Last update:
7 November 2009
19 Thu AlQe'da 1430

Asaadi Mosque

Known as the Shoum or Sharafeddeen Mosque (1240 H/1824 CE)

Tripoli > History > Monuments > Mosques > Asaadi Mosque

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Brief Notes
  • Location: Tarbiah district
  • Commissioned by: Governor Ali Beik alAsaad alMorebi
  • Date of construction: 1240 H/ 1824 CE
  • Historical period: Ottoman
  • Characteristics: The reconstruction of the Asadi Mosque was commissioned by Plgrm. Mr. AbdelJawwad Sharafeddin in 1405 Hejirah/ 1985 CE. It includes an incomplete hexagonal minaret and an Ottoman prayer house.
  • Proprietor: Plgrm. AbdelJawad Sharafeddin

An Interesting History

The history of the Shoum Mosque is one of the great examples on the unity between Muslim and Christian Tripolitans.

In 1824 CE Suleyman Basha el-Azem was appointed as ruler in Tripoli. He governed Hamah (in Syria) and its people suffered a lot from him. News about his character were already known by Tripolitans and that is why many of the Muslims and Christians of Tripoli preferred to migrate to the nearby towns and villages escaping from the new ruler. This in turn lead to a paralysis in the normal life in Tripoli and had negative effects on its economy and other aspects of life. This trend caused a great discomfort for the new governor and he planned to disturb the citizens as a punishment. He started by ordering the destruction of the "Ghurayyeb Palace". This was a very known monument in Tripoli and considered as one of the three most beautiful palaces of Sham (Syria) as quoted by the Prince Bachir Shahabi. The other two palaces were Beiteddine in Mount Lebanon and el-Azem Palace in Damascus (Syria).

Nimetallah Ghurayyeb escaped with his family to Batroun (South to Tripoli) and stayed there for 7 years as a guest of the Prince Bachir. When the governor of Tripoli knew this fact, he tried to kill him. This he did by sending a soldier wearing poor-peoples clothes as undercover. However, one of Nimetallah's sons discovered the trick and he caught the soldier and tortured him until he said the truth. Then he offered him food and told him to go back to the governor and tell him that "we are not scared because he is going to demolish our house. If we return to Tripoli, we would instead build five other palaces."

When the governor received the message, he got angry and ordered the destruction of that beautiful palace. He also stole the precious pieces present in the palace, i.e., silver coated materials, mosaics, ceramics, etc.. He also took the doors and their silver keys. Transporting the stolen materials to el-Azem Palace in Damascus required the use of 34 camels. After the destruction, the only piece of the palace that remained was just a single dome. Afterwards, the governor ordered the Sarraf Palace to be destroyed. Sometime later, it was the pilgrims season and the governor wished to go to Mekke. For this he appointed his brother, Hussein Beik, as a vice-governor of Tripoli and asked him to demolish some other palaces.

When the workers were about to start destroying Sadakah Palace, a great protest and revolution erupted in Tripoli. People then tried to surround the vice-governor, Hussein Beik, in the Seray of the city, an area that is close to today's Bab-el-Ramel. They opened the water pipes and flooded the streets around the Seray. The water was left to stand for sometime and, subsequently, bad smells evoluted in and around the Seray. Hussein Beik decided to escape before the masses try to break the doors of the Seray. This is why he is known among the people as the Kulayti (the dirty).

When Hussein Beik reached the Baddaoui district, north to Tripoli, he called Ali Beik el-Asa'ad to come from Akkar, prepare a well equiped army, and attack Tripoli. People resisted the attack and they were lead by a Tripolitan from the Tebbaneh district known as "Sheikh Dannoun." The masses tried to resist, but their forces were very weak compared to the army of Hussein Beik that managed to break in and take over the control of the city.

During that time, Suleiman Pasha returned back to Tripoli and he was so sick that he died shortly afterwards. Ali Beik el-Asa'ad made use of that chance and managed to receive a Fetva (religious permission) to be appointed as a new governor in Tripoli.

This new governor tried to gain the support of Muslim residents of the city and for this he ordered to build a mosque on the remainings of the destroyed Ghurayyeb Palace. He, stupidly, thought that this act will unite the Muslims around him and make them break away from Moustafa Agha Barbar, a very well-known governor at that time.

Ali Beik As'ad then ordered the construction of a mosque on top of the remainings of the Ghurayyeb Palace in 1824 CE/1240 Hejirah. A minaret was placed in the center of the mosque, where the old dome of the palace was. He then named the mosque as the As'adi. People named it the Shoum Mosque (Shoum means bad luck).

Ali Beik As'ad remained as governor of Tripoli until 1826 CE/1242 Hejirah, when he was fired. Sometime later Mohammad Amin Pasha Mir Miran Tarablous was appointed as a new governor of the city.

The Ghurayyeb family returned back to Tripoli in 1831 CE. A year later, Tripoli felt under the control of the Egyptian army lead by Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Mohammad Ali Pasha. Ibrahim Pasha ordered to store the artileries of his army in the large garden of the former Ghurayyeb Palace. This is why the same place was known as the Shouna House (Shouna in Egyptian means artileries). The place remained to be called as such until 1840 CE. This might be another reason to explain the name Shoum for the mosque (modified from Shouna).

In 1835 CE, one of the grandsons of the Ghurayyeb family presented a petition at the religious court in the city to allow them to build a wall to separate the mosque from a house he is using nearby. The gate of the mosque was so close to his house that his family was embarrassed to go out of it during the prayers time.

At this point, the Muslims and Christians of the city demonstrated one of the most fascinating examples of harmony when the Mufti of the city, the top ranking religious authority in Tripoli, ordered people not to pray in the Shoum mosque because it is "illegal". The details of the decision stated that the mosque was built on a stolen land and that the minaret was so high that people who used to stand on it were able to break the privacy of the Ghurayyeb family inside their house. The decision also stated that the Ghurayyeb family are free to do whatever they like with the mosque. The Ghurayyeb family sold the land of the mosque to two Christians, who, in turn, sold it to a Muslim. This latter completed the construction of the mosque in 1982 CE/1402 Hejirah. The mosque is nowadays known as Sharafeddin, referring to Mr. Abdel Jawwad Sharafeddin who built it after more than 150 years.


References

Tadmori, Omar A.Salam, "The As'adi Mosque: A Page in the History of Muslim-Christian Relations," History of the Arabs and the World, Issue 91/92, 1986.

Tadmori, Omar A.Salam, Personal Communication, Tripoli, Lebanon, December 11, 1999.

Photo Album
The Shoum Mosque

The Minaret of the Shoum Mosque
The Minaret of the Shoum Mosque. On the right side is the St. Michael Maronite Church.

The Minaret of the Shoum Mosque

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