Page 159



and repentance—in the eyes of his listeners. His biographers claim that merely by uttering several simple words, or quoting a couple of lines of his poetry, Sib† ibn al-Jawz could reduce an audience to tears, and that people left his assembly drunken and bewildered (wahum sukårå ªayårå).105 Sib† ibn al-Jawz himself notes—with envy, I imagine—that at one of his grandfathers sermons three people died, overcome by excitement (li-wajdihim).106 He proudly tells of sturdy men—such as the emir Al ibn al-Salår (d. 634/1236–7), leader of twenty ªajj caravans—who wept throughout his own sermon.107 In contrast, he gives a somewhat malicious account of what he considered to be an overly-long sermon of Nå‚iª al-Dn al-Óanbal, who substituted for him in the great mosque of Damascus while he was away. He reports that when Nå‚iª al-Dn preached, hearts remained unmoved, eyes remained dry.108 Dry eyes were, for Sib† ibn al-Jawz, an indication of the meager eect of an exhortation, while weeping was evidence of its success. The phenomenon of weeping at public religious gatherings was not specic to the medieval Islamic context. William Christian, speaking of religious weeping in early modern Spain, explains that the pain, pious tenderness or sorrow that accompanied weeping were part of an economy of sentiment that could inuence God, and were thought to provoke his mercy. Moreover, tears were thought to have a purgative eect on sins, as if they could wash them away.109 From a dierent perspective, Berkey ascribes a social function to weeping at sermons—as a kind of safety valve, working (like the anecdotes quoted above) to ease the acceptance of social realities for those who may have had reasons to revolt against them. In his own wording: The spirit of penitence . . . reminded listeners that true justice would be found only in eschatological times . . . but in the meanwhile, the underlying hierarchies went unchallenged.110 105

Al-Y¨nn, Dhayl, 39–43; Subk, abaqåt, 8:239. Sib† ibn al-Jawz, Miråt, 8:415. Ibn al-Jawz mentions the uninhibited expression of excitement and ecstasy (wajd) by women, who cry aloud as if in labor, and sometimes throw o their upper garment and stand up (see Berkey, Popular Preaching, 31). He also extols weeping and crying for ones sins (ibid., 48). 107 Sib† ibn al-Jawz, Miråt, 8:579. 108 Sib† ibn al-Jawz, Miråt, 8:701. 109 Or, in a Muslim metaphor, serve as a shield from the res of hell, and from eschatological punishment (Berkey, Popular Preaching, 49). Christian, Religious weeping, 97–98, 107. 110 Berkey, Storytelling, 71–72; Popular Preaching, 68, 49. 106

Profile for Uomodellarinascita

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

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