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Atlas of Jordan

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Myriam Ababsa

Chapter four - Islamic and Ottoman Times (629 AD - 1918)

Pilgrimage and Shrines in Late Ottoman and Modern Jordan

Bethany Walker et Norig Neveu

Texte intégral

1Since the territory of contemporary Jordan remained for a long time on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire, there was a certain degree of originality in practices and religious rites compared with the rest of Bilad al-Sham. Local religious topology was very concentrated and dominated by sanctuaries dedicated to walis* (Muslim Saints), prophets, the companions of the Prophet and Sufi Sheikhs (around Ajlun and Irbid). These figures were considered holy saints and were called upon as intercessors by local communities. Their tombs were at the centre of local religious life and simultaneously served as places of worship, markets and meeting places. They were considered holy, which is a quality given by God to those who are exceptionally valorous.

Figure IV.18 — Holy Places known from the 19th century near Kerak.

Figure IV.18 — Holy Places known from the 19th century near Kerak.

 

2The network of holy sites in the south of present-day Jordan was very varied at the end of the Ottoman period, and unlike in the regions of Irbid and Ajlun, Sufism was not very well established. Ottoman sources: Ottoman almanacs (salname vilayyet suriyya) and religious court registers, mention seven tombs throughout the southern region, mostly centred around the towns of Kerak, Ma‘an and al Tafila. These ‘official’ saints are mostly pre-Islamic prophets and Companions of the Prophet. The accounts of Western travellers refer to an abundance of shrines dedicated to walis. In Customs of Arabs in the country of Moab Antonin Jaussen mentions fifteen Wali tombs around the town of al-Kerak which were highly respected by the inhabitants of the region (fig. IV.18). Each figure served a particular function (magician, guardian, tribal ancestor etc.). The two most important sites in the southern region of present-day Jordan were the mausoleum of Ja’far bin Abi Talib, south of al-Kerak, and that of Nabi Harun (Harun) near al-Ji (Wadi Musa) (plates IV.5 and IV.6). The tribes of the surrounding areas would gather annually around these small mausoleums on pilgrimage. In al-Kerak certain mausoleums were worshipped by both Christians and Muslims as was the case for the mausoleum of al-Khidr, where, according to Burckhardt, Muslims sometimes baptized their children. These shared cults were all the more common since at that time religion was not a special marker of identity in al-Kerak. From the beginning of the twentieth century, the Ottoman Porte renovated some of these mausoleums, including that of Ja’far b. Abi Talib in 1906. These reconstructions were accompanied by the establishment of new schools, maktab ‘Anbar (Rogan 1999), which allowed the dissemination of religious education.

Plate IV.5 — Ja‘far b. Abi Talib mausoleum.

Plate IV.5 — Ja‘far b. Abi Talib mausoleum.

Père R. Savignac, 1935. Fonds de l’Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem

Plate IV.6 — Nabi Harun mausoleum.

Plate IV.6 — Nabi Harun mausoleum.

Père R. Savignac, 1935. Fonds de l’Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure IV.18 — Holy Places known from the 19th century near Kerak.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5004/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 196k
Titre Plate IV.5 — Ja‘far b. Abi Talib mausoleum.
Crédits Père R. Savignac, 1935. Fonds de l’Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5004/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 40k
Titre Plate IV.6 — Nabi Harun mausoleum.
Crédits Père R. Savignac, 1935. Fonds de l’Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5004/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 55k

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2013

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