Mahmoud Ali Latzeez "Kadoura"
The records of the Sharia Court in Jerusalem, in 923-1336 AH/1517-1918 AD, covering the reign of the Ottoman Sultanate, indicated the size of the flourishing and vanished endowments of all kinds: family endowment, charitable endowment, and the restricted endowment.
A unique case is inferred from those records, as it monitors the development of Jerusalem society with all its components, as well as the various aspects of life that our ancestors lived in an amazing way. Anyone who reads these 416 records, where each record contains thousands of transactions that took place before judges and their deputies, feels that he is living that era in all its details.
What I have already stated is not an exaggeration. However, I wish to convey to you, with honesty and impartiality, my personal experience in this field; what I and other colleagues experienced when we browsed some records. Reading any of these records makes one eager to read more, as if he is diving into the depths of a bottomless sea.
What is amazing is that these records disclosed and monitored many Islamic endowments, many years before the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, during the Memluk era. Even more amazing is that these records disclosed family endowments of several Palestinian families in Jerusalem during the Mamluk period: including but not limited to the Ibn Hamid Al-Khalouti, who is known today as the Abu Al-Saud family, the Dabbous family, which is known today as the Attia family, and the Al-Dairi family, which is known today as the Al-Khalidi family....
Accordingly, when we present you with the bright truth about the historical role of the Islamic endowment in the Holy City, we reveal a compelling truth that prove the Palestinian Arab existence in Jerusalem, with 850 years old official documents. These records document charitable and family endowments from the Ayyubid era of Jerusalemite families that lived at that time; for example, the Al-Alamy family and the Al-Hakari family, from which the family of the Imam of Jerusalem and the Al-Ghadiya family, known today as the Al-Husseini and Jawdeh families, emerged....
This real historical treasure, which still exists, prompted some loyal people of Jerusalem to combine their efforts to establish an association concerned with preserving the endowment and Jerusalemite heritage, to create a generation interested in the fate of Jerusalem and its endowments. This is the noble mission of this association; to create a brilliant and civilized Jerusalemite community that will be proud before the rest of the Arab and Islamic societies. It is a fact that the people of Jerusalem, by virtue of fate, have become the trustees of the nation in preserving the history of the righteous predecessors, as there are many endowments in the name of Arab and Islamic communities from all countries of the world, who came to Jerusalem, thus earnestly, and purchased real estate in Jerusalem and its surroundings, and endowed those properties for their offspring or for charitable deeds; as is the case with the Moroccan community, the people of the Levant and the Hijaz, and the people of ancient Europe who converted to Islam - The estates of the people of Europe were known as the Rumi family or the Romiyyeh.
Subsequently, the records of the Shariâ€™a Court, unequivocally and in an unimaginable manner, revealed that Jerusalem is the only city in the world in which the endowment is widespread, given its religious status among Muslims.
Accordingly, in Waqfuna (Our Endowments), we decided to take the initiative, which is characterized with the truest expression of the love of Jerusalem; words do not dispense with actions. Since the initiative depends on an essential basis in societies for the continuity of the lives of individuals in them. And to continue our march in the future, the second administrative body of Waqfuna, rightly decided to monitor all Islamic endowments in Jerusalem (for the satisfaction of the Lord first and foremost), to preserve the assets of Jerusalemite families, whose members are proud of belonging to ancestors who inhabited Jerusalem tens of centuries ago, and sacrificed their most precious possessions to endow estates, as ongoing charity, by allocating, money and orchards, for their offspring and for charitable works, as they were aware of the sanctity of the place and its importance as specified in the Holy Qurâ€™an. Their insight was a source of inspiration for their offspring, and an impregnable fortress in preventing the Judaization of the Holy City.
Our society must be aware of the role and importance of Isalmic endowments, which contributed to preserving the Islamic and Arab monuments in Jerusalem, as it constitutes a strong barrier against the Judaization policies practiced by the Zionist colonialism. Highlighting this role requires the Palestinian Ministry of Education to include it extensively in the educational curriculum to refute the Israeli narrative and enhance the general awareness of Palestinian students on the importance of Islamic endowments, in the Holy City and the rest of the Palestinian cities, such as Hebron (Khalil al-Rahman), which also is abundant in endowments.
