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CHAPTER FOUR

ªisba manual, and to see that members of each sex leave via dierent routes at their termination.58 According to an estimate Sib† ibn al-Jawz himself made, on a good day some 30,000 people ocked to his sermon.59 Those particularly eager to sit close to the preacher had to spend the night preceding the assembly in the vicinity of the mosque.60 They would sit on mats and bales of hay which they had spread around, performing dhikr (chanting Gods names) and reciting the Qurån by candlelight. Needless to say, they gave up work for the day: as suggested above, majålis al-wa were lengthy aairs.61 Ab¨ Shåma, one of the Damascene scholars who never missed a sermon of Sib† ibn al-Jawz, did not complain about their length; on the contrary, he considered the assemblies one of the pleasures of this world. On his word, Damascenes would go on talking about Sib†s sermons long after the assembly had dispersed, marveling at their merits (al-maªåsin), discussing the recitation of poetry, the conversions to Islam, and the acts of penance that had taken place before their eyes. They would review the questions that had been posed to the preacher, and debate over his answers.62 Criticism of preachers is rare in our sources; perhaps it is intentionally concealed in the largely autobiographical accounts we have of majålis al-wa. Al-Y¨nn, however, reports one unpleasant incident Sib† ibn al-Jawz had to endure: someone mockingly asked him what was the shameful thing he had discovered about the Imåm Aªmad ibn Óanbal that made him reject his authority (Ayy shay ahara laka f-l-imåm Aªmad ªattå rajata anhu?), teasing Sib† ibn alJawz for his conversion from the Óanbal to the Óanaf school of law. Sib† ibn al-Jawz tried to silence him, but the man would not stop his heckling until Sib† ibn al-Jawz had stepped down from the minbar.63

58

Shayzar, al-Óisba, 106. His grandfather Ibn al-Jawz boasted of 300,000 (Swartz, Rules, 232). 60 Or even three days (al-Subk, Tabaqåt, 8:239). 61 Compare with the gathering in advance for sermons of Anthony of Padua in 1233 (including a lively description of battles over seats), in Thompson, Revival, 85. 62 Må waqaa bihi min al-maªåsin wa-inshåd al-ashår wa-l-taªadduth bi-man aslama fhi, aw tåba, wa-råd må kåna fhi min suål wa-jawåb (Ab¨ Shåma, Taråjim, 49; Ibn Kathr, al-Bidåya, 13:58). 63 Al-Y¨nn, Dhayl, 1954, 1:41. On switching from one school of law to another, see my Fidelity, Cohesion, 108–114. 59

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

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