Palestine entered the possession of Islam since the year 16 AH, when it was conquered by Omar ibn al-Khattab – may God be pleased with him – and after him it became a haven for all Muslims from the East to the West. It contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque, to which worshipers, scholars and righteous people flocked, and it contains major historical cities such as Hebron, the city of Hebron. Ibrahim – peace be upon him – and the location of his burial place, in which is Ashkelon rose In its virtue there are hadiths that motivate Muslims to be united in the face of enemies, and it includes Gaza, where one of the grandfathers of the Messenger of God died, so that it was known by his name, “Gaza Hashim,” and it is where Imam Al-Shafi’i was born.
This historical and religious importance of Palestine made it the focus of attention of caliphs, sultans, and philanthropists from the Rashidun era until the Ottoman era. Each generation was keen on reconstruction, construction, and establishing public services in various educational, religious, health, social, and other fields. Among these sultans who controlled Palestine and expelled the Mongols from its outskirts and from the entire Levant, we will find the Turkish Mamluks and Circassians who ruled Egypt, the Levant and the Hijaz, with Palestine at its heart, for a period of nearly two and a half centuries. History has recorded the facilities they established there, many of which still remain. until today.
Endowments of the early Mamluks
It is noteworthy that most of these establishments were endowments, and the endowment is the confinement of the asset and the granting of the benefit. That is, stopping land, real estate, shops, and other things that bring in a flow of money, and making this money confined to religious, educational, health, service, or social institutions on a perpetual basis, from which all Muslims will benefit throughout generations and ages. With this endowment, the train of Islamic civilization took off and flourished, and the nation was urged to She has the keys to her renaissance and the fulfillment of her needs.
Ibn Khaldun praised the endowment system and its prosperity in the Islamic East during the time of the Mamluks. He was the one who came to Mamluk Egypt in the late fourteenth century AD and settled there in the last quarter century of his life. He found endowments one of the strongest reasons that led to the recovery of this state, and he said: “ I do not know what God has done to the East and to think of it is the hypocrisy of (the spread of) knowledge there, and the continuity of education in the sciences, and in all other necessary and perfect trades, due to its abundance of development and civilization, and the existence of support for the seekers of knowledge by earning money from the endowments with which their livelihoods have expanded”(1).
Although the Mamluk endowments and what they created in the science and charitable markets caught the attention of Ibn Khaldun in Egypt, they increased them in Palestine, and one of the most prominent donors to them was Sultan al-Zahir Baibars al-Bunduqdari, whose reign witnessed the reconstruction of mosques, associations, and religious institutions in Egypt and the Levant. He also focused most of his attention on Jerusalem. In the year 659 AH, the year immediately following his ascension to power, he ordered the collection of funds necessary for construction. He sent craftsmen and machines to repair the Dome of the Rock, which had collapsed. He also reconstructed the Dome of the Silsila near it and decorated it, and devoted to it the revenues of the villages of Nablus, Hebron, and others (2).
Three years later, Baibars sent a new mission to repair and rebuild the Holy City by restoring its mosques and schools. For this reason, his princes hastened to reconstruct Jerusalem according to his approach, including Prince Aydaghdi al-Basir, who established the “Ribat al-Basir” near the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He also established a mosque in the city of Jericho, and he endowed many villages in Palestine to spend their proceeds on the price of bread and sandals for those from the neighbors who would return to Jerusalem. And travelers, ascetics, and hermits (3).
When Baibars visited Jerusalem in the year 661 AH to inspect its conditions, he allocated five thousand dirhams every year to Al-Aqsa Mosque to spend on managing its urban and intellectual affairs. He also personally reviewed the old endowments that Muslim caliphs and kings had endowed to the mosque, and stressed their protection and preservation. He also paid attention to renewing the Shrine of Abraham. Peace be upon him – in the city of Hebron, and he increased the salaries that were paid to visitors and neighbors. He also decided to appoint new endowments, so he made the proceeds from the crops of the village of Idhna, near Hebron, exclusively for the shrine of Abraham, its visitors, and those residing there (4).
Al-Zahir Baybars also established a permanent tablecloth or table throughout the year in the city of Hebron. This tablecloth turned into a Mamluk-sultan institution that the sultans were keen to care for, endow it, appoint employees and supervisors, and determine their monthly salaries. These endowments at the table of the shrine of Ibrahim Al-Khalil – peace be upon him – continued until Sultan Barquq came more than a century later and added to it the village of Deir Istiya, located southwest of Nablus, as an endowment for this table, and he engraved the text of this endowment document on the threshold of the eastern door of the Ibrahimi Mosque (5).
