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Witnesses of God: Exhortatory Preachers in Medieval al-Andalus and the Magreb

Witnesses of God: Exhortatory Preachers in Medieval al-Andalus and the Magreb

By Linda G. Jones

Al-Qanṭara: Revista de Estudios Arabes, Vol.28:1 (2007)

Abstract: This article analyzes the rhetorical and ritual characteristics of pious exhortation (wa‘z ) as practiced in al-Andalus and the Maghreb, based on specimens from two homiletic sources. The texts are considered in light of hagiographical and juridical data in order to assess the social role of exhortatory preachers and to explain the extraordinary impact of their sermons. The sermon’s affective power derives from the preacher’s personal charisma, rhetorical prowess, and his active engagement of his audience in the production of their own charismatic experience. The hagiographies considered depict the wa’iz a witness to God’s omnipotence, precipitating the religious conversion of even the socially marginalized.

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