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Dhikr (Arabic: ذِكْر, romanized: ḏikr, IPA: [ðɪkr]), also spelled Zikr, Thikr, Zekr,:470 or Zikar, literally means "remembrance, reminder" or "mention, utterance". They are Islamic devotional acts, in which phrases or prayers are repeated. It can be counted on a set of prayer beads (Misbaha مِسْبَحَة) or through the fingers of the hand. It plays a central role in Sufi Islam. A person who recites the Dhikr is called a ḏākir (ذَاكِر, [ðaːkɪr]). Tasbih (تَسْبِيح), literally meaning "glorification" (i.e. the saying of "subḥāna -llāhi" [Arabic: سُبْحَانَ ٱللَّٰهِ]) is a form of dhikr that involves the repetitive utterances of short sentences glorifying God. The content of the prayers includes the names of God, or a dua (prayer of supplication) taken from the hadiths or the Quran.
There are several verses in the Quran that emphasize the importance of remembering the will of God by saying phrases such as "God willing" "God knows best," and "If it is your will.' This is the basis for dhikr. Surah al-Kahf (18), Ayah 24 states a person who forgets to say, "God willing", should immediately remember God by saying, "Maybe my Lord will guide me to [something] more akin to rectitude than this." Other verses include Surah al-Ahzab (33), Ayah 41, "O you who have faith! Remember Allah with frequent remembrance", and Surah ar-Ra'd (13), Ayah 28, "those who have faith, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah.' Look! The hearts find rest in Allah's remembrance!" Muhammad said, 'The best [dhikr] is lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāhu ("There is no deity but God"), and the best supplicatory prayer is ʾalḥamdu lillāhi ("All praise is due to God").
To Sufis, dhikr is seen as a way to gain spiritual enlightenment and achieve union (visal) or annihilation (fana) in God. All Muslim sects endorse individual rosaries as a method of meditation, the goal of which is to obtain a feeling of peace, separation from worldly values (dunya), and, in general, strengthen Iman (faith).
Common Types of Dhikr
|بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ||bismi -llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi
|In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Especially-Merciful.|
|أَعُوذُ بِٱللَّٰهِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَانِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ
أَعُوذُ بِٱللَّٰهِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ
|ʾaʿūḏu bi-llāhi mina š-šayṭāni r-rajīmi
/ʔa.ʕuː.ðu bil.laː.hi mi.na‿ʃ.ʃaj.tˤaː.ni‿r.ra.d͡ʒiː.mi/
|I seek refuge in God from the pelted Satan.|
|أَعُوذُ بِٱللَّٰهِ ٱلسَّمِيعِ ٱلْعَلِيمِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَانِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ
أَعُوذُ بِٱللَّٰهِ ٱلسَّمِيعِ ٱلْعَلِيمِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ
|ʾaʿūḏu bi-llāhi s-samīʿi l-ʿalīmi mina š-šayṭāni r-rajīmi
/ʔa.ʕuː.ðu bil.laː.hi‿s.sa.miː.ʕi‿l.ʕa.liː.mi mi.na‿ʃ.ʃaj.tˤaː.ni‿r.ra.d͡ʒiː.mi/
|I seek refuge in God, the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing, from the pelted Satan.|
|Glorified is God.|
|ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ||ʾalḥamdu lillāhi
|All praise is due to God.|
|لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ||lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāhu
/laː ʔi.laː.ha ʔil.la‿ɫ.ɫaː.hu/
|There is no deity but God.|
|ٱللَّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ||ʾallāhu ʾakbaru
|God is greater [than everything].|
|أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ||ʾastaḡfiru -llāha
|I seek the forgiveness of God.|
|أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ رَبِّي وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ||ʾastaḡfiru -llāha rabbī wa-ʾatūbu ʾilayhi
