Sunday, November 18, 2018

16. Muslim shrines in Lod

In 1930s there were two mosques and 14 Muslim shrines in Arabic city Ludd (Hebrew: Lod). Now both mosques continue to function, but 5 out of 14 shrines survived.

Arabic city Ludd. Photo of 1932

Mashhad sheikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf
مشهد الشيخ عبد الرحمن بن عوف
קבר שייח' עבד אל-רחמן בן עוף

‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf was one of the companions (ashabs) of Muhammad the Prophet. According to the tradition, he died in Medina and was buried in al-Baqi‘ cemetery. But the Muslims who lived in Palestine believed that Ibn ‘Awf was buried on their land, and they even built a mashhad (a shrine) in his honor to the east from the city of Ludd. An Arabic explorer Mudjir ad-Din mentioned this shrine (1496): “Near Ludd from the eastern side there is a mashhad, the the tomb of Abu Muhammad ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Aouf, the companion [of Muhammad], a supporter who died in 32 of Hegira” (Sauvaire 1876, 211).

Now the mashhad  Ibn ‘Awf is on the territory of an old Muslim cemetery. Almost nothing left from the Mamluk's building. A modern Prayer house is built on its basement, and only a green dome of the survived shrine marks the place where the cenotaph of Ibn ‘Awf is.

Route. This Muslim shrine is located in the eastern part of Lod, at the entrance to the city by Route 443 or via street ha-Hashmonaim.

Visited: 12.08.15
Coordinates: 31°57'16.4"N 34°54'18.2"E
Location of the object on Google Maps

Maqam sheikh Ibrahim as-Suwayq
مقام الشيخ ابراهيم
קבר שייח' איברהים

In the center of Lod, on Hashmonaim street (Route 443) there is an old Muslim cemetery; very untidy and neglected, despite the fact that it is under protection. Near the entrance to the cemetery stands Maqam sheikh Ibrahim nearly all covered with ivy. Only the north wall with a wide arch doesn’t have ivy on it. A. Petersen visited the maqam in 1994 and described it so: “The maqam consists of a rectangular cross-vaulted structure (4m x 4m) with a small dome in the top. The east face is open and there are windows in the north and south sides. The outlines of a grave or cenotaph can be seen outlined on the floor. An inscription dated to 1119 H. (1706–1707 CE) on the exterior of the building states that this is the tomb of Shaykh Ibrahim Suwayq” (2001, 209).

The old Muslim cemetery of Lod

Photo of 1994 (from the book by A. Petersen)
The exact dimensions of the structure are 4.66 x 4.50m. The entrance to the maqam is not on the east, but on the north-east side, where a wide arch is present. There is an inscription in Arabic on the north wall, however, to the right of the entrance. Dome of the maqam, apparently, completely covered with ivy. Note also that the tomb has no mihrab. Not so long ago the maqam was whitewashed and its floors were tiled. A modern tombstone with an inscription in Arabic “Muhammad al-Mabtuli” was installed instead of the cenotaph. Note that the Mosque of sheikh Ibrahim al-Matbuli (d. 1472), known even to researchers of the 19th century (Palmer 1881, 273; Stewardson 1888, 139), is located on the Tel Ashdod.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

14c. Abandoned Mosques. Golan Heights

Mosque in Kafr ‘Aqab
مسجد في كفر عقاب
מסגד בכפר עקיב

According to the photos made just after the Six-Days War in 1967, the mosque in Kafr ‘Aqab stood in the middle of the village. Now there is only a basement of the mosque and 1–1.5 m high walls on the hill. Almost nothing left from the minaret.

Photo of 1968

View from the south

View from the south-west

Route. On 20th km turn from Highway 92 to moshav Ramot and in 250 m to the left there is a hill with the ruins of Kafr ‘Aqab village.

