of the drought,the story suggests that the threatof communal suffering was what induced the paternaluncle to Then the narrative'sexplicit marryhis daughterto the stranger-husband. mention of how the stranger-husband's prosperity lured the uncle into to marriage foregrounds the pecuniary nature of the marital agreeing exchange. Both mythemes-that of the drought and the "benevolent stranger-husband"-are importantto the construction of the marriageas a form of sacrificial exchange or barter. GENDERING THE ANIMAL MALE: THE SACRIFICIALLOVER But just why is the animal, in the love story of al-Muraqqish,a ram or a male animal? Why does the narrative suggest the links between the slaughteredanimal and marriedwoman and also reveal that the animal is male? One answer is that the ram's use as sacrificial victim in this story 35 Ren6 Girard,"GenerativeScapegoating,"in Hamerton-Kelly,ed. (n. 11 above), p. 91. W. R. Smith's relevant but antiquated reading is thus: "And conversely, when famine, plague or other disaster shows that the god is no longer active on behalf of his own, it is natural to infer that the bond of kinship with him has been broken or relaxed, and that it is necessary to retie it by a solemn ceremony, in which the sacred life is again distributed to every member of the community" (p. 320). History of Religions 61 is androgynous. Indeed, W. Robertson Smith has written that in ancient Arabia the sacrificial use of the ram and the ewe was androgynous.36 Even modem practices demonstrate this, as is evident, for example, in the descriptions provided by M. E. Combs-Schilling of Moroccan wedding festivities in which the slaughter animal of choice was the ram, and yet, the wedding songs sung at the occasion often analogized the ram to the bride ratherthan the groom.37 Yet anotheranswer is that, here again, we see an instance of the nexus between sacrificial substitution and concealment for while the story's narrativehalf conceals the fact that the animal functions as a surrogate for a man (throughestablishing plot-based and symbolic connections between the marriedwoman and slaughteredram), it also half reveals this process of surrogationby gendering the animal male. The ram also substitutes for the husband or the male kin, but primarily it functions as a surrogatefor the lover himself. HUSBAND OR MALE KIN AS VICTIMS In the two versions of the story under consideration, the narrativesetting in which the slaughter occurs is as follows: "Then al-Muraqqishreturns and his brothersand cousins, feeling both pity and fear for him [ashfaqa ] Calayhi about having to inform him of Asma's marriage, announce to him that she has died and they take him to a grave, wherein, prior to the poet's return, they have buried the bones of a ram they have killed and eaten." The other version relates, "Then al-Muraqqishreturns, and his brothersannounce: Do not tell him anything except that she has died. So they slaughtereda ram and ate its meat and concealed its bones by wrapping them in a sheet and then, they buriedthem."One argumentsurmised from these excerpts is that al-Muraqqish'sbrothers and paternal cousins kill the ram because they are fearful of conflict arising within a number of potential scenarios: violent conflict between the poet and Asma"'s husband,or between the poet and themselves, or even suicide in the case of the poet. To divert from the husband or themselves the violence that could be potentially directed toward them, an animal acting as a buffer and substitute is killed. As Rene Girardhas maintained with regard to a 36 Smith, 478. p. 37 Combs-Schilling states that in Moroccan wedding ceremonies, "some groups explicitly voice the link between the bride and the sacrificial ram. Among one group, when the women of the groom's household see the bride approaching,they sing out to her, 'Bring a ram with black rings around its eyes, let us sit down with this excellent woman"' (M. E. Combs-Schilling, Sacred Performances: Islam, Sexuality and Sacrifice [New York: Columbia University Press, 1989], p. 206). Another answer to why the ram is male is provided by Combs-Schilling herself: "The ram is not simply male; he is quintessentially male." She maintains that the maleness of the ram is "importantto the building of the [Abrahamor Ibrahim] myth's implicit assumption of male dominance of communal, cosmic, and transcendentthings" (p. 239). 