The Sanctity of the City of 'Asqalan in the 'Merits Literature' of Palestine: An Examination of Mamluk and Ottoman Sources
- Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal
- Edinburgh University Press
- Volume 5, Number 2, November 2006
- pp. 187-197
- View Citation
- Additional Information
The purpose of this study is to analyse the sanctity of the Palestine city of 'Asqalan through manuscript sources from Mamluk and Ottoman times, mainly from a religious and political perspective, in light of the struggle between Muslims and Crusaders. Relevant traditions are often of a local nature, expressing concepts completely at odds with normative Islamic practice and belief. No separate compositions have been compiled about 'Asqalan, in contrast to Jerusalem and Damascus, for example. Pilgrimage to the city was frowned upon by the Hanbali school of jurisprudence within Sunni Islam, represented by Ibn Taymiyya in the Mamluk period. Relevant traditions deal with war against the infidels, the city's cemetery, the city as gateway to Paradise, and more. For this study I have used the relevant traditions in the genre known as 'Merits of the Holy Land', in Arabic from Mamluk and Ottoman times. These traditions reflect the sanctity of 'Asqalan; some have ancient Islamic roots, and others appeared later. The traditions in question, whenever they were first formulated, show the importance of the city for Muslim writers.