In Jerusalem, what you see and what is true are two different things. Beyond the crush and frenzy of a few tourist sites, the Old City within its medieval walls remains largely unknown to visitors, its people ignored and its stories untold. Nine Quarters of Jerusalem lets the Palestinian and other communities of the Old City speak for themselves. Ranging from past to present, highlighting stories and personalities across faiths and outlooks, it evokes the depth and cultural diversity of Palestinian Jerusalem. Around the time the British arrived in the Holy Land, the idea began to spread that the ancient Old City could be divided by straight lines into four neat quarters, each defined by a faith community. The idea was false. Jerusalem’s people had always clustered together according to religious belief or ethnicity or geographic origin, but the city was undivided. Nonetheless, those divisions suited successive rulers, so today – more than a century on – they have become entrenched. Maps show ‘Christian Quarter’ or ‘Muslim Quarter’ as if they were real, defined places within borders. They are not. The reality of Jerusalem is a diversity and inclusion that belies imposed narratives of opposition, separation and exclusivity. This book evokes a sense of place through Jerusalem’s other, ignored quarters – its African and Indian voices, its Greek and Armenian and Syriac communities, its downtrodden Gypsy families, its Sufi mystics and its lost Moroccan Quarter. It discusses the sources of the city’s holiness and the ideas – often startlingly secular – that have shaped lives within its walls. It links discussions of the city’s finest mosques, libraries, churches and monuments through personal stories that, in many cases, have never been told before in English, and certainly not in an accessible, marketable form. This is not a travel narrative or an academic study, and it does not fall into the trap of showcasing the preoccupations of an observer. This is Jerusalem itself. It is an evocation of place through story, led by the voices of Jerusalemites.
Introduction – WATER: How Jerusalem flows The valleys and hills on which Jerusalem sits that have shaped its history Hidden watercourses, with echoes in street names The plateau of the Noble Sanctuary Seven Hills Golgotha Mt Zion Story 1 – SPIRIT: The holy sites Haram Al-Sharif/Noble Sanctuary, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: the origins of these places and the ideas that inspired their creation. Why are they here? What did they mean to the people who built them? How have those meanings changed over the centuries? The walls; Suleiman the Magnificent Story 2 – MYSTERY: Stories of the Sufis A thousand years of Sufi life in Jerusalem spread across the Old City, Sufism within Islam, Al-Ghazali at the Golden Gate, Khanqah Dawadariyya, Mamluk Sufis and the trickster prophet Khadr Al Mihrani, Uzbek Sufis from Bukhara: why they came and why are they still here?, the Mevlevi (Whirling Dervish) lodge in Crusader church of St Agnes: who was Rumi?, Rabia Al Adawiya: her poetry atop the Mount of Olives Story 3 – THE CROSS: Diversity in Christian Jerusalem Latin Catholics – Jerusalem origin in 1099, today one of the largest Christian communities in the city, Franciscan presence, patriarchate re-established 1847 – Stations of the Cross, Via Dolorosa Armenians: widely understood as the first nation to accept Christianity, was James the Just the brother of Jesus? why was he beheaded here in 69CE?, Armenian Cathedral of St James, community as a monastery, walled within walls, 1500 years of pilgrimage, pioneers of photography, refuge from genocide Who are Syriacs? (not Syrian), community centred on Monastery of St Mark (library, relics, long pilgrimage record), was this the site of the Last Supper?, Syriacs and Arabs Copts – Jerusalem’s links with Egypt, desert monasticism & St Anthony, church of St Anthony beside Holy Sepulchre, large Coptic community and influx at Easter, the tradition of tattooing and Razzouk family story Ethiopians – first Christian nation in Africa, centuries of connection with Jerusalem lost under Ottomans, return in 20thC, monks today live a life of poverty in cells built on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre church also Greek, Russian, Georgian, Romanian etc Story 4 – SWORD: The Crusaders and the Ayyubis A story from 800 years ago of invasion, occupation, co-existence and, finally, restoration of justice – and we meet the present-day Jerusalemites who hold the Ayyubis’ heritage Story 5 – SLAVE: legacies of the Mamluks Originally slaves, the Mamluk sultans transformed Jerusalem in 13th-16th centuries: dozens of buildings survive, including academies, souks and hostels for pilgrim visitors One Mamluk hostel on a hidden lane, later converted into an Ottoman prison, is now home to a community of African-Palestinians – origins in Chad/Nigeria/Sudan/Senegal, local Muslim voices speaking of pride and political resistance Story 6 – STONE: Women in architecture Untold legacy of women designing & building in Jerusalem dates back to Abbasids – unnamed mother of Al Muqtadir Billah renovated doors of Dome of Rock Much Mamluk building by elite women – Sitt Tunshuq palace 1391-92 and mausoleum, enormous ornate Imara Al Amira/Khassaki Sultan soup kitchen, Turkan Khatun mausoleum, Othmaniyya School built by Asfahan Khatun, Khatuniyya, half-ruined Ghadariyya school by Al Aqsa, the story of slave women from Mardin at the Ribat Al Mardini Story 7 – COMMUNITY: patterns of settlement Jewish presence in Jerusalem – the destruction of the Temples – Ramban’s arrival 1267 – the pre-Zionist communities – the destruction of Moroccan Quarter 1967 Story of the Dom people – Muslim, not Arab, oral culture & traditions, arrival in Holy Land, 500 years of settlement, at least a century within the Old City, focus on the Domari Research Centre Indian community in Jerusalem – 800-year-old Indian hospice, Sufi connection with Punjabi saint Baba Farid who came to Jerusalem in 1200, the tussle to stay in place, centre of the Indian community in Old City, life & family story of current head Munir Ansari The arrival of Europeans led to the first photography in Jerusalem – Armenian connections – 19thC growth in Biblical tourism – new economic opportunities created at the turn of 20thC by catering to tourists (guiding, selling) were enhanced by photography Story 8 – THE BODY: Killing and curing Pools of Bethesda – the pagan healing cult of Asclepius absorbed into Jesus’s miracle-working Crusader hospital recently restored Mamluk hospital Quacks and folk remedies still in use today (story of the visit by Titus Tobler in 1830s), development of medicine & arrival of Europeans, treating leprosy Spaffords and the children's hospital Toufic Canaan, physician, scientist and author Story 9 – STUDY: Libraries and schools Focus on Khalidi library, as archive & repository of written cultural heritage – also the many Sufi libraries – active schools around the Old City – the Al-Quds University Center for Jerusalem Studies Jerusalem’s diverse archives – records held by Turkish, British, Jordanian governments – also important local Christian and Muslim archives Also, local Jerusalem institutions preserving memory, including Dar Al Tifel – the story of founder Hind Al Husseini Epilogue – ALIVE: Contemporary culture in the Old City Jerusalem is now increasingly isolated from villages and from wider West Bank. Glimpses of contemporary culture within the city. Food: the individuals behind famous Jerusalem ‘brands’ – Izhiman coffee, Zalatimo mutabak, Shahin kebab, Jabrini tahini, and more – plus kaak bakeries Pigeons: the families who keep alive the tradition of flying pigeons from the rooftops Café culture: the traditional coffee shops of the Old City – backgammon, water pipes, oud music Arts: theatre, literature and cultural spaces, and how they are used