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Other developments in Islamic-Syrian society and culture seem to be of relevance as well; notably, the growing importance of the ͨf shaykh in society, and the elaboration of the doctrine about holy men and their powers in this world and after death. As Van Ess puts it “in Ibn al-Arab’s times, the miracle worker, as well as the speculative genius, had become common gures . . . the number of those who shook their heads and complained about this insight being irrational, or close to Gnosticism, had decreased.”144 Ibn al-Arab’s contemporary, the faqh and kha†b Abd al-Salåm al-Sulam, describes the ͨf friends of God (awliyå) as carriers of inspired higher knowledge, and advocates the authenticity of karåmåt.145 In Joseph Meri’s discussion of the reasons for the formation of the Muslim cult of saints, the immediate social and spiritual incentives outweigh the inuence of the doctrines and creeds of the learned.146 I agree, however, with Richard McGregor, who speculates that doctrines of sainthood played some role even among the unlettered masses.147 What, in my estimation, exerted a major inuence, was the intense overall religious climate of the Zangid and Ayy¨bid period. For the unlettered masses, visits to holy sites, their routine upkeep, and the establishment of new sanctuaries were ne outlets of piety in a ‘pious age’. In some cases they were also a reliable source of income and prestige. Until the middle of the thirteenth century, Syrian ziyåras were typically a private endeavor, exercised in the company of family members, friends or fellow-students. Timing was determined by personal circumstances. Mawsims (festivals) and mawlids (saints’ days; literally: birthdays) of the kind that drew large crowds on specic dates in the later Maml¨k and Ottoman periods,148 are rarely mentioned in Syrian sources of the Ayy¨bid period. A notable exception is the mawlid of the Prophet, said to have been celebrated for the rst time in a large public gathering in Irbil in the 620’s/1220’s (with no claim made that the Prophet was buried there rather than in Medina, of course).149 Most


Van Ess, “Susm and its opponents,” 35. Gramlich, Die Wunder, 125, 241. 146 Meri, The Cult, 70–71. 147 McGregor, online review. 148 See Fuchs, “Mawlid,” 895–897; Taylor, In the Vicinity, 63–65; Kaptein, Muªammad’s Birthday, 38–43; Kraemer, “Jewish Cult,” 589–590. 149 Fuchs, “Mawlid,” 895; Kaptein, Muªammad’s Birthday, 31. Kaptein alludes to celebrations in N¨r al-Dn’s times. On earlier celebrations of Mawlid al-Nab in Medina and Mecca, see Ibn Jubayr, Riªla, 114–15; trans. Broadhurst, Travels, 110–143. 145

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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