New Light on Ramallah’s Origins in the Ottoman Period

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Issue . 59
P. 37
New Light on Ramallah’s Origins in the Ottoman Period

Although Ramallah’s history has been the topic of numerous studies,1 the Ottoman period has not been researched in depth. There are several reasons for this, among them the lack of interest, till recently, in Ottoman history, a result of its characterization as a history of oppression and backwardness that is not deserving of examination. The challenges facing researchers, including a dearth of resources, also help explain the lack of research on this period. These lacunae have resulted in our rather meager knowledge of the details of Ottoman Ramallah, as books published on the city’s history include little to no information pertaining to the period from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century.2

However, the status of Ottoman studies has begun to change, as indicated by the recent increase in interest in the history of Ottoman Palestine. A number of academic studies on this period have appeared, including masters and doctoral theses, focusing on different topics and delving into the details of various aspects of life in Ottoman Palestine. These studies have reexamined a number of Orientalist claims, including narratives of “Ottoman decline” beginning in the sixteenth century. Using primary sources such as Jerusalem’s shari‘a court records and the writings of religious pilgrims, travelers, Western researchers, and Arab notables, these studies have shed light on a Palestinian society during this period that, far from static and stagnant, developed according to its own dynamics as well as its regional context.3

This survey of the history of Ramallah, the first of two, commences with the earliest beginnings of the village and its establishment as a Crusader (franji) settlement that became a Muslim village during the Mamluk period following the expulsion of the Crusaders from Palestine. It then focuses on Ramallah’s later transformation into a Christian village during the Ottoman period beginning with the arrival of the Haddadin (al-Kasabra) and Naqash families in the sixteenth century. It both adds to and qualifies the traditional narrative – based on oral accounts – of Ramallah’s founding by the five sons (Haddad, Ibrahim, Jiryis, Shuqayr, and Hassan) of Rashid al-Haddadin, a Christian from an area near Karak in Transjordan. The second part of the study will continue to use Ottoman census and shari‘a court records to present detailed information on living conditions in Ramallah until the end of Ottoman rule in December 1917.


Ramallah’s Location and Early History


Ramallah is located 16 kilometers north of Jerusalem, about 64 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea and about 52 kilometers from the Dead Sea. Ramallah was established in the mountains around Jerusalem, part of the mountains of central Palestine that extend from the southern Galilee to Hebron. At an elevation of 860 meters above sea level, Ramallah sits about 60 meters higher than Jerusalem.4 According to Ju‘beh and Beshara, Ramallah’s location west of the main commercial routes through Palestine’s central mountains, linking Nablus and Hebron by way of Jerusalem, led to its relatively late development compared to al-Bireh (the oldest sites in al-Bireh go back to the Bronze Age, while the oldest one in Ramallah goes back only as far as the Crusader period).5

According to Mustafa Murad al-Dabbagh, Ramallah is located in the area of “Ramtayim Sufim” (which he erroneously translates as the “two Sufi mounts,” whereas the Aramaic meaning is “overlooking hills”), mentioned in the Old Testament as the birthplace of the prophet Samuel. Others think it might possibly be Ramah, mentioned in the New Testament as the hometown of Joseph of Arimathea, where according to gospel accounts, he buried the body of Christ after the crucifixion in the grave prepared for his own use.6 Dabbagh relays an anonymous account that during the Roman period, two small villages sat on Ramallah’s current location: one of the villages, Gabaon, was located in the northern hills, while the second, Eleasa, was located on the southern hills.7 According to Nayruz, the name “Ramallah” comes from an Aramaic word consisting of two parts: the word “Ram” is a derivative of the word Rama, which means height or elevation; the word “Allah” has the same meaning as in Arabic. Therefore the meaning of the name based on the Aramaic root is “Mount of God.”8Meanwhile, Nayruz notes that Ramallah was not mentioned in the sources from the early Islamic period.


At the time of the Islamic conquest it was common for populated localities to be mentioned, in fact, the conquerors knew many of these localities from memory but Ramallah was not mentioned by them, it is most likely that during this historical period and during the Islamic conquests, it was not populated and that it was not significant enough to note and so it was not mentioned.9

Nayruz notes that Ramallah was “not referred to by its current name in any of the ancient historical sources, including before the Crusader period, even though many of the localities neighboring it were mentioned in the historical sources, for example: ‘Ayn Qinya, Baytin, al-Tireh, Ibdar, al-Bireh, Baytunia, Kufr ‘Aqab, Qalandiya, al-Ram, Tal al-Nasba, and other localities that are not very far from Ramallah.”10

Yaqut al-Hamawi’s (574–626 AH/1178–1225 CE) Kitab al-mushtarik wad‘an wa-l- muftariq saq‘an, which makes note of towns with similar names but differing locations, contradicts the conclusions of Nayruz. Hamawi writes: “Ramah is the name of two villages in Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem area]. In one of them is a shrine [maqam] of Abraham. Each faces the other, and they are known as the two Ramas [al-Ramatan].”11 Taking Hamawi’s description together with Dabbagh’s account that some believe Ramallah to be the Rama of the gospels, and considering that Ramallah is home to a shrine of Abraham, then the town must have been known during the Islamic period and is the one to which Hamawi refers. It is very possible that the village of al-Ram, which sits opposite Ramallah, is the second “Rama” mentioned in Hamawi’s book.

This hypothesis is supported by the fact that when the Mamluks expelled the last of the Crusaders from the Levant and encouraged Muslim settlement in Palestine, they found a Crusader church, which was converted into a mosque. The mosque was designated an endowment of agricultural land for its support and was known among the residents of Ramallah until recently as the shrine of Abraham. If we return to the two parts of the name Ramallah, “Ram” and “Allah,” the first part comes from the Aramaic while the second part is clearly Arabic. This indicates that the Arabs added the second part after the Islamic conquest, “Rama” becoming “Ramat Allah” or perhaps “Ramat Khalil Allah” (Rama of the Companion of God, Abraham), which was then shortened to Ramallah. That the Crusaders cultivated and settled primarily in areas that were already cultivated and inhabited, rarely establishing completely new settlements or farms, offers further support to the thesis that Ramallah was inhabited before the Crusader era.


The Crusader and Mamluk Eras


Nayruz hypothesizes that Ramallah was a Crusader agricultural settlement: “the city of al- Bireh was of great significance to the Crusaders. However, whatever neighbored al-Bireh, namely the Ramallah area, was used by the Crusaders as an agricultural settlement. This is confirmed by the French historian Emmanuel Guillaume Rey, who found a reference to the settlement of Ramalei in a Crusader-era manuscript dated 1198 characterizing it as an agricultural area in the suburbs of Jerusalem.”12 This assessment is supported further by the archaeological remains from the Crusader period, which in Ramallah include the kinds of simple structures that point to its being primarily an agricultural, rather than residential, area. Further, a Crusader tower for defense and monitoring located on a hilltop looks out to the western side of the city.

