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Islam’s lucky charms

A new exhibition offers a powerful new perspective on Islam's relationship with the supernatural

By Sameer Rahim  
Ottoman talismanic shirt © Al Thani Collection

Ottoman talismanic shirt © Al Thani Collection

It is one of the most important questions of our age: how should we go about studying other cultures? And can we make value judgements about them? Take, for example, the ever-topical subject of Islam. Since 9/11, there has been an avalanche of articles, books and analysis—of variable quality—telling us what Muslims actually believe. Usually the commentators quote from normative traditional sources: the Quran, stories about the Prophet, sharia regulations. The logic is: if it says it…

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