Islamic Piety in Medieval Syria

Mosques, Cemeteries and Sermons under the Zangids and Ayyūbids (1146-1260)


A study of religious thought and practice across a broad social spectrum, but within a well-defined historical context, this book is an interdisciplinary endeavor that incorporates the tools of philology, social-history and historical-anthropology. Focusing on the mosques, public assemblies, cemeteries and shrines of Syrian Muslims in the period of the crusades and the anti-Frankish jihad, the book describes and deciphers religious rites and experiences, liturgical calendars, spiritual leadership, and perceptions of impiety and dissent. Working from a perspective that breaks down the dichotomization of religion into 'official' and 'popular,' it exposes the negotiation, construction and dissemination of hybrid forms of religious life. The result is an intimate and complex presentation of the texture of medieval Islamic piety.

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Daniella Talmon-Heller, Ph.D. (1999), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She co-authored the Israeli Open University "Introduction to Islam," and published a number of articles on the religious and social history of medieval Syria.
Winner of the Tel Aviv Book Award for Middle Eastern Studies 2008

"Talmon-Heller is able to portray aspects of Islamic piety along with multifold interpretations and debates. Beyond this superb scholarship, it is the ability to keep her readers immersed in the world of medieval Syria, and to touch the humanity therein, that makes her book refreshing."
Adam R. Gaiser, International Journal of Middle East Studies 42.1

"Daniella Talmon-Heller has given scholars of many fields, including cultural history, anthropology, and religion, a gift of meticulous research and lively prose. Reading the book is a delightful experience for the specialist, as the copious anecdotes Talmon-Heller relates from her sources (often with a full Arabic transliteration) capture the sensibilities and senses of humor that pervade literary production from this period."
Zayde Antrim, Trinity College, Mamluk Studies Review, Vol. 13, No. 2

"Talmon-Heller’s work is necessarily specialized and will therefore be most helpful to scholars of the medieval period. The book would fit well into a graduate course on the Crusades or in a course that includes a section on “popular” religious practices in the medieval Islamic period (or indeed a course that challenges a popular/elite dichotomy)."
Adam R. Gaiser, Florida State University, International Journal of Middle East Studies 42:1

"A most welcome contribution to the fields of history and historiography of Syria and Egypt in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries."
Yehoshua Frenkel, Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies 72

All those interested in religion, particularly medieval Islam, in popular culture and in the public sphere in pre-modern societies, and historians of the medieval Middle East in the crusading period.
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