62 Substitution and Sacrifice numberof biblical and Greek stories, an animal intervenes at the crucial junctureto deflect violence from the designatedvictim. Thatthe designated victim may have been the husband is further corroboratedthrough the variant narrative in the Kitab al-Aghani in which al-Muraqqish, after discovering that he has been deceived by his kin, rides off in a fury in pursuit of the husband.38 AL-MURAQQISH, THE POET-LOVER, AS VICTIM A clue that the ram also stands for the story's lover is found in the Arabic word for "ram"used in the text, that is, kabsh, which also means "leader This bit of informationtakes on significance when we note the or chief."39 language that al-Muraqqish's paternaluncle uses to describe the "test"the poet must pass before he can be rewardedby marriageto his beloved. In one rendition, the uncle states, "I will not marryher to you until you become a chief and frequentkings' courts" (the Arabic phrase used is hatta tar'as, ayy takunara'isan), and in the Aghdni text he declares, "I will not marryher to you until you become known for valor and bravery"[hatta tu'rafa bil-ba's]. The test that the young al-Muraqqishis subjected to by the paternalfigure is that he become a figure of wealth and rank (i.e., that he become a "ram")before he can be given a bride. Thatthe ram'ssacrificeis also a symbol of the male lover'sexpendability is madeprominentin the story'srenderingof whathappensto al-Muraqqish once he discovers how he has been deceived. The moment al-Muraqqish hears of the multiple deceptions underlyingthe ram'sslaughter,the story zeroes in on the beginnings of the lover's "self-sacrifice." The narrative states that after he learns of the deceptions, he falls ill and becomes increasingly emaciated; like the ram, he is reduced to "skin and bones." The "victim" cast of the lover's characteris furtheraccentuatedthrough the incidents that occur in the cave. According to both renditions, the slave woman and her husbanddecide to abandonthe sickly al-Muraqqish in the cave and head back home; the version in the Mufaddaliyat relates that al-Muraqqish,while in the cave, is repeatedly wounded and bitten (read:eaten) by wild beasts such as hyenas. But it is ultimatelythroughthe two importantpoems that al-Muraqqishcomposes after he sets out on his quest for his beloved that the lover's self-awareness of being a sacrificial victim is revealed and greatly sentimentalized. In the first poem composed by al-Muraqqishwhile he is sick in the cave in the land of Murad, and which he manages to write on his saddle just before the slave couple This active, menacing al-Muraqqishappears to be in stark contrast to the benumbed, ailing al-Muraqqishin our love story who rides off in search of his beloved. 39 See Stetkevych's discussion of the word kabsh and the sacrificial associations of kabsh al-fida in "Pre-Islamic Panegyric and the Poetics of Redemption,"in her Reorientations/Arabic and Persian Poetry (n. 18 above), pp. 13-14. 38 History of Religions 63 abandonshim, we find the following verse: "Who shall inform my people thatal-Muraqqish revealed himself to be a burdento his companions?" has In another verse from this same poem, he observes that since his kin are remote from him, he has become the prey of wild beasts who devour him. The metaphor of him as prey is again employed in the second poem, which the poet recites on his deathbedin the presence of Asmai, but just as importantly,the poet alludes to his having been the victim of the deceit enacted by his male kin. "Whatis the use of my being faithful, when the promise made with me has been violated? What is my case? I am the hunted prey; I hunt not."40 Both poems frame the lover's plight as a case of sacrifice. And given that renditionof the romance in the Mufaddaliyat identifies al-Muraqqishas one of the mutayyimin, that is, one of the legendary poets "slain by love," perhapsit is not inappropriateto cite a couplet from another poem of the lover (although it is not contained in the text of the love story) in which the sacrificial cast of his character is evoked: "And whenever you hear, wherever it reaches you of a lover who's dead of love or is dying, / Know that that wretch is I without doubt, and weep for one whom Love chained and slew with none to avenge."41 An alternativereadingfor the last phrase, accordingto the medieval comAlmentatoral-Maqrizi, is "for one slain who shall never be paid for."42 here employs a double conceit throughwhich he depicts himself Muraqqish as being "slain by love" and as "unavenged"("unavenged"here meaning that he has not been deemed worthy enough by his own kin for them to pursue blood vengeance or demand blood money on his behalf). CONCLUSION The question of why concealment and sacrifice are so intimately connected in this love story brings us back full circle to the quotation (from the article by Smith and Doniger) with which this essay was launched. In this quotation, the authors assert that a theory of sacrifice is an offshoot of a broadertheory of symbolism. The process of substitutionin sacrifice, in other words, actually is a symbolic transaction-the purpose of which is to displace and conceal violence. They elaborate:"The proliferationof surrogatesin sacrificial rituals ... may be compared to the proliferation of variants (or fragments, or overlapping mythemes) in the myths that so often gloss these sacrifices. In both cases, this fragmenting and proliferation is necessitated by the worshipper'sinability to deal with the problem 40 Slight modification of Lyall's translation (Mufaddaliyat [n. 21 above], 2:887-88). 41 Modification of translationby Lyall. Lyall, a modem compiler and commentator,considers these verses to be later interpolations. Here musfad has etymological connections with being chained, but it is also linked with (in the passive IV) "to be given as gift" (Mufad.daliyat, 2:365-66). 42 Ibid., 366. p. 64 Substitution and Sacrifice directly. In the myth, it indicates that one cannot state the problem outstatements.In the ritual, right,andhence introducesa series of fragmentary it means that one hesitates to sacrifice oneself or another directly, and Whether we are talking hence, interposes a series of intermediaries."43 about the overdeterminationof the ram as symbol (i.e., it functions as a ritualvictim that substitutesfor a numberof parties including the beloved and the poet-lover) or the presence of the various mythemes (e.g., those associated with the symbolism of the droughtand marriage),multiplicity and fragmentationpermeate the symbolic construction of sacrificial victims and rituals in the love story of al-Muraqqishal-Akbar.The overall argumentmade in this article-that, in our story, the substitutioninherent in concealments or stratagemsis "mixed"with the substitutionoccurring in the sacrifices, and thatthe purposeof this "mixing"is to conceal/reveal the displacementof violence from the surrogatevictim to the ritualvictim that occurs in the sacrificial rituals-is ultimately a case, in Smith and Doniger's words, of "not stating the problem outright"or of "hesitating to sacrifice oneself or another directly." The binary of "myths"versus "sacrificialrituals"that Smith and Doniger speak of in the aforecitedquotationis not unlike the binaryI have constructedand examined in this article: substitution as concealment versus substitution as sacrifice. "The key notions are concealment (in the case In of the myth) and substitution (in the case of the ritual)."44 the realm of and other narrativeforms, the representationof sacrifice is fraught myth with displacementsand suppressions,because if the sacrificialact or ritual itself is a symbolic transaction,then the portrayalof sacrifice in literature lends itself especially to a proliferation of symbols. This mechanism of concealment and suppression in myth operates in a mannersimilar to the censorship imposed by resistance in the interplay of displacement, condensation, and overdeterminationin dream construction.45 Swarthmore College 43 Smith and Doniger (n. 1 above), p. 195. 44 Mack goes on to observe that "both notions can be correlated with [Girard's]mimetic-desire mechanism: that which myth conceals corresponds to Freud's unconscious, and to Girard's'nonconscious' level at which mimetic functions; and ritual substitution correlates with certain aspects of Freud's Oedipal drama, and of Girard'smimetic-desire mechanism" (Mack [n. 11 above], pp. 16-17). 45 Freud (n. 29 above), pp. 343-44. Mack has pointed out that for Girard:"The term sacrifice, though it can be used to refer to actual rites, refers ultimately to the structuring mechanism of the hidden level," and "hidden level" here refers to the "'hidden' level of unconscious motivation" (Mack, p. 10).