Saturday, October 20, 2018

9. Maqams. Judean Desert and Negev

Maqam [sheikh] Hasan ar-Ra‘i
مقام حسن الرعيعي
מקאם א-רעי

T. Canaan writes in his book on the Palestinian Muslim shrines, “Many a built maqam is an open sanctuary, where the walls of the roof rest on pillars. The best example of such a shrine is that of Hasan er-Ra'i, who was supposed to have been the shepherd of the prophet Moses. Inside of a rectangular enclosure, built of stones and mortar, we see an elongated and vaulted roof which rests on six pillars, three to the north and three to the south. Between these pillars is the large tomb” (1927, 17–18).

Then T. Canaan says, “Between the two northern vaults of the shrine of Hasan er-Ra‘i (near the Nebi Musa) we read: "Mohammed Pasha, the doer of good, has erected this blessed qubbeh on Hasan er-Ra‘i, God sanctify his secret, as he (the Pasha) was returning from welcoming the Mohammedan pilgrims. He proceeded in building but found no water. But because of his high zeal, God protect him, the water was brought to the place from the village of Jericho. Thus he deserved the heavenly reward. The 1 Rabi‘ 1110 (1698 AD)"” (1927, 20).

Now there is no this inscription there. The maqam's walls and columns have been plastered and painted a few times, and now they are covered with different inscriptions left by numerous pilgrims and tourists.

View from the east

Photo of 1934

Photo of 1934

Since 19th century, this shrine has been quite popular with visitors. Apparently, this tomb was seen by the Russian traveler A. Muravyov, passing in 1830 through Nabi Musa. In his book, he noted: “Near the monastery of dervishes (Nabi Musa) are the tombs of two sheikhs with a fresh spring for passing” (1840, II 27).

V. Guérin who visited the maqam in 1863, described it as follows, “At 10:10 we are passing a small fence with the wely in the centre. The welly is topped with two little domes and, also covers the remains of the saint. This kurgan chapel is called Qabr ar-Ra‘i. Ar-Ra‘i is a friend for the Muslims and a confidant of Nebi Musa or Moses” (Samarie I 20).

C. Clermont-Ganneau says, “the kubbeh of a small wely, called Kubbet er ra‘y, “the shepherd's cupola." Here, according to local tradition, rests Sheikh Hasan, the "Shepherd of Moses"” (ARP II 48). Ar-Ra‘i is derived from Arabic and means “shepherd”.

This shrine played an important role in a seven-day religious celebration (the Nabi Musa Festival), that was celebrated annually by Palestinian Muslims, beginning on the Friday before Good Friday in the old Greek Orthodox calendar.

View from the north-east

The cenotaph

The mihrab in the south side of a rectangular fence

What is more, T. Canaan noted that Qabr er-Ra‘i has three mihrabs (1927, 14). Nowadays there is one mihrab in the maqam, which is located in the south side of a rectangular fence (15 x 10 m). According to Canaan, “Earth gathered from Qabr er-Ra‘i dissolved in water and given to cattle will guard them from disease” (1927, 110).

Route. The maqam is located 850 m to the south-west from Nabi Musa. You can reach it via an asphalt road. Since 1995 the Palestinian National Authority have been taking control over the religious complex Nabi Musa and nearby shrines.

Visited: 06.08.18
Coordinates: 31°46'52.0"N 35°25'29.6"E
Location of the object on Google Maps

References: Muravyov 1840, II 27; Saulcy 1853, II 172 (“oualy Qobr-er-Raay”); Guérin, Samarie I 20 (“Kabr er-Ra’ai”); SWP III 231; Clermont-Ganneau, ARP II 48 (“Kubbet er ra‘y”); Canaan 1927, 14, 17–19, 20, 105, 110, 199 (“Qabr er-Ra‘i”); The Archaeological Survey of Israel
Addition: Panorama

Maqam sitna ‘Aisha
مقام سيتة عايشة
קבר סתנא עיישא

Sitna (i.g. Lady) ‘Aisha was a beloved wife of Muhammad the Prophet. She was titled Umm al-Muminin (“the mother of the faithful”). She was worshipped by Sunnites as a hadith (the stories of the Prophet's life). She was traditionally buried at Jannat al-Baqi‘ cemetery in Medina. But also there is a tomb of sitna ‘Aisha in Palestine, nearby the shrine of Nabi Musa, to the east from Jerusalem.