Consequently, it is worth noting that Waqfuna aims to spread and highlight the religious and historical status that the Holy City enjoyed among Muslims, including Palestinians. We believe that the keen interest of scholars in writing about Jerusalem and its religious and historical sites will contribute to its protection, as did the Jerusalemite families who have preserved its Islamic character for centuries, especially that the city has been, and still, is a target for various religious and political ambitions and conflicts throughout history, making it suffering from security and political instability. This reality is evidenced by the subjection of the Holy City today to Zionist colonialism.
Accordingly, we find that most researchers agree on the large size of the family and charitable endowment real estate in the Holy City. However, there are no accurate studies that determine the size and number of endowed real estate. It is less than 70% of the size of the Old City, especially since some of the reasons for the lack of an accurate enumeration of the endowed real estate stem from the multiplicity of political authorities that ruled Jerusalem, and the scattered of endowment records and the loss of some of them and the destruction of others since the Memluk era, the Ottoman era, to the British Mandate and the Jordanian tutelage, and currently, the Zionist colonialism. In all those eras, researchers and readers find that Muslims in general and the Palestinians in particular were keen, and still are, to endow all or some of their real estate, to protect it and prevent its loss, and to continue preserving the Islamic character in the Holy City.
In Waqfuna, we wish the pioneer in our society to advance it, despite the scarcity, or almost non-existence, of financial resources, and the lack of auxiliary logistical tools. However, we were able to overcome that with the grace of God Almighty, and with our sincerity in intention and work. We were able, in cooperation with the Ruâ€™ya Foundation, to identify endowments that Jerusalem families still benefit from, such as properties for housing, or that they still receive their rent dues, which are collected annually.
It is appropriate to point out that Waqfuna has completed the first phase of its work by monitoring endowments of Muslims in general, and Palestinians in Jerusalem in particular, over the course of eight centuries, which amounted to more than 630 endowments, for 145 Jerusalemite families. We were able to complete this work, which will be printed by Ruâ€™ya Foundation; Ruâ€™ya is also concerned with preserving the legacy of ancestors, in its programs in Jerusalem. Ruâ€™ya had extended its full cooperation in publishing the work of Waqfuna that covered the Ayyubid, the Memluk and the Ottoman eras.
This work aims at spreading awareness among Jerusalemites in particular, and Palestinians and the world in general, to deepen the study of the true, realistic, legal and historical meaning of the endowment and its importance in preserving the cultural heritage of the Islamic and Arab nations, and to contribute to the upbringing of a generation looking for cultural heritage and contributing to preserving it until the day they are resurrected.
Furthermore, Waqfuna was able to monitor charitable and family Christian endowments in Jerusalem, which exceeded 200 endowments during the Ottoman era over the course of 400 years, and other endowments of non-Muslims. This indicates the tolerance, sobriety, and comfort of the system of government during the Ottoman Empire, which was based on equality among its subjects. It is also an indication of the continuity of rule of the Ottomans for more than 4 centuries.
Therefore, Waqfuna believes that the issue of the legacy of the ancestors is a priority that is not comparable to any other humanitarian work. The association did not hesitate to publish this work according to a national vision and strategy first, and to demonstrate the size of the responsibility placed on the people of Jerusalem in preserving the capabilities of the Islamic nation for centuries, and to reveal a compelling truth that shows the solid identity of the Holy City, and the great injustice and oppression suffered by the people of the city during the Zionist colonialism. However, with the strength of their faith, Jerusalemites were dedicated themselves to protect the city, on behalf of the Islamic and Arab nations. This work and its publication by the Palestinian Ruâ€™ya Foundation is a contribution to revealing the insight of our ancestors and express our gratitude to them for their righteous approach. This work is an evidence that that confirm that the Islamic endowments in Jerusalem were the main and only reason for the steadfastness and strengthening of its people.