Little is known about Ramallah during the Crusader period. Sources differ as to whether the Crusaders that controlled the Ramallah area were French or English. A narrative in support of the latter thesis sees Ramallah as part of a protectorate known as the Knights of St. John, with its center in the nearby city of al-Bireh.13 Two written sources from the Crusader period mention Ramallah. The first is an agreement signed on 7 March 1186 CE between the German Crusader hospital in Jerusalem and the Crusader king of Jerusalem Guy de Lusignan, husband of Queen Sibylla (reigned 1186–1190 CE). The agreement stipulates that the king owed a sum of money to the German hospital as a personal debt, and that if he was unable to pay the debt within one year, the village of Ramallah would become the property of the hospital.14 The second source is cited by Rey in his book on the French Crusader colonies in Syria (Les Colonies Franques de Syrie aux XII et XIII). According to Yusuf Qaddura, Rey describes a twelfth-century agreement between the Crusader king of Jerusalem and the king of Cyprus, under which both parties would open their ports to the use of the other’s ships. “This agreement was signed by a group of witnesses, one of whom was called Andrea of Ramallah.”15

Ramallah is also mentioned in the waqf (religious endowment, pl. awqaf) records dating from the Mamluk period. There it is registered among the villages and farms designated waqf of the Mamluk sultan Qalawun16 to supplement otherawqaf supporting the Dome of the Rock and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.17 This designation goes back to 678 AH (1279–1280 CE). (Although Ibrahim Rabayi‘a, using another account in the court records, dates the waqf to 640 AH (1242–1243 CE),18 it is more likely that 678 AH is the correct date because this is the year that Qalawun became sultan, and the lands of his endowments were designated. According to Bakhit and Sawariyya, the geographical boundaries of Ramallah were marked to the south by Dayr Qurtam, and to the east by a silsila (a stone wall) that extends in a north–south direction until it reaches Burj Salmiya, which today lies within the territory of Qalandiya.19

The endowment of Prince Sayf al-Din Abi Sa‘id Tankaz al-Nasiri supporting the school that he established in Jerusalem, known as the Tankaziyya school, confirms that Ramallah was considered a village during the Mamluk period.20 The description in this endowment designates Ramallah as the eastern boundary of the village of ‘Ayn Qinya “and the furthest limit/border of the lands of Radna.”21

This endowment is dated the 12th day of Jamadi al-Awwal 730 AH (3 March 1330 CE), about fifty years after the waqf of Qalawun.22 However, it appears that Ramallah was deserted at the end of the Mamluk period.

In this, it was like a number of Palestinian villages left in ruin and abandoned due to economic, security, and natural factors. The last decade of Mamluk rule witnessed economic hardships resulting from changes in trade routes (particularly after the Europeans’ discovery of routes around the Cape of Good Hope), the impact of several dry seasons, plague, and the insecurity and pressure placed by the Ottomans on the Mamluks, who in turn imposed conscription and increased military taxes (al-tajarid) on the peasants.23

The First Decades of Ottoman Rule


The first mention of Ramallah in Ottoman records dates back to 1525 CE, about eight years after the Ottoman conquest of Palestine and the year that Palestine’s new rulers undertook the first land and population census to organize the process of tax collection. In the detailed tahrir defterleri (registration record) for the years 932–934 AH (1525–1528 CE), Ramallah is described as uninhabited agricultural land that is part of the Ibrahimi endowment, and that one-tenth of its output, reaching 3,000 uqja, is to be spent for the maintenance of the Ibrahimi Sanctuary.24

Ramallah was mentioned again in the second tahrir defterleri, a continuation of the first defter up to 938 AH (1531–1532 CE). However, there it is described as a village that is part of Jerusalem, with a revenue of 500 uqja.25 The third Ottoman census of villages, agricultural lands, and population, conducted in 945 AH (1538–1539 CE), confirms that Ramallah was again considered a village. According to the census, only four Muslim families – those of Hasan son of Labud, Khattab son of Hasan, Rajab son of Ya‘qub, and Ibrahim son of Labud – inhabited Ramallah.26 In the property registry for Jerusalem from the same year, it was noted that: part of Ramallah was an endowment for the Dome of the Rock and had an annual output of 3,000 uqja;27 the output for the Ibrahimi endowment was 2,000 uqja;28 and the combined revenue from the dimos (fixed) tax on mughul crops29 and the orchard land tax amounted to 2,000 uqja.30 Thedefter notes that the revenue from a plot of land designated as belonging to the town mosque was 50 uqja.31 This refers to the mosque later identified by the inhabitants as Abraham’s shrine.32 The presence of this mosque indicates that Ramallah was a Muslim village during the Mamluk period, and subsequent references to it as uninhabited agricultural land thus suggest that it fell to ruin towards the end of the Mamluk period but that some peasant families came to live in Ramallah after the Ottomans arrived, bringing with them security and policies aiming to develop Palestine and resettle Arab tribes there.

Yusuf Qaddura describes Ramallah’s mosque, as he personally saw it before it was completely destroyed, as a “small Crusader church that included a sanctuary.” The church’s remaining structure was still visible from the eastern side, as were the remnants of the mosaics on the church’s floor and in the yard in front of it. Qaddura plausibly suggests that the farmers that inhabited Ramallah after the Crusaders’ departure turned the church into a mosque.33 It is possible that this occurred during Palestine’s resettlement by Muslim inhabitants during the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. Regarding the beliefs of Ottoman Ramallah’s Christians and the shrine of Abraham, Khalil Abu Rayya writes that they viewed Abraham as the protector of the village and its inhabitants. They believed that Ramallah would not come to any harm as long as they remained close to him and under his protection. Abu Rayya adds that the bell-ringer was accustomed to call out: “Oh you who hear the sound, pray upon Abraham, friend of God.”34

Jerusalem’s shari‘a court records provide evidence that confirms the transformation of Ramallah back into a village. These records also provide insights into the lives of the villagers during this period. An entry in the Jerusalem shari‘acourt records dated 24 Dhu al-Hijja 947 AH (21 April 1541 CE) records a financial guarantee made by Hasan bin ‘Ali, known as al-Labud, from the village of Ramallah in the district of Jerusalem (‘amal al-Quds al-sharif), to Hijaz bin Husayn and Salih bin Khalil al-Az‘ar, known as al-Batash, from the village of al-Bireh. We can infer from the record’s reference to Ramallah as a village that the number of families residing in Ramallah had increased. The entry is also indicative of relations between Ramallah’s Muslim residents and those of neighboring al-Bireh. Though the popular narrative of Ramallah’s history, based on Yusuf Qaddura and ‘Aziz Shahin, claims that the first residents of Ramallah were from the Ghazawna, Muslims from al-Bireh,35 it is unclear whether relations between the two villages included familial bonds. However, we do know that al-Labud of Ramallah came from the nearby village of ‘Ayn Qinya. According to a shari‘a court record dated 8 Shawwal 955 AH (29 November 1548 CE), Hajj Khadawri al-Khilwati and Sinan Ja‘far al-Sibahi came to the court and filed a suit against Hasan bin ‘Ali al-Labud, requesting payment due for the Tankaziyya school in Jerusalem and to Sinan for his share of the ‘Ayn Qinya olive trees.36

Another entry from the Jerusalem shari‘a court records of 11 Jamadi al-Awwal 951 AH (31 July 1544 CE) mentions a dispute over the borders of the village of Ramallah.37 It states that the dispute occurred between the overseer of the two Holy sanctuaries Khalil Jalbi bin Muhammad and Sinan bin Jafar al-Sabahi38 over the boundaries of Ramallah lands included in the Ibrahimi endowment. The matter was brought before the qadi Ahmad bin Nassuh, who ordered the court clerk Muhammad al-Hanbali to accompany the two men to the disputed location. Hanbali found that its southern boundary is the Roman silsila (stone wall) separating the lands of Ramallah from the lands of the village of Qalandiya.39Sa‘id bin Rabi‘ (mentioned in the al-Bireh censuses of 1525 and 1539) and Sha‘ban bin Ghazi from al-Bireh and others from the villages of al-Jadira and Baytunia testified to this.40 The testimonies of these men from al-Bireh, al-Jadira, and Baytunia indicate that they knew the lands of Ramallah, and that these lands were not part of any other neighboring village.

