4. Perfumed Islam: The Culture of Scent at the Nizamuddin Basti
Mikko Viitamäki [+]
University of Helsinki
Mikko Viitamäki opens up this section with his study of ʿitr, volatile essential oils extracted from different plant material and widely used within the religious culture of Indian Sufis. From as early as the medical work of Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna, d. 1037), Sufis have contributed to create a culture of scent through which essential oils enable them to engage the olfactory sense in boosting their personal religious practice. Through his ethnographic fieldwork conducted at the Sufi shrine of Nizamuddin Auliyaʾ in Delhi, Viitamäki assesses an enduring tradition vis-à-vis the impact on the contemporary market where more affordable and long-lasting synthetic oils are available.