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The Assembly Of Exhortation (Majlis Al-Wa'Z)

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Chapter Summary

The art of popular preaching became part of the curriculum of madrasas in twelfth century Baghdad. During the assembly, people voiced their praise, disapproval, remorse, devotional ecstasy and other sentiments. The interaction between preachers, patrons of assemblies (often local authorities), and audiences will be analyzed throughout this chapter, following an attempt at sketching the profiles of popular preachers. An assembly of exhortation was a ̒ happening ̓ an ̒ event ̓ rather than an academic lecture. This chapter relies mainly on narrative sources, written between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Narrative descriptions tell us that majålis invariably opened with a session of Qurån-recitation; a prologue intended to build up the liturgical and aesthetic dimensions of the occasion, and arouse pious sentiments and expectation in the audience. Themes of renewal through personal penance (tawba), and through the collective revivication of the Sunna, were also combined.

Keywords: exhortation; preachers; Qurån-recitation

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