The outcome of the fourth Ottoman census, conducted in 961 AH (1553–1554 CE), confirms that after about sixteen years the population of Ramallah had risen such that six Muslim families resided there.41 The heads of the six families in the village are identified as: Jabr Khalil, Khattab Hasan, ‘Umar bin Hasan, Muhammad Hasan, and Ibrahim Khattab. The census record notes that the entire village is an endowment supporting the shrine of Abraham, indicating that no part of the village remained an endowment assigned to the Dome of the Rock. Ramallah’s revenue for the endowment is two gharara42 of wheat valued at 960 uqja, and two gharara of barley valued at 520 uqja.43 The revenue from its orchards is valued at 50 uqja, the tarrifs for goats and bees at 30 uqja, and the badi hawa tax at 50 uqja,44 totaling 1,610 ghurush. The census also notes that the revenue of the mosque’s plot of land is 100 uqja,45 double its revenue for the year 945 AH (1538–1539 CE). There is no explanation for the large increase in revenue provided, except that the agricultural season for 961 was much better that the previous census year.

The Jerusalem shari‘a court records also give a sense of the Muslim families that made up Ramallah’s population at the time. By compiling the names of Muslim men living in Ramallah mentioned in the Jerusalem shari‘a court records between 1538–1563 CE, we find that the families resident in Ramallah include those of Rajab bin Ya‘qub; Hammad bin Rashid; al-Hajj Muhammad bin Abi al-Thana and his son Ahmad; Hammad bin Ahmad; Hasan bin ‘Ali al-Labud and his sons ‘Ali,46 ‘Umar, Ibrahim, Khalil, and Khattab; and ‘Uthman bin Khattab. The records of these men’s activities inscribed in the court registers confirm Ramallah’s agricultural production and the village’s contribution to the Haram al-Sharif and Ibrahimi endowments in this period. In a record from 12 Ramadan 965 AH (28 June 1558 CE), Muhammad bin Musa al-Kurdi, the endowment collector for the two sites, along with ‘Ali bin Hasan, Ahmad bin Muhammad, Khattab bin Hasan, Hammad bin Rashid, Ibrahim bin Khattab, and everyone from the village of Ramallah approached the shari‘a court judge Hussam al-Din, and they remained responsible for two gharara of wheat and two gharara of barley for the year 964 AH (1557 CE).47 In another record dated 10 Dhu al-Qi‘da 966 AH (14 August 1559 CE), Khattab bin Hasan and his son Khalil paid three gharara of wheat and barley directly to the endowment collector.48 This seems to indicate that, at that time, the inhabitants of Ramallah were primarily Muslim and that they made regular payments to the endowment collector for the two holy sanctuaries, the Haram al-Sharif and the Haram al-Ibrahimi, covering their share of the endowment.

The relationship between Ramallah and these institutions were solidified in other ways as well. On 29 Ramadan 966 AH (5 July 1559 CE), five years after the fourth Ottoman census, Khattab bin Hasan acknowledged that he owed tensultaniye49 to Mawlana Muhammad Jalabi, overseer of the two holy sanctuaries, who had given him a loan. Khattab’s sons Khalil and Ibrahim guaranteed the loan, each swearing to divorce his wife if the loan was not repaid before the end of the month of Shawwal. Muhammad bin Musa al-Kurdi, the endowment collector, certified the matter.50

By the time of the fourth Ottoman census of 961 AH (1553–1554 CE), however, the demographics of Ramallah had undergone a crucial shift. A number of Christian households had established themselves in Ramallah, swelling its size and transforming it into a Christian-majority village. To trace the story of these new Christian residents of Ramallah, we must begin in Transjordan with a family known as al-Haddadin.


The Haddadin between Transjordan and Palestine


Migrations between Palestine and Transjordan – in both directions – have been common through various historical periods. In Transjordan, al-Karak became home to the Majali family, which migrated from Hebron,51 as well as to a Christian family that migrated from Nazareth and were thus given the family name al-Nasrawiyyin. As for migration from Transjordan to Palestine, this was common in various eras and included the families of al-Haddadin.52 Members of this family, from the area of al-Karak, left Transjordan for Palestine in the wake of the Ottoman displacement of Mamluk rule. The members of the Haddadin family that migrated west of the Jordan River were the sons of Rashid bin Saqir al-Haddadin, while those who later resided in Ma‘in were the grandchildren of Sabra al-Haddadin, Rashid’s brother.53

According to Khalil Abu Raya, the Haddadin were originally from the village of Ma‘in, located eight kilometers southwest of Madaba in the Karak area. The British major-general and Orientalist Frederick G. Peake, meanwhile, states that the Haddadin of al-Karak are amongst the oldest Christian clans and that they claim they are of the Ghassanids (the tribal confederation believed to be the first to settle in al-Karak).54

According to Hind Abu al-Sha‘r’s pioneering study of Ottoman Transjordan,55 Ma‘in witnessed a notable rise in prominence toward the end of the Mamluk period. However, Ottoman records indicate that it fell to ruin during the early Ottoman era and remained in that state until 1284 AH (1867 CE), when it was inhabited and re-built by Christian families from Karak. In 1288 AH (1871 CE), it had 30 households.56 This would seem to fit with the story of the migration of the Haddadin from Ma‘in during the early part of the Ottoman period. Other sources indicate fairly regular migration across the Jordan River in this period, easily measured through the fluctuations in the number of Christian families, including members of the Haddadin family, in particular locations.57

According to the third Ottoman census of 945 AH (1538–1539 CE), groups of Christians from al-Karak settled in the Damascus Gate area in Jerusalem, alongside other Christian families from Salfit, Nablus, Aleppo, and Rumelia.58 Most likely, the reasons for these migrations were economic, as the Ottomans took a great interest in security in Jerusalem and undertook vast building and development programs. The Orthodox Church of Jerusalem also encouraged Christians to come to Jerusalem and reside there to rejuvenate the Christian presence in the city.

The popular narrative recorded by ‘Adnan al-Haddadin in 1954 confirms the migration of families from Transjordan to Bayt Jala.59 According to this account, these families lived in Halhul for a period of six months and later moved to Bayt Jala–Bethlehem due to hardship and their inability to practice their religion, since all Halhul families were Muslim. However these families from the Haddadin clan initially lived in the Kusbar lands located between Halhul and Kharas, close to the village of Nuba. Evidence of this is found in the Ottoman census of 961 AH (1553–1554 CE), which referred to these families, who had moved to Bayt Jala, as al-Kasbara or people of the Kasbara group – the same name that was given to the Christian families that lived in Khirbat Dayr al-‘Asal near Dayr Aban, the village of al-Mujaydal in the Galilee, and the village of Zababda near Jenin.

