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MOSQUES IN SOCIETY

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Ibn Asåkirs list, mentioned in the previous section, contains the names of dozens of otherwise unknown men and women who constructed and renovated mosques. We may assume that most of these mosques were small and simple edices converted into chapels using minimal means. While it is impossible to ascertain whether the agnomen (laqab) al-bazzår or al-såiq actually indicate a shopkeeper or driver, and not the great grandson of one, the abundance of agnomens associated with artisanry and manual labor—undertaker (ªaår), sesame-oil merchant (shiråji), butcher (qa‚‚åb), camel dealer, a Christian who roasts meat in the market, who became a sincere convert to Islam,—as well as titles of men of arms (amr, amd, shiªna, al-ªåjib, rajul jund )72—seems to indicate that the social base of mosque patronage was rather wide. Ibn Asåkir himself concludes his list with a similar appraisal: the multitude ˜of mosques· testies to the dedication of the people ˜of Damascus· to religion, and to the large number of those who pray and worship the Lord. The geographer Zakariyyå b. Yaªyå al-Qazwn (d. 682/1283), who visited Damascus in his youth, seems to have had the same impression. Writing about the great Umayyad mosque, he notes that a signicant part of its huge income (1,200 dnårs daily, six times the sum necessary for its routine maintenance, according to information he himself provides), comes from the people, amongst them artisans—min al-nås, minhum ‚unnå.73 At this stage, a conclusion and a speculation are in order: the rst regarding the availability of mosques, the latter regarding communal organization around mosques, perhaps even beyond them. It is safe to conclude, that thanks to the massive construction and reconstruction of mosques throughout the Zangid and Ayy¨bid periods, hundreds of mosques dotted the landscape of Bilåd al-Shåm in the thirteenth century. Mosques located outside city-centers—in suburbs, in peripheral towns and in villages—facilitated massive mosque going, and lent the land an unmistakably Muslim ambiance.74 The notable upsurge in mosque construction may be accounted for by the economic prosperity of the period, and by the general condence of the public in its rulers and

72

Ibn Asåkir, Tarkh, 2:288–321. Al-Qazwn, Åthår al-Bilåd, 191. 74 For a ne analysis of the Islamization of the cultural landscape of Palestine, see Luz, Aspects of Islamization,133–154, and Tamari, Arabization and Islamization. 73

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