Page 249



piety, not to say saintly status, of those who performed wonders was not taken for granted. An earlier authority, Ab¨ Sad b. Ab al-Khayr (d. 1049), has famously warned that Satan goes in one moment from the East to the West.29 The later Ibn Taymiyya, albeit less picturesquely, asserted that a premonition or inspiration about something, or supernatural deeds . . . allegedly occur CalsoD to many indels, unbelievers and innovators.30 His contemporary, the historian Ibn Kathr, explains that the true condition of wilåya and ‚alåª (saintliness and righteousness) is strict adherence to the Qurån and sunna. He stresses that the demonstration of hidden knowledge or wondrous powers are no proof of righteousness—the sinner, the heretic, the madman, and the person possessed by Satan or the jinn may enjoy them just as well.31 Men of the Ayy¨bid period, scholars and commoners, concurred. For them, the wondrous ability of growing fruit out of season could be interpreted in two very dierent ways. When Shaykh Abd Allåh of Salmiyya made a bare pear tree bear fruit for the breakfast of the small company of men that were with him,32 it was described as a karåma of a wal (wondrous doing of a saint). Al-Jawbar designates a similar performance by the above-mentioned self-proclaimed Ûså—a fraud. He also accuses the derwishes of the Óaydariyya of faking wonders and feats of asceticism. Similarly, ¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis presents the Maghrib stranger who appealed to many villagers in Mt. Nåblus by feeding them honey and olive oil from the tip of his nger, as an associate (husband, to be more precise) of a female jinn.33 In other words, Satan and the jinn were said to be the sources of supernatural powers of men whom the ulamå could not, or would not, perceive as worthy of Gods grace (which was, of course, the source of the uncommon capabilities of the truly pious). Surely, the distinctions between saint and sorcerer, righteous and impious, were heavily inuenced by struggles over legitimate authority. Contests of power, political conicts and social tensions were also at the background.34

29 30 31 32 33

Quoted in Denny, Prophet and Wali, 93. Knysh, Ibn Arab, 53. Ibn al-Kathr, al-Bidåya, 1988, 13:216. ¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis, al-Óikåyåt, 97b; trans. in Talmon-Heller, Cited Tales, 149. ¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis, al-Óikåyåt, 94a; trans. in Talmon-Heller, Cited Tales,

137. 34 Compare this with the debate over legitimate and illegitimate forms of supernatural powers, Brown, The Making, 60. And see above, regarding the attribution of hidden knowledge.

Profile for Uomodellarinascita

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