The name al-Kasabra is given to a number of Arab clans: there are Kasabra in the Arabian Peninsula, in the Hawran highlands in southern Syria, in Transjordan, and in Palestine. The Kasabra of Palestine are found in the village of Dayr Aban, located in the ‘Arqub area, a suburb of Hebron. They had also been present in the village of al- Mujaydal near Nazareth in the lower Galilee until they were expelled from it in 1948, fleeing to Nazareth and elsewhere. Today they are found in Yafat al-Nasira in the Nazareth metropolitan area. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Abu Hadba states that there is consensus in the oral narratives collected from the elderly of Dayr Aban that the Kasabra of Dayr Aban came to it from Khirbat Kusbar, a derelict village which lies to the west of Halhul, between it and Kharas, and near the village of Nuba.60 During the early Ottoman period, Kusbar lay in ruins and is not mentioned at all in the census conducted in 932–934 AH (1525–1528 CE). In the following census of 1531–1532 CE, Kusbar is again mentioned as idle land without any production and it remained so into the following decade according to the 1538–1539 CE census. Thus, it cannot have been populated prior to 1539 CE. The migration of the Haddadin to it must have occurred later, and Ottoman records later mention “Christian Kusbar” as farmland adjacent to Kusbar, indicated that the state settled a group of Christians from al-Karak there.

As for the Kasabra of the Hawran and the Galilee, both groups are thought to have their origins in this same group: the Kasabra of the Hawran reside in the city of al-Hirak located in the south of Syria, northeast of Dar‘a, and are said to have originated from Dayr Aban, from which a group migrated to the village of al-Hirak in the sixteenth century; the Kasabra of al-Mujaydal, meanwhile, are said to have migrated there from Ramallah, most likely in the eighteenth century.61


Christian Migration to Ramallah


Based on the fourth Ottoman census, conducted in 961 AH (1553–1554 CE), 36 Christian families lived in Bayt Jala, and the Ottoman records call them the “Christian Kasabra group.”62 They lived in Bayt Jala on a temporary basis and theirjizya tax went to the Ibrahimi waqf in Hebron. The following table includes the names of these families:63


Ibrahim Hassan                                           Hilal Mifrih

Mifrih Hassan                                              Nijm bin Hilal

‘Adwi Hassan                                              Farrah Hilal

Suwayd bin Khalil                                        Musa Musa

Ka‘ush Zayid                                              Khalil ‘Awad

Rahal ‘Awad                                              Salim Farah

Makhluf ‘Awad                                          Ghunaym Salim

Khalil Muqbil                                             Daraj Salim

Hadid Farah                                              Rizq Salim

Jarir Hadid                                                Farah Salim 

‘Atallah Badr                                             Khalil Sadaqa

Musa Burayk                                            Sa‘id Shanar

Musa Baraka                                            Mifrih Khadr

‘Umayra bin Hassan                                 Ibrahim Khalil

Ibrahim Zurayq                                        Diab Khalil 

Ghassan Mifrih                                         Ishaq Ya‘qub

Salih Shibil                                              ‘Umran Hassan

Farah Suwayd                                          Daghir Hassan


The Ottoman census of 970 AH (1562 CE), meanwhile, shows that these families left Bayt Jala and inhabited Ramallah, accompanied by an additional 27 Christian families also from Bayt Jala and eight unmarried Christian men.64 These families joined the ten Muslim families residing in Ramallah:65


Ahmad son of Muhammad          Khattab son of Hasan 

Hasan son of ‘Ali                        Khalil son of Hassan

‘Ali son of Hasan                       ‘Isa son of Muhammad

‘Amir son of Hasan                    Rashid son of Hasan

‘Amir son of ‘Umar                    Nasir son of Ahmad



The names of the Christian heads of households in Ramallah were as follows:


Musa son of Baraka                             Ibrahim Sa‘id

‘Abdullah son of Birawi                       ‘Awad Mas‘ud

Jarir son of Hadid                               Khalil Sadqa

‘Umran Hassan                                   Mifrih Sufayr

‘Ayyash ‘Awad                                    Sa‘id Shanar

‘Umayra Hassan                                 Ibrahim Habash

Ishaq Ya‘qub                                      Hashim Sa‘ud

Ibrahim Khalil Nijm                             Mu‘ammar Mifrih

Diab Khalil                                         Ghunam Ghanayim

Salim Jiryis                                         Sulayman Sulayman

Musa Burayk                                      Sa‘id Ibrahim  

Ghunaym Hadid                                 Khalil Ibrahim

Farah Suwayd                                     Farah Ghunaym

Ibrahim Ya‘qub                                   Hassan Nuh

‘Isa Musa                                            Nuh Hassan

‘Amir Rizqallah                                   ‘Adwi Hassan

Dib Jiryis                                             Khalil Hassan

Nassar Musa                                       Nijm Salman

Mu‘ammar ‘Amir                                 Marah Hilal

Ya‘qub Ishaq                                      Swaydan Khalil 

Ghanayim Hadid                                 Ka‘ush Zayid

Ghanim Ghanayim                               Salih Shibil

Ghunaym Salim                                    Makhluf ‘Awad

Salim Sa‘d                                           ‘Ata Ziyada

Farah Salim                                         ‘Awda Ziyada

Nasir Salim                                          Ghanam Shibil

Daraj Salim                                          Saba‘ Nijm

Mansur Salim                                       ‘Isa Dawas

Nusayr Salim                                        Khalil Swaydan

Khalil Sa‘id                                          ‘Awad Makhluf

Khalil ‘Awad                                         Dib ‘Awda (single)

Nimr Nijm                                           ‘Awda Ka‘ush 

Saba‘ ‘Ata (single)                                Ibrahim Rahal (single)

Dib Nijm (single)                                  Ibrahim Makhluf

Ibrahim Swaydan (single)                      ‘Isa Khalil (single)

Salama Ibrahim (single)


A simple comparison between this list and that of the Kasabra group in Bayt Jala above indicates that these were indeed the same families. Not much is known about why this migration from Bayt Jala to Ramallah occurred. There may have been an economic factor at play or an internal struggle between the migrants from Transjordan and another group that pushed them to migrate. It may also be that their move was encouraged by the Ottoman authorities in order to revive agriculture and the development of uninhabited villages. This last possibility is supported by the fact that Bayt Jala and Ramallah were both waqf and not private property.

The detailed Ottoman census for 970 AH (1562 CE) further clarifies that the number of families residing in Bayt Jala decreased by about forty-nine families, from 220 Christian families and 21 single men in 961 AH (1553–1554 CE) to 171 Christian families, two Muslim families, and 47 single Christian men. The book shows that 21 of these families moved to Jerusalem, and were later joined by an additional 26 families from Bethlehem. This makes it clear that that purpose was to increase the number of Christian residents in Jerusalem. Twenty-seven of the remaining families that left Bayt Jala moved to Ramallah. The jizya tax paid by Bayt Jala for its 218 residents amounted to 17,440 uqja. A total of 18qirat (of 24) in Bayt Jala were part of the endowment for Khaski Sultan takiya (hospice), with the remaining 6 qirat part of the endowment of the Mamluk Sultan Qaytbay.66 Bakhit and Sawariyya, editors of the Ottoman defters, note that after the emigration of these families, the agricultural revenue in Bethlehem and Bayt Jala increased noticeably compared to the previous census (961 AH/1553–1554 CE). This begs the question: was the large number of residents hindering agricultural production?

