Awqaf through the stories of Ibn Jubayr
Abū ad-Dīn al-Husayn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Jubayr (1145-1217) is a court official, intellectual and writer of Al-Andalus.
His account of his travels in his book “Relation of Travels” during the year of the Hegira 581 (1184-1185 AD) is a special testimony on the development of the institution of awqaf in Damascus at the end of the twelfth century but also in other countries. His condition as a direct witness allowed him to see first-hand the abundance of these goods, especially those destined for the great mosque, the Sufis and the sepulchres and oratories attached to the many places of worship of the Syrian capital.
He mentioned in his story those of an educational, charitable or purely religious character, for example, for the great mosque reciters.
The mention of awqaf is only found on his arrival in Baghdad, where he speaks of the goods destined for madrassas, which he numbers at more than thirty, all situated in the eastern part of the city. These goods served to maintain the fuqahá ‘who were dedicated to teaching as well as to supporting those who resided and studied in these institutions.
"There are about thirty Madrassas, all of which are in the Charqiya, and there is none to which a magnificent palace yields in beauty. The largest and most famous is the Nizámiya which was built by Nizám al-Mulk and restored in the year 504 (1110). These madrasas enjoy considerable foundations and buildings "habousés" for the maintenance of fuqaha 'who teach there; they also provide the students with what the madrasas are and the hospitals have acquired in this city a great honor and lasting glory. "
The Awqaf of the Umayyad Mosque
Ibn Jubayr dedicates the beginning of his description of Damascus to the mosque of the Umayyads, one of the oldest of Islam, for which, on several occasions, he cites devout legacies.
He pointed out the richness of the mosque by saying that the amount of the treasure, kept in one of the three “flag pavilions” (qibdb) of the court amounted to eight thousand Syrian dinars.
This suggests, of course, that the Damascene mosque had a large and rich set of properties, both in the form of land and urban buildings, it notes the existence of the income of the mosque benefited teachers and students who worked there:
In the mosque, there are circles for teaching students. Professors receive large salaries. The Malekites have a záwiya for teaching in the western part, and students from the West gather there. They enjoy a fixed allowance. The benefits that this venerable mosque provides to foreigners are numerous and considerable.
The waqf of the column
The first indication of the pious foundations of this mosque refers to what might be called “the waqf of the column”. This waqf was intended for those who taught next to one of the columns located between the two maqsûras, the old and the new.
"The most extraordinary thing that is reported is that at one of the columns that stand between the two maqfoura, the old and the new, is attached a special waqf that can be enjoyed by anyone who comes to remember the name of Allah and to teach. There we found a lawyer from Seville called al-Morádi. When the morning assembly is closed for the recitation of a seventh of the Qur'an, each of those who took part leans against a pillar and in front of him sits a young boy to whom he teaches to chant the Qur'an. These boys also receive a fixed subsidy for their recitation. Fathers who are comfortable with it make their sons give up, but all the others touch it. This is one of the glory titles of this country. "
In another part of the story, Ibn Jubayr mentions Nür al-Dín’s pious donations to Western Muslims who were busy with the Maliki karate of the Great Mosque. Referring to it, his story is more detailed and, thus, he tells us the so-called goods given in his favor, composed by urban and rural buildings: two mills, seven vegetable gardens, cultivated land, a bath and two shops in the street of perfumers.
According to his informant, Abü-l-Hasan ‘AIí b. Sardál al-Gayyáni, the Maghreb waqf in question, could produce 500 dinars a year if properly administered. In the same way, Nür al-Dín, in person, installed houses for the benefit of the so-called Maghreb people to be inhabited by readers of the Koran.
Ibn Jubayr encouraged Western Muslims to move to the East where, thanks to the abundance of Awqaf, they could, without having to worry about their subsistence, devote themselves entirely to study and spiritual life.