/ʔas.taɣ.fi.ru‿ɫ.ɫaː.ha rab.biː wa.ʔa.tuː.bu ʔi.laj.hi/
|I seek the forgiveness of God, my Lord, and repent to Him.|
|Glorified are you, O God.|
|سُبْحَانَ ٱللَّٰهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ
سُبْحَٰنَ ٱللَّٰهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ
|subḥāna -llāhi wa-bi-ḥamdihī
|Glorified is God and with His praise.|
|سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ ٱلْعَظِيمِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ
سُبْحَٰنَ رَبِّيَ ٱلْعَظِيمِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ
|subḥāna rabbiya l-ʿaẓīmi wa-bi-ḥamdihī
/sub.ħaː.na rab.bi.ja‿l.ʕa.ðˤiː.mi wa.bi.ħam.di.hiː/
|Glorified is my God, the Great, and with His praise.|
|سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ ٱلْأَعْلَىٰ وَبِحَمْدِهِ
سُبْحَٰنَ رَبِّيَ ٱلْأَعْلَىٰ وَبِحَمْدِهِ
|subḥāna rabbiya l-ʾaʿlā wa-bi-ḥamdihī
/sub.ħaː.na rab.bi.ja‿l.ʔaʕ.laː wa.bi.ħam.di.hiː/
|Glorified is my God, the Most High, and with His praise.|
|لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّٰهِ ٱلْعَلِيِّ ٱلْعَظِيمِ||lā ���awla wa-lā quwwata ʾillā bi-llāhi l-ʿalīyi l-ʿaẓīmi
/laː ħaw.la wa.laː quw.wa.ta ʔil.laː bil.laː.hi‿l.ʕa.liː.ji‿l.ʕa.ðˤiː.mi/
|There is no power no strength except from God, the Exalted, the Great.|
|لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ ٱلظَّالِمِينَ
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَٰنَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ ٱلظَّٰلِمِينَ
|lā ʾilāha ʾillā ʾanta subḥānaka ʾinnī kuntu mina ẓ-ẓālimīna
/laː ʔi.laː.ha ʔil.laː ʔan.ta sub.ħaː.na.ka ʔin.niː kun.tu mi.na‿ðˤ.ðˤaː.li.miː.na/
|There is no god except You, glorified are you! I have indeed been among the wrongdoers.|
|حَسْبُنَا ٱللَّٰهُ وَنِعْمَ ٱلْوَكِيلُ||ḥasbunā -llāhu wa-niʿma l-wakīlu
|God is sufficient for us, and He is an excellent Trustee.|
|إِنَّا لِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
إِنَّا لِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ
|ʾinnā lillāhi wa-ʾinnā ʾilayhi rājiʿūna
/ʔin.naː lil.laː.hi wa.ʔin.naː ʔi.laj.hi raː.d͡ʒi.ʕuː.na/
|Verily we belong to God, and verily to Him do we return.|
|مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ كَانَ وَمَا لَمْ يَشَأْ لَمْ يَكُنْ||mā šāʾa -llāhu kāna wa-mā lam yašaʾ lam yakun
/maː ʃaː.ʔa‿ɫ.ɫaː.hu kaː.na wa.maː lam ja.ʃaʔ lam ja.kun/
|What God wills will be, and what God does not will, will not be.|
|إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ||ʾin šāʾa -llāhu
|If God wills.|
|مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ||mā šāʾa -llāhu
|What God wills.|
|بِإِذْنِ ٱللَّٰهِ||bi-ʾiḏni -llāhi
|With the permission of God.|
|جَزَاكَ ٱللَّٰهُ خَيْرًا||jazāka -llāhu khayrān
|God reward you [with] goodness.|
|بَارَكَ ٱللَّٰه�� فِيكَ
بَٰرَكَ ٱللَّٰهُ فِيكَ
|bāraka -llāhu fīka
|God bless you.|
|فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّٰهِ||fī sabīli -llāhi
|On the path of God.|
|لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ||lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu -llāhi
/laː ʔi.laː.ha ʔil.la‿ɫ.ɫaː.hu mu.ħam.ma.dun ra.suː.lu‿ɫ.ɫaː.hi/
|There is no deity but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.|
|لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ عَلِيٌّ وَلِيُّ ٱللَّٰهِ||lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu -llāhi ʿalīyun walīyu -llāhi
/laː ʔi.laː.ha ʔil.la‿ɫ.ɫaː.hu mu.ħam.ma.dun ra.suː.lu‿ɫ.ɫaː.hi ʕa.liː.jun wa.liː.ju‿ɫ.ɫaː.hi/
|There is no deity but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, Ali is the vicegerent of God. (Usually recited by Shia Muslims)|
|أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ||ʾašhadu ʾan lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāhu wa-ʾašhadu ʾanna muḥammadan rasūlu -llāhi
/ʔaʃ.ha.du ʔan laː ʔi.laː.ha ʔil.la‿ɫ.ɫaː.hu wa.ʔaʃ.ha.du ʔan.na mu.ħam.ma.dan ra.suː.lu‿ɫ.ɫaː.hi/
