The Dajani Family
The prominent Dajani family is deeply rooted in the history of Palestine especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Originally from the heartland of the Arabian Peninsula. In Jerusalem, the family was entrusted by the Ottoman Empire Suleiman the Magnificent as the Custodian's of Prophet David's Mausoleum at the Mount of Prophet David. Sheikh Ahmad al-Dajani was the head of the Sufis in Jerusalem at that time, and was recognized as a reputed religious leader. He was appointed by the Sultan to be the custodian of Prophet David's Mausoleum. He died in 969 Hijri (1561 AD) in Jerusalem, and was buried at the Mamilla Cemetery. His big shrine, and the rooms attached to it are still there till the present time.
The family lived in a conglomeration of apartments around the Mausoleum. When Ibrahim Pasha (1789-1848), the eldest son of Mohammed Ali Pasha the Great; the governor of Egypt under the Ottoman Empire, visited Jerusalem in 1831, the Dajani family built a special hall close to the mausoleum for his residence. This hall is still known as "Al-Ibrahimiah". When Sultan Abdel Majid of the Ottoman Empire visited Jerusalem towards the end of the 19th century, a special hall was built for his residence, known by "Al-Majidiyah".
Prophet David's Mausoleum (Maqam Al-Nabi Daoud) is located on the Mount of Prophet David, south of Jerusalem's old city wall, across from David’s Gate of Jerusalem's Wall, several hundred meters from Al-Aqsa Mosque. The mountain is also known by its Arabic Jebusite name the Mountain of Sahyoun (Jabal Sahyoun), corrupted by impartial historians as Mount Zion. Origination of the word Sahyoun came from the Arabic word "al-Sahwa", which means the tower at a hill or a mountain, and also means an overlooking fortress. The Arab Jebusite who built "Ursalem" which means sunny or dry mountain built a fortress on it. The site contains what is believed to be the traditional tomb of David. The local Arabs call this place Maqam Al-Nabi Daoud.
The historians contend on the burial place of David, some wrote he was buried at the current site, others wrote he was buried in Bethlehem, or on the way to Bethlehem, while others wrote he was buried in the Kidron Valley (Wadi Qidron) near the Gethsemane Church.
On the current site, verse 26 of chapter 38 of the Koran was chosen to be on the silken cover of Prophet David, " O David, surely we have made thee a ruler in the land, so judge between men justly". This remained over David's Shrine for over several centuries with love, and respect, until removed on the 18th of May 1948 by the Israelis. Houses, buildings, cemetery, and real estate that mainly belong to the Dajani family surround the site. After the fall of the site in 1948 in the hands of the Israelis; the family was expelled from the site, and the family houses were converted to a Jewish Yeshiva, and dwellings for the new settlers. The mosque on the first floor was converted to a synagogue, and the family cemetery was desecrated.
Members of the Dajani family maintained the tradition of offering a free dinner to pilgrims passing through Jerusalem to and from Mecca, until the end of the British Mandate, and the occupation of the site by Israel. The family was granted large areas of land held in trust. A tithe of the produce was paid to the family to spend it on charitable services. The tithe was collected by Ottoman administrators and continued to be collected under the British mandate, and later by the Jordanian adminstration until the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
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