"The advantages that foreigners enjoy in this city are innumerable, especially those reserved for the faithful who know the Koran by heart or who aspire to learn it. The esteem they enjoy in this city is truly admirable; undoubtedly, all the countries of the East have the same attitude towards them, but the attention paid to them in this city is greater and they are honored more widely. Anyone from our Maghreb who seeks peace of mind, emigrates to this country and dedicates himself to the search for knowledge, will find many favorable circumstances: first, the end of all concern for his livelihood, which is the greatest of the audience and the most essential. If this essential thing is assured to him, he will find the path of inner effort. There will be no more excuse for anyone who will delay it unless he makes a profession of impotence and procrastination. This one, our speech does not address him; the one to whom we address ourselves is the man who has the preoccupation with existence, for which the necessity of gaining his life puts in his country a barrier between him and his desire to acquire knowledge; for this one, the East has the door open: "Enter it with salvation." " Send feedback History Saved Community
A little further in his story, Ibn Jubayr speaks again of the kawtariyya to explain its origin. He said that the foundation of this waqf was due to a wealthy man who asked in his will to be buried at the mosque and that the annuities produced that would reach the hundred and fifty dinars a year would benefit those who did not know the Koran by heart and who would recite it from the first verse to the end. They would receive an income of forty dinars every three months, throughout the year.
"It is also said that it was one of the rulers of old who died recommending that his tomb be placed in the qibla of the venerable mosque in a place where it would not be visible, and it constituted a considerable waqf, s' raising at least fourteen hundred dinars a year, in favor of those who daily recite a seventh of the Koran, at the end of the morning prayer, in the eastern part of the maqgoura of the Companions; it is said that this is where the tomb is. The recitation of this seventh must take place only in this place that touches the wall of the qibla and extends to the eastern wall. God will not allow the reward of the benefactors to be lost. God willing to give an advantage to those who instituted them! And pay tribute to the city where we are directed to those works that win the divine favor. "
Oratories and places of worship around Damascus
Ibn Jubayr refers to the abundant presence of awqaf on the so-called blessed hill (al-rabwa al-mubárak) at the end of Qásyún *. He claims that the blessed hill had awqaf consisting of vegetable gardens, cropland and buildings. It indicates, in detail, the use of annuities for these goods, intended both for visitors and for staff employed in religious functions:
"At the blessed hill are attached many waqf, gardens, white lands and blocks of houses, whose revenues are distributed among various services: this is allocated to the expenditure for the food supplied to the visitors who spend the night there; such is reserved for the clothes of which they cover themselves during the night; such is specially assigned to food, which allows a distribution which extends to all the subsistence, that of the conservator who is appointed to it and who is at the same time imam, and that of the muezzin attached to the service of this place. All have a fixed salary per month; it is one of the most important institutions. "
he insists in his account also on the benefits and the advantages which are offered to the Moslems coming from the lands of Occident and decide to settle in Damascus:
"Every person, among strangers, who, in any form whatsoever, makes profession of virtue and science, if he is isolated in these regions, is given a livelihood: Yimáma of a mosque, or the dwelling in a madrassa where he will be provided for his maintenance; or the free disposal of one of the cells of the main mosque (Damascus), where it will come to him to provide for his needs; or participation in the recitation of a seventh of the Koran; or the post of guardian of one of the monuments rich in blessings, where he will be able to live and receive on the waqf enough to insure his life; and other means of subsistence of this kind pious and blessed, that it would be too long to enumerate. Thus, every stranger in need, if he is in the way of good, is here protected, guaranteed, and does not have to pour on his face the sweat of shame. As for other foreigners who do not have this quality, but who have the use of a trade and manual labor, they are also provided with excellent means of serving, for example, a garden to be a guardian, a bath for them. to assist in the service or to look after the clothes of the customers, a mill, or to be in charge of the surveillance of young boys to take them to the schools and to take them home, and many other occupations still. But in none of them do they confide in Maghrebi strangers, for they enjoy in this city a high reputation for honor; they are renowned for it, while people lack confidence in the inhabitants of the city. It is a mark of God's goodness to strangers. Praise and thanks be to Him for what He gives to His servants. "
* Mount Qassioun is a mythical and historical place of the Christian and Muslim religions. Medieval Arabic literature reports that Cain killed Abel there, while he still retains the site of Arbin, which houses the mihrabs of 40 saints and is still symbolized today by an accessible madrassah (religious school of Islam). to the pilgrims.
It is also mentioned that the prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) son of Zechariah and his mother found shelter for 40 years in a cave on this mountain.
Ibn Jubayr, Travel relationship (1184-1185) in Arab travelers, Gallimard, 1995
The awqaf in Damascus at the end of the 12th century through Ibn Jubayr’s Travel Relation – Alejandro Garcia Sanjuan (University of Huelva – Spain)