THE ASSEMBLY OF EXHORTATION (MAJLIS AL-WA)
and with the earlier, more excellent generations.24 And indeed, even though the text al-Ru‚åf recited, a compilation of ªadth classied according to its transmitters rather than by subject matter, can hardly be considered as ideal for popular consumption,25 and although he himself does not appear to have had any practice as a lecturer or preacher, a multitude of laymen showed up. Moreover, despite alRu‚åfs pious insistence that he was not seeking fame or prot, his tour was nancially supported by al-Malik al-Ådil, who also honored him with his presence.26 A public recitation of a guest transmitter, just like a typical assembly of exhortation, was an occasion for the ruler to exhibit his commitment to Islam, his close contacts with scholars, and his concern for the people. Regular citizens of Damascus seized such opportunities to rub shoulders with the sovereign and his entourage, and with the leading scholars of town.27 The words did not have to be exciting. Eerik Dickinson even goes so far as to claim that: the last reason one attended the transmission of a ªadth text was to master its contents . . . Everything in the quick and dirty recitations conspired to render the contents of the book irrelevant.28 It must have been a juncture that generated a sense of communal identity and solidarity, combined with spiritual elevation; perhaps approaching Turners elusive communitas. 4.2. Rulers and Preachers In the list of categories of the men of religion who assembled to celebrate the Mawlid al-Nab (the birthday of the Prophet) organized in Irbil by its ruler at the beginning of the thirteenth century, wuå
24 I obtained those insights, as well as the special derogatory term for someone who took ªadth from written texts rather than from a reciter—‚aªåf, from Dickinson, Ibn al-Íalåª, 481, 484, 488, 504. 25 See a diametrically opposed evaluation, namely that the Musnad might well represent ˜the tradition· of the folk-preachers (qu‚‚å‚) of the streets and marketplaces of dozens of Islamic cities (Graham, Divine Word, 68–69; quoted in Berkey, Popular Preaching, 41). 26 Dhahab, Siyar, 21:432. On Ayy¨bid support for the propagation of ªadth in general, and for visiting transmitters in particular, see Dickinson, Ibn al-Íalåª, 481, 490. 27 Ibn al-Adm, Bughya, 6:2972–82. 28 Dickinson, Ibn al-Íalåª, 503.