Visited: 21.08.15
Coordinates: 32°51'46.4"N 35°39'16.1"E
Location of the object on Google Maps

Mosque in Khushniya
مسجد في الخشنية
מסגד בחושניה

This mosque is observable for all who take Highway 87 and pass a former Syrian (Cherkess) village Khushniya, as the mosque stands right near the road. It was built just before the Six-Days War and now is the only object left after Khushniya. The mosque is often made photos of due to its beautiful minaret with two rounded balconies.

The building is relatively safe, besides the south-western corner, which was destroyed during the 1967 war. The south wall with the mihrab is covered with Arabic and Jewish inscriptions left by modern visitors.

View from the north

View from the south

Thursday, November 8, 2018

14b. Abandoned Mosques. North

Mosque in ‘Amqa
مسجد في عمقا
מסגד בעמקה

The exterior of this mosque looks like the mosque in al-Ghabisiya (see next): the same beautiful three-arched portique (riwaq), approximately the same size of the Prayer hall decorated with high arched curves. Obviously, the mosque in ‘Amqa was built in the 19th century too. As in other villages of the Upper Galilee, the Druzes lived in ‘Amqa.

View from the north

  View from the north-west

Photo of 1990s

In September 1991, the mosque was studied by A. Petersen and made a detailed description, “This structure is located at the highest point of the rocky hillside on which the village was built. It is the only surviving building from the Arab village with the exception of a schoolroom now used as a warehouse (Khalidi 1992, 5).

The mosque consists of a domed prayer hall and an open portico (riwaq) divided into three cross-vaulted bays, each open to the north. The portico also has an open arch at the east end and a rectangular window at the west end. The area in front of the portico (now overgrown) was an open paved courtyard containing a deep cistern in the middle.

The prayer hall is entered through a doorway in the centre of the portico. Its hall is a large square room with massive corner piers supporting the springing of the dome. The interior is lit by a pair of windows on the west and east sides and windows either side of the main door. The area between the piers form wide recesses covered with tall arches. There is a small concave mihrab set into the south wall, slightly to the left (east) of centre, possibly to accommodate the minbar (now vanished) on the west side.

The dome rests directly on the pendentives without the intervention of a drum. The roof of the building is reached by a set of steps within the thickness of the west wall. The staircase is entered from a doorway set into the exterior of the west wall. The exterior of the dome and the flat parts of the roof are coated in a thick grey waterproof plaster. The lower part of the dome has near vertical sides whilst the upper portion has a shallow slightly pointed form. The entire structure is built out of ashlar masonry with a white plaster coating on the interior” (2001, 93).

Entrance to the mosque

Mihrab in the south wall

Western wall

The dome

Over 25 years the abandoned mosque looks quite the same way. Only the destruction process speeded up: the entrance to the Prayer hall is damaged, the east wall partly collapsed, as well as a mihrab in the south wall. Though the damages are not disastrous, the monument is in danger. The fallen wreckage with rubbish are heaped in front of the entrance to the mosque.

From time to time the organization Zochrot organizes excursions for refugees and their descendants in village ‘Amqa. Though we did not see any Muslim traces in the mosque.

Route. There is a turn from Highway 70 to a road leading to Israeli settlement ‘Amqa. You should pass the settlement till the eastern suburbs where there stands the abandoned mosque on the waste land.

Visited: 20.08.15
Coordinates: 32°58'38.2"N 35°10'05.0"E
Location of the object on Google Maps

Mosque in al-Bassa
مسجد في البصة‎ا
מסגד בבצת

A. Petersen commented this mosque as follows, “This appears to be a fairly modern construction, probably built in the early 1900s. It consists of a tall square room with a flat roof supported by iron girders. At the north-east corner is a short cylindrical minaret. There are tall pointed windows on all four sides and a mihrab in the middle of the south wall. At present the building is used as a sheep pen” (2001, 111).

