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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides an overview of the book, which is a study of a past Middle Eastern society - that of Bilād al-Shām - present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, in the Zangid and Ayyūbid period. The reconstruction of the religious beliefs and practices of members of Middle Eastern society entailed both the study of the works of its jurisconsults, preachers, and theologians, as well as ethnography of its 'living faith'. The book concentrates on arenas that stood at the heart of religious life: common men and women, members of the ruling military and administrative elites, scholars and religious functionaries, merchants and farmers. Their gatherings in mosques, attendance at popular assemblies of exhortation, visits to cemeteries, and pilgrimages to sacred shrines are the subject of the book.

Keywords: cemeteries; Medieval Syria; Middle Eastern Society; mosques; sermons



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