|I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.|
|أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ عَلِيًّا وَلِيُّ ٱللَّٰهِ||ʾašhadu ʾan lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāhu wa-ʾašhadu ʾanna muḥammadan rasūlu -llāhi wa-ʾašhadu ʾanna ʿalīyan walīyu -llāhi
/ʔaʃ.ha.du ʔan laː ʔi.laː.ha ʔil.la‿ɫ.ɫaː.hu wa.ʔaʃ.ha.du ʔan.na mu.ħam.ma.dan ra.suː.lu‿ɫ.ɫaː.hi wa.ʔaʃ.ha.du ʔan.na ʕa.liː.jan wa.liː.ju‿ɫ.ɫaː.hi/
|I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God, and I bear witness that Ali is the vicegerent of God. (Usually recited by Shia Muslims)|
|ٱللَّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ ع��لَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ||ʾallāhumma ṣalli ʿalā muḥammadin wa-ʾāli muḥammadin
/ʔaɫ.ɫaː.hum.ma sˤal.li ʕa.laː mu.ħam.ma.din wa.ʔaː.li mu.ħam.ma.din/
|O God, bless Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad.|
|ٱللَّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَجِّلْ فَرَجَهُمْ وَٱلْعَنْ أَعْدَاءَهُمْ||ʾallāhumma ṣalli ʿalā muḥammadin wa-ʾāli muḥammadin wa-ʿajjil farajahum wa-lʿan ʾaʿdāʾahum
/ʔaɫ.ɫaː.hum.ma sˤal.li ʕa.laː mu.ħam.ma.din wa.ʔaː.li mu.ħam.ma.din wa.ʕad͡ʒ.d͡ʒil fa.ra.d͡ʒa.hum wal.ʕan ʔaʕ.daː.ʔa.hum/
|O God, bless Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, and hasten their alleviation and curse their enemies. (Usually recited by Shia Muslims)|
|ٱللَّٰهُمَّ عَجِّلْ لِوَلِيِّكَ ٱلْفَرَجَ وَٱلْعَافِيَةَ وَٱلنَّصْرَ||ʾallāhumma ʿajjil li-walīyika l-faraja wa-l-ʿāfiyata wa-n-naṣra
/ʔaɫ.ɫaː.hum.ma ʕad͡ʒ.d͡ʒil li.wa.liː.ji.ka‿l.fa.ra.d͡ʒa wal.ʕaː.fi.ja.ta wan.nasˤ.ra/
|O God, hasten the alleviation of your vicegerent (i.e. Imam Mahdi), and grant him vitality and victory. (Usually recited by Shia Muslims)|
|لَا سَيْفَ إِلَّا ذُو ٱلْفَقَارِ وَلَا فَتَىٰ إِلَّا عَلِيٌّ||lā sayfa ʾillā ḏū l-faqāri wa-lā fatā ʾillā ʿalīyun
/laː saj.fa ʔil.laː ðu‿l.fa.qaː.ri wa.laː fa.taː ʔil.laː ʕa.liː.jun/
|There is no sword but the Zu al-Faqar, and there is no youth but Ali. (Usually recited by Shia Muslims)|
Quran as Dhikr
Reciting the Quran sincerely is also considered a kind of Dhikr. For example:
- Reciting Surah al-Ikhlas (112) is equal to one-third of the Quran.
- Reciting Surah al-Ikhlas (112) times gives a palace in Heaven.
- Reciting Surah al-Kafirun (109) is equal to one-fourth of the Quran. 
- Reciting Surah an-Nasr (110) is equal to one-fourth of the Quran.
- Reciting Surah az-Zalzalah (99) is equal to half of the Quran.
Hadiths mentioning virtues
"Shall I tell you about the best of deeds, the most pure in the Sight of your Lord, about the one that is of the highest order and is far better for you than spending gold and silver, even better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefield where you strike at their necks and they at yours?" The companions replied, "Yes, O Messenger ﷺ of Allah!" He replied, "Remembrance of Allah ﷻ".— at-Tirmidhi
"People will not sit in an assembly in which they remember Allah ﷻ without the angels surrounding them, mercy covering them, and Allah ﷻ Mentioning them among those who are with Him"— narrated by Abu Hurairah, Sahih Muslim
“There is nothing that is a greater cause of salvation from the punishment of Allah than the remembrance of Allah"— Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal
, Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Book of Supplications
Hadhrat Mu`adh ibn Jabal said that the Prophet ﷺ also said: "The People of Paradise will not regret except one thing alone: the hour that passed them by and in which they made no remembrance of Allah ﷻ."— Narrated by Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman
It is mentioned in hadith that where people are oblivious to dhikir, remembrance of Allah is like being steadfast in jihad when others are running away (Targhib, p. 193, vol. 3 ref. Bazar and Tibrani).
