Maqam of Nabi Musa
The maqam is located about 24 km to the east of Jerusalem and 7 km southwest of Jericho in a secluded desert environment, and offers the visitor peace and contemplation, Jerusalem
The dome was erected on the tomb and the mosque was built in AH 668 / AD 1269. The building was extended in AH 885 / AD 1480, and the minaret was built some time after AH 880 / AD 1475–6. The complex was restored several times subsequently, in AH 1013 / AD 1604; AH 1150/ AD 1737; AH 1175 / AD 1761; AH 1235 / AD 1819; AH 1303 / AD 1885
Restoration of the maqam took place during the Ottoman period at the hands of architects from the family of Husayn bin ‘Ali bin al-Namri, among whom was ‘Abd al-Muhsin bin Mahmud bin Husayn, the chief architect of Jerusalem and his brother, al-Hajj Karim.
The maqam dates to the Mamluk period but the building was extended and restored during the Ottoman period
The first sponsor of the maqam and complex was Sultan Zahir Baybars (r. AH 658–76 / AD 1260–77). The complex was restored during the Ottoman period by each of the following: ‘Ali Katkhuda ‘Azban; ‘Abd al-Latif al-Husayni; ‘Abdallah Pasha, governor of Sidon and Tripoli, and Muhammad Tahir al-Husayni, Mufti of Jerusalem.
The Maqam of the Prophet Musa (Moses) is one of the largest religious architectural complexes in Palestine comprising three levels: the basement, ground and first floors. Enclosed on all four sides, the complex covers an area of 5000 sq m. Its plan is almost square: the length of the north wall is about 74 m, the west wall about 70 m and the east wall 68 m. The south wall is the shortest at about 55 m.
There are five entrances that all open out into the complex. The principle entrance is the west portal, located on the south side of the west wall. The complex is built of sandstone of which only the upper courses are square-cut and well dressed.
The basement includes stables for horses and storage areas. The first and ground floors include more than 100 rooms and a series of halls, a minaret and a multiplicity of accoutrements. The mosque and the maqam, the most important sections of the complex,are at ground level. The mosque has a rectangular ground plan of 15 m x 10 m. It is composed of two aisles, with three cross vaults over each aisle. The maqam itself is located near the northwest cross vault. It has a square plan measuring 5.5 m. The middle of the maqam is smaller than its sides, measuring 4.7 m long, 1.6 m wide and 1.7 m high. It is built from well-dressed stone, and faces a west–east direction. It is encompassed within a wooden enclosure and covered by a kiswa of green cloth. The maqam is topped by a semi-circular dome supported by four pointed arches.
The maqam has been endowed by many awqaf. Historically the waqf of the Prophet Moses is considered one of the richest and most famous, providing free food and accommodation to visitors as well as salaries for a large number of employees – approximately 50. The employees included the waqf supervisor, sheikh of sheikhs, scribe, servant, custodian, gatekeeper, muezzin, torchbearer, sweeper, keeper of the Qur'an sections, and distributor of the Qur'an sections as well as other employees. The Maqam of the Prophet Moses occupies an important position in the history of the Palestinian people from a religious, architectural, social, folkloric and political point of view.
This is the largest and most famous of the maqamat (tomb sanctuaries) of Palestine. Its plan is almost square and it covers an area of 5000 sq m, with three levels. The complex includes stables, storage areas, a large mosque with a minaret and the room of the maqam as well as a number of porticoes and different facilities. These include 100 rooms crowned by domes for the residence of guests during the season. The complex is located in a unique desert environment on the Jerusalem–Jericho road. The maqam has an important place in Palestinian folklore and is associated with many social and political events.
The building is dated by five inscriptions found in the building, the most famous of which is the foundation inscription of Sultan Baybars, on which his titles and the date the dome was constructed appear (AH 668 (AD 1269)).
Al-'Asli, K., Mawsam al-Nabi Musa fi Filistin, Tarikh al-Mawsam wa al-Maqam [The Festival of the Prophet Moses in Palestine: The History of the Festival and the Maqam], Amman, 1990.
Murrar, K. M., Maqam al-Nabi Musa, Dirasat Tarikhiya wa Athariya wa Mi'mariya [The Maqam of the Prophet Moses: Historical, Archaeological and Architectural Study], Nablus, 1997.
Mukhlis, Abd A., “Kaifa wa Matta Bad'a Mausam al-Nabi Musa [How and When Does the Festival of the Prophet Moses Start?”, in Majallat huna al-Quds [Journal of Jerusalem], No. 6, 1942.
Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza, pp.142–4.
Yusuf al-Natsheh "Maqam of Nabi Musa" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;pa;Mon01;14;en
Prepared by: Yusuf Al-NatshehYusuf al-Natsheh
Yusuf Said Natsheh is a Palestinian and since 1997 he has been Director of the Department of Islamic Archaeology in al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. He is a lecturer at al-Quds University. He was educated in Jerusalem and Cairo and in 1997 obtained his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Dr Natsheh is a council member of many Palestinian societies for architectural heritage and a consultant for various projects on Jerusalem. He has written books and more than 40 articles about Jerusalem's architectural heritage including the architectural survey of Ottoman architecture in R. Hillenbrand and S. Auld (eds) Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City 1517–1917 (London: Altajir World of Islam Trust, 2000). He has contributed to many international and national conferences. He supervised the restoration project, sponsored by the Arab League, on Mamluk monuments in and around al-Haram al-Sharif, and was Palestinian expert for the UNESCO mission to Jerusalem in 2004.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: PA 14
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