Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 793 Dhu al-Qaeda (AD October 1st 1391)
The scribe is the Honourable Judge (Qadi), al-Ansari al-Shafi’i.
Ink on paper.
Length 27 cm, width 17.5 cm
An inheritance document written on paper in a script that is difficult to read. It consists of 15 lines, some parts of which are worn away in the middle of the first and second lines, resulting in the loss of the first name of the owner. The subject of the document is an inventory of inheritance (property) belonging to an invalid on his death-bed. The document details the possessions of the owner whose name is “[…] bin Husayn al-Mas'udi”, it includes a description of his possessions: a shirt, an old mattress, old outer garments (open in front) and a woollen head covering. The owner of the document worked as an attendant at the Madrasa Tankaziyya in Jerusalem. He also worked as a glazier, cutting glass and fitting it in houses. There are also details of a shop he was leasing out. The name of his wife was Zaynab, daughter of Muhammad bin Abd Allah Al-Iskankari, and he had three daughters: Fatima, Khatun and Rahma and one son, Muhammad. The document enumerates what is due to his wife with regard to the balance of the bridal dowry and what is due in terms of the shop lease. The owner of the document had relinquished his position in the Madrasa Tankaziyya to his son, Muhammad, on the basis of an agreement that the madrasa would oversee.
The owner of the document was probably conveying his instructions to Ahmad bin ‘Uthman bin Sayf al-'Attal and al-Hajj Ali bin Musa bin Ali al-Nahhas. The document was registered by the Right Honourable Judge (Qadi), al-Ansari al-Shafi'i, who practiced Islamic law in Jerusalem. It was signed by four witnesses; the names of each are recorded at the end of the document after the text of the statement which reads: “The aforementioned has been comprehended and witnessed accordingly”.
The document offers an important insight into the social and economic life in the city of Jerusalem during the Mamluk period. It illustrates the ways in which positions were exchanged and transferred from one person to the next; it details names and types of garments that were widespread among different social classes, as well as informing us about people's professions; it gives some indication of the costs of rents, and the general cost of living in Jerusalem at the time. Such documents reveal the workings of the court as an institution with a basic role in every aspect of life, and allow exploration of the administrative system of the city at that time.
Usually the will is enumerated after death; this one, however, was written in the presence of the owner on his death bed. He was a custodian at the Madrasa Tankiziyya and a glazier. It lists what the man will leave and to whom. It also includes instructions. The document bears a great deal of social and economic information about Mamluk Jerusalem.
The Islamic Religious Court (al-Mahkama al-Shar’iyya), Jerusalem
The document is dated.
This document was found among a collection of Mamluk documents stored in a box at the Islamic Museum in the mid-1970s. The documents are likely to have been in the archive of one of the Shari'a judges practicing in Jerusalem.
The document's place of issue is narrowed down to Jerusalem, suggested by the text.
Little, D. P., A Catalogue of the Islamic Documents from al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. Beirut, 1984.
Lutfi, H., Al-Quds al-Mamlukiyya: A History of Mamluk Jerusalem Based on Al-Haram Documents, Berlin, 1985.
Khader Salameh "Inheritance document" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;30;en
Prepared by: Khader SalamehKhader Salameh
Khader Salameh has been the Director of the Islamic Museum and Al-Aqsa Library in Jerusalem for more than two decades. He was previously employed in the Hebrew University Library and worked as a librarian in Saudi Arabia and as a teacher in Libya. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ottoman History. He received a Certificate of Librarianship in 1986 from the Hebrew University. He obtained his BA degree from Beirut University in 1980. He catalogued the Manuscripts Collections of the Haram al-Sharif, which was published in six parts in several countries. His publications include many articles on different subjects and a recent publication in English and Arabic on the Qur'an manuscripts in the Islamic Museum.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 30
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Women | Muslim Women as Patrons The Mamluks | Everyday life in the Mamluk Sultanate
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