Until the 1940's, education was received through the mosque. Teachers taught only boys in a room adjacent to the mosque and called them "Kuttab". The syllabus included Koran, reading and writing, and basic knowledge of mathematics. Villagers called the teacher "Khateeb," and he was also the Imam of prayers in the mosque. He received eggs and loaves of bread from his pupils as his wages.
The first modern school was built around 1932 on the western side of the village by donations from Hanaynas. Pupils' education was mixed: first going to Kuttab, then pursuing their studies in the western school. Teachers of the school were appointed by the British Mandate Government.
The late Abdel Hameed Shuman convinced his fellow villagers to build a higher institute of education, perhaps his own dream of a Beit Hanina University. Hanaynas held many meetings, donated large areas of land (150,000 square meters), money and building materials, and the eastern school of Beit Hanina was built in 1947. The Jordanian Army used the building as a barracks, and then it became a school under the supervision of the Jordanian Ministry of Education in 1950. The western school by that time was turned into an elementary school for girls. The eastern one, about 1500 meters away from the village, expanded year after year until it became a full secondary (high school) in 1955. Then the two upper classes were replaced with two years' college study when a part of the building was turned into the Rural Teachers Training Center. Some students from Beit Hanina itself graduated from that center. In the sixties the center changed again and was called the Administration Management Institute. However, the preparatory school continued to exist along with the College. After the setback in 1967, the college dormitory became the College for Preaching and Religious Teaching, while the other building continued as a preparatory school supervised by the Jerusalem Municipality. Even now, the main building is still serving the purpose of teaching pupils up to 9th grade.
Beit Hanina later hosted more schools in addition to the aforementioned ones. Below are some schools, although one must note that there is very low percentage of Hanaynas in these schools
1. Freres' elementary school for boys.
2. Nazameyyah High School for girls from kindergarten to the 12th grade.
3. Rosemary Nuns' High School for girls from kindergarten to the 12th grade.
4. Two vocational training centers: Lutheran and Arab orphan institutes.
5. A1-Ummah establishment in Daheyatul Bareed which contains several elementary, preparatory and secondary boys' schools. In addition, there is a coed community college.
Men until the 1920's used to wear a long robe called a qumbaz or hindeyyah, along with a large cloak fixed with a vest and a head cover (laffah or amama). Later they substituted the laffa with a hattah (white shawl) and iqal (two thick circular black cords or ropes made from cotton). The change from qumbaz to trousers and western suits took a long time. Even today one never fails to see an aged man wearing the traditional qumbaz, while the hattah and iqal can be found on middle-aged and older people's heads as a sign of respect.
Women wear their own dress called a thoob. For head cover they use a kherqah (shawl). The thoob in the past was a black or white piece of cloth sewn with taste and simplicity to suit work and harsh environments, whereas since the1950's and onwards, it grew in cost and became more artistic, colorful, and sophisticated. The thoob is marked with delightful embroidery on the sides of the dress (thial), and all over the chest area (qabbah). Colored threads of soft cotton or silk are used in embroidering the shapes of animals, birds, flowers, and some complicated patterns all over the thial and qabbah. The cost of a thoob these days ranges between 300 - 400 U.S. Dollars.
On their heads, under the kherqah, women wear a cap named a shekkah. It is lined with one row or more of gold coins starting from one side of the head, continuing around the forehead, and ending on the other side.
Beit Hanina led a very simple life generation after generation for thousands of years. Hanaynas depended on their agricultural products. They grew wheat, barley, lentils and beans, and planted fruit trees such as apricot, plum, fig and grapevines. They took great care of the olive trees planted by their Canaanite ancestors. Every family stored its annual supply of grains for bread, dried figs (quttain), various kinds of jam and pickles, and olive oil. Villagers developed their own instruments and tools. From the local clay they made ovens (tawabeen), Thom-ovens, and huge home storages for their food named khawabee. They even made winter stoves (kawaneen).
Women were the labor force for all these industries. They toiled days and nights making such utensils. They brought clay from a far neighborhood, Matyanah, and then spent days making tawabeen, khawabee and kawaneen. They even picked thorny plants for fuel purposes, walking several hours and kilometers, returning bent under very heavy burdens. Women also were responsible for bringing water from far away water springs (oyon) located west of Beit Hanina, ascending and descending a very steep mountain (Talaat el-Aqaba).
