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THE CEMETERY

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social status and wealth, and by listing his virtues. By the erection of a proper tombstone, the living pay back some of their manifold debts to the dead. Those debts were not taken lightly by medieval men: Goitein, who found that the income of many Jewish families of the medieval Mediterranean drew from the pious foundations established by their ancestors, characterizes a society in which the dead were providing for the daily needs of the living.68 Patrick Geary, speaking of medieval European society, argues that the debt of the living, who often owe the dead their property, their names, and even counsel and advice (which are usually transmitted to them through dreams), is so great as to threaten the receivers, unless balanced by equally worthy counter-gifts.69 Since early Islam, voices were repeatedly raised opposing tall and imposing mausolea, calling for leveling tombs to the ground (taswiyat al-qub¨r), and even opposing the raising of a tablet with the name of the deceased engraved on it.70 These voices, invoking the authority of the Prophet, who is said to have prohibited plastering and building in stone over the grave, were consistently ignored. Among twelfth century scholars, al-Kåsån speaks adamantly against the squandering of money on tombstones, while Ab¨ Bakr Ibn al-Arab treats this digression leniently.71 We nd similar currents in the Jewish tradition. Talmudic scholars had been arguing against extravagant tombstones, particularly for men of saintly reputation, either out of concern for social equality, or because of their hostility to the veneration of the dead. Maimonides asserted that the graves of the righteous were not to be marked by any monument (nefesh) since their words constitute their memory.72 But, just as among their Muslim neighbors, those early opinions did not prevent the erection of handsome monuments

68

Goitein, Mediterranean Society, 2:120, 5:141. Geary, Living with the Dead, 77–90. 70 There are also traditions claiming that he put a rock, or stones, on the grave of his foster brother in Medina (Diem, The Living, 2:255). See objections in ur†¨sh, Kitåb al-Bida, 112. 71 See Goldziher, Studies, 1:232; Tritton, Djanåza, 442; Leisten, Between Orthodoxy, 12–22; Halevi, Paradox, 139–144, 149. Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya pick up those themes again in the fourteenth century (Taylor, In the Vicinity, 181–82), as do later salaf movements. See Raghib, Les prémiers monuments, 21–36; Williams, The Cult, 39–60. 72 See Horowitz, Speaking, 313. 69

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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  

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