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CHAPTER SEVEN

of medieval dissenters were only rarely preserved. Therefore, in this chapter, discourse analysis receives pride of place. It is, inevitably, the discourse of mainstream scholars: their strategies of coping with the challenges posed to their authority, their construction of impiety and deviation from established religious norms, and their additional mechanisms of control and exclusion. This discussion, in contrast with the previous one, is not divided into sections along the lines of social groupings, but according to the type of practice or belief generally held to contradict mainstream sensibilities regarding correct behavior and doctrine. These include the following categories: occupation with occult sciences (such as astrology); involvement with the study and teaching of the ‘sciences of the ancients’ (ul¨m al-awåil), such as philosophy ( falsafa); self-proclaimed prophetic inspiration, a bond with a jinn or the devil, unruly antinomian Susm, and supposedly misguided (if not outright heretical) theological doctrines. Moreover, common to all the categories in this list is the alleged reliance on a source of authority and power exterior to Qurån and ªadth, or, from the perspective of the ulamå of established institutions, on misinterpretations of those sources. In the preceding chapters of this book, we have focused on the consolidation of Sunnism and the construction of social solidarity, and have dealt only sporadically with groups that were left on the margins, or outside the boundaries of the consensus. The following section places them at the center. 7.1. Piety of Military and Scholarly Elites Bahå al-Dn ibn Shaddåd, Saladin’s secretary and close companion, elaborates on the sultan’s virtues (manåqib) in the rst part of his biography, al-Nawådir al-Sul†åniyya (The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin). He begins with “an account of his adherence to religious beliefs and observance of matters of Holy Law,” which is a section dedicated to the description of Saladin’s commitment to each one of the ve pillars of Islam. The next sections are devoted to the sultan’s virtues as a ruler and leader, most of which have a signicant religious quality: justice, generosity, courage, zeal for jihåd, endurance, forbearance, clemency, and chivalrous behavior.1 A nearly contemporary model of 1 Ibn Shaddåd, Srat al-Sul†ån, 55–88; trans. in Richards, Rare and Excellent, 4, 17–38; Little, “Historiography,” 416. For a somewhat similar list, based upon late medieval Egyptian pilgrimage guides, see Taylor, In the Vicinity, 89.

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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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