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CHAPTER EIGHT

Dhahabs biography of Al b. Óasan al-Ribå al-munajjim (d. 680/ 1281) ends with the following comment: Some of the ulamå denounced him because of his occupation with astrology (tarak¨hu bau al-ulamå li-ajli al-tanjm).22 Kamål al-Dn Muªammad b. alªa (d. 652/1254), a Damascene scholar and kha†b, who had some experience with ilm al-ªur¨f wa-l-awqåt (the science of letters and timings) and had attained some hidden knowledge (wa-innahu istakhraja ashyå min al-mughayyabåt), is said to have renounced his former occupations himself. In a few poetic verses he writes: when the astrologer foretells the future . . . he does not know what God decreed, listen to me and do not believe him . . . trust God alone and be saved, for if you believe that the stars have any aect on happening, you are no Muslim.23 8.2. Claims to Prophecy and Wondrous Powers Claiming prophecy, a severe transgression of the boundaries of Islam, was sometimes ascribed to men of dubious origins. This is the case in the short and unsatisfying versions of the story of a self-proclaimed prophet of Maghrib descent, who became quite popular in the rural hinterland of Damascus around the death of N¨r al-Dn in the 1170s. Ibn Kathr describes the man as a trickster and swindler, who revolted against Damascus, followed by rira and rabble. When an army was sent to the region, the Maghrib and his men retreated to the mountains and hid in the brush. Upon Saladins consolidation of power in Damascus, the man escaped to Aleppo, where, according to Ibn Ab ayyi, he taught his tricks to a woman he loved (!), and she too claimed to be a prophet (iddaat al-nub¨wwa). The story provokes Ibn Kathr to recall similar events from the early history of Islam, namely the case of the false prophets Musaylima and his female partner Shajjåª, two of the leaders of the ridda revolts against Ab¨ Bakr. Returning to the case in point, Ibn Kathr reports that on a day of a full solar eclipse, the man appeared in one of the villages in the vicinity of Aleppo to announce his prophethood. The army of Aleppo overtook him and 30,000 (!?) of his disciples.24

22 23 24

Dhahab, al-Ibar, 3:344; Ibn al-Imåd, Shadharåt, 7:640. Ibn al-Imåd, Shadharåt, 7:448. Ibn Kathr, al-Bidåya, 1993, 12:357–358, Cahen, Chronique, 141. Ibn al-Athr

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

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