During this same year (970 AH), Ramallah produced two and a half gharara of wheat, valued at 1,200 uqja, and two and a half gharara of barley worth 650 uqja, one-fourth of which was the waqf share.67 Thus, the annual production of wheat and barley each increased by half a gharara over the previous record. In Ramallah, then, the increased population seemed to lead to increased agricultural output. The last population census conducted in Ramallah during the early Ottoman period took place in 1004 AH (1596 CE). By this time, there were 71 Christian families and 9 Muslim families living in Ramallah and the estimated population was 400 people. Ramallah’s agricultural output by this time included the production of wheat valued at 1,250 uqja, barley valued at 420 uqja, oils valued at 500 uqja, and fruit crops valued at 600 uqja.68

The shari‘a court records also provide evidence of coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Ramallah.69 In 968 AH (1561 CE), eight years after the appearance of the Christians from al-Karak in the population records for Bayt Jala, a record dated 16 Rajab (1 April) notes that the judge Abu Wafa al-Hanafi, was, in the presence of Husam al-Din bin Ya‘qub, deputy overseer of the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, approached by: ‘Ali bin Hasan and his brother ‘Umar; Ahmad bin Muhammad Qar‘ala; the Kasburi Christian Ghunaym son of Salim; the Christian Musa son of Baraka; and the Christian Ishaq son of Ya‘qub – all of them from the village of Ramallah.70 Those named swore an oath that from that day on they will develop the lands of the same village [Ramallah], and that none of them will farm any other land until all of its lands were cultivated. Should any of them violate this or act to the contrary, he pledges to pay one hundred gold sultani to the charitable kitchen of our prophet Khalil al-Rahman [Abraham].71 In this matter, responsibility for one-third of the village lands falls upon ‘Ali bin Hasan [al-Labud], his brother ‘Umar, and Ahmad bin Muhammad [Abi al-Thana] and his people; responsibility for developing one-third [of village lands] falls upon Ghunaym and his people; and responsibility for the remaining third falls upon the abovementioned ‘Ali Musa and Ishaq and their people.


Here we see the representatives of Ramallah’s early Muslim inhabitants – mentioned in the shari‘a court records from 947 AH referenced earlier in this article – and members of the Kasabra – including Ghunaym bin Salim, Musa bin Baraka, and Ishaq bin Ya‘qub. It seems that the recent arrivals from Bayt Jala were represented by ‘Ali Musa and Ishaq. A new arrangement for farming the lands of Ramallah was established under the supervision of the shari‘a court judge whereby the agricultural lands of Ramallah were divided into three parts: one part for the Muslim families that were present prior to the immigration of the Christian families, and two parts to the Christian families that had recently arrived. It is likely that these two parts were for the families of the Haddadin that came from Transjordan to Kusbar then to Bayt Jala and then to Ramallah; it is clear that other Christian families that immigrated to Ramallah from Bayt Jala came after this new division. There is some correspondence between those named as the Kasabra group in the 961 AH (1553 CE) census of Bayt Jala and those named in the shari‘a court record of 968 AH (1561 CE).72 On the other hand, no other family names appearing in the census of 970 AH (1562 CE) are mentioned in this entry regarding the division of responsibility for Ramallah’s lands.

The information found in the Ottoman census bolsters and complements the extensive work of ‘Aziz Shahin on the families of Ramallah, named after the five sons of Rashid al-Haddadin.73 For example, the Ottoman census records the name Jarir son of Hadid; ‘Aziz Shahin finds that Hadid is the son of Rashid al-Haddadin and that the family of ‘Awad traces its lineage to him. Similarly, ‘Umran, Mifrih, ‘Umayra, and Ibrahim are named as the sons of Hassan, who is listed by Shahin as another of Rashid’s sons. And again, in the two censuses, Khalil, Sa‘id, and Salama are named as the sons of Ibrahim, who according to Shahin is the third son of Rashid and the ancestor of the Ibrahim family. Finally, the name Dib son of Jiryis is mentioned, Jiryis being the fourth son of Rashid.74 This comparison leads us to the conclusion that the group that migrated from Transjordan to the farm of Kusbar, moved to Bayt Jala, and then finally to Ramallah are the grandchildren of Rashid and not his sons. Further, those that accompanied them from Bayt Jala were many and should also be considered among those who established the Christian presence in Ramallah.

A later court record confirms the existence of two groups of Christians in the village. On 5 Rajab 1013 AH (27 November 1604 CE), some four and a half decades after Christian settlement in Ramallah, the shari‘a judge Habib Effendi was approached by Muhammad al-Turjman, representing the local luminary Muhammad Katkhadha75 along with the Christian ‘Ubayd bin Ghanim from the clan of the sons of Hadid from the village of Ramallah; and the Christian Muslih bin Ibrahim of the sons of al-Naqash from the same village. Each stated that he had fought with the others, that injuries had been inflicted upon them, and that they had then reconciled in the presence of Shaykh Taha al-Shumari, the shaykh of the area.76 This record is important because it reveals the divisions in Ramallah between the descendants of Hadid (al-Hadada) and those of al-Naqash. It also indicates that the shaykh of the area was responsible for resolution of quarrels and bringing about peace between the two sides. Later, the social divisions within Ramallah would take the form of struggle between al-Qaysi and al-Yamani, which was common in the Levant during the Ottoman period. Such matters – among others – will be explored in greater depth in the second part of this history of Ottoman Ramallah.


Sameeh Hammoudeh is a Lecturer in the Political Science Department at Birzeit University.



  1. The following Arabic-language studies on Ramallah were published, arranged by the year of publication: Yusuf Jiryis Qaddura, Tarikh madinat Ramallah [The History of the City of Ramallah] (New York: Al-Huda Press, 1954); Khalil Abu Rayya, Ramallah qadiman wa hadithan[Ramallah Past and Present] (Ramallah: Ramallah American Union, 1980); ‘Aziz Shahin, Kashf al-Niqab ‘an al-judud wa-l-ansab fi madinat Ramallah [Lifting the Veil on the Ancestors and Genealogy in the City of Ramallah] (Birzeit: Birzeit University Research Center, 1982); Amin Hafiz al-Dajani, al-Madinatan al-tawa’im Ramallah wa-l-Bireh wa qada’uhuma [The Twin Cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh and Their Adjacent Villages] (n.p.: n.p., 1992); Nazmi Ju‘ba and Khaldun Bishara, Ramallah, ‘imara wa tarikh [Ramallah, Architecture and History] (Ramallah: Riwaq Popular Architecture Center and the Institute for Jerusalem Studies, 2002); Ibrahim Nayruz, Ramallah: Jughrafiya, tarikh, hadara [Ramallah: Geography, History, Civilization] (Ramallah and Amman: Dar al-shuruq, 2004). A two-part pictorial history by Naseeb Shaheen has also been published in English: Naseeb Shaheen, A

    Pictorial History of Ramallah [Part 1] (Beirut: Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, 1992) and A Pictorial History of Ramallah Part II (Birzeit: Birzeit University Press, 2006).

