Over the years of my work on this project, I shared my ideas and worries with many people, whose questions and comments undoubtedly enhanced its development. I cannot list them all, but I will mention with gratitude friends with whom it was equally pleasurable and beneficial to discuss history, religion and personal life: Elisheva Baumgarten, Efrat Ben-Zeev, Daphna Ephrat, Shaun Marmon, Iris Shagrir, and particularly Raquel Ukeles. I am also grateful to my erstwhile teachers and mentors, Benjamin Z. Kedar and Michael Cook, who gave me wise advice; Yoram Bilu, who read a draft of Part One, Yaacov Lev, who read a draft of Part Two; and the lectors of Edinburgh University Press.
Parts of this research were presented at conferences, workshops and seminars over the course of the past decade. For those opportunities to move my research forward, I thank my hosts and audiences at Middle East Studies Annual (MESA) meetings, the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg in Bonn, Ruhr-Universität of Bochum, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Bar-Ilan University, the School for Mamluk Studies in Ghent, Edinburgh University, the Near Eastern Studies Department at Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Middle East and Islamic Studies Department of New York University. Collaboration with Johannes Pahlitzsch and Youval Rotman resulted in a fruitful international workshop entitled ‘Sacred Time in Medieval Societies of the Middle East’, at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (2016).
Most of my research was conducted at the National Library of Israel, my favourite working place. I would like to thank the librarians of the Islam and Middle East Reading Room for their unfailing service. This is also an (p.x) opportunity to acknowledge the silent support of fellow readers, who likewise engage, day after day, in study and academic production, inadvertently creating the proper ambiance for this particular ritual. For a supportive environment I also owe a debt of gratitude to my colleagues and students in the Middle East Studies Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
While writing and rewriting this book was a long and sometimes agonising process, correspondence with Edinburgh University Press editors Nicola Ramsey, Kirsty Woods, Eddie Clark and copy-editor Nina Macaraig was immediate. Their friendly attitude and efficient work are indeed admirable.
The Israel Science Foundation (ISF) generously supported my work with two research grants: grant no. 1676/09 for the study of ‘The Foundation of a Muslim Society in Palestine (c. 600–1500 AD)’, and grant no. 676/15 for the study of ‘The Sanctification of Space, Time and Object in the Muslim Middle East (7th–15th centuries)’. Those endowments enabled me to enjoy the help of four devoted research assisstants: Or Amir, Aseel Fatafta, Oren Hendel and Salama Kohla. I thank them all.
Last but not least, I thank my husband, Dror Heller, for his help with the maps and images for this book, and, more importantly, for having endured my preoccupation with its preparation. Dror, Amit, Ayelet and Uri – the end product is dedicated to you, with love.