Tasbih of Fatimah
The Islamic Prophet Muhammad is reported to have thought his daughter Fatimah bint Rasul Allah a special manner of Dhikr which is known as the "Tasbih of Fatimah". This consists of:
- 33 repetitions of subḥāna -llahi (سُبْحَانَ ٱللَّٰهِ), meaning "Glorified is God". This saying is known as Tasbih (تَسْبِيح).
- 33 repetitions of al-ḥamdu lillāhi (ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ), meaning "All Praise belongs to God". This saying is known as Tahmid (تَحْمِيد).
- 34 repetitions of ʾallāhu ʾakbaru (ٱللَّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ), meaning "God is Greater [than everything]". This saying is known as Takbir (تَكْبِير).
Known also as Tasbih, these are usually Misbaha (prayer beads) upon a string, 99 or 100 in number, which correspond to the names of God in Islam and other recitations. The beads are used to keep track of the number of recitations that make up the dhikr.
When the dhikr involves the repetition of particular phrases a specific number of times, the beads are used to keep track so that the person performing dhikr can turn all of their focus on what is actually being said - as it can become difficult to concentrate simultaneously on the number and phrasing when one is doing so a substantial number of times.
In the United States, Muslim inmates are allowed to utilize prayer beads for therapeutic effects. In Alameen v. Coughlin, 892 F. Supp. 440 (E.D.N.Y 1995), Imam Hamzah S. Alameen, a/k/a Gilbert Henry, and Robert Golden brought suit against Thomas A. Coughlin III, etc., et alia (Head of the Department of Corrections) in the State of New York pursuant to 28 USC @ 1983. The plaintiffs argued that prisoners have a First Amendment Constitutional right to pursue Islamic healing therapy called KASM (قاسَمَهُ | qaasama | taking an oath ) which uses prayer beads. The rosary of oaths, which Alameen developed, was used to successfully rehabilitate inmates suffering from co-occurring mental health challenges and substance abuse issues during the 1990s. All people, including Muslims and Catholics, were allowed to use prayer beads inside prisons, lest their freedom of religion be violated when the prison administration forbade their possession as contraband in the penal system. The practice of carrying prayer beads became controversial when gang-members began carrying specific colors of prayer beads to identify themselves.
A "dhakir" (ذَاكِر) or "Zaker" (literally "mentioner"' a speaker who refers to something briefly/incidentally), or reminder, is considered a maddah who reminds the remembering of Allah (and His Dhikr) for people, and he himself should also be reciter of dhikhr; namely, not only he ought to be a recital of Dhikr, but also he should put the audience in the situation of dhikr reminding (of Allah and likewise Ahl al-Bayt). Idiomatically the term means "praiser of God" or "professional narrator of the tragedies of Karbala (and Ahl al-Bayt)". To some extent, it can mean Maddah/panegyrist too.
The root of the word "Dhakir" (ذَاكِر) is "Dhikr" (ذِكْر) which means remembering/praising; and the word "Dhakiri" (ذَاكِرِيّ) is the act which is done by Dhakir, i.e. mentioning the Dhikr (of Allah, the Ahl al-Bayt, etc.) by observing its specific principles/manners.
Every Tariqa have their own way of spiritual practices and all of them are connected to a certain lineage like (Chishtiya, Qadriya, Naqshbandiya, Burhaniya etc) Followers of Sufism often engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies, the details of which sometimes vary between Sufi orders or tariqah. Each order, or lineage within an order, has one or more forms for group dhikr, the liturgy of which may include recitation, singing, music, dance, costumes, incense, muraqaba (meditation), ecstasy, and trance. Though the extent, usage and acceptability of many of these elements vary from order to order - with many condemning the usage of instruments (considered unlawful by most scholars) and intentional loss of control. In addition, costumes are quite uncommon and is almost exclusively unique to the Mevlavi order in Turkey - which is an official cultural "heritage" of the secular Turkish state. In Sufism, group dhikr does not necessarily entail all of these forms.
