Name of Object:

Pieces from the Nur al-Din Zangi minbar



Holding Museum:

Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif

 About Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem

Date of Object:

Construction of the minbar began in hegira 564 / AD 1169, and was completed in AH 570 / AD 1174

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Salman bin Ma’ali; Hamid Zafir; Abu al-Hasan bin Yahya; Fada’il and Abu al-Hasan Walidi Waladay Yahya al-Halabi.

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Interlocked pine, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, pearls, and ivory.


Length 245 cm, width 112 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Custom-made in Aleppo, Syria for al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.


A collection of panels formed from small and medium-sized pieces of interlocking pinewood representing all that remains of the Minbar of Nur al-Din Zangi, which was crafted in Aleppo as a good omen for the conquest of Jerusalem. The minbar was destroyed in a fire of 1969 which damaged some of the sections of al-Aqsa Mosque, especially the southern, qibla, wall. Nur al-Din Zangi ordered the production of the minbar while preparing for the conquest of Jerusalem but he died before he could retake the city, and Salah al-Din (Saladin) undertook the transportation of the minbar from Aleppo to Jerusalem in AH 583 / AD 1187.
The minbar was made from interlocking pine and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ivory and pearls. The different components that constitute it are attached to each other by means of wooden nails and, in addition, the interlocking technique (ta'sheeq) is employed. The minbar was made up of three sections: the entrance, which faced muqarnas tiers, a staircase and a podium, which was covered by a kiosk. The door was composed of two leafs, important sections of which remain. The entrance opened onto the staircase with a wooden enclosure on both sides, crafted in the mashrabiyya technique. The staircase leads to the podium where the khatib would deliver the sermon.
The minbar is rich in vegetal and geometric decorations as well as an arrangement of star-shaped medallions, each of which forms a complete decorative unit which, with the surrounding units, forms beautiful latticework (mashrabiyya). The minbar also has a collection of epigraphic inscriptions that contain Qur'anic verses and an endowment (waqf) inscription of Nur al-Din Zangi and his son al-Salih, who accomplished what his father began. This is in addition to the inscriptions which bear the name of the craftsmen who made the minbar. The minbar of Nur al-Din is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the Islamic wooden minbars.

View Short Description

The remains of a minbar destroyed in 1969 in a fire that damaged al-Aqsa Mosque. The minbar was commissioned by Nur al-Din Zangi in Aleppo as a good omen for the conquest of Jerusalem. Salah al-Din (Saladin) undertook its transportation to Jerusalem. The pieces have rich vegetal and geometric decoration, interlocking and star-shaped panels and names of the craftsmen.

Original Owner:

Nur al-Din Zangi (ruled in Syria AH 541–69 / AD 1146–74) and Salih bin Nur al-Din Zangi, Salah al-Din Ayyubi (known as Saladin, r. AH 564–89 / AD 1169–93)

How date and origin were established:

The minbar is dated by the epigraphic inscriptions it bears, and a number of historical sources, some of the most important being those of Abu Shama (d. 665 / 1267) and Ibn al-Athir (d. 630 / 1223) and Mujir al-Din al-Hanbali (d. 927 / 1520).

How Object was obtained:

The minbar was transferred from al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic Museum after the fire of 1969.

How provenance was established:

Aleppo was narrowed down as the place of production for the minbar, supported by both the epigraphic inscriptions on it and by historical sources.

Selected bibliography:

Abu Shama, al-Maqdisi, Dhail or Tarajim Rijal al-Qarnain al-Sadis wal-Sabi' [The Biographies of Famous People in the 6th and 7th Century], Cairo, 1947.
Al-A'arif, A., Tarikh Qubbat al-Sakhra wa al-Masjid al-Aqsa [The History of the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque], Jerusalem, 1955.
Abu Khalaf, M., Islamic Art Through the Ages: Masterpieces of the Islamic Museum of al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, 1998.
Al-Ansari, F., Minbar Nur al-Din Zengi [The Minbar of Nur al-Din Zangi], 1989, Jerusalem.
Mayer, L. A., Islamic Woodcarvers and their Works, Geneva, 1958.

Citation of this web page:

Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Pieces from the Nur al-Din Zangi minbar" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;pa;Mus01;16;en

Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'beh
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PA 16