понедельник, 28 января 2013 г.

1. Turbas in Jerusalem

The Arabic word "turba" means "tomb, tombstone." This term applies only to Muslim shrines located in Jerusalem. Outside Jerusalem such burial structures are called in Arabic "maqam" ("place, stop, stand"), if a sheikh, imam or someone very important is buried there; or more generally – "kabr" ("grave"). Note also that the word "turba", when used with a proper name of a person or a place, is used in the form of "turbat".

Turbat al-Kubakiya
ضريح الكبكي
תורבת כובכייה

This exemplary tomb is located in the heart of Jerusalem, on the territory of Muslim cemetery Mamilla, opposite the former hotel "Palas". Built in the Mamluk era, it is well maintained and still preserves its primordial appearance. In this turba is buried emir ‘Ala al-Din Aydughdi ibn ‘Abdallah al-Kubaki (hence the name), the ruler of Safad and Aleppo in the times of Mamluk sultan Baybars. He died in Jerusalem in 1289 and was buried with great honors.

This is how Muslim historian of 15th century, Mujir ad-Din, described the tomb: "The Zawiyeh al-Kebekiyeh. In the cemetery of Mamilla there is a well-built kubbeh known by the name of al-Kebekiyeh, after that of the Emir 'Ala ad-Din Aydughdi, the son of 'Abd Allah al-Kebeky".

"Kubbeh", "Qubbat" – "dome, structure with a dome" is another synonym for the word "tomb".

Turbat al-Kubakiya might have been charted on the map of Jerusalem, published in a book by Jean Zuallart "Il devotissimo viaggio di Gerusalemme" (1587), under the name of "Sepolchri de'Turchi" ("Turkish tomb"). There are English and Spanish versions of this map. One can see that the structure is located on the territory of a Muslim cemetery not far from the road leading to the Jaffa Gate. On the French map of Jerusalem in a book published in 1629, Turbat al-Kubakiya has a crescent on the top of the dome and is located near the pool, now known as Birket Mamilla. Perhaps, once a crescent really used to crown the turba. There is no crescent in the drawings made in the 19th century.

Map of Jerusalem from the book by Jean Zuallart (1587)

A fragment of a French map of Jerusalem of 1629

The drawing of Turbat al-Kubakiya of 1860 (from the book by Vincent–Abel)

2. Tombs of the Prophets

Tomb of Nabi Bulus (Paul the Apostle)
مقام النبي بولس
קבר נבי בולוס

“Nabi Bulus” in Arabic means none other than St. Paul, the hero of Acts and the author of fourteen epistles from the New Testament. It is believed that Muslims hate Paul for misrepresenting the true teachings of Prophet ‘Isa, i.e. Jesus Christ, and instead of the “true religion of Allah, preached by ‘Isa ibn Maryam, created Christianity. Modern Muslims may think so, but their ancestors thought differently. In the Middle Ages Muslims revered Paul as one of the prophets. A prominent Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir (1301–1373), for example, in his interpretation of the Quran mentioned messengers Shamoun (Simon-Peter), Yuhanna (St. John) and Bulus (Paul) as faithful followers of Prophet ‘Isa. Speaking about Bulus, Ibn Kathir pointed out that he preached in Antakya (Antioch of Syria). It is clear that information about Bulus-Paul Islamic scholar learned from church tradition.

The tomb is located to the south of Beit Jimal Monastery and is directly adjacent to residential areas in Ramat Beit Shemesh. It can be clearly seen from the Highway leading to the interchange Beit Shemesh Darom. Structure consists of the tomb itself, 4.5 x 12.6 m (rooms A and B), and the prayer hall (mosque), 6.4 x 12.6 m (room C). Under the prayer hall there is quite a spacious storage with a pointed vault. Burial chamber is crowned by a small dome. Not so long ago a stone cenotaph of Nabi Bulus could be found in the tomb (A. Petersen still had a chance to look at it in 1994); but now it is not there, though one can easily identify the spot on the floor where it was standing.

In the religious complex were from the north, through the central arch. So the room B can be considered as a hallway or living room, from which fell into the burial chamber (A) and the prayer hall (C).