Beit Hanina, a Palestinian Moslem village, its heritage in every aspect of life. Traditional dishes are similar to those in other Palestinian villages and cities. Their ingredients come mostly from agricultural crops planted by the villagers: wheat, lentils, olive oil, fruits and vegetables. From these dishes, we name the following:
1. Maqlooba (turned upside-down): Cooked meat, fried potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant, and rice arranged in layers in that order. When served, its components are turned upside down with the meat on top, hence its name.
2. Mansaf: Cooked mutton meat, boiled rice, yogurt (laban), and thin bread called shrack. The plate is covered with a layer of shrack, rice, and meat. Hot laban is poured over it. It is eaten with hands, no need for spoons!
3. Maftool: Wheat flour is processed into granules to be cooked in a pot called a Qoor with small holes in the bottom which is attached to a larger pot called a Qaaba, which contains the meat, sauce and vegetables. Before serving, the cooked flour granules (maftool) are soaked with the sauce. Then they are covered with vegetables and large pieces of meat.
4. Aseeda: Wheat ground and cooked with laban and meat. (Served usually at weddings).
5. Aqras: Loaves filled with a thick layer of meat and chopped onions. Zaatar (oregano) or spinach may replace meat.
6. Mojaddarah: made from rice and lentils.
7. Motabbaq: A thin layer of dough covered with olive oil then twisted in many layers and covered again with olive oil before being baked in a tabbon, or oven.
Some Local Sayings and Proverbs
- Ana wa akhoya ala ibn ammi, ana wa bin ammi al ghareeb. (I, with my brother, are against my cousin, I, with my cousin, are against the stranger).
- Dar el-banat kharab, wa dar el-awlad amar. (The house of girls is destructed; the house of boys is constructed).
- Ala qad frashak medd ejraik. (Extend your legs to the size of your mattress).
- Kul wahad behoosh en-nar ala qorsah. (Everybody struggles to bring the fire to his loaf).
- Nas btookel jaj, wa nas ebtaqa'a fi-esyaj. (Some people eat hens; others are trapped in the fence).
- Sabah el khair ya jar: inta fee halak wana fee hali. (Good morning my neighbor: You mind your own business, I mind mine).
- El bard sabab kul ellah. (Cold is the cause of all illnesses).
- Ya ma'ammer fee ghair baladak, la hoo elak wala lawaladak. (0' who builds outside your homeland, it is neither yours nor your son's).
Cruel circumstances, the harsh treatment of Turks towards Hanaynas combined with draught and famine, the obligatory recruitment of Arabs in the Turkish Army, lack of freedom and the prevalence of tyranny all led to the encouragement of migration.
Who was the first Hanini to migrate and when? This is really a difficult question to answer. But it is said that the inhabitants of the neighboring town of al Bireh opened the way to migration. Those people were in-laws of the Mishal Family. So brothers Mishal, Mahmud of the Mishal family were most likely the first pioneers of migration to the New World prior to 1910. Afterwards went Abdel Hameed Shuman (1880 - 1974), who, with his legendary success, founded the Arab Bank in 1930. The migration wave increased during the decade 1910 - 1919, due to war circumstances and hopes for improving personal and family standards of living.
We can name the following among the first migrants:
Mohammed, Yasin Mishal. Ali, E'layyan Salem Salameh.
Yunis, Essa Ibrahim Abdullah. Abedrabbu Ayesh. Saif ed-Din
Mohammed Abdullah. Rasheed Abdel Fattah el Widdi; Ibrahim Hassan Abu Hamdah; Esa'yyed, Abdel Aziz, Assad Scileirnan. Abed Ahmed Ayyad; Mahmud Ahmad Farraj; Malimud Abed Farraj; Hassan Mohammed Farraj; Musa Dawood; Amin Malimud Shuman, Sr. Aasi Slack. Hassan Karkees; Amin Maso'ud Suleiman; Mahmud Ma'ali; Faraj Ma'ali; Ismael Mas'oud Suleiman; Mohammed Mjali; Mustafa Saa'dah; Mohammed Ma'ali; Au, Abdullah Au (Alarab). Ahmad, Mohammed Hamed Rabah. Mufaddi Mahmud Shatarah. Ismael Awwad. Ibdaiwi Ibrahim Farraj. Saed, Ahmed Assad Abdel Jaleel. Qaddorah Mohammed Abu Zahriyyah; Yasin Tayeh; Ahmed Mohammed Montaser; Othman, Sae'd Sae'ed. Saleh Abu Hamdan. Mohammed Jarad Abu Oun.