Among the most famous Mamluk sultans who came after al-Zahir Baibars and who took care of the city of Jerusalem and its facilities and endowments was Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun, who reconstructed the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the western side of the one next to the west at the Mosque of the Prophets. He also established a group for Sufis at Bab al-Nazir called the “Mansuri Ribat,” and he also established the arches on the two northern steps. In the courtyard of the Dome of the Rock, he renovated Bab al-Qattanin, and he also created the Sabil Canal located at the Sultan’s Pool outside the walls of Jerusalem from the west. Then Al-Mansur Qalawun made annual allocations for Al-Aqsa Mosque, and took care of the endowments for the city and its development, and his son, Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun, came to complete the charitable work that his father Al-Mansur had done. Al-Rabat Al-Mansouri stopped several olive groves west of Gaza City, and several other villages in the northern Palestinian areas (6).
Al-Jawli and his contribution to Jerusalem and Hebron
Historians count the area of agricultural land that was allocated to mosques and schools in the Levant and Palestine during the reign of Al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun, and estimate it at one hundred and thirty thousand acres in the Levant alone. Sultan Al-Nasser Muhammad appointed Prince Sanjar Al-Jawli as Emir of Gaza, and then the matter developed until he became the governor of all of Palestine. This Emir established a large mosque in the city of Hebron, and construction continued for three years. This mosque is located near the northeastern wall of the Ibrahimi Mosque, as this mosque was established with its own money and not the state’s money. Today we will see the inscription on one of the walls of the mosque: “It was established in the days of our master, Sultan King Al-Nassir… with the poor servant looking to God Almighty, Sanjar bin Abdullah Al-Nasiri.” Of his money, may God have mercy on him, and nothing was spent on him from the sanctuary, it was written on the date of Rabi’ al-Akhir in the year seven hundred and twenty” (7).
Prince Sanjar al-Jawli added a hallway next to this mosque to serve as a kitchen designated for distributing food to the poor, neighbors, and visitors. The cities of Jerusalem and Hebron were known for the existence of kitchens allocated to the poor, neighbors, and visitors, free of charge. This custom goes back to times that preceded the Mamluk era. When the Persian traveler Nasir Khusraw visited the city of Hebron in the year 439 AH, he found a guest house in it above the mosque, saying: “And on the roof of the shrine in the scene Rooms for incoming guests, and many endowments from the villages and items (shops and other things) in Jerusalem were given to them” (8).
The historian Ibn Fadlallah Al-Omari visited the city of Hebron in the year 745 AH, and he visited this kitchen and oven that Al-Jawli had established, and he said about it: “I visited Hebron, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him, in Dhul-Hijjah in the year seven hundred and forty-five, and a group of direct employees (employees) told me that on some nights of this month This year, they divided more than thirteen thousand loaves of bread, and most days of the year are between seven thousand and ten thousand. Along with the bread, lentils are also separated with good oil and sumac. During the day, a pot of dish is also cooked and distributed to those who come in. And in some parts of the week, something that is more luxurious than That” (9).
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the historian of Jerusalem and Hebron, Mujir al-Din al-Alimi, praised this kitchen devoted to God, and spoke about its various sections. He mentioned that it was designated for making garisha for neighbors and visitors, and the tablecloths that were distributed to the people of the country and visitors were made at three times every day. The amount of bread that was made daily was estimated at fourteen thousand loaves, amounting to fifteen thousand at times, and Mujir al-Din added that the endowment capacity of this kitchen was hardly controlled, and that no one was withheld from it, neither the rich nor the poor, and it included six mills. And three ovens, and a huge warehouse for wheat and barley. He described the speed of work in these ovens in the tenth century AH, such that the wheat entered the warehouse, then to the mills, then to the kneading and baking, and then came out with bread, such that the stores ran out quickly, and that there was a very large number of workers. In this kitchen, oven and accessories (10).
All of this is thanks to the endowments established by Prince Sanjar al-Jawli, who was a pious and devout man, of the Shafi’i doctrine, originally from Diyarbakir. His establishments did not stop there, but rather he established the al-Jawliyya School in Jerusalem in the northwestern corner of Al-Aqsa Mosque Square. Today, this school is located within what is known as the National Knowledge Kindergarten, or what is also known as the Omariya School. After their occupation of Palestine, the British turned this school into a police station in 1936 AD, then volunteers took over it in 1948 AD under the leadership of Abdul Qadir Al-Husseini (11).