View from the east

View from the north-west

T. Canaan called this shrine a masjid (mausoleum) and described it as follows, “Masdjid sittna ‘Aisha in the neighborhood of Nabi Musa has vault resting on four comer pillars, where the south side has been completely closed, and the eastern and western only partly built. A simple, square handsome building with the northern side completely opened, and the east and west sides partly open, stands on the site of the old enclosure. No tomb, cistern nor tree is connected with this place” (1927, 18, 61).

Sunday, October 14, 2018

8. Maqams. Samaria

Tomb of nabi Isma‘il
مقام النبي إسماعيل
קבר נבי ישמעאל

The tomb of nabi Isma’il refers to Palestinian village Burin (to the south from Nablus) and was initially called the maqam of sheikh Abu Isma‘il or even Abu Isma‘in. The name kept on to be mentioned in the early 20h century, and the Palestinian map of G. Shumaher.

During the British Mandate sheikh Abu Isma‘in turned into nabi Isma‘il, probably there was an allusion to patriarch Ishmael from the Old Testament. The residents of Burin made such a change in order to attract pilgrims to the tomb, as they got extra revenue from that.

However, the nearest mountain is called Jebel Abu Isma‘il and in modern booklets the tomb is called Abu Isma‘il shrine (title nabi avoided) (Burin Village Profile, p. 6). Thus, it is gradually ganging back to the initial name of the shrine.

View from the south

View from the west

The dome

The structure is quite a prominent building, more than 4 m high, with a dome 1.5 m. The entrance is from the north. The inner plan resembles the tomb of nabi Kifl (see Section 2. Tombs of the Prophets): the same two interconnecting vaulted chambers, separated with an arch. A small mihrab without decorations stands at the south wall in the second chamber. No traces of cenotaph anywhere.

The shrine is surrounded with stone wall with a few entrances. The northern part of the wall forms a small yard in front of the entrance to the tomb. Nearby the tomb to the west there are a few building of different purposes. Some of them are probably hammams (bathhouses). The shrine is located on the edge of the steep slop of the mountain. It used to be observable from the road to Nablus, but now it is hidden in the shadow of trees.

A small yard in front of the entrance to the tomb

Inside the tomb

After, in 1983 Har Brakha, an Israeli settlement was established as well as an especially advanced outpost Giv'at Sne Ya'akov on Jebel Abu Isma‘il, the residents of Burin lost control over their shrine. The Jewish among the Israeli people perceived that tomb’s name as a reference to Ishmael from the Old Testament, who was the ancestor of Arabs and made a Hebrew inscription on the tomb’s wall: “Eretz Israel (The Land of Israel) is for nation Israel (Jewish), and not for Isma’il (Arabs)”.

The Jewish set a few wooden tables and benches and made somewhat like a rest area on the lawn nearby.

Route. At the checkpoint of Huwwara turn to the road leading to Israei settlement Har Brakha. In 1.3 km at the crossroad turn left and follow a track road 300 m up the tomb.

Visited: 07.08.18
Coordinates: 32°10'37.7"N 35°16'06.6"E
Location of the object on Google Maps

Maqam imam ‘Ali (Qusin)
مقام الإمام علي
מקאם אימאם עלי

One more dilapidated Muslim shrine is in Samaria, nearby Israeli settlement Kdumim, on the territory of the Industrial zone of this settlement. 

It is the fifth Palestinian maqam of imam ‘Ali, which used to belong to Arabic village Qusin. The European explorers of the 19th century knew this shrine and marked it on the PEF map of 1879 (Sheet XI).

When the maqam turned to be on the Israeli Industrial zone, it became difficult for Plestinian Arabs to visit it.