Second generations that followed in the forties and fifties included:
Mohanad Abed Muhsin; Ahmad Ma'ali; Kamil Essa Ibrahim; Jalal Najeeb Abu Zahriyyah; Mohammed Jaber; Dawood Barhoom; Yusef Barhoom; Salem Habbas; Abed Yusef Abboshi; Mohammed Qaddorah Tayeh; Yusef Yasin Tayeh; Abdullah Doleh; Abdel Raheem Doleh; Aref Abdel-Aziz Assad; Mohammed Abdel Aziz Assad; Sabri Za'al Selmi; Dakheel Hussein Selmi; Lutfi Saed Assad; Aref Hussein Farraj.
The relatively younger generations came in the same period or a little after the abovementioned migrant's offspring and relatives, namely:
Subhi Mohammed Sbaih el Widdi; Ribhi Mohammed Rabah; Tawfiq Kamil Essa; Wajeeh Abdullah Tayeh; Kamal Abdullah Tayeh; Fathi Yusef Yasin; Fayez Faraj Salti; Mohammed Faraj Salti; Ahmad Mahmud Mustafa; Abdel Mone'm Mahmud Mustafa; Ibrahim Saed Assad; Sha'ban Saed Assad; Diab Abed Musa Najeeb; Mohammed Amin Masoud; Shareef Saif ed-Din; Anwar Saif ed-Din; Fayeq Saif ed-Din; Fayez Shaker; Yasin Helmi; Abdel Qader Helmi; Abdel-Kareem Helmi; Ayesh Helmi; Dawood Jameel Ayesh; Mohammed E'layyan Abdel-Wahhab; Ibrahim Ayoub; Shehdah Ali Abdel Wahhab; Shehadah Ali Abdel Wahhab.
Though most of them migrated to the United States, some however chose to settle in Central and South America including Nicaragua, Cuba, Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela, and other countries.
This phenomenon brought destruction to the village, emptying it of its inhabitants who went far away to build and construct distant foreign countries. It does not matter how they live there, mostly working in trade, for what matters is the miserable situation they left behind in their homeland. Every migrant must bear in his mind that he must return one day to his home village and carry Beit Hanina in his heart as a symbol of his origin, roots and past. He is bound to do his best to revive, develop and work for the well-being and prosperity of this eternal site: Beit Hanina.
There is an ancient mosque in the old village originally named after a famous good Muslim worshipper, Sultan Ibrahim Ibn Adham (died 162 A.H. = 779 A.D). It is supposed that Sultan Ibrahim lived for some time in Beit Hanina where he might have worked as a reaper or a collector of olive products. The elder Hanaynas said there was a stone inscribed with the date of the building fixed in front of the mosque. They recalled reading the following sentence on the stone: "This mosque was built by Suwaid Abul Hamayel in the year 336 after Hijrah" (948 A.D.). The mosque was rebuilt and enlarged in the year 1938, mostly through Hanaynas' donations and efforts.
In the 1993 work finished on the new mosque opposite the Boys' Preparatory School in Ras-al-Tariq. The Association of Charity for Knowledge, financed by General Director of the Arab Bank, Mr. Abdel Majeed Shuman, has undertaken the work to make the mosque more spacious and modern, and has named it after his father, the late Abdel Hameed Shuman.
In addition to those mosques there are also small mosques:
Bader Mosque on the ascent to Hizma, The Mosque of Religion College, and the Mosque of Teacher's Suburb.
Hanaynas have songs for every occasion whether happy or sad. Some are recited by men, while others are sung by women. Men used to sing Mayjana, Ataba, Dallauna, Ya Zareef at Toul ... etc., while women sing for engaged couples, during weddings, and pilgrimages. Both sexes have farewell melodies for would-be migrants. Women lament deceased persons with wailing melodies.
In old happy times there was a dance performed by men called Sahja (which means clap of hands). They stand in one line, half of them recite the first verse, and the second half repeats it slowly, the whole poem being learnt by heart especially by conductors or folklore poets.
Traditions and Folklore
Beit Hanina, as a Palestinian town, has its own social traditions and folklore activities.
