Ethnomusicology Forum. DOI: 10.1080/17411912.2014.956774. Published online: 22 Oct 2014
How do Muslims in different parts of the world recite and how do they hear the sound of the Qur’an? What are the purposes of their recitation, and what meanings do they associate with it? In this article I analyse one ritual performance of Qur’anic recitation and dhikr conducted by Uyghur village women in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of north-western China, exploring the ritual performance of emotion, emotional responses to the sounded Qur’an, local and global styles and meanings. The women engaged in this ritual draw on the wider tradition of Islamic culture and practice, yet their access to, interpretation of and even the way in which they embody this rich tradition is particular to their time and place, their social class and their gender. I consider the relevance to this context of the literature on Qur’anic recitation and dhikr in other parts of the world, and discuss some of the wider musicological and anthropological approaches to emotion, arguing that emotional responses to the Qur’an are contextually situated social practices, part of a habitus of listening, best explained by a focus on the embodied experience of sound.