Sultan Saladin…The Key of the Church of The Holy Sepulchre…and Nabi
over 700 years the Muslims have been celebrating the holy occasion
of Prophet Musa (Moses) which has a glorious national background.
Sultan Saladin El Ayyoubi created a national holiday in memory of
Prophet Musa when he liberated Jerusalem from the hands of the
Crusaders (AD 1187), since his concern was to protect the Muslims of
Jerusalem from Crusaders who might return to the city as pilgrims.
Saladin showed much forgiveness in allowing all the Crusader
soldiers to leave the city with their women and children within 40
days after an arranged ransom, and guaranteed their safe departure
to the ports of Tyre and Tripoli. On the other hand he allowed the
Arab Christians of Jerusalem to remain safe and protected in their
houses. He also struck an agreement for European pilgrims to visit
the Holy Land to perform pilgrimage and to celebrate Easter in
Appointing his Honorable, the Holiest Shikh Abd Al Qader Bin Al
Shikh Mosa Al Ghudayeh in the post of Key Custodian of the
Church of The Holy Sepulchre in replacement of Late Al Shikh
Mohammed Bin Ali.
Rajab the Twentieth day of the year 1050 AH
number of European pilgrims started increasing drastically in the
second year and the Sultan was concerned that the Europeans might
nullify the agreement. His first precautionary step was to order one
of the two doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre sealed while
keeping the other door open, then he entrusted the Key of the church
to Al-Ghodayya, an honored Jerusalem Islamic family that has noble
roots in the history of Islam. In the last second centuries Al-Ghodayya
came to be known as the Joudeh family, the sole Key Custodian of the
church up to this day.
well-known families descended from Al-Ghodayya. They are the Joudeh,
the Younis Al-Husseini, and the Naqeeb Al-Husseini families.
Joudeh family possesses over 150 Sultanic faramans
(official documents issued by 22 successive sultans) for their
assignment in four honorable positions:
- Superintendent on
behalf of the Sultan on his Waqf (religious trust).
- Key’s Custodian of
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
- Chairman of the
- Islamic Mufti of
this assignment the Joudeh family became responsible for the Islamic
affairs in the church, expressed clearly in the faramans
and the documents issued by the heads of the Muslim Supreme Court in
Jerusalem. He also assigned the Nusseibeh family for door keeping of
the gates of the Holy Sepulchre.
entrance fees that were collected under the supervision of the
Superintendent of the Sultan, who also was the key’s Custodian, were
kept in the treasury of the Waqf-- a charity establishment
which fed every hungry mouth in Jerusalem. This remained until the
time of the Ottomans when princess Rokellana, of Russian origin,
later known as Khaskey Sultan, wife of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman
the Magnificent (AD 1565) embraced Islam and donated all her money.
This comprised of several properties in Istanbul, Mecca, Jerusalem,
and over thirty other villages and farms in Palestine, to a Waqf.
Waqf of Sultan Saladin was combined with Waqf of
Suleiman the Magnificent under the Name of Khasky Sultan Waqf.
Khaskey Sultan Tikeya (House of charity) was the largest
Islamic society for charity in Palestine for several centuries, open
to any person in need of food, whether he was a resident, visitor,
or a foreign tourist.
of the families of Jerusalem received food daily from Khaskey Sultan
Tikeya and prayers were said for her soul by the Mu’azen from
the minarets of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
wisdom behind entrusting the Key of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
to the Muslim family was to ensure an open eye for the protection of
this holy place.
Holidays of Prophet Musa
celebration took place in a spot located 25 km from Jerusalem on the
way to Jericho. Here, the Muslims, especially the Knights, used to
gather by the orders of Sultan Saladin to practice horsemanship
during a time when the large crowd of pilgrims were in the Holy City
of Jerusalem to celebrate Easter. The wisdom behind this was to
guarantee a striking force to come to the aid of their brothers in
Jerusalem in case of any sudden attack.
the time of Sultan Babarse, a Mamluk of Egypt (AD 1260), the branch
of Younis and Naqeeb Al-Husseini of the Al-Ghodayya family, were
assigned by the Sultan as Superintendent of the Waqf of prophet Musa.
Sultanic faramans and documents from the supreme Muslim court were
issued to supervise the needs of the Mosque and the monastery and to
organize celebrations, which initiated in Jerusalem and proceeded in
sizeable parades to the Mosque of Prophet Musa. The catering for the
masses was free of charge under the supervision of the
superintendent of the Waqf. Those celebrations coincided with
the Mamluk period, the Ottoman rule, the British Mandate to
Palestine and stopped after the Israeli occupation of Palestine.