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CHAPTER FOUR

Poetic exaggeration aside, the enthusiasm of al-Jawbars audience seems real enough. Other sources also tell us that eloquent preachers, those who knew how to capture the interest of heterogeneous audiences, enjoyed all at once the patronage and admiration of rulers, the attendance, compliments and sometimes learned comments of fellow ulamå, not to speak of the open veneration of commoners. Sometimes, in their excitement, people would rise during the sermon itself, and recite poetry in honor of the preacher, or shower him with presents.22 No wonder al-Ghazzål deemed it necessary to warn preachers of the temptations and pitfalls of their vocation: ambition, arrogance, self-righteousness and even jugglery. Special warning is sent both by al-Ghazzål and by the much later Ibn al-Ukhuwwa (d. 729/1329) in a suspiciously similar wording) to young preachers, who adorn themselves, quote poetry and use exaggerated bodily gestures in order to make a greater impression on women.23 Our exposition of the event of an assembly may be decient if we stick to strict denitions of wa and ignore a series of large public assemblies convened in honor of the recitation of the Musnad of Ibn Óanbal (d. 241/855) in Damascus, early in the thirteenth century. The main protagonist of those assemblies was Óanbal alRu‚åf (d. 604/1207) a minor functionary at one of the mosques of his home city, Baghdad. Al-Ru‚åf was a humble man, accustomed to a poor-mans diet of oats, who happened to be the last person to have heard the entire Musnad from a well-known deceased scholar. At some point in his life, he took to the road in order to transmit it to ensuing generations, and reap the fruits of this personal asset of his, knowing that people loved to hear ªadth with the shortest possible isnåd. Fewer intermediaries meant that there were fewer places where errors could enter the text; and more importantly, a short isnåd meant closer contact with the spiritual power of the Prophet

contemporary maqåmåt of three authors: Hamadhån, Saraqus† and al-Óarr: see Young, Preachers and Poets, 202. For pre-arranged miracles and conversions by Italian revivalist preachers, see Thompson, Revival Preachers, 94–97. 22 Sib† ibn al-Jawz, Miråt, 8:649, 742; Ibn Rajab, Dhayl, 1:199. See also Ibn alJawzs criticism of ecstasy and the squandering of property on assemblies (Swartz, Ibn al-Jawzs, paras. 201–204), and Dhahabs critical appraisal of the overt enthusiasm of the common people (Dhahab, Siyar, 23:197). 23 Pedersen, The Preacher, 247; al-Ghazzål, Iªyå, 4:122–125; Ibn al-Ukhuwwa, Maålim, 182.

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

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