  2. According to Naseeb Shaheen, our nearly total lack of knowledge of the period between 1600 and until 1800 is due to the lack of registries for births, marriages, and deaths: the arrival of the Greek Orthodox Church in 1857 and its registration of these matters plays a key role in our knowledge of Ramallah in the second half of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. See Shaheen, Pictorial History Part II, 31.

  3. Some examples include: Ra’uf Sa‘d Jabr, al- Wujud al-masihi fi al-Quds khilal al-qarnayn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar wa al-‘ishrin [The Christian Presence in Jerusalem during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries] (Beirut: Markaz abhath al-wihda al-‘Arabiyya, 2004) and Ahmad Hamid Ibrahim Quda, Nasara al-Quds: Dirasa fi daw’ al-wath’iq al-‘Uthmaniyya [Christians of Jerusalem: A Study in Light of the Ottoman Documents] (Beirut: Markaz abhath al-wihda al-‘Arabiyya, 2007). Ilan Pappé’s study of the Husayni family in Jerusalem, shows a history of a vibrant, active, and developing

    Jerusalem society through the Husayni family from the beginning of the eighteenth century: Ilan Pappé, The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis, 1700–1948 (London: Saqi Books, 2011). Other studies include Musa Srour’s work on the impact of Islamic endowment/ waqf on the development of Ottoman Jerusalem in the sixteenth century, published in Jerusalem Quarterly 14 (Autumn–Winter 2012); Kamal Abdel-Fatah and Wolf-Dieter Hutteroth’s study on the Ottoman economic system in the sixteenth century; and Mahmud Yazbak’s study on Ottoman Haifa. ‘Adel Manna‘, in his book Liwa’ al-Quds fi awsat al-‘ahd al-‘Uthmani [The Jerusalem District in the Mid Ottoman Period] (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2007), based upon his Ph.D. dissertation at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, acknowledges the influence of “some of the Orientalist claims that were prevalent” during the time of his Ph.D. studies, including minimizing the role of families and local elites in governance stemming from the assumption, accepted without need for proof, that this was a period of Ottoman weakness and decline (page 1).

  4. Mustafa Murad al-Dabbagh, Biladuna Filastin [Our Land Palestine], vol. 8 (Kufr Qara‘: Dar al-huda, 2002), 233–34, 237; Qaddura, Tarikh, 5; Muhammad Muhammad Hasan Shurrab, Mu‘jam Buldan Filastin [The Lexicon of the Country of Palestine] (Amman: al-Ahliyya for Publishing and Distribution, 2000), 408–9.

  5. Ju‘ba and Bishara, Ramallah, ‘imara wa tarikh,

    11. Al-Bireh, which lies 16 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem, is an old Canaanite village mentioned in the Torah as Bi’rut (of the wells). It was an administrative center during the Crusader period, when a small citadel and church were built; some remnants of the church remain until today.

  6. Dabbagh, Biladuna, 234.

  7. Dabbagh, Biladuna, 234.

  8. Nayruz, Ramallah, 40–45.

  9. Nayruz, Ramallah, 40.

  10. Nayruz, Ramallah, 40.

  11. Yaqut ibn ‘Abdallah al-Hamawi, Kitab al- mushtarik wad‘an wa-l-muftariq saq‘an [Book of Shared Spelling and Different Locations] (Beirut: ‘Alam al-kutub, 1986), 197.

  12. Qaddura, Tarikh, 6.

  13. Nayruz, Ramallah, 44.

  14. Nayruz, Ramallah, 49. Shaheen, Pictorial History Part II, 7.

  15. Qaddura, Tarikh, 6

  16. Sultan al-Mansur Sayf al-Din Qalawun (1223– 1290) rose from the ranks of the Mamluk navy. He loyally served the Mamluk sultan Dhahir

    Baybars and advanced under his son, al-‘Adil Slamish. Qalawun overthrew Slamish and seized power in 678 AH (1279 CE) and remained a sultan until his death in 689 AH (1290 CE). He fought and defeated the Moghuls, and he has many buildings in Egypt and the Levant, one of which is the Bimaristan in Egypt. See Muhammad Shafiq Gharbal, ed., al-Mawsu‘a al-‘Arabiyya al- muyassara [The Concise Arab Encyclopedia], vol. 2 (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1995), 1391.

  17. We do not have the text of Sultan Qalawun’s waqf, but court records (sijill 48, page 88) from the end of Dhu al-Qi‘da 972 AH (29 June 1565 CE) mention the waqf and date it back to 678 AH (between 14 May 1279 and 3 May 1280 CE). Nayruz finds that after the Crusaders’s departure from Palestine, the Mamluks found “that the endowments of the Jerusalem Sanctuary and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron were not sufficient. Consequently, the Mamluk sultan Qalawun decided to expand the scope of the endowments of these important Islamic centers, so he issued a ruling to convert one-tenth of the revenues of the Ramallah area to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron as an endowment

    … and if it had not produced good revenue, Qalawun would not have undertaken this order.” Our study, despite minor differences, supports Nayruz’s overall conclusions.

  18. Ibrahim Rabayi‘a, “Watha’iq al-waqfiyyat al- qadima fi sijillat al-Quds, 1054 AH/1644 CE” [Historical Waqf Documents in the Jerusalem Registries, 1054 AH/1644 CE], in Muhammad ‘Adnan al-Bakhit, ed., al-Mu’tamar al-dawli al-sabi‘ li-tarikh bilad al-Sham [The Seventh International Conference on the History of the Levant], vol. 3 (Amman: University of Jordan, 2008), 102.

  19. Muhammad ‘Adnan al-Bakhit and Nawfan Raja al-Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al-sharif min daftar mufassal liwa’ Safad wa-l-Ghaza [Ghaza] wa- l-Quds al-sharif min daftar tahrir (T. D. 427), 932–934 h/1525–1528 m [The District of Noble Jerusalem: From the Detailed Defter of the District of Safad, Gaza, and Jerusalem from the Tahrir Defter (T. D. 427), 932–934 AH/1525–1528 CE]

    (London: Mu’assasat al-Furqan li-l-turath al- Islami, 2005), 285. The two authors rely on defter

    T. D. 324 (page 64) and the tahrir registry of the country (page 415).

  20. Tankaz was the deputy sultan in the Levant (709– 741 AH), and a key figure in Sultan Qalawun’s government. The Tankazi school stands on the western side of the Haram al-Sharif, its windows overlooking the Haram’s courtyard.

  21. This may refer to Radana, an old agricultural area

    that today falls inside Ramallah.

  22. Kamil Jamil al-‘Asali, Watha’iq Maqdisiyya Tarikhiyya [Historical Jerusalem Documents] (Amman: Jordanian Ministry of Culture, 2009), 113.

  23. See Khalil ‘Uthamina, Filastin fi al-‘ahdayn al-Ayyubi wa-l-Mamluki, 1187–1516 [Palestine in the Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras, 1187–1516] (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2006), 363–382.

  24. defter was a type of tax register and land cadastre used by the Ottoman Empire; there were different kinds of defters, including the tahrir defterleri, which typically included information on land use, dwellings, and household heads. See Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds (T. D. 427), 24, 74, 128, 285. Shaheen mistakenly dates the first census to 1522 (see Shaheen, Pictorial History Part II, 32). An uqja is a small unit of currency used at the beginning of Ottoman rule. Its value varied: for example, there was the uqja Shamiyya (Damascene uqja) and the uqja Halabiyya(Allepo uqja), the latter of which was worth one and a half times the former.

