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CHAPTER TWO

the militancy, the unswerving commitment and the solicitude for the letter of the shara of the self-appointed guardians of the sunna—a preguration of Ibn Taymiyya.33 Ibn al-Íalåª al-Shahraz¨r, the scholar who made the distinction between forbidden spurious (maw¨ ) traditions, and ‘weak’ traditions (al-aªådth al-afa) “which despite their weakness ˜of isnåd· convey truth in their meaning, and may be transmitted in exhortation ( f al-targhb),”34 exemplies a different attitude. He was prepared to go along with the crowd rather than ght popular trends. Seeming to be unconcerned about the exclusiveness of scholarly authority, and not inclined to the strict rejection of new forms of pious behavior, al-Shahraz¨r employs the category of bida ªasana, to serve as a system parallel to the shara, or as a supplement to it, one without negative connotations.35 But ultimately, the result of the controversy around ‚alåt al-raghåib is an indication of the power of pressure ‘from below’. It brings to life the active involvement of commoners in shaping religious norms in general, and the liturgical calendar in the mosque in particular. Alongside the evidence of regular mosque going, the debate about al-raghåib gives evidence to the ‘mainstream’ piety of commoners, and does not reveal a subversive stratum of ‘popular’ religion.36 2.2. Qurån Recitation Al-Nawaw, in his preface to al-Tibyån f Adab Óamalat al-Qurån—an exposition of the rules of conduct for those who know the Qurån by heart (literaly: those who carry the Qurån)—explains his purpose in composing the book: “I have seen the people of our city Damascus, 33

Knysh, Ibn Arab, 62, 66. Berkey, Popular Preachers, 76. 35 As suggested by Vardit Rispler, in her “Towards New Understanding,” 320, 325; idem, “20th Century,” 82. On the categories of sunna and bida and the ‘creative tension’ between them as a key characteristic of the discourse of Islamic civilization, see also Fierro, “Treatises against innovation,” 211, 240; and Berkey’s thought-provoking discussion in “Tradition,” 7–8, 40–41, 49–50. In al-Sulam’s classication of bida there are no less than ve categories, parallel to al-aªkåm al-khamsa (Rispler, “Towards New Understanding,” 325; al-Sulam, Qawåid al-Aªkåm, 220–221). 36 For the continuation of the debate about Ni‚f Shabån and al-raghåib in Maml¨k times, see Ibn Kathr, al-Bidåya, 1988, 14:46, 235; Winter, “Religious Life,” 225. 34

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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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