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arfida.pdf "EXERT YOURSELVES, 0 BANU ARFIDA!": SOME NOTES ON ENTERTAINMENT IN THE ISLAMIC TRADITION M.J. Kister The Hebrew University of Jerusalem In memory of Ilse Lichtenstadter I In the period of the Jahiliyya, recitation of verses containing satirical abuse of rival tribes was often accompanied by singing songs and beating tambourins. Such performances apparently continued in Islamic times, though the content and character of the songs changed in conformity with the new circumstances. A tradition concerning recitation of poetry and singing in 'A'isha's home in the presence of the Prophet became a subject of lively debate as to the permissibility of listening to such recitation and singing. Another tradition describing a meeting of the Prophet with a group of young Abyssinians who performed dances and plays in the presence of 'A'isha aroused a controversy concerning the presence of women at such performances and about the permissibility of singing, dancing and playing with javelins on the occasion of religious festivities. A report recorded by 'Abd al-Razzaq (d. 211 AH) in his Mu~annaf1 on the authority of Anas b. Malik says that the Abyssinians played with their javelins out of joy on the arrival of the Prophet in Medina. Another report has the event taking place in the court2 of the Prophet. The Prophet stood at the door of 'A'isha's chamber, covered her with his garment and allowed her to watch the Abyssinians' play in the mosque.3 A third tradition recorded by 'Abd al-Razzaq4 shows 'Vmar assaulting the Abyssinians who played in the mosque of the Prophet: he pelted them with pebbles, but the Prophet asked him to leave them alone. 1 'Abd al-Razzaq, Mu§annaJ, Ijabfbu l-Ral].man al-A'~amf, ed. (Beirut, 1392/1972), X, p. 466, no. 19723. 2 "Court" is a translation of the Arabic dar. Dar often denotes a compound building, sometimes of considerable dimensions, containing in somt: cases stores, workshops, storage spaces and even markets. See my "Some reports concerning Mecca," JESHO 15 (1972): 85-86 ; Ibn Ijajar, al-I§aba, V, p. 744 supra; Suhaylf, al-Raurf, al-unuJ, 'Abd al-Ral].man al-Wakfl, ed. (Cairo, 1970), VI, pp. 333-334 3 'Abd al-Razzaq, al-Mu§annaJ, X, p. 465, no. 19721. 4 Ibidem, X, p. 466, no. 19724. 53 54 M.J. Kister An examination of the various versions of these traditions may elucidate the circumstances in which they originated and may help to gain insight into the development of the ideas concerning play and entertainment in early Muslim society. Ibn Khurdadhbih (d. 300 AH) records a report on the authority of <.A>isha:5 Abu Bakr entered