were not an inherent part of the special prayers of Ni‚f Shabån. His description of the night of mid-Shabån 626/1229, celebrated only a fortnight after the end of a siege on Damascus, when everyone was enjoying the return of peace and plenty to the city, is idyllic. He even implicitly likens the atmosphere of that night to that of the Garden of Eden.16 However, true to his constant indignation with people who prefer to fulll supererogatory acts of devotion at the expense of the daily obligatory religious duties, Ab¨ Shåma mentions the possible detrimental consequences of attendance at the rituals of Ni‚f Shabån: one might oversleep and miss the morning prayer of the next day!17 The prayers of al-taråwª, held during the nights of the month of Ramaån, were hardly controversial, yet ulamå tried to cool down popular passion for them.18 Izz al-Dn al-Sulam issued a fatwå recommending prayer at home rather than in mosques on the nights of Ramaån, and the recitation of the whole Qurån rather than the customary repetition of s¨rat al-ikhlå‚ (the short s¨ra 112),19 thus removing the elements that probably most appealed to the ordinary believer: meeting friends at the communal gathering, and the ceremonial, almost ecstatic nature of the ritual. Al-Sulam was obviously ignored. Ab¨ Shåma and al-Nawaw restricted their criticism of al-taråwª to a specic custom: the recitation of s¨rat al-anåm in the course of the last raka instead of its recitation during the rst. Al-Nawaw uses surprisingly harsh language. He denounces this seemingly minor deviation from the agreed-upon sunna a ‘bida makr¨ha’ (reprehensible innovation), begging the devout not only to refrain from partaking in it, but also to engage in an active campaign against it.20 Al-Shahraz¨r, in contrast, had no such reservations: he installed the vigil of Ni‚f Shabån in his madrasa. He also encouraged his students to ‘enliven’ with special religious devotions four additional nights a year: the 27th of Ramaån, the nights of the two festivals and the rst night of Muªarram. He also did not oppose the prayers of al-raghåib that were held between the two evening
16 17 18 19 20
Ab¨ Shåma, Taråjim, 155. Ab¨ Shåma, al-Båith, 133–136. Wensinck, Muslim Creed, 119–120; Fierro, “Treatises,” 222–223. Al-Sulam, Fatåwå, 424. Ab¨ Shåma, al-Båith, 30, 238.