Page 264

CONCLUSIONS

247

the dead the heavenly recompense (thawåb) due for those good works. At the same time, the living expected the dead to mediate and intercede for them, and to confer upon them some of the baraka (blessing) they had acquired thanks to their greater proximity to God. The shafåa (intercession) and baraka of men of saintly reputation was especially sought after. The cult of holy shrines and relics seems to have become an integral part of Syrian Islam in the period studied here, and mashhads drew visitors of all social classes and backgrounds in religious education. They came for a wide range of purposes: to pray, light candles, make or pay vows, seek cures and remedies, go through a spiritual uplifting or a mystical experience, receive inspiration, eat and feast with family members and friends. The hardship of travel was not a signicant element; usually local sites, rather than distant ones, were chosen as destinations of ziyåras. The timing of visitation was, almost in all cases, private and individual—mass celebrations of mawlids (‘birthdays’ of prophets and saints) were rare in Syria before the Maml¨k period. Numerous new or renewed sanctuaries appeared in Syria in the course of the twelfth and thirteenth century; some sites were adopted or appropriated from the Christian and Jewish map of holy places, some were rediscovered tombs and relics of old, while others were recent tombs. There were shrines on graves of Qurånic and anonymous prophets, ‚aªåba, ahl al-bayt, martyrs of the initial conquests of Syria by the Muslims (al-fut¨ª), and martyrs of the jihåd against the Crusaders, as well as graves of early and late saintly men, scholars, pious rulers, and even Jewish sages. Shrines were also erected for the purpose of commemorating the deeds, and safeguarding the relics, of saintly gures. Narratives that tie venerated Islamic gures to specic geographical locations, some of them attributed to visionary dreams, were propagated. Dreams of women, regarding the identication of a sacred place were taken as seriously as those of men in similar contexts.2 Strikingly, many of the new or renovated sites emerged in provincial towns and rural areas, spreading, as it were, the centuries-old Islamic sanctity of al-Shåm from its grand traditional loci (Jerusalem, Damascus, Hebron, and a number of other sites) into more peripheral locations. Shrines were considered worthy causes for pious endowments, and were funded by men and women of the ruling class and military elite, as

2

See p. 190, above.

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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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