Baraka and Saints

Saints in both Judaism and Islam have many common themes among them. In class we have analyzed, The Saints of Beersheba by Alex Weingrod, Saint Veneration Among The Jews in Morocco by Issachar Ben-Ami , and Ritual and Belief in Morocco by Westernmarck. These three authors commonly talk about miracles, exemplary behavior, and manifestations. The major discrepancy I analyzed was how Baraka was a key part of Islamic saints but either barely mentioned or not discussed regarding Jewish Saints.

Westernmarck talks about how Baraka in an exceptional degree is corresponding to the Saints in Islamic culture. It was said that Muhammad possessed the most Baraka possible and that it was passed down through his male descendants. This Baraka and the Baraka of saints were looked at as a necessity of life in Islam as people looked for ways to be filled with this blessing. (Westernmarck) This is interesting as it creates a dual aspect to the saints in Islam. Not only are these saints helpers whose miracles are vast and wondrous but these saints have Baraka that can fill their followers with their blessing. Issachar Ben-Ami on the other hand does not mention Baraka in his writings. Instead he focuses on the performance of miracles, exemplary behavior, dreams, and phenomenon.(Ben-Ami) Westernmarck is persistent about Islamic saints possessing and passing Baraka, while Ben-Ami focuses on the other aspects of sainthood regarding Judaism. Alex Weingrod on the other hand talks about Jewish saints when dead possesses magical or mystical powers. This is the same idea as Baraka as men and women pray at the graves in order to gain some of these magical or mystical powers but do not call it Baraka.(Weingrod)

It was interesting how Baraka seemed like such a key part of Islamic culture regarding saints and everyday life but is barely mentioned in Jewish culture. In Islamic culture, saints are noticed because of their excess Baraka and their miracles. I felt this was a distinct difference that shows the variation of ideas between Jews and Muslims. Muslim culture had stressed the importance of saints on giving Baraka to the people, while Jewish culture focused on the blessing and miracles from the saints. While each of these religions have many similarities the whole idea of Baraka came directly from Muhammad as in Muslims culture no one contained more Baraka than him.