Book: Exploring the Holy Land
Chapter: 7. Job (Ayyūb), Ḥusayn and Saladin in Late Ottoman Palestine: The Memoirs of Nuʿmān al-Qasatli, the Arab Scribe of the Survey of Western Palestine
In this study, I explore the contribution of the work of the team of the Survey of Western Palestine, and especially that of the native-speaker Nuʿman al-Qasatli, to the study of ethnography and religious life in late Ottoman Palestine. I focus on Qasatli's description of a two-and-a-half days-long celebration around shrines in the vicinity of Ascalon, which he observed in April 1885. It is treated here both as a chapter in the history of the thousand-years old shrine of the head of Husayn b. ʿAli (the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad), and as a case study of a Palestinian local annual festivity (mawsim), and its transformations in the era of nationalism.