Sunday, May 09, 2021

Jews in the Temple Mount 1833

What were two Jewish youngsters doing in the Temple Mount in 1833, reportedly?

Found here, in an article by Judith Mendelsohn Rood:

An example of the relations between the Muslim community of Jerusalem and the Khedival government is a case involving the Jewish community. On 11 July, 1833, in the period before the 1834 rebellion, a group of Khedival soldiers, along with a servant of the al-Aqsa Mosque escorted a Jewish youth, aged 15, to the shari'a court.27 They explained that some workers had found him in the draperies of the windows in the mosque. The mutasallim decided that the court should consider the case, and called for an investigation to be conducted by himself and a group of Muslims to ascertain what the “scoundrel,” who is not named in the document, did. The investigators found that the youth had broken most of the stained glass in a large window above the mihrab, as well as damaging the tops of some of the columns above the mi hrab which were found crushed and broken. They also found three broken windows to the right of the mi hrab above the school door. The stained glass in question “had been fashioned in an adroit way out of coloured gypsum in a strange and wonderful form long ago; this method is no longer used in this city.” They also found that the youth had come from the Maghariba quarter through a garden known as the Khatuniya and from there through the school known as Dar al-Aqsa, which is attached to the mi hrab.

This alleged vandalism had caused chaos (balbala) and the document records that “it seemed proper to turn the case over to highest authority because such a thing had never before been encountered.” According to the document, “[a]ll of the people of Islam grieved over this, and everyone lamented the contempt that was shown for the al-Aqsa Mosque whose virtues cannot be counted.” The mosque “had to be restored, and the scoundrel detained.” The mutasallim would detain him until an order would be issued concerning the correct course of action had been determined.

The next morning, another Jewish youth was found inside the mosque, and he too was arrested. The mutasallim asked what to do about this and the mulla qa di answered that Istanbul had to be contacted since this was a strange occurrence because the Jews did not “usually enter the Haram” (because of Rabbinical law concerning the holiness of the site and the danger that a Jew might inadvertently step upon the Holy of Holies, a law with the Muslim authorities were familiar) and because “they lived far from the place”. Therefore, the case was to be judged at the highest level. Unfortunately, neither the court registers nor other records reveal the outcome of these cases. However, it appears that the Khedival authorities, working with the Ottoman chief judge of the city, prevented any kind of mob action and maintained public order in the city, since there is no mention of an outbreak of violence during this incident in contemporary accounts of this period.

In addition to revealing some interesting architectural details, and their appreciation by the Muslims of Jerusalem, this document also gives us a glimpse of the significance of the al-Aqsa mosque to the Muslims in Jerusalem. The Khedival authorities in Jerusalem clearly recognized the importance of this case to the Ottoman authorities, and referred the case to them, rather than to Ibrahim Pasha or the hikimdar. It was only on this symbolic level that the Khedival government conceded the authority of the Ottoman State.

27.  Law Court Record of Jerusalem 317, 123. 23 Safar 1249.


One can only but wonder what, indeed, was their fate.


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