Plan of the tomb (from the book of A. Petersen)
Photo by H. Berger of 1930s

Photo of 1994. View from the north (from the book of A. Petersen)

According to the Western Christian tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome and buried in the same city. Recently under the altar of the Roman Temple of San-Paolo-Fuori-le-Mura a sarcophagus with fragments of human bones, in which they saw the remains of the great "Apostle to the Gentiles", was opened. However, the Muslim tradition holds that Paul died in Palestine and was buried in the Holy Land. Khirbet an-Nabi Bulus – a small hill, where the concerned tomb is situated – has long been known.

воскресенье, 27 января 2013 г.

3. Maqams. Judaean Mountains

In Arabic, maqam means “place, stop, stand”. This name is used for the tombs of eminent Sheikhs and other Muslim leaders. For Muslims it is a holy place. Therefore maqam is also called “wely” - “shrine”. Usually the travelers stopped and prayed at such tombs, and could even spend the night here (which happened quite often) if there was a special room for that. Maqams were not only the places of worship, but also guard points from which the roads were monitored and landmarks for travelers. Therefore, as a rule, maqams were built on the top of a mountain or a hill, on the most prominent place. However, there were exceptions and some maqams were built not on the top, but in valleys, at important sections of roads and at crossroads.

According to W. Thomson, "The domes cover the shrines of reputed prophets, or holy men; a sort of patron saints very common in this region. Each village has one or more, and, besides these, every conspicuous hill-top has a wely or mazar, beneath spreading oak, to which people pay religious visits, and thither they go up to worship and to discharge vows" (1859, I 203–204).

Not all maqams represent an actual burial place of a Sheikh. Maqams were often erected in memory of a particular activist long after his death. The maqams of such kind are, for example, maqam Abu Huraira in Yavne, maqam Abu ‘Ubayda and Mu‘az ibn Jabal in Emmaus, and some others.

Until 1948, all maqams were working, kept by the locals: Palestinian Arabs. After the establishment of the state of Israel many Arab-Palestinian villages ceased to exist: their inhabitants were either banished or had to leave their homes. Muslim shrines have been left to the mercy of fate.

Maqam Imam ‘Ali
مقام الإمام علي
מקאם אימאם עלי


This maqam is seen by everyone driving along the Highway 1 from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. The only part of the main Israeli Highway (between road Interchanges Shoresh and Sha'ar ha-Gai) where it splits, leaving some space between the traffic lanes. This is where Maqam Imam ‘Ali is. Actually, it is an open air mosque (musalla). A small prayer area surrounded by the wall of 2.2m high, except for the northern part of it, where the height of the wall is only 0.5m. The mihrab in the south wall rises slightly above the walls. A small Sabil (1.6 x 1.65 m) with a dome and an arched opening on the north side is adjacent to the mosque from the northeastern side.

The sabil

Judging by the photo of the 1930s, there used to be another court to the north of the prayer area, also surrounded by a wall and with a high arched entrance. Now the yard is completely destroyed.

суббота, 26 января 2013 г.

4. Maqams. Shfela

Maqam Sheikh ‘Abdallah
مقام الشيخ عبد الله
קבר שייח' עבדאללה

This tomb is not mentioned by researchers of 19–20th centuries, although it is quite a remarkable one. For the first time it appeared on the British maps of Palestine. Maqam is situated on a small hill which is historically known as Khirbet al-Habur (SWP III, 281; Palmer 1881, 371 (Sheet XX)). The tomb with the sizes of 6.90 х 6.75 х 2.10 m with a 1.4 m high cupola has a beautiful arch entrance from the northern side. From the right side from the entrance there is a small window. A steeple-roofed mihrab in a southern wall of the tomb is surrounded by Arabic and Jewish inscriptions made by present-day visitors. The sheikh's cenotaph has not survived.

View from the north-east

View from the north

View from the west

пятница, 25 января 2013 г.

5. Maqams. Coastal Plain

Maqam ‘Abd al-Nabi
مقام عبد النبي
מקאם עבד אל-נבי

On the Tel Aviv coast, not far from the luxury hotel "Hilton" in the Independence Park, there is an abandoned Muslim cemetery located on a small hill. It is the maqam of ‘Abd al-Nabi, which now looks more like a slum area. Once they tried to restore it, but not very successfully. Finally they simply stopped taking care of it. People strolling along the promenade use it as a dumping-ground for empty bottles.

‘Abd al-Nabi means "the servant of the Prophet [Muhammad]". Maqam appears on maps of Palestine of the 19th century, long before the foundation of Tel Aviv. It is in many ways similar to the Maqam Sheikh Awad in Ashkelon, also located on the coast. And it has the same three-part structure: the tomb in the center and two adjacent arched rooms on the sides of it.

