medieval Middle East, as Lapidus has argued, the dichotomy between urban communities and their rural periphery was not clear-cut. There were settlements of farmers and herdsmen in close proximity to urban centers, while villages accommodated also a population that did not make a living from agriculture. Some institutions that are usually associated with towns, besides mosques, such as markets or Í¨f lodges, could be found also in villages.26 In Muqaddass eloquent phrase referring to the large villages of Palestine, they were forms of settlement that have not attained the inuence of cities or their splendor, nor are they of the insignicance of villages in their obscurity, but rather wavering in degree, as it were, between the two.27 Hence, until a thorough archeological survey of all medieval Syrian sites, including those in truly remote rural and desert areas is carried out, even the most meticulous investigation of the literary evidence cannot provide a full picture of the neighborhood mosques and rural mosques and their distribution in the region.28 Still, the diusion of mosques in those villages that do appear in narrative sources, incomplete as they may be, cannot but indicate the depth of the penetration of institutional Islam into Syrian society, and the inclusion of villagers within the Muslim umma in a manner that is denitely more than just formal. Most urban mosques, and probably most rural mosques as well, were constructed thanks to the initiatives of rulers and other members of the ruling elite. N¨r al-Dns endowments may serve as a good initial example. After gaining control in Mosul, he constructed a congregational mosque, entrusting the supervision of the work to a local shaykh known for his piety, rather than for his administrative or architectural skills.29 The building was adorned by an unusual inscription referring to the ve pillars of Islam, possibly intended—in a predominately Christian town such as Mosul—for the edication
26 Lapidus, Muslim Cities, 55–68; Bianquis, Notables, 85–115; Havemann, Rebels, 81–90. For rural mosques in various regions of the medieval Muslim world, see Johansen, The All-Embracing Town, 160 n. 112. 27 Muqaddas, Aªsan, 176; trans. in Collins, Best Divisions, 148. 28 For the results of some archeological surveys, see Ory, Cimetières; Rousset, La mosquée de Raªba. At this most-eastern post of Syria, on the Euphrates, a mosque was constructed at the beginning of the thirteenth century and enlarged some fty years later. It resembled several Aleppan mosques, as well as those of Tripoli and Balabakk. 29 Lev, Charity and Justice, 14.