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Doctoral Defense of Nikola Pantic

Adolphe Yvon, A Rifai Sufi Ceremony
Friday, October 15, 2021, 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Due to the extraordinary measures introduced by CEU in regard to the Covid-19 virus situation, the doctoral defense will take place on-line for the audience.

For further information, contact Margaretha Boockmann,
PhD coordinator (


Networks of the Holy: Religion and Magic in eighteenth century Ottoman Province of Damascus

The dissertation studies thaumaturgic beliefs and practices among the Muslims in eighteenth-century Ottoman Syria. Focusing on baraka – often interpreted by religious authorities as Allah’s grace – it studies the Ottoman network of the holy, comprised of hallowed individuals, places, and natural objects. This network of grace, fundamental for early modern Ottoman Sunnism, reveals a significant overlap between the Sufis and ʿulamāʾ with state appointments in early modern Province of Damascus, allowing for sociological definitions of Muslim priestly sodalities. Analyses of these groups illuminate a more appropriate scholarly approach to studying Sufism in the Ottoman Empire, the notion of popular religion, as well as of the relationship between religion and magic. These themes bear a high comparative potential with the historical developments of religion in other regions of the world, offering contributions to comparative religious studies.

Examination Committee

Jean-Louis Fabiani – chair (Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, CEU)

Aziz Al-Azmeh – supervisor (Department of History, CEU)

Tijana Krstic – CEU internal member (Department of History/Medieval Studies, CEU)

Bernard Heyberger – external member (EHESS and EPHE, Paris)

Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen – external reader (Sorbonne, Paris)


The doctoral dissertation is available for inspection. Should you wish to access it, please contact
Margaretha Boockmann (