These are usually practiced at weddings, various social occasions, playing games, in proverbs, simple house-hold industries, etc... Here are some details:
Weddings - There are certain rites during the marriage process. After receiving the implied consent from the bride's family, the bridegroom's delegation called "Jahah" visits the bride's house according to Arabian customs and drink the coffee naming the dowry to be paid by the bridegroom called "Mahr" in Arabic. The Mahr money is spent on the purchase of gold jewelleries and clothes for the bride. Sweets are distributed, and songs are recited, especially by women. Then comes the day of Henna, when another festival is done. This usually takes place the day before the wedding and consists of parties with folklore songs and dances. The bridegroom's womenfolk bring Henna (a green plant ground and made to a paste with water) to be used for hand and other body part decorations.
On the wedding day, a dinner for the villagers is prepared, after which a procession of men and women go to the bride's house to fetch her. After a ceremony of songs and dancing, donations of money are presented to the new couple, called "noqot."
There are many Khirbets around Beit Hanina. The most important ones are:
1. Tel al Ful is a mountain located east of the Jerusalem-Ramallah Road. On top of the mountain there are ruins of a very ancient castle. Some serious scholars had good reason to believe this castle was built by Canaanites before the eleventh century B.C. It was burned and rebuilt several times.
2. Hazzor- To the west of the old village, on the road to Nebi Simwail, there are several Khirbets: Al-Abiar, Farraj and Hazzor. Excavation in these Khirbets led to a conviction that these Khirbets date back to Canaanite times. Some findings include graves dug in rocks, cisterns, stony wells, broken pillars and above all, signs of a very developed system of irrigation.
3. Addasah: On the cross-roads from Al-Ram leading to Bir Nabala, and to the south of the road crowning the head of a high mountain lays Khirbet Addasah. It overlooks the old village of Beit Hanina to the south. There are still rocky graves and water canals cut in stones joining several wells in the area. There are also foundations of a number of what had once been important buildings.
In addition to the above-mentioned Khirbets, we can name others such as Telilya, Saumaah, and Shaumer, Ras al-Tawil Irha, Deir Sallam, and Adasah. Although no important excavations were done in Khirbets other than Tel al Ful, many rumors spread among Hanaynas that a number of diggers found many antiques, and even gold, in the Khirbets.
History of Beit Hanina
The village dates back to Canaanites who lived north of Jerusalem. Those people escaped the wars between the Jewish invaders and Palestinian defenders in the 10th century B.C. They continued to exist and live on their land. Even the Old Testament itself recognized this fact.
The village witnessed many occupiers during its long history, although Hanaynas never ceased to live in their village. Foreign settlements were built around Beit Hanina during successive periods, which accounts for the numerous ruins called Khirbets by both local citizens and foreigners who tour the area. After the Israelites came the Greeks, then the Romans. The Persian Arab states before Islam also had their share of power in Palestine, namely the Gassasenite and Nebetite Kingdoms. Several Arab tribes had migrated to Syria and, naturally, southern Palestine. We can give the tribes of Lakhem, Qudaa'h, and Kalb as examples. This led to enhancing the Arab-typed demography of Palestine long before its liberation by the Muslim Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab's army in the first half of the seventh century A.D. (638).
New waves of Arabian tribes moved into Palestine, mostly of mixed origins. Yemenite and Qaisi tribes alike lived in Beit Hanina and thrived peacefully under Arab rule. Villagers continued to grow their olive and fruit trees, planted wheat, barley, etc. until the time of the Crusaders' invasion. The Crusader army marched on Jerusalem, crossing the western mountains of Beit Hanina, thus inflicting
Heavy casualties among our forefathers, who had to flee their village, or hide in caves. Later, however, they returned back to their farms and cultivated them under the cruel,
Feudal rule of the Crusaders.
Saladin conquered the Crusaders, re-liberating Jerusalem in the year (1189). Many Muslims, several thousand at least, were killed around Jerusalem. To restore the balance in favor of the Arabs, Saladin brought many harsh Bedouin tribes to Jerusalem in order to defend the city against future enemy attacks.
It is said that at least one Hanini Hamoulah (Sub-tribe of Beit Hanina), named Dar Abdullah, was brought here by Saladin, although this Hamoulah might be traced back to Dar Hazzor, even to the time of the Canaanites. They lived continuously in the village, leaving it only when the Crusaders invaded our country. They returned back with Saladin to join their relatives, Dar Hazzor, who insisted on staying even under the Crusaders' occupation.
Beit Hanina then witnessed a series of Muslim rulers ranging from Ayyoubies to Mamluks before the rise of the Ottoman Empire. The Turks ruled between 1517-1918.
