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CHAPTER TWO

from a waqf established for this purpose by the Damascene scholar Ibn Urwa, as did his students.59 Al b. Muªammad Alam al-Dn al-Sakhåw (d. 558/1163 or 643/1245) also taught Qurån, ªadth and Arabic in a study-circle in the congregational mosque of Damascus. Thousands of students read the Qurån from cover to cover under his direction. Taking into account that he allowed several students to recite different s¨ras to him at the same time—a practice that may well be regarded as a corruption of the system of learning by dictation (imlå)—the gure of thousands is perhaps not that far-fetched. There were always people in line, waiting for their turn to join his study-circle at the congregational mosque.60 The privileged students would see him home at the end of the day, and the whole company is said to have continued their recitation all the way from the Umayyad Mosque up to al-Íåliªiyya neighborhood on Mt. Qåsy¨n. The poetic exaggeration apparent in this laudatory description of al-Sakhåw’s devotion to his mission conveys the great importance attributed to the study of Qurån in the society we are studying. Shaykh Ab¨ Umar Ibn Qudåma (d. 607/1210), who taught the people Qurån every morning in the mosque of Mt. Qåsy¨n, expresses the same idea when he weighs his merit as a teacher of Qurån against all the good works he had performed during his lifetime.61 As well known, memorizing at least part of the Qurån was the essential, if not the sole purpose of the standard education of Muslim children in the medieval Middle East. The mastery of the whole text by heart was considered to be a signicant religious and social asset for life: a source of pride, baraka, and power. Knowledge of the correct rules of recitation (which supposedly maintain the very intonation of the Jibrl (the angel Gabriel), reciting the verses for the rst time before Muªammad) was the basis for a rather protable and handy occupation—that of the professional reciter (muqri).62

59

Ab¨ Shåma, Taråjim, 136. Dickinson, “Ibn al-Íalåª,” 501. See Ibn al-Ward, Tarkh, 2:171. 61 Ab¨ Shåma, Taråjim, 71; ¤iyå al-Dn al-Maqdis, Aªwål, 124b. 62 Al b. al-Qåsim b. Yuannash (d. 605/1208–9), a Qurån reciter who emigrated to Aleppo from al-Andalus, bought a house from it (“ta‚addara bihå al-iqrå, wadakhala lahu rizq, wa-ishtarå lahu dår” Dhahab, Tarkh, 51:182). Qurrå are mentioned in a list of recipients of N¨r al-Dn’s presents and charitable gifts—“idråråt wa-‚adaqåt.” (Ibn al-Athr, al-Kåmil, 11:296). 60

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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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