The structure is 5.22 x 5.08 m and consists of a domed burial chamber with the entrance on the north side. There is a mihrab in the south wall and a small niche (taqah) for a lighter in the west wall. The interior of the maqam is very simple: there is no vaulted arches or decorations. Though the brickwork witnesses that a building is quite ancient. It can be dated to the Ottoman period.

View from the north

View from the south

 View from the south-west

On the west wall a big Star of David drawn by the Jewish settlers. There are quite a few Hebrew inscriptions both inside the and outside. There are also some old Arabic inscriptions.

A slow destruction of the shrine is going on: the wall with the mihrab has partly collapsed, a big hole has appeared in the dome, the west wall has cracked outside.

Monday, October 8, 2018

7. Maqams. Galilee and the Golan Heights

Maqam al-Khidr in al-Bassa
مقام الخضرة
מקאם אל-חידר

It is a monumental building, which used to be a jewel of Palestinian village al-Bassa, and now it stands in an Israeli settlement called Shlomi.

W. Khalidi commented on it, “The Muslim shrine is domed and stands deserted in the midst of many trees, including two palms” (1992, 9). A. Petersen described it as follows, “The maqam consists of two parts, a walled courtyard and a domed prayer room. There is a mihrab in the south wall of the courtyard and a doorway in the east wall leading into the main prayer room. The dome is supported by pendentives springing from four thick piers which also support wide side arches. In the middle of the south wall there is a mihrab next to a simple minbar made of four stone steps” (2001, 111).

View from the west

Photo of 1992 (from the book by A. Petersen)

The maqam is dedicated to a holy man al-Khidr, who is according to the Muslim traditions a Quranic teacher of Musa the Prophet (18:65–82). He is also associated with biblical Elijah the Prophet.

The western wall is 9.20 m long, and the south – 8.85 m. A spacious prayer room let the maqam to be used as a little mosque. The minbar proves that, as well as one more mihrab in the inner yard. Probably, this structure served as a mosque for the Muslims of al-Bassa until a new spacious mosque was built in the settlement in the 19th century. The question is: was there the sheikh's cenotapn inside the maqam? Only the cenotaph could characterize this building as a maqam. Now it is very difficult to find out the existence of the cenotaph. The floor is covered with wreckage, planks and rubbish.

View from the south

View from the east

View from the north

The minbar and mihrab in the south wall

Inside the maqam

The dome

W. Khalidi saw 2 palm trees in the yard, A. Petersen saw only one. Now this very palm tree fell down and blocked the entrance to the shrine. When comparing the photo in Petersen's book with the current view, you may notice further destruction. The south wall of the inner yard is badly damaged, though the mihrab partly survived. The west, east and south walls of the maqam started to collapse. The overall condition of the monument is quite deplorable.

Route. The maqam is located to the east from industrious zone Shlomi and to the north from Highway 899 that goes through the settlement. Here is a historic quartal, where besides the maqam abandoned orthodox and catholic churches, and also a family house of the al-Khuri.

Visited: 19.08.15
Coordinates: 33°04'41.4"N 35°08'36.2"E
Location of the object on Google Maps
References: Khalidi 1992, 9; Petersen 2001, 111; Zochrot: al-Bassa

Maqam sheikh Abreik (Bureik)
مقام الشيخ بريك
קבר שייח' אבריק

In the scientific research literature of the 19th century the maqam of sheikh Abreik is mentioned quite often. It is one out of five the most famous Muslim shrines in Palestina. A village named Cheik Abrit was marked on Jacotin's map in 1799. During the Palestinian campaign of N. Bonapart the height, where the settlement is located played an important strategic role.

Researchers called the sheikh differently: Abrek, Abreik, Ibreik, Ibrak, Bureik, Burayk. The maqam is dated to the 16th century, though has been often rebuilt since then. C. Conder described sheikh Abreik as a small village situated on a hill with a conspicuous Maqam (Sanctuary) located to the south (SWP I, 273).

 View from the north

Photo of 1950