View from the north

четверг, 24 января 2013 г.

6. Maqams. Sharon Plain and Carmel

Maqam Sheikh Mas‘ud
مقام الشيخ مسعود
קבר שייח' מסעוד

About Khirbet el-Jelameh C. Conder says: "A small domed building stands in the ruins" (SWP II 197). If he was talking about Maqam Sheikh Mas'ud, we should say that now this construction is a whole, thoroughly restored. However, nowadays only the back side of the maqam is visible. In front of the entrance, right next to the maqam, was built a shop for residents of Jalame – a Bedouin village to the south of Tayibe.

Route. Drive along the Highway 444, one kilometer short of Tayibe take the left turn into the Bedouin village Jalame and search for the old cemetery. The Maqam of Sheikh Mas'ud his is situated among the tombstones. The exact location see on my map.

Visited: 04.08.12
Coordinates: 32°15'21.9"N 34°59'39.9"E
Location of the object on Google Maps
References: SWP II 197; Palmer 1881, 191 (Sheet XI); Stewardson 1888, 139

Maqam Sheikh Musharraf
مقام الشيخ مشرف
קבר שייח' מושרף

On the map of Palestine Exploration Fund (Sheet XI) this maqam is called Sheikh Mesherraf, on the British map of 1941 – Sh. Musharif. These names are represented in the current Hebrew name of it: שייח' מושרף. E. Palmer translated: Sheikh Mesherraf – "honoured" (1881, 191). The maqam dates back to the Ottoman period. For the residents of the nearby Palestinian village al-Majdal he was a local saint.

The maqam (5.04 x 5.15 x 3.10 m) was built on the ruins of a Byzantine church, which in its turn had been built on the ruins of the Samaritan synagogue dating back to the 5th century AD. Some of the Byzantine columns became the elements of a Muslim shrine. The cenotaph remained in the maqam but a mihrab is lost. There are the traces of the previous buildings: three Samaritan ritual baths (mikvaot), and Byzantine fragments of columns, mosaics, a wine press and a columbarium. Moreover, archaeologists discovered the remains of a small Muslim cemetery around the maqam (Reports 1994, 14).

10. Rebuilt Maqams and Modern replicas of Maqams

The first sign that an old Muslim shrine went through a thorough renovation or was rebuilt is the green color of its dome. The Palestinian Arabs started the tradition of painting the domes and the doors of a shrine green quite recently — ten years ago. In the old days all maqams had white domes. The travelers of the 19th and early 20th centuries note this (Geikie 1888, I 67; McCown 1922, 48); this can be seen in colour drawings of that time.

It can be assumed that green as the colour of the domes of Palestinian shrines arose under the influence of The Green Dome built above the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina, which was painted green in 1837. Masses of domes of the Palestinian mosques were repainted green at the beginning of this century. The dome of the Great Mosque of Jenin became green in 2005. The domes of the Sidna ‘Ali Mosque in Herzliya were painted green in 2007. The domes of the el-Zaytuna Mosque and the Jezzar Pasha Mosque in Acre turned green in 2009. The dome the Ras al-Amud Mosque in East Jerusalem is green since 2011. The central domes of the complex Neby Musa (Prophet Moses), located in the Judean Desert, were painted green in 2009.

Many domes of mosques and Islamic shrines were repainted green by "Al-Aqsa Foundation" ("مؤسسة الأقصى للوقف والتراث"), based in Umm el-Fahm (Post and photos of 2010; Post and photos of 2011; Post and photos of 2012).

Maqam Sheikh Ahmad el-Dajani
مقام الشيخ أحمد الدجاني
קבר שייח' אחמד אל-דג'אני

Not far from Turbat el-Kubakiya near Jerusalem hotel "Leonardo Plaza" stands the tomb of Sheikh al-Dajani. Apparently, this maqam is a modern replica or a rebuilt construction, possibly of the size and configuration of the old maqam.

Sheikh Ahmad el-Dajani (1459–1561) was the head of the Sufis in Jerusalem and a recognized religious leader. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent appointed him the keeper of the David tomb on the Mount Zion.