Their years here, even as Muslims, heavily burdened the local people. Most of the villagers suffered from illiteracy, illness, and poverty. Taxes were very high, paid
According to a cruel system called Al-Eltezam, or compulsion. Men were beaten, tortured, and imprisoned in order to pay taxes. Agricultural crops were hardly sufficient for paying the high taxes.
In the nineteenth century, and even before then, Turkish authorities forced villagers to join the armies fighting in distant provinces such as Balkan, Yemen, and Russia. There were no motives for these battles as seen from locals' eyes. It was possible, however, to escape recruitment by paying a large sum of money or getting married very early.
Thousands of olive trees were cut and sold to pay the Turks which lead to deteriorating agriculture. The idea of migration to the New World was considered a salvation at the beginning of the twentieth century, although very few people could afford the expenses of travel then.
In the year 1918, the western mountains of Beit Hanina were used again as a passage to Jerusalem, this time by British troops. This was the start of the Mandate Era in our modern history, an era characterized by disorders, revolts, and conspiracies with Jewish aspirations to fulfill the Balfour Declaration given in the year 1917. Inhabitants of Beit Hanina, like their Palestinian brethren, had their full share of suffering and misfortunes, and struggled to avoid this fate. However, the Jewish state was declared in 1948. Beit Hanina was not occupied that year, although many Hanaynas expected this to happen. Instead, our village was destined to live under Jordanian rule within the West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from 1949 -1967.
The Jordanian era was marked by relative peace. Education, building and security improved. Money sent by migrants to their families allowed for the appearance of the new suburb "Ras al-Tariq," on the eastern and western sides of the Jerusalem-Ramallah Road, creating one of the most modern towns in Palestine.
Things became worse when the town was occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Beit Hanina was partitioned into three or four parts. The old village was placed under military rule (later called Civil Administration!). The new suburb was decreed a neighborhood under the supervision of the Jerusalem Municipality. Parts of land were confiscated to establish or enlarge the Jewish settlements of Ramot, Nevi Yaakov, and Ras al-Tawil. Daheyatul Bareed was regarded as a part of the neighboring Al-Ram village, leading to the real dismemberment of Beit Hanina.
A Town.... A name
The name "Beit Hanina" might be a name of a person "the house of Hanina." But who was that "Hanina?" There are many stories about the name. The following are some accounts:
1a. some scholars say that "Hanina" is derived from the Assyrian "Han-nina" which means the one that deserves pity (hanan).
1b. it may also be "Hana" which means camped, making Beit Hanina the "House of Campers."
2. In the preliminary first volume of "Survey of Western Palestine," it is said that Beit Hanina is "named after a person." Old Hanaynas relate a tale about an ancient woman named Hanina who lived thousands of years ago in that strategic place. Beit Hanina was originally the house of that woman.
3. Another story is mentioned in Guirre'n's "Description de La Jude'e." After claiming that the village's name is pronounced either Beit Hanina, H for Arabic letter
Concluded that it is the same village mentioned in the Old Testament as Anania. Several Western travelers adopted Guirre'n's views including Robinson, although W.F. Albright rejected them, maintaining that Anania is the current Alaizereyyah east of Jerusalem.
4. We can conclude from the previous accounts that Beit Hanina must be named after a person who lived before or within the Canaanite period. Beit Hanina is, in the words of Western scholars themselves, "an ancient site."
Beit Hanina : An Introduction
Location and population: Beit Hanina is located 4.5 miles (6 kilometers) to the north of Jerusalem, on the road which connects the holy city with Ramallah. It is surrounded by the villages of Hizma to the east, Shu'fat and Lifta to the south, Beit Iksa and Nebi Simwail (Samuel) to the west, and Bir Nabala, Aljeeb, Kofr Aqab and Al-Ram to the north. The total area of Beit Hanina is approximately 20 square kilometers (about 15 square miles). The old village lies about one mile to the west of the
Jerusalem-Ramallah road, while the new town stretches around that road and is considered another neighborhood of Jerusalem. The old village itself is within the Ramallah district.
The population of Beit Hanina has grown as follows: from about 120 persons in the 16th century, to 300 in the 19th century; 996 (1922); 1226 (1931); 1590 (1945); 3067 (1961); and 6065(1982). It should be noted, however that not all current inhabitants of the town are of original Beit Hanina descent. Thousands of Hanaynas (original citizens of Beit Hanina) have migrated to the New World while strangers settled in the town thus weakening, not only threatening, the majority of Hanaynas in their own balad (village).