Blood, Rationality, and Ritual in the Shia Tradition

  • David Pinault


The angel Gabriel, we are told in a legend recounted by the twentieth-century Shia author Muhammad Maghaniyya, descended to earth and approached Adam at the dawning of human history. Gabriel brought a gift from God, but as with many divine blessings, it comprised both a donation and a test:

Gabriel said to Adam, “God, may He be praised, has commanded me to present you with a choice. You are to choose one of three things: Reason, Religion, or Shame.”

Adam replied, “I choose Reason.”

Thereupon Shame and Religion spoke. “Then we, too, will be with you, O Adam. For God has ordered us to keep company with Reason wherever it might be.”1


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© David Pinault 2001

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  • David Pinault

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