We mentioned in a previous article about Ibn Battuta's Journey to Palestine The most important urban achievements established by Prince Al-Jawli in Gaza City, the headquarters of his governorship, where he made it one of the most urbanized cities of the Mamluk state in the health, educational, religious and other fields, the most famous of which is his university in Gaza. Even the historian Najm al-Din al-Ghazi, who was born more than two centuries later, says about the size of this. The mosque and its breadth: “Every night of Ramadan, about four hundred horsemen came out of it with those who came to pray in it, in addition to those who came to it without that, and there were many scholars, teachers, and imams from the four schools of thought, and at its door were two water bowls (pots) of The two marbles, facing each other, are filled with intoxication every night of Ramadan, from which both inside and outside drink. Many endowments have been made for him in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere.” (12)
Endowments of the late Mamluks
In the fifteenth century, Sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay arrived in the Sultanate, and before that he held the position of overseer of the Two Holy Mosques “Jerusalem and Hebron” in Palestine. He reconstructed and developed the endowments, and endowed the Two Holy Mosques with the revenues of many villages, which he mentioned engraved and attached to the wall of the Holy Rock facing the qibla of the mihrab. Palestinian historians note that the documentation of Mamluk endowments on the walls of mosques still exists to this day, as the type of endowment, the date of its establishment, and the name of the Sultan are recorded. Among the endowments that Barsbay endowed, we find the villages of Al-Auja and Al-Nubaama in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, on the Dome of the Rock, and the endowment plaque is still carved near the eastern door of the Dome of the Rock (13).
All those who came after Barsbay, such as the Sultans Jaqmaq, Inal, and Khashkadam, followed his example. They granted endowments to Jerusalem and Hebron, sent large copies of the Qur’an to them, and sought to undo the injustices. The truth is that “the strength of religious feeling among the Mamluk sultans, their princes, and their notables was an incentive for their spending on the interests of the Two Holy Mosques (Jerusalem and Hebron) and their people, and this spending was represented in gifts, gifts, and charity” (14).
As for Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay, he is considered one of the most famous of the late Mamluk sultans who expanded construction, reconstruction, and endowments in Al-Quds Al-Sharif. Some of his schools, pathways, and repairs in the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque still remain to this day, and the most important of them is the Ashrafieh School, which is located inside Al-Aqsa Mosque near Bab Al-Silsilah. It was also called Al-Sultaniyya, as it was built for the first time during the time of Sultan King Al-Zahir Khashqadam (865 AH / 1461 AD), then it was rebuilt in the year (887 AH / 1482 AD) during the time of Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaytbay, and it was considered a magnificent pearl in Jerusalem after Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Because of the richness of its building with exquisite architectural and decorative elements, Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaytbay arranged for it sheikhs, jurists, and teachers of Sufi and jurisprudential teachings. The majority of it was demolished in an earthquake (903 AH/1497 AD), then it was restored to its previous state (15).
These are some of the endowments of the Mamluk sultans in Palestine in general, and Jerusalem and Hebron in particular, and they demonstrate the extent of the interest of these sultans and princes in this precious piece of Islamic land. There are many endowments and other facilities that they established, but there is not enough space to mention them, and they are also evidence of the extent of the importance of Palestine in the history of Islam in general.
(1) Introduction by Ibn Khaldun, p. 551.
(2) Ibn Kathir: The Beginning and the End 13/205.
(3) Ibn Taghri Bardi: Al-Nujoom Al-Zahira 7/121.
(4) Fayez Al-Zamili: Endowments in Palestine during the Mamluk Era, pp. 63, 64.
(5) Khalil Athamneh: Palestine in Five Centuries, p. 429.
(6) Al-Asali: Institutes of Science, p. 224.
(7) Othman Al-Tal: Prince Sanjar Al-Jawli and his urban achievements in Palestine, pp. 301, 302.
(8) Nasser Khosrow: travel book p.86.
(9) Ibn Fadlallah Al-Amri: Masalik Al-Absar fi Masalik Al-Amsar, p. 223.
(10) Al-Alimi: Al-Ans Al-Jaleel in the History of Jerusalem and Hebron 1/148.
(11) Othman Al-Tal: Prince Sanjar Al-Jawli and his urban achievements in Palestine, pp. 301, 302.
(12) Mustafa Al-Tabbaa: Ithaf Al-Azza fi Tarikh Gaza 2/220.
(13) Endowments in Palestine during the Mamluk Era, p. 69.
(14) Endowments in Palestine, p. 70.
(15) Al-Alimi: Al-Anas Al-Jalil in the History of Jerusalem and Hebron 2/35, 36, 325.