PREACHERS (KHAÛBS) AND PRAYER LEADERS (IMÅMS)
at some point of their lives, had spent long periods in seclusion, whether in a khånqåh, atop a minaret, or as residents of the holy places of the Óijåz and Jerusalem.118 The imåm of Masjid Dår alBi††kh of Damascus, Muªammad b. Ibråhm al-Maqdis, for example, died on his way to visit Jerusalem, after having completed the ªajj in the year 597/1200–1201. He was known by the epithet zåhid because of his fear of God and “exaggeration” in ablutions.119 Imåd al-Dn al-Maqdis was overly devoted to his vocation, at least for those in a hurry to perform their prayer and move on. Having heard that someone grumbled at the length of his prayers, and even swore never to come back and pray with him, he exclaimed: “Had he stood in front of the sultan for a whole day, he would not complain, but he complains for standing before his Lord for one single hour!”120 The piety of Ûså b. Muwaffaq al-Dn ibn Qudåma (d. 615/1218), the imåm of the congregational mosque on Mt. Qåsy¨n, is indicated by his care not to purchase his food with waqf funds dedicated to the mosque, not even when on ‘professional’ errands.121 The same motive appears in the story of Ab¨ al-Fal Y¨suf b. Muªammad, who is said to have never touched grapes from a vine that grew in the courtyard of his mosque. It never even occurred to him to inquire whether, as the imåm of the mosque, he was actually legally entitled to the enjoyment of the fruit.122 Often, the prayer leader would reside in close proximity to his mosque, or even on the premises. Such an arrangement must have ensured his involvement in all matters pertaining to the mosque and its congregation. Chroniclers and biographers use phrases such as “kåna såiyan f ªawåij al-nås (he did his best to fulll the needs
118 See for ex. Dhahab, Tarkh, 48:245; Ab¨ Shåma, Taråjim, 140, 149, 162; Ibn al-Adm, Bughya, 4:1745, 1820; Ibn Rajab, Dhayl, 2:442. 119 Ibn Rajab, Dhayl, 2:442. 120 Dhahab, Siyar, 22:99. Ibn Arab tells an anecdote about an imåm so eager to shorten the prayer for the sake of ‘the Turks’ (probably impatient soldiers), that he said only “qul huwa aªad (say He is One)” during each raka of the supererogatory prayers of the nights of Ramaån. Still, he considered himself and his congregation to have read the whole Qurån with three such rakas, claiming that this verse is equated to one third of the Qurån! (Drory, Ibn al-Arab, 103, 105). 121 Dhahab, Tarkh, 52:254. Similarly, the imåm and kha†b of Mardå (Mt. Nåblus), Aªmad b. Ab al-Makårim al-Maqdis (d. 622/1225), is praised for taking care of the maintenance of the mosque and of wayfarers, without taking anything from the waqf for himself (Ibn Rajab, Dhayl, 2:163–164). 122 Al-Tådil, al-Tashawwuf, 94–95.