in Northern Syria, shares with us some observations regarding life in rural areas and popular pilgrimage sites.51 But it is ¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis al-Óanbal (569/1173–643/1245) who brings us as close as an ålim can get us to medieval Muslim villagers. His hagiographical dictionary The Cited Tales of the Wondrous Doings of the Shaykhs of the Holy Land was composed in Damascus. It is replete with quotations of relatives and neighbors who had emigrated from the villages of Mt. Nåblus to Damascus only several years prior to his birth. ¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis himself is frequently quoted by later biographers, thus inadvertently adding to the ‘over-representation’ of Óanbals in our sources. Another compilation of biographical, or rather hagiographical sketches of people personally known to the author, was the work of Íaf al-Dn ibn Ab al-Man‚¨r (d. 682/1283), a Í¨f from Alexandria, who spent several years in Damascus. His proles of fellow Í¨fs he had met during a lifetime of wandering offers an exceptionally intimate glimpse of Í¨f life in the thirteenth century.52 But all in all, historiographical sources provide a very partial, fragmented picture of religious life and attitudes. From the huge literary output of the theologians, jurists, mystics, educators and professional admonishers of the Zangid and Ayy¨bid period, I chose to consult a number of works. These include legal compositions representative of all four schools of law, anti-bida manuals, ªisba treatises, devotional tracts, and collections of fatwås. The latter genre seems to be especially promising as a source on socio-religious phenomena. True, the queries are usually posed in general terms (using the standard ctional ‘Zayd’ and ‘Amr’, or simply ‘a man’, ‘a woman’), thus distancing the discussion from the particular circumstances of the questioner. The answers are often laconic; devoid of reasoning and debate with other opinions and citations from earlier sources. But more often than not, seem realistic enough,53 and even if some are not responses to concrete questions of real people, but rather, a didactic device used by the author in order
51 For cases of historians interviewing villagers, see Ibn al-Adm, Bughya, 1:473, 8:3852 and Morray, Ayyubid Notable, 128; Talmon-Heller, “Cited Tales,” 112 ff. 52 For more details, see Gril’s introduction to Ibn Ab al-Man‚¨r. 53 Masud et al., “Mufts,” 22–23.