View from the north

View from the south-east

Now this moque is located in the Industrial zone Shlomi, 50 m to the west from Maqam al-Khidr (see Section 7. Maqams. Galilee and the Golan Heights). In the the 1990s there was also a sheep pen, now the mosque is used like it was meant for. The Muslims restored it, installed a gutter, put a lock on the door and totally enclosed all the windows with iron bars and curtains. The majority of time the mosque is blocked. Only sometimes when Muslim pilgrims come there, the mosque is open and a prayer is exercised there. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

11b. Lost shrines. North

Only one out of 24 Muslim shrines (including Bedouin ones), which G. Schumacher saw in the Golan Heights, remained intact till present time. It is the shrine of sheikh Marzuk (see Chapter 7. Maqams. Galilee and the Golan Heights). The other shrines vanished completely.

A huge building of the Tomb of sheikh (or nabi) Abu an-Nida topped a volcanic Mount called Avital. This shrine was seen by J. L. Burckhardt in 1812 (1822, 314). The mountain in Arabic is called Tell Abu an-Nida. “Nida” means “dew”.

G. Schumacher described the tomb as follows, “The highest point of the Tell takes in the large Wely, or Makam Abu en-Neda. This is 38 feet long, 21 feet broad, 8 feet high, and has two whitewashed cupolas that can be seen in the whole country. The sepulcher of the great Moslem saint lies enveloped in silken cloth in the southern division of the building. In the afternoon the view from this Makam is magnificent, but in the morning thick misty clouds arise from the crater and obscure the whole country till 10 o'clock in the morning” (1888, 249). The mountain Received such mane due to this morning humidity.

There is also a curious piece of antiquity to be found on the roof of the Wely Abu en-Neda, viz., the peculiar image, 2 feet 3 inches high, of a bird, which is fashioned in basalt, and reminds one of Egyptian or Persian art. Unfortunately the head is wanting.” (1888, 250).

A picture from G. Schumacher's book

Fragment of the map of 1913

Tomb [of nabi] Abu an-Nida. Photo of 1968

The tomb [of nabi] Abu an-Nida has been probably existing up tot he Six-Days War in 1967, when the Golans Heights weere captured by Israel .Since then an Israeli military base has been established on the top of Tell Abu an-Nida, with mine fields around it. Anyway, according to military reports about the Golans during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, – the Musim shrine wasn`t mentioned in the descriptions of the Israeli positions in Tell Abu an-Nida.

Now the access to Mount Avital is blocked by Israeli officers. When looking at the top of the mountain which is densely built with military structures, one may think it is unlikely that something from the previous times could be saved.

Coordinates: 33°06'30.9"N 35°47'38.3"E
Location of the object on Google Maps
References: Burckhardt 1822, 314; Schumacher 1888, 194, 249–251; Palästina-Vereins IX, 351; The Archaeological Survey of Israel; iNature: Mount Avital Nature Reserve

Mount Avital. Photo of 1967

Mount Avital

On Mount Peres (Arabic: Tell al-Faras) there also was a Muslim shrine – the Tomb of nabi Hasan al-Jezzar. “One of the most peculiar volcanoes of Jaulan, and which, as an isolated mountain, visible from a far distance, has been already frequently mentioned by travellers. Its highest point in the south-east reaches a height of 3,110 feet (above sea level, and 787 feet above the surrounding plain), and on this top is the unadorned Moslem tomb, the Makam en-Nabi Hasan al-Jezzar, and a graveyard belonging to the Bedawin. The oval crater of the Tell which is still very distinctly preserved, opens towards the north. Between the Makam and the nouth of the crater the depth amounts to 108 feet. This latter has an opening of 18 feet by a depth of several feet; the natives call it Mugharah (cave), and often dig there for supposed treasure” (Schumacher 1888, 254).

On the aerophoto of Tell al-Faras made by the Israeli officers in 1967 and 1973, neither maqam, nor cemetery could be identified. Probably they had not existed by that time. Probably they had not existed by that time. Now on the top of Mount Peres is an Israeli military base.

Coordinates: 32°57'34.6"N 35°51'57.5"E
Location of the object on Google Maps

Mount Peres