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was explicitly mentioned in traditions relating to the merits of the place, and quoted in geographical and other literature.37 Al-Muqaddas’s geographical treatise, Aªsan al-Taqåsm f Marifat al-Aqålm (The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions), which appeared in 375/986, for example, begins as follows: “Syria is the abode of the Prophets, the habitation of the righteous, the home of the successors of the Prophet . . . It contains the rst qibla, the scene of the day of the resurrection, and of the night journey of the Prophet.”38 Al-Muqaddas mentions specic sites in connection with some twenty prophets and ‚aªåba, and two relics of the Prophet.39 The rst anthologies of faåil al-shåm (the merits of Syria), a territory stretching from the Euphrates to the southern shore of the Mediterranean (“min al-Furåt ilå al-Arsh”),40 abound with sayings in praise of the land as an idealized entity, and in praise of its people. They say conspicuously little about specic sites, aside for Jerusalem, Hebron (al-Khall), Bethlehem and Damascus. This holds true for the works of al-Wåsi†, Al b. Muªammad al-Raba41 and Ibn al-Murajjå—(all written in the rst half of the eleventh century), which also mention other locales, but without specic detail. The authors of the Ayy¨bid period, a century or two later, supply considerably more information about the sanctity of specic Syrian sites; albeit information which they often question, or even reject as inauthentic. Kitåb al-Ishåråt f Marifat al-Ziyåråt by Ab¨ Bakr al-Haraw (d. 611/1215), and the geographical lexicon Mujam al-Buldån by Yåq¨t (d. 626/1228), demonstrate this phenomenon. A typical example is al-Haraw’s treatment of a tradition (undated, of course) that ‘sets’ the Arab prophet Íåliª within the precincts of a shrine near Qinnasrn (in northern Syria). He writes: “The truth is that Íåliª was in the land of Yemen, and that his tomb is in Shabwa.”42 Ibn al-Adm suggests that the mistaken tradition originates from the fact that the name of the 37

Kister, “Sanctity,” 42; Von Grunebaum, “Sacred Character.” Al-Muqaddas, Aªsan, 151, 184; trans. in Collins, Best Divisions, 128, 155. 39 Al-Muqaddas, Aªsan, 151, 156, 160, 167, 170, 172–73, 178; trans. in Collins, Best Divisions, 128, 133, 137, 141, 143, 144, 149. 40 Al-Raba, Faåil, 11. 41 Compare the chapter about the virtues of al-Shåm and its people (where no specic site is mentioned) with the chapter in praise of Damascus, which associates saintly gures—al-Khair, Yaªyå b. Zakariyyå, H¨d, M¨så, Maryam, Ûså, Ibråhm, etc.—with specic loci in and about the city (al-Raba, Faåil, 30–35, 50, 51, 56, 69). About this work, see Cobb, “Virtual Sacrality.” 42 Meri, Lonely Wayfarer, 16–17, 44–45. 38

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

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