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Name of Monument:
Also known as: Sanctuary of Abraham (the Ibrahimi Mosque)
The mosque is located close to the southwest corner of the old city of Hebron, Hebron (al-Khalil), Palestinian TerritoriesDate of the monument:
First century BC; AH 492 / AD 1099Period / Dynasty:
From the Roman period to the end of the Ottoman periodPatron(s):
A number of rulers, princes and sultans oversaw the construction, renovations and restorations of Haram al-Ibrahimi. Among them were: Herod (r. 37–4 BC) whom it is likely built the enclosure; Badr al-Din Jamali, the amir of the Fatimid armies; the Crusader Kings of Jerusalem, Salah al-Din Ayyubi (known as Saladin, r. AH 564–89 / AD 1169–93), who restored the Islamic identity to the site and completely renovated it; Amir Tankaz al-Nasiri, deputy to the sultanate in Bilad al-Sham during the period AH 712–40 / AD 1312–40; Sultan Zahir Barquq (ruled twice AH 784–91 / AD 1382–9 and AH 792–801 / AD 1390–9) and Amir ‘Alam al-Din Sanjar al-Jawali, overseer of the two harams (al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem and this one in Hebron).Description:
The Haram al-Ibrahimi is associated with the father of the prophets Ibrahim (Abraham), and is considered to be the fourth most important religious site in Islam (after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem), and the second holiest place after the Aqsa Mosque in Palestine. The Haram al-Ibrahimi consists of a large building with a rectangular floor plan of approximately 60 m x 34 m. The building is surrounded by a great wall built from large blocks of fine cut stone. The Haram has two minarets dating to the Mamluk period. The height of each of them is around 15 m from the surface of the building.How monument was dated:
The interior of the building includes a congregational mosque and an open courtyard, as well as arcades, rooms, corridors, domes, and a grotto (known as “al-Ghar”), in addition to a series of graves which were designated for the Prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives.
The principle prayer hall is rectangular, about 28 m x 21 m. It consists of three aisles, the middle one being the largest and the highest of them. The prayer hall was originally designed as a church, since it was erected by the Franks on a Romanesque model after they destroyed the mosque that was originally on the site in AH 492 / AD 1099. When Salah al-Din Ayyubi (Saladin) reclaimed the city of Hebron in AH 583 / AD 1187, the church was transformed into a mosque and the present mihrab was added to it.
The wooden minbar which stands today to the right of the mihrab, dates to the Fatimid period and was commissioned by Badr al-Din Jamali in AH 484 / AD 1092. It was brought to the Haram by Salah al-Din from Ashqelon (which lies roughly 50 km south of Jaffa). This minbar is considered the oldest Islamic wooden minbar still in use. It is in good condition and considered a masterpiece in both workmanship and design.
The walls of the prayer area are panelled with polychrome marble, one of the works commissioned by Amir Tankaz in AH 733 / AD 1332. On the northern wall of the prayer hall, where the opening of the holy underground grotto “al-Ghar” is, there is a platform (dikkat al-muballigh) from which the prayer leader recites. This was built in AH 732 / AD 1331, and is composed of marble pillars and capitals.
To the north of the mosque lies an open courtyard surrounded by porticoes and rooms. In the northwest corner of the courtyard is the Malikiyya Prayer Hall consisting of an iwan with a rectangular ground plan. In the southern wall of the courtyard, there is a beautiful mihrab commissioned by Sultan Barquq. There is a portico located at the extension of the western wall of the mosque that is known today as the Jami' al-Nisa (The Women's Mosque). This was an addition sponsored by Amir Shihab al-Din al-Yaghmuri in AH 796 / AD 1393–4.
The Masjid al-Jawali is integral to the Haram al-Ibrahimi although it is not possible to see it from the outside. The west wall of the Masjid al-Jawali is in fact the east wall of the enclosure of the Haram, while the east, north and south walls of the Masjid are hewn from the rock. This mosque was built in AH 720 / AD 1320 by order of Amir 'Alam al-Din Sanjar al-Jawali. It is composed of three arched arcades with intersecting vaults that bear great stone piers. In the middle of the mosque there is a fine, stone dome whose corners are characterised by muqarnas decoration. In the qibla wall there is a mihrab which has been hewn from the rock and panelled with polychrome marble. It is provided with a beautiful semi-dome structure which is also decorated in coloured marble.
The building is dated by inscriptions, which are further supported by historical information.Selected bibliography:
'Amru, Y., Khalil al-Rahman al-Arabiya [al-Khalil, the Arab City], Hebron, 1985.Citation of this web page:
Al-Hanbali, Mujir al-Din, (d. 927 / 1520), Al-Uns al-Jalil fi Tarikh al-Quds wa al-Khalil [The Significant Ambiance in the History of Jerusalem and Hebron], Amman, 1973.
Vincent, L. H., and Mackay E. J. H., Hebron – Le Haram El Khalil, Paris, 1923.
Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza, pp.202–4.
Yusuf al-Natsheh "Haram al-Ibrahimi" in Discover Islamic Art. Place: Museum With No Frontiers, 2014. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;pa;Mon01;13;en
Prepared by: Yusuf Al-Natsheh
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 13