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Majnūn: The Madman in Medieval Islamic Society$
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Michael W. Dols

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202219

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202219.001.0001

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The Holy Fool

The Holy Fool

(p.366) 13 The Holy Fool
Majnūn: The Madman in Medieval Islamic Society

Michael W. Dols

Diana E. Immisch

Oxford University Press

The holy fool was an individual who outwardly behaved in an eccentric manner by the commonly accepted standards of his society; inwardly he pursued a religious ideal or was enlivened by mystical experience. Although holy folly is frequently encountered in many cultures, the ideal of cultivating a highly personal spiritual life to the disparagement of mundane existence is most forcefully displayed in the early Christian Church. The Christian promotion of the holy fool surely had its precedent in the Old Testament prophets, whose outrageous behavior came to be considered symbolic of their divine mission.

Keywords:   holy folly, mystical experience, spiritual life, Christian Church, Old Testament, divine mission

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