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Nabi Musa Pilgrimage


annual muslim pilgrimage to a shrine situated in the desert between jerusalem and jericho where, according to muslim tradition, moses is buried.

The Nabi Musa pilgrimage starts a week before the Greek Orthodox Good Friday. According to a widespread legend (not sustained by primary sources), it was established by Saladin after the conquest of Jerusalem in 1187 in order to outnumber Christian pilgrims during Easter. At the beginning of the twentieth century, especially during the British Mandate, the pilgrimage became a political event. In 1920, a crowd of pilgrims protesting for self-determination and against Zionism erupted into violence against Jews in Jerusalem. From 1921 to 1936 the pilgrimage was headed by Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the leader of the national movement. After the war of 1948 the pilgrimage was banned by the government of Jordan, which aimed to undermine the political influence of Hajj Amin in the West Bank. But worshipers, especially women, continued to go spontaneously to the shrine in order to perform rituals at the tomb. Between 1997 and 2000 the Palestinian Authority was closely involved in the organization of the pilgrimage, which once again became a great occasion for national celebration. Since the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000 the Israeli army has forbidden the celebrations.

see also aqsa intifada, al-; husayni, muhammad amin al-.


Canaan, Tewfik. Mohammedan Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine. Jerusalem: Ariel Publishing House, 1927.

Khalidi, Rashid. Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

benjamin joseph
updated by emma aubin boltanski

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