The most common forms of Sufi group dhikr consist in the recital of particular litanies (e.g. Hizb al-Bahr of the Shadhilis), a composition of Quranic phrases and Prophetic supplications (e.g. Wird al-Latif of the Ba `Alawis), or a liturgical repetition of various formula and prayers (e.g. al-Wadhifa of the Tijanis ). All of these forms are referred to as a "hizb" (pl. "ahzab") or a "wird" (pl. "awrad"). This terminological usage is important as some critics often mistakenly believe that the word hizb only refers to a portion of the Quran. In addition, many recite extended prayers upon Muhammad (known as durood) of which the Dala'il al-Khayrat is perhaps the most popular. Though common to almost all Sufi orders, some (such as the Naqsbandis) prefer to perform their dhikr silently - even in group settings. In addition, most gatherings are held on Thursday or Sunday nights as part of the institutional practices of the tariqah (since Thursday is the night marks the entrance of the Muslim "holy" day of Friday and Sundays are a convenient congregational time in most contemporary societies) - though people who don't live near their official zawiya gather whenever is convenient for the most people.
Another type of group dhikr ceremony that is most commonly performed in Arabic countries is called the haḍra (lit. presence). The haḍra is a communal gathering for dhikr and its associated liturgical rituals, prayers, and song recitals, performing both in private or public. Though the haḍra is popular (in part because of the controversy surrounding it), it is mostly practiced in North Africa, the Middle-East and Turkey. In Turkey this ceremony is called "Zikr-i Kiyam" (Standing dhikr) and "imara" in Algeria and Morocco. In places like Syria where Sufis are a visible part of the fabric and psyche of society, each order typically has their private gathering on one day and will participate in a public haḍra at a central location to which both the affiliated and unaffiliated alike are invited as an expression of unity. Similar public ceremonies occur in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.
For those who perform it, the haḍra marks the climax of the Sufi's gathering regardless of any teaching or formal structure - it often follows a formal teaching session as a way of internalizing the lessons. Musically, the structure of the haḍra includes several secular Arab genres (each of which expresses a different emotion) and can last for hours. It is directed by the sheikh of the tariqa or one of his representatives; monitoring the intensity, depth and duration of the phases of the haḍra, the sheikh aims to draw the circle into deep awareness of God and away from the participants own individuatedness. The dhikr ceremonies may have a ritually determined length or may last as long as the Sheikh deems his murids require. The haḍra section consists of the ostinato-like repetition of the name of God over which the soloist performs a richly ornamented song. In many haḍras, this repetition proceeds from the chest and has the effect of a percussion instrument, with the participants bending forward while exhaling and stand straight while inhaling so that both the movement and sound contribute to the overall rhythm. The climax is usually reached through cries of "Allah! Allah!" or "hu hu" (which is either the pronoun "he" or the last vowel on the word "Allah" depending on the method) while the participants are moving up and down. Universally, the haḍra is almost always followed by Quranic recital in the tarteel style - which according to al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, was a prophetic instruction received through a dream.
More common than the haḍra is the sama` (lit. audition), a type of group ceremony that consist mostly of the audition of spiritual poetry and Quranic recitation in an emotionally charged manner; and thus is not dhikr is the technical sense the word implies. However, the same debate over certain matters of decorum apply as exists with the haḍra. Even though group dhikr is popular and makes up the spiritual life of most Sufi adherents, other more private forms of dhikr are performed more routinely - usually consisting of the order's wird (daily litany) - which adherents usually recite privately, even if gathered together. So although group dhikr is seen as a hallmark of Sufism, the Sufis themselves practice the same private forms of worship that other Muslims practice, though usually more frequently and methodically; group dhikr is a less frequent occurrence and is not the end-all-and-be-all of Sufism, as some Sufi orders do not even perform it.
- Tasbih of Fatimah
- As-salamu alaykum
- Peace be upon him
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- In earlier orders, the "presence" referred to was that of God, but since the 18th century it has been considered to be the spiritual presence of Muhammad (John L. Esposito, "Hadrah." The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Web. 3 Apr. 2010.) The shifting focus, however, is not shared by all and is a result of the Sufi reforms which sought to mitigate the heretical belief of theopanism committed by some Sufi claimants through a greater focus on the spirit and active life of Muhammad instead of a metaphorical union with God.(Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, p. 210)
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