Sacred Sites in Contested Regions

Shadhiliyya-Yashrutiyya Lodge

Shadhiliyya-Yashrutiyya Lodge: Ali Nur al-Din al-Yashruti was a Sufi shaykh of the Shadhily order. Upon arriving in Acre at around 1850, he established his own branch of the order and a zawiya known as Shadhiliyya-Yashrutiyya (Weismann 2001). Following the War of 1948, the lodge was deserted; and for decades, there was hardly any activity at the site. However, the moderate Sufi revival that is currently underway in Israel has also reached the abandoned zawiya. The facility is now in the midst of a massive restoration project, which centers on a shrine containing the graves of the local branch’s founders. This development is a lucid example of sanctity on the margins, for the lodge involves the following storylines: rituals as resistance, the marginality of a shrine, and the contested nature of sanctity. 

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Following the explosion of a residential compound in the Old City of Acre I called Salim Najami the director of the al-Jazzar Trust to visit the families and think together on possible ways of promoting their case and look for solutions and opening channels of communication with the various authorities that at the moment do very little to provide them with new "homes" and even ephemeral answers to their misery. I arrive an hour earlier then our appointed meeting (1430) in order to check out the progress of the renovations at the Yashruti center. I am parking the car by the sea side of the city and walk to the compound as it is raining buckets on me and more importantly the wonderful project camera:). The gate is closed but the workers can be heard shouting to each other. I call and call but the answer came none. Took some photos of the compound from the outside and climb to one of the roofs nearby to observe the internal parts of the site. A lot of progress can be seen even from a far. The windows have all been renewed; the central part which holds the sacred graves of the order's shayks are at least from where I stand is all renovated. The central dome is painted glossy and highly noticeable blue which later I can see from all over the city. Note to self: make an appointment with Umar Reis for a visit with him to site and get an update on the project. Salim is calling me and I walk to meet with him for tea by the al-Jazzar mosque before we walk to the Harbor Mosque where we meet with Yusuf Abu al-Saghayr the current and newly appointed Imam. We start walking south towards the port and pass the closed Han al-Umdan on the way to the ruined house we meet more and more people all clinging to Salim asking from him to intervene and help with a hoard of earthly and at times banal problems simply because nobody listens and nobody really cares about their plights. I lose track after a while and get very stranded as we are visiting a house after house for over three hours and being exposed to more and more human misery and helplessness. In all the houses we visit - which some of them were already offered help by Shaykh Raid Salah of the Islamic Movement - we see Islamic signs, slogans and embodied verses of Quran. Against this human misery and the feeling that these people were left by society our project and the growing of more and more sacred sites become so clear and obvious - the only thing that still give solace to these individuals. We part ways around 1800. On the way back to the car I pass the renovated al-Jazzar mosque and again the worksite of the Yashruti center which will surely provide us with more insights regarding the growing religious resurgence that Acre is going through. 

Nimrod Luz