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THE ASSEMBLY OF EXHORTATION (MAJLIS AL-WA)

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4.5. Manners of Preaching Styles of preaching vary greatly. Some preachers put emphasis on clarity and coherence, some on eloquence and beauty, while others considered moral content as of sole importance and eect. Some preachers engaged in amusing anecdotes and fantastic tales, while others stuck to a solemn scholarly manner of admonition.101 Vocabulary may be high, perhaps even deliberately barely comprehensible by commoners,102 or popular, drawing on everyday life and experience. Ecstatic speakers resorted to rhymed prose (saj ), poetry and embellished speech, while sober types made use of Qurån exegesis (tafsr), hadth, qh and stories about the pious (ªikåyåt al-‚åliªn).103 The only hint I have found of schools or traditions of preaching in our sources is a short notice in the biography of Man‚¨r b. Sayyid al-Ahl al-Mi‚r (d. 620/1223). It says that al-Mi‚r was nicknamed the one known by al-Qazwn (al-mar¨f bi-l-Qazwn), because in his preaching he followed the path of the well-known wåiz Ab¨ al-Qåsim Maªm¨d b. Muªammad al-Qazwn. What that path was we are not told, but we can try to sketch several features of popular preaching in Ayy¨bid times, based on preachers statements. Obviously, the rst and foremost goal of popular exhortation was to supply devotees with a meaningful religious experience, rather than with knowledge. When Ibn al-Najå introduced a visiting lecturer to the audience assembled in his mosque, he stated his hope that his guest would install the fear of God (raghba) in the people. That was probably his own goal when addressing the congregation himself. Sib† ibn al-Jawz used the metaphor of calling or summoning (dawa) people to Gods gateway to describe his mission,104 and chose their rhetoric and non-verbal devices accordingly. Moreover, Sib† ibn alJawz felt gratied when he spied tears—presumably tears of remorse

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See Ben-Aryeh Debby, Renaissance Florence, 37–56. According to Giles Constable, in Europe, sermons in Latin had a snobbish appeal even when (or perhaps because) it was not understood by all listeners. Besides, as in an opera, the sound of the words was as important as their meaning (Constable, Language of Preaching, 139, 143, 151). 103 See Dhahab, Siyar, 21:191–193, on the preaching of Aªmad b. Ismål Ab¨ al-Khayr al-Qazwn7 89<=>>9?@. See also Ibn Rajab, Dhayl, 1:436, on the preaching of Ibn al-Najå. 104 Sib† ibn al-Jawz, Miråt, 8:876; Ibn Rajab, Dhayl, 2:11. On the image of man knocking at Gods gateway or door, see Padwick, Muslim Devotions, 214–219. 102

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