, also known as Ez-Zitouna Mosque
, and El-Zituna Mosque
: جامع الزيتونة
, literally meaning the Mosque of Olive
), is a major mosque
at the center of the Medina of Tunis
The mosque is the oldest in the Capital of Tunisia and covers an area of 5,000 square metres (1.2 acres) with nine entrances.
It has 160 authentic columns brought originally from the ruins of the old city of Carthage
The mosque is known to host one of the first and greatest universities
in the history of Islam.
Many Muslim scholars
were graduated from the Al-Zaytuna for over a thousand years. From Ibn 'Arafa
, one of the greatest scholars of Islam, Imam Maziri
the great traditionalist and jurist to the famous Tunisian poet Aboul-Qacem Echebbi
and countless others all taught there.
One legend states that it was called "Mosque of Olive" because it was built on an ancient place of worship where there was an olive
. However the most accepted explanation is that transmitted by the 17th century Tunisian historian Ibn Abi Dinar
, who spoke about the presence of the tomb of Santa Olivia
at that location. Recent research has shown that indeed this mosque was built on a Christian basilica.
With the advent of Islam, the church was converted into a mosque, retaining the dedication
, but translating the name into Arabic.
The saint is particularly venerated in Tunisia because it is superstitiously thought that if the site and its memory are profaned then a misfortune will happen; this includes a belief that when her relics
are recovered Islam will end.
legend related to the discovery of the saint's relics is widespread in Sicily, however it is connected to other Saints as well.
In 1402 king Martin I of Sicily
requested the return of Saint Olivia's relics from the Berber Caliph of Ifriqiya Abu Faris Abd al-Aziz II
, who refused him.
Even today the Tunisians, who still venerate her, believe that the dominion of their religion will fade when the body of the Virgin Olivia will disappear.
For almost two centuries (1812 - 2011), the majority of the Grand Imams of the Zitouna mosque were part of the Cherif and Mohsen families, notably including AbdelKebir Cherif, Ahmed Cherif, Mohamed Cherif, Hamda Cherif, Hassan Cherif, Mahmoud Mohsen, Mohamed Mohsen, and Mostafa Mohsen. The Cherif and Mohsen families are part of the aristocracy "Tunisoise" of Tunis Carthage; are descendants of the Islamic prophet, Mohamed; and are a dynasty of religious scholars, sheikhs, imams, and landowners.
These families were founded by an ancestor who arrived in Tunis by the XIV-e century. The descendants of Sheikh Mohsen Cherif changed the line from Cherif to Mohsen, creating the Mohsen branch out of the Cherif line.
Scholarship and the University
For centuries, Qirwan
was the early centre of learning and intellectual pursuits in Tunisia and North Africa
in General. Starting from the 13th century, Tunis became the capital of Ifriqiya
This shift in power helped al-Zaytuna to flourish and become one of the major centres of Islamic learning, and Ibn Khaldun
, the first social historian in history was one of its products.
The flourishing university attracted students and men of learning from all parts of the known world at the time. Along with theology
; mainly the Qur'an
, the university taught jurisprudence
When it comes to books and libraries, Ez-Zituna libraries were the richest among North African counterparts. It had several collections totalling in the tens of thousands of books. One of its libraries, el-Abdaliyah included a large collection of rare and unique manuscripts.
The manuscripts covered almost all subjects and sciences, including grammar, logic
, etiquette of research, cosmology
, vocational training
Ez-Zituna mosque followed the design and architecture of previous mosques, mainly the Mosque of Uqba
, and was an inspiration for later mosques such as the Great Mosque of Cordoba
. The courtyard is accessible via nine lateral doorways and forms a rectangle surrounded by galleries supported by columns made variously of marble
and which were taken from ancient monuments (primarily from Carthage
), as were those in the prayer hall.
The square minaret rises from the northwest corner of the courtyard. Built in 1894, the minaret is 43 meters (141 ft) high
and imitates the decoration of the Almohad
minaret of the Kasbah Mosque
with its limestone strap-work on a background of ochre sandstone.
and Ben Ali
carried out major restoration work and rehabilitation, especially during the 1960s and 1990s.
The dome was added by the Zirids
around 991. A beautiful structure about 12 metres in height and 4 metres in width, the dome is considered to be one of the most beautiful domes in Tunis. It fuses Fatimid structural and decorative elements from North Africa as well as Cairo, and has designs similar to the Al Anwar Mosque in cairo. During this time, a courtyard containing arches of the Magrebi horseshoe style was added along with Byzantine style columns thought to be imported from older structures
Ez-Zituna mosque in 1880
Colonnade abutting the eastern hall
Courtyard and sundial
Colonnade abutting the prayer hall
Minaret after 1894
One of the mosque's doors
Inside the zitouna mosque
Inside the zitouna mosque
Inside the zitouna mosque
- ^ a b c Achour, M.A. (1991). "Djami al Zaytuna, al-ma lamu wa fidjaluhu (The Zaytuna Mosque, the monument and the men)". Tunis.
- ^ a b c d e f "Great Mosque of Zaytuna". Museum With No Frontiers.
- ^ "About Zaytuna Institute". Zaytuna Institute of California. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27.
- ^ From Sicilian city of Mazara (today Mazara del Vallo).
- ^ a b c d e f g "Al-Zaytuna Mosque through History". Al-Zaytuna Mosque. Archived from the original on 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
- ^ "Al-Zaytuna Theological and Scientific Influence on the Islamic World". Al-Zaytuna Mosque. Archived from the original on 2010-05-12. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
- ^ Mohamed Béji Ben Mami. Great Mosque of Zaytuna. Discover Islamic Art – Virtual Museum.
(in Italian) S. ROMANO. "Una santa palermitana venerata dai maomettani a Tunisi". Archivio storico siciliano, XXVI (1901), pp. 11–21.
- ^ (in Italian) Daniele Ronco (2001). Il Maggio di Santa Oliva: Origine Della Forma, Sviluppo Della Tradizione. ETS, Pisa University, IT. 325 pages. pp. 18–19.
- ^ a b (in Italian) Sant' Oliva di Palermo Vergine e martire. SANTI, BEATI E TESTIMONI. 10 giugno. Retrieved: 02 February, 2015.
- ^ a b c d "Jemaâ Ezzitouna". Municipality of Tunis.
- ^ a b "Lieux de culte Municipalité de Tunis" (in French). Government of Tunis. Archived from the original on August 11, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
- ^ a b Deeb, Mary J. "Ez-Zituna; op cit;": 374.
- ^ Charnay, Jean-Paul (January–February 1979). "Economy and Religion in the Works of Ibn Khaldun". the Maghreb Review. 4 #1: 1–25.
- ^ M.J. Deeb (1995). "Ez-Zituna". In J.L. Esposito (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World. 4. Oxford University Press. p. 374.
- ^ Abd el-Hafiz, Mansour (1969). Fihris Makhtutat el-Maktaba al- Ahmadiya bi Tunis. Beirut: Dar el-Fat'h. pp. 8–9.
- ^ Sibai, M. (1987). Mosque Libraries : An Historical Study. London and New York: Mansell Publishing Limited. p. 98.
Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 08:04
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