  25. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al- sharif min daftar tahrir (T. D. 131), 932–938 h/1525–1532 m [The District of Noble Jerusalem from the Tahrir Defter (T. D. 131), 932–938 AH/1525–1532 CE] (London: Mu’assasat al- Furqan li-l-turath al-Islami, 2007), 291.

  26. Muhammad ‘Adnan al-Bakhit and Nawfan Raja al-Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al-Sharif min daftar tahrir (T. D. 1015), 945 h/1538–1539 m [The District of Noble Jerusalem: From the Tahrir Defter (T. D. 1015), 945 AH/1538–1539

    CE] (London: Mu’assasat al-Furqan li-l-turath al-Islami, 2008), 21 and 289.

  27. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds (T. D.

    1015), 57.

  28. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds (T. D.

    1015), 59.

  29. Dimos is a word of Greek origins refering to a tax on cultivated lands, whereby a fixed sum is collected from the total yield. See Muhammad ‘Adnan al-Bakhit, Dirasat fi tarikh bilad al- Sham [Studies in the History of Bilad al-Sham] (Amman: Amanat Amman al-Kubra, 2005), 484.Mughul crops were cereals such as wheat and barley.

  30. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds (T. D.

    1015), 86. This seems to contradict this defter’s assertion that the entire village is part of the Ibrahimi endowment (page 289).

  31. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds (T. D.

    1015), 289.

  32. Anisa Ma‘luf states that Ramallah was “In the past, a Muslim town, and the remains of the mosque are present to this day [1940].” See Anisa Ma‘luf, Mu’assasat jam ‘iyat al-asdiqa’ al-Amrikiya fi Filastin min sannat 1869–1939 [Institutions of the American Society of Friends in Palestine from 1869–1939] (n.p. [Cairo?]: al- Matba‘a al-‘asriya, n.d. [1940?]), 21.

  33. Qaddura, Tarikh, 15.

  34. Abu Rayya, Ramallah, p. 7.

  35. See, for example, Qaddura, Tarikh, 15.

  36. Sijill 21, page 300, entry 1158.

  37. Sijill 17, page 586, entry 2516.

  38. The moniker al-Sabahi indicates membership of a class of Ottoman soldiers (sipahi) that oversaw timar lands (fiefs) of the state, receiving a portion of the lands’ proceeds in exchange for their military service.

  39. Qalandiya lies 11 kilometers north of Jerusalem.

    Regarding the “Roman” wall, the term rumiyya made reference to the Roman period, but this cannot be taken as literal or necessarily accurate; rather, it is an indication that what is being described is ancient, though not necessarily Roman.

  40. Al-Jadira is located northwest of Jerusalem, and it means sheep shelter. It is adjacent to Qalandia. Baytunia is located southwest of Ramallah, a distance of 3 kilometers from its old center.

  41. See Muhammad ‘Adnan al-Bakhit and Nawfan Raja al-Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al-sharif min daftar mufassal (I. S. 289) 961 h/1553 m [The District of Noble Jerusalem from the Detailed Defter (I. S. 289) 961 AH/1553 CE] (London: Mu’assasat al-Furqan li-l-turath al-Islami, 2010), 21 and 39.

  42. Gharara is a unit of measurement used for grain, generally translated as “sack.” It is larger than the similar term juwaliq.

  43. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al-Sharif (I. S. 289), 101.

  44. Badi hawa, literally air of the wind, was a tax on items distributed in a presumably irregular manner. It appeared for the first time in the Gelibolu Kanun-name and was referred to during the Abbasid period as tirat. See Muhammad ‘Adnan Bakhit, Daftar mufassal khass amir liwa’ al-Sham[The Detailed Defter of the Head of the Province of Syria] (Amman: University of Jordan, 1989), 15; and Bernard Lewis, “Badi Hawa,” Encyclopedia of Islam, vol. 1 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1960),850 .

  45. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds (I. S. 289), 525–26 and 543.

  46. There is an area in Ramallah called Karam ‘Ali

    that is likely named after this ‘Ali.

  47. Sijill 36, page 209, entry 1090.

  48. Sijill 37, page 502.

  49. A type of currency.

  50. Sijill 37, page 402.

  51. Ahmad ‘Uwaydi al-‘Abbadi, ‘Asha’ir al-Urdun: jawlat maydaniya wa tahlilat [Jordan’s Tribes: Field Work and Analysis] (Amman: al-Ahliyya li-l-nashr wa-l-tawzi‘, 2005), 740.

  52. The name al-Haddadin was given to blacksmith families. Hind Abu al-Sha‘r postulates that some of the Christian families from Transjordan specialized in this profession, noting that many Christian families in Jordan hold this name up to the present. Numerous nineteenth-century accounts support her hypothesis, including that of Myrle in 1294 AH (1877 CE), who encountered Christian blacksmiths in the villages of ‘Ajlun. Schumacher also describes meeting with Christian blacksmith families in the villages of ‘Ajlun in 1302 AH (1884 CE). Also, in 1285 AH (1868 CE),

    Pastor Klein claims to have met two Christian men working as blacksmiths in the village of ‘Arjan as well as Christian blacksmiths from Aleppo working in Kufr Minje. See Hind Abu al-Sha‘r, Tarikh sharq al-Urdun fi-l-‘ahd al-‘Uthmani [The History of Transjordan in the Ottoman Period] (Amman: Jordanian Ministry of Culture, 2010),

    364. The majority of the Christians in Nablus, according to Tamimi and Bahjat, practiced blacksmithing or leather dyeing. See Rafiq al- Tamimi and Muhammad Bahjat, Wilayat Bayrut: al-qism al-janubi: alwiyat Bayrut wa ‘Akka wa Nablus [Beirut Province: The Southern Part: The Districts of Beirut, Acre, and Nablus], 3rd ed. (Beirut: Dar Lahd Khatir, 1987 [1917]), 123. The Jerusalem shari‘a court records also point to the involvement of Christians in that city in blacksmithing. Mahmud ‘Atallah, in his study of seventeenth-century Jerusalem, finds multiple court claims pertaining to blacksmiths that refer to the profession as being exclusively Christian. Similarly, in his study of Jerusalem’s social fabric during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Yahya Jaber states that “most of [Jerusalem’s blacksmiths] were Christians, according to what is present in document 47 in 1670 CE, and document 46 in 1656 mentions Nicola the son of Ta‘ima and Mikha’il son of Yusuf as the two heads and spokesmen for the Haddadin (blacksmith) clan in Jerusalem.” See: Palestinian Liberation Organization – Jerusalem Affairs Department, Harakat al-tijara wa-l-sina‘a fi madinat al- Quds khilal al-‘ahd al-‘Uthmani [Trade and Manufacturing in Jerusalem during the Ottoman

    Era], online at; Mahmud ‘Ali ‘Atallah, Watha’iq al-tawa’if al-harfiyya fi al-Quds fi al-qarn al-sabi‘ ‘ashar miladi [Guild Documents in Jerusalem in the Seventeenth Century AD], vol. 1 (Nablus: al-Najah University Center for Documentation, Mansucripts, and Publishing, 1991); Yahya Jaber, Mukawwinat al-nasij al-ijtima‘i fi al-Quds fi al-qarnayn 16 wa 17 m. [The Components of the Social Fabric in Jerusalem in the 16th and 17th Centuries AD], online at article/--------1617.

