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THE ASSEMBLY OF EXHORTATION (MAJLIS AL-WA)

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hatred of Óanbals so typical of this school) under the inuence of a wåi called al-Damågh. The informant on this religious transformation of the people of Manbij, Abd al-Qådir al-Ruhåw, who apparently was not a partisan of the Ashariyya himself, deplores al-Damåghs success, complaining that Manbij became devoid of ahl al-ilm (probably meaning experts on ªadth), while Óanbals and those professing the sunna had to go under cover.19 Al-Malik al-Nå‚ir Dåw¨d, who was also inclined towards the Asharyya, as we have seen, delved into theological issues in his Friday sermons. Sib† ibn al-Jawz also occasionally attempted theological discussions, as we shall see below. Al-Jawbars thirteenth-century manual to the Syrian underworld,20 of all sources, contains another description of the arrangement of an assembly of exhortation, which resembles closely the structure of Ibn al-Jawzs majlis. Al-Jawbar—who devotes one chapter of his book to crooks who made their living pretending to be men of religion or pious destitutes—provides an amusing description of the assembly of one such imposter. Qurån recitation (during which the crook discreetly consumed his lunch) came rst, followed by very emotional exhortation, with ample mention of God, akhbår al-‚åliªn (tales of the righteous), renunciation of this world and fearful descriptions of the hereafter. People were moved to tears (the quack himself had reddened his eyes in advance, with an ointment of mustard seeds soaked in vinegar) and loudly declared themselves penitents. At the climactic moment, a tambourine player, who, so we are told by the author of the book, collaborated with the preacher, went up to the minbar and handed over his notorious instrument. The preacher threw it to the ground and broke it to pieces. He completed the musicians penance by clipping his hair (more accurately, the nå‚iyya—forelock) and then recited a few moving lines of poetry. The audience reacted with hysterical cries of approval. People surrounded the preacher, hailed him, showered presents upon him, and carried him home on their arms.21

19 This is told in the biography of the ascetic Salåma al-Íayyåd al-Manbij (Dhahab, Tarkh, 48:327–328). See also Íafad, al-Wåf, 15:331. 20 See p. 19, above. 21 On another occasion, the same preacher pre-arranged a conversion to Islam (al-Jawbar, al-Mukhtår, 20–22; quoted in Bosworth, Islamic Underworld, 112). Other sources that delight in the presentation of rogue preachers are the nearly

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Jsrc 007 talmon heller islamic piety in medieval syria mosques, cemeteries and sermons under the zan  

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