Picture 1940

Visited: 30.07.12
Coordinates: 31°46'38.1"N 35°13'03.6"E
Location of the object on Google Maps

Maqam Imam ‘Ali (Ramla)
مقام الإمام علي - الرمله
קבר אימאם עלי

Another tomb of Imam ‘Ali, or the tomb of another Imam ‘Ali is situated in Ramla. E. Palmer says: "The name applies to the kubbeh or 'shrine' at Biaret Heiderah — the wells of the declivity" (1881, 214). The structure was located on the old road from Ramla to Lod. In aerial photographs of Ramla of the 1940s can be clearly seen the object surrounded by the gardens.

среда, 16 января 2013 г.

11. Lost shrines

Small buildings of a cubic shape with white domes located on the top of the hills are part and parcel of the Palestinian landscape. At least, so it was until 1948. According to J. Geikie, "There is, however, in nearly every village, a small whitewashed building with a low dome — the "mukam," or "place," sacred to the eyes of the peasants. In almost every landscape such a landmark gleams from the top of some hill, just as, doubtless, something of the same kind did in the old Canaanite ages; or you meet it under some spreading tree covered with offerings of rags tied to the branches, or near a fountain; the trees overshadowing them being held so sacred that every twig falling from them is reverently stored inside the "mukam." Anything a peasant wishes to guard from theft is perfectly safe if put within such a holy building. No one will touch it, for it is believed that every structure of this kind is the tomb of some holy man, whose spirit hovers near, and would be offended by any want of reverence to his resting-place." (1888 I 578)

Travelers of the 19th and 20th centuries often depicted maqams, sometimes without even knowing their names and the name of a person buried there.

воскресенье, 16 декабря 2012 г.

12. Maqams that were Judaized

Maqam Abu Huraira (Tomb of Rabban Gamaliel)
مقام أبو هريرة
קבר רבן גמליאל

C. Clermont-Ganneau described this monument so: "At Yebna we pitched our tent near the wely of Abu Horeira. Inside this we noticed numerous fragments of marble, several stones with the medieval tool-marking, and two marble columns surmounted by their capitals. The outside of the building is rather a picturesque sight, with its lewain of three arches, its cupolas and its courtyard planted with fine trees. The consecration of the Sanctuary to the famous Abu Horeira, "the father of the little she cat," the companion of Mohammed, though it can be and has been disputed, and is certainly spurious, must date very far back" (ARP II 167–168).

Photo of 1930s

Marble columns with Corinthian capitals can still be seen today. Mausoleum in honor of Abu Huraira was built in 1293 in a purely Mamluk style and for centuries was the main religious building in Yavne. It consists of two rooms: the front room and the burial chamber, where in front of the mihrab a cenotaph used to stand. Above this room towers the central dome resting on an octagonal drum.

пятница, 14 декабря 2012 г.

13. Not maqams

El-Qasr. Structure at Height 367

To the south of Beit Jimal Monastery at a Height 367 stands a curious circular building with a dome, which from a distance looks like a maqam. Arabs called this building El-Qasr. But this is not a Muslim shrine, but some kind of fortification that may be connected somehow with the Monastery. It has two entrances – on the north and on the west. A round wall has four little loopholes which narrow closer to the front side. There is speculation that this building was used by Israeli forces in 1948. The loopholes look east and south of the Beit Jimal Monastery, the direction from which attacks of the Arab Legion were expected.

View from the north

14a. Abandoned Mosques. South

Mosque of Abu l-‘Awn
مسجد أبو العون
מסגד אבו אל-עון

On Google Maps this structure is called "Maqam Abu Liyun", although it was never a tomb. Arab residents of the village Jaljulia (a structure is located on the territory of the village cemetery) do not think it is maqam. It is an abandoned, or rather laid up, mosque. Metal structures and wooden props hold together and support the building, preventing it from falling apart.

The mosque had two vaulted rooms, but only the eastern one survived; the western room, which was higher, with a large dome (Petersen 2001, 176), was destroyed by the fire of British artillery during the World War I. Now the only memory left of this room is the remains of the arches. The mihrab in the eastern room survived, but it is difficult to see it because of the wooden props.

View from the west

The plan of the mosque and the mihrab (from the book by A. Petersen)

View from the south

According to one of the hypothesis, the name "Abu l-‘Awn" originates from the spiritual leader of the 15–16th centuries named Shams ed-Din Abu l-‘Awn Muhammad el-Ghazi, who also built a mosque Sidna Ali near Arsuf. According to another hypothesis, the mosque is named after a certain commander Salah al-Din (Saladin). At least the appearance of the mosque matches the architecture of 15–16th centuries.