  53. Abu Rayya purports that he examined the family tree of the Haddadin family in Ma’in that follow the lineage of Sabra, “I did not see any of the names of the sons of Sabra a name that applies to a name of any of the ancestors of the five Ramallah clans.” Abu Rayya, Ramallah, 1 and 14.

  54. Frederick Gerard Peake, Tarikh sharq al-Urdun wa qaba’iliha [The History of Transjordan and Its Tribes], trans. Baha’ al-Din Tuqan (Amman: al-Dar al-‘Arabiyya li-l-tawzi‘ wa-l-nashr, 1935), 494.

  55. Abu al-Sha‘r, Tarikh sharq al-Urdun, 50 and 80.

  56. Abu al-Sha‘r, Tarikh sharq al-Urdun, 72. Abu al- Sha‘r cites the British author Condor, who with his colleague Kutshner conducted a geographic and human survey of Transjordan and Palestine. The migration of the Christian clans to Ma‘in and then to Madaba was in coordination with the Latin parish in Jerusalem and with the help of the French consul residing there.

  57. These migrations include those of the Bani Jahma tribe in the villages of al-Bariha and Huwwara. Tapu defteri 430, which dates to the rule of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (930 AH/1523 CE), records 4 Christian families in al-Bariha and 26 in Huwwara. In defter 401, which goes back to the mid-century, no Christians are counted in either of the villages. Defter 99, going back to the end of the century, indicates that 5 Christian families once again inhabited al-Bariha whereas Huwwara remained without Christian residents. No explanations are found in the Ottoman sources to explain this matter. Meanwhile, a detailed defter of the ‘Ajlun province (970) going back to the mid-tenth century AH (sixteenth century CE), records 143 Christian households in Karak and 11 in al-Shubak. It is noted that in the middle of the century, the village of Sakhra comprised 17 Christian households, in addition to the 45 Muslim households. The records indicate that the Christians of Sakhra are of the Haddadin, and that these families continued to be present until the end of the century. Yet in defter 430, it

    is noted that Sakhra, near Bani al-A‘sar, was not inhabited by any Christian families in the year 930 AH (1523 CE). At the end of the decade, a total of 15 Christian families resided in Sakhra. This is indicative of internal migration movements among Christians in east Jordan. See Abu al-Sha‘r, Tarikh sharq al-Urdun, 80.

  58. See Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al- Sharif (T. D. 1015), 10.

  59. The popular narrative here does not discuss the migration from east Jordan to Palestine or its reasons. In their study, Nazmi Ju‘ba and Khaldun Bishara doubt the credibility of the story of the Haddadin, noting that a village with a population of 400 people could not have been established recently, “and its lack of mention in sources does not mean its non-existence.” ‘Aziz Shahin also considered the story a legend.

  60. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Abu Hadba, Dirasat fi al-mujtama‘ wa-l-turath al-sha‘bi al-Filastini: Qaryat Dayr Aban [Studies in Palestinian Society and Popular Heritage: The Village of Dayr Aban] (al-Bireh: Jam‘iyat in‘ash al-usra, 1990), 115.

  61. In the magazine published by the Patriarchate for the year 1976, Father Médebielle notes that according to one of the oral narratives the ancestor of the Kasabra of al-Mujaydal is named Namir, and that he was a young boy when he disappeared under unknown conditions after the village of Ghassasana, in the area near Ramallah, was attacked. Narratives of some of the elderly from the families of al-Mujaydal collected by Jabr Nassar purport that the Kasabra of al-Mujaydal are originally from Ramallah. They state that their grandfather came to al-Mujaydal from one of the villages of Ramallah. Jabr Nassar, al-Mujaydal: ihda qurana al-Filastiniyya al-lati talatha yad al-zaman [al-Mujaydal: One of Our Palestinian Villages That the Hand of Time Has Held] (n.p.: n.p., 1991), 11–12.

  62. See Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al- Sharif (I. S. 289), 338–39. Dr. Ahmad Husayn ‘Abd al-Jaburi notes, based on a study of the 932 AH (1525 CE) census, that the village of Bayt Jala was the center of Christian gatherings, and that in the year 963 AH (1555 CE), the center was relocated to the village now known as al-Tayba, neighboring Ramallah. See Ahmad Husayn ‘Abd al-Jaburi, al-Quds fi al-‘ahd al-‘Uthmani, al-juz’ al-awwal 1516–1640 [Jerusalem in the Ottoman Period, Part I, 1516–1640] (Amman: Dar Hamid li-l-nashr wa-l-tawzi‘, 2011), 317. This is consistent with the history of the noted migration of the Christian families to Bayt Jala. We do not know the reasons for the migration.

  63. See Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al- Sharif (I. S. 289), 338–39.

  64. See Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al- Sharif: Daftar mufassal (I. S. 516) 970 h/1562 m [The District of Noble Jerusalem: Detailed Defter (I. S. 516) 970 AH/1562 CE] (Furqan Institute for Islamic Culture, 2011), 460–61.

  65. See Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al- Sharif (I. S. 516), 440–41.

  66. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al-Sharif (I. S. 516), 123.

  67. Bakhit and Sawariyya, Liwa’ al-Quds al-Sharif (I. S. 516), 84.

  68. Kamal Abdulfattah and Wolf-Dieter Hutteroth, Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan, and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century (Erlangen: Frankische Geographische Ges, 1977), 121.

  69. The French traveller Laurent d’Arvieux points to the shared life between Muslims and Christians in the villages: “The Christians in the Muslim villages are treated gently and given full freedom, no one ever bothers them with their religion and their uptake of their symbols.” See ‘Abd al-Jaburi, al-Quds, 315.

  70. The first three (‘Ali, ‘Umar, and Ahmad) come from the early Muslim inhabitants of Ramallah; the latter three (Ghunaym, Musa, and Ishaq) are part of the group of al-Haddadin that came from al-Karak to Kasbar then to Bayt Jala and finally to Ramallah.

  71. Part of the Ibrahimi mosque complex was devoted to feeding Hebron’s poor as well as visitors to the city. This charitable kitchen would distribute food every day free of charge.

  72. Shaheen, Pictorial History Part II, 23–26.

  73. Shaheen, Pictorial History Part II, 23–26.

  74. What is noticeable here is that there is no longer any mention in the census of a name going back to Shuqayr, who is thought to be the son of the Rashid’s wife whom he married in Bayt Jala after the death of his first wife. ‘Aziz Shahin considers this Rashid’s fifth son, and refers to ashari‘a court record dated 12 Safar 1014 AH (3 July 1605 CE) (sijill 85, page 188) wherein al-khawaja Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-Qaddus demands of “Muslih the son of the Christian Shuqayr, from the families of the village of Ramallah with five uqja,” and it is clear that he guaranteed him and Ziyada and ‘Abid from the mentioned village.

  75. al-Katkhadha was the director of the private office of the district head. See ‘Abd al-Jaburi, al-Quds, 120–21.

  76. Sijill 84, page 541.