Al-Aqsa's Khataniah Library Enthuses Muslim Culture in Palestine

Published April 7th, 2022 - 06:38 GMT
Dome of the Rock mosque near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, on 24 August 2020 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]

His passion for the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem has always led the life of Palestinian Marwan Nashashibi.

Born in Jerusalem in 1934, Nashashibi studied engineering at Haifa University. After graduation, he joined the Jordanian army’s engineering corps until Israeli forces occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war.

After the war, Nashashibi left the army to work as a mechanical engineer until 1988 when he quit his job and volunteered at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims.

Nashashibi used his engineering experience to do repair works at the mosque, fixing electric lights and cleaning machines.

The Palestinian engineer continued to do these maintenance works for some time until he came up with the idea of founding a library at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Nashashibi and his wife began to promote the idea of establishing a library in 1998 in the southern corner of the mosque compound and called it Al-Khataniah Library.

Their efforts coincided with attempts by Palestinian resistance icon Raed Salah to use the southern spaces of the Al-Aqsa complex to save the area from Israeli confiscation plans.

“We first built the library with 14 shelves that included tens of books,” his wife, who gave her name as Um Adnan, told Anadolu Agency.

“Step by step, we moved to buy more books and engaged in several partnerships to get other publications from outside the Palestinian territories,” she added.

They relied on donations from the Palestinians at the time to turn their dream of building a library inside Al-Aqsa Mosque into a reality.

Um Adnan said many of her husband's friends joined them in designing and building the library at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

"My husband was a highly organized person, and our work with him resulted in establishing the Al-Aqsa Library,” she said.

With the passage of time, Nashashibi and his team began to improve many departments inside the library and bought computers and connected them with internet to make the experience of the library’s visitors more enjoyable.

As for Um Adnan, she began to give Holy Quran lessons to students at the library twice a week.

Today, the library contains more than 500,000 books covering different fields. It also includes copies of newspapers that date back to the period before the creation of Israel in 1948.

The library also contains several books that were printed in the 16th century such as the Turkish History Book, which was printed in London in 1701.

A couple of years later, the Al-Khataniah Library was attached to the main library in the mosque, which was established in 1923 in the southwestern corner of the compound. Both libraries are now affiliated with the Jordanian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs to manage them.

On May 21, 2014, Nashashibi died, leaving behind a legacy of 26 years of volunteering at Al-Aqsa Mosque and its library.

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