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devout Muslim probably did not share the uneasiness of scholars regarding the authenticity of traditions. Al-Haraw’s doubts regarding the tomb of Joshua b. N¨n, for example, were neither shared by al-Malik al-åhir Ghåz, who renovated the sanctuary at Maarrat al-Numån (604/1207–8), nor by the visitors that frequented the place.48 Sometimes even a vague oral tradition alluding to “one of the prophets,” or to the baraka of a certain sanctuary, was sufcient basis for the growth of a cult.49 As we shall see, people readily accepted traditions that associated specic ‘secondary’ locations in Syria with the deeds of specic venerated Islamic gures, or with their burial places. By using the term ‘secondary’ locations I mean to exclude Jerusalem and Damascus, Hebron and Bethlehem, which possess an Islamic reputation for holiness based upon their association with the greatest gures and most important events of Islam’s sacred history, and securely established in much earlier narratives.50 On the whole, the admittedly slim evidence about the evolution of traditions converges nicely with the much richer evidence about the construction of shrines—as drawn from twelfth-thirteenth century historical writings—and does suggest parallel textual and architectural developments.51 A question left open is whether Muslims drawn to former or contemporaneous cultic sites of Christians and Jews were mainly new converts, who wished to preserve their older traditions, or ‘old’ Muslims, drawn to the colorful or promising cults of their neighbors. In his well known article on the veneration of saints in Islam, Goldziher points to its pagan origins (or antecedents), and explains how this ancient and universal tradition was adapted to Islamic notions and traditions. He nds it to have served the need of individuals and of communities of various ethnic origins and geographical localities to preserve their own particular identity within the universalistic umma.52 He also formulates the “principal of continuity of sacred space,” saying that: “Localized practices are the strongest support for old traditions. There is the temple of a god to which people have made pilgrimages


Ibn al-Adm, Bughya, 1:468. See, for example, Ibn al-Adm, Bughya, 1:465, on the sanctity of Mashhad al-Rajam. 50 Kister, “Sanctity.” 51 As established in two of Shmuel Tamari’s works: “Nab Y¨nus,” and “Arabization.” 52 Goldziher, Muslim Studies, 2:255–341. For a short survey of modern scholarship on the veneration of holy sites in Islam, see Sourdel-Thomine, “Traditions,” 320–321. 49

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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