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Study circles in mosques seem to have been open to all, though naturally, classes in qh, disputation, or logic were intelligible to far fewer men than the reading of hagiographical tales, which could also be consumed and enjoyed by those who had only a basic religious education. As Berkey had aptly noted, the great signicance attributed in Islam to learning as a form of piety and as a source of baraka, made the pursuit of at least some degree of Islamic education truly popular. Moreover, the basic values that guided the transmission of knowledge in the Islamic world, especially its oral nature and its informality, allowed the inclusion of a broad spectrum of the population.69 Even if al-Ghazzål’s recommendation, that “in every mosque and part of town there should be someone versed in Islamic law who instructs people in their religion. The same applies to every village,” remained wishful thinking, the fact that so many religious instructors sat in and near mosques made learning accessible to many. ‘Part-timers’, namely those who could afford to devote themselves to recitation or learning only a few minutes a day, usually before or after prayers, could also take part.70 Children were taught in mosques despite the reservations of some ulamå, who thought that youngsters were noisy and lthy, and that school-teaching, as a salaried trade, was forbidden in the mosques.71 The attachment of the kuttåb to a mosque, or to some other religious institution was, most likely, an ancient custom, inherited from Byzantium, where primary schools were attached to churches and monasteries.72 In the Umayyad mosque of Damascus, school-teachers (muallim¨n al-‚ibyån) held classes in special niches.73 N¨r al-Dn, who is said to have exhibited special care for the education of orphans, and for decent pay for their teachers, was one of the endowers of those kuttåb.74 Ab¨ Shåma remembers having studied the Qurån in one of those niches of the great mosque of Damascus as a child. He was greatly impressed, at that time, by the scholars who used to spend their days


Berkey, The Transmission, 216. Buckley, Islamic Market Inspector, 183. 71 Buckley, Islamic Market Inspector, 119; ur†¨sh, Kitåb al-Bida, 88. 72 Baer, “Muslim Teaching,” 73. 73 Ibn Jubayr, Riªla, 271. 74 Elisséeff, “Un document,” 138. For the care for the education of orphans in Islamic medieval societies, see Lev, Charity, 85–90. 70

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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