For all, Jerusalem is a glorious enigma, a cradle of hope where the final clash of civilizations seems always at hand. Today, the peace process and negotiations have again placed the Holy City in the international spotlight, making the question of Jerusalem the most sensitive and controversial issue in the Middle East.
To understand the diverse spiritual nature of Jerusalem, the constant battle of confusing emotions, is perhaps as difficult and complex as to comprehend why the City of Peace is anything but peaceful, making the Middle East such a religious and political tinderbox. The Old City, which for the past 4,000 years had been conquered, besieged, burnt and rebuilt numerous times, never lost faith, and is once again at the threshold of embracing perhaps a new destiny that befits new dimensions.
Religious tolerance, peaceful co-existence between peoples, a culture of peace and the breaking of cultural barriers are terms often associated with our modern century, however, speaking of peace and tolerance in the spiritual sense immediately brings to mind the dignified conduct of our ancestors who lived by the rules of nobility and respect for others, long before the human right movement was born. At least since the time of Saladin, also known as the second Muslim period (1187-1517), the Nuseibeh Family were given custody of the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest of places for Christians in Jerusalem, a place for worship and pilgrimage. The daily locking and unlocking of the door has been has been performed by a member of the Nuseibeh family ever since, and an office by the family is still held today, which by itself symbolizes the peaceful co-existence and solidarity between Muslims and Christians.
It is believed that the Nuseibeh’s originates from the Khazraj tribe who resided in the city of "Yathreb". They are closely related to the brave tribe of "Bani Mazen" and "Bani Najjar", who are considered to be a noble tribe and related to Prophet Mohammed’s (peace be upon him) tribe.
Of great interest is the organic kinsmanship between the Nuseibeh family and Bani Ghanim. The two are, indeed, one Khazraj family, as our late uncle Salim Abdul Rahim Nuseibeh (Abu Khalid) asserts, in one of his annotations on a document relating to al-Lubban estate (between Jerusalem and Nablus).
Our ancestor the Emir Burhan-U-Din, had taken abode in the village of Bureen (adjacent to Nablus), in the wake of the crusader invasions. He established a power center in the Nablus area which assisted Salah-U-Din in the reconquest of Jerusalem. Sala-U-Din rewarded our great father by awarding him the (50,000) dunums of land at Lubban; also the famous Sheikhdom of the (Salahiyah Khankha) – a theological Seminary for the teaching of Sufism-, the Imamate of the Haram esha-Shareef, and many other Waqf (foundations) most of which have lapsed, or were lost, by the passage of time.
The name Bani Ghanim has ceased to exist since the beginning of the Ottoman era (five hundred years ago), after they have governed Jerusalem and other areas of Palestine for three hundred years, and particularly during the Ayubbi and Mamluk eras. This has been attested to in the recent (two decades ago) discovery of a cash of original old documents, in one of the ceilings at the Harm-ushareef Sanctuary. They almost seemed to be (according to one orientalist), the private library collection of one of the Bani Ghanim judges. The valuable find is being researched in Germany, and it is available at the Goethe Institute in Beirut. It is a heritage worth pursuing.
The Nuseibeh Family
This family descends from Al-Khazraj tribe, and particularly, the clan of Bani Najjar. Al-Khazraj migrated from southern Arabia and settled in Medinah in the Hijaz. It was one of the main Arab tribes living in Medinah before the advent of Islam.
Al-Khazraj converted to Islam en masse and became the helpers of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet and the faithful migrated with him to Medinah to form along with Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj the state of Islam. Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj became known as Al-Ansar ( the helpers of the Prophet).
Nusaybah Al-Maziniyah, to whom the family traces its name and ancestry was of the clan of Bani Najjar of Al-Khazraj tribe. She is an illustrious figure in the history of Islam due to the strivings in the cause of the faith her philanthropy and her piety. In the battle of Uhud she sustained heavy wounds defending the prophet when the unbelievers were on the verge of murdering him and decimating his army.
She had two sons: Abdullah and Habib. She and her sons participated in the battles of Apostasy (Al-Ridda) during the reign of Abu-Bakr, the 1st Rightly Guided Caliph. In the battle of Yamama the illustrious Muslim commander Khaled Ibn al-Walid inflicted defeat on Masaylama al-Khatab (who falsely claimed to be a Prophet) in which battle Nusaybah and her two sons (Abdullah and Habib) participated. Her son Habib was tortured to death upon his capture while stubbornly refusing to accept Musaylama’s claim. She also participated in the battle of Khaybar in which Islam achieved victory over the Jews of Khaybar who had been waging a war against Islam, its Prophet and against Muslims.
One of the great ancestors of the Nuseibeh family was ‘Ubada Ibn Al-Samet" who settled in Jerusalem in the 7th century A.D. in the wake of the Arab-Islamic capture of Jerusalem, and who was appointed as a governor by ‘Umr Ibn Al-Khattab, the second Rightly Caliph. Another was Abdullah, the son of Nusaybah Al-Maziniiyah.
It is said that the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were placed in the custody of the family during this period. It is also said that the keys were placed in its custody during the times of the wars of the Crusades; Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi or Saladin- whose armies liberated Jerusalem from the control of the Crusades.
The family enjoyed many centuries of dwelling in the sacred city of Jerusalem. As a result of Zionist occupation the majority of its members are dispersed in many countries but, like all Palestinians, and like all inhabitants of Jerusalem, and like all Arabs and Muslims and decent people everywhere, yearn and pray perseveringly for a day when the abject injustice committed against them is righted, and when the sacred land of God is purified and becomes, once again, the abode of peace, the abode of Islam.
Khaled Hazem Nuseibeh