Druze Reincarnation in Fiction

Anīs Yaḥyà’s Novel "Jasad kāna lī" as a Source for Literary Anthropology


  • Lorenz Nigst Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna




In the Druze outlook, each human soul completes successive life-circuits as different human beings. If one of these human beings dies, the soul immediately migrates to the body of a newborn child. Normally, it is unknown who the soul was previously. However, in exceptional cases, mostly young children remember and “speak” about a previous life that usually came to an unexpected and tragic end. This also represents the backdrop of Anīs Yaḥyà’s novel Jasad kāna lī, which is set in a Druze context and revolves around a murder case and a little girl that remembers her death and names her murderer. The subject of transmigration is omnipresent in the novel. As this article seeks to show, this turns the novel into a highly relevant source for anthropological research into the Druze understanding of transmigration. The novel not only corroborates respective findings, but also complements them and thus contributes to a fuller understanding of the social and discursive presence of transmigration and “speaking” in Druze contexts. At the same time, anthropological research seems essential for a more profound understanding of this particular thematic dimension of the novel.




How to Cite

Nigst, L. (2019). Druze Reincarnation in Fiction: Anīs Yaḥyà’s Novel "Jasad kāna lī" as a Source for Literary Anthropology. Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 19, 15–34. https://doi.org/10.5617/jais.7048