Maqam El Nabi Ayy­oub

Re­li­gious an­thro­pol­o­gist, re­searcher and founder of NEOS Tourism con­sul­tancy Nour Farra-had­dad takes us on a trip to one of Le­banon’s most known pil­grim­age sites, Maqam El Nabi Ayy­oub in Niha

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENTS -

Re­li­gious tourism in Niha

Niha is a beau­ti­ful vil­lage in Mount Le­banon’s Shouf area, perched 1,020m above sea level. A Druze ma­jor­ity and Chris­tian mi­nor­ity in­habit the vil­lage. The main land­marks of the vil­lage are the fa­mous Maqam of Nabi Ayy­oub and Niha Fortress, also known as Fakhreddine Fortress. In the old town, you can also visit the Church of Saint Joseph and the Ain al-qat’ah foun­tain.

The Maqam of Nabi Ayy­oub was ren­o­vated sev­eral times, and build­ings, halls and rooms were added in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the thou­sands of wor­ship­pers. In 1947, Sheikh Akl Muham­mad Abou Chakra be­gan the restora­tion of the premises and the work has con­tin­ued ever since.

The main build­ing hosts the tomb of the saint, Darih El Nabi Ayy­oub (the prophet Job), un­der a large cupola topped with the col­ored Druze star. Be­liev­ers from var­i­ous re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try visit the shrine for its bene­dic­tions and graces. A large es­planade in front of the main build­ing of­fers a fan­tas­tic panoramic view. In an an­nex, there are rooms avail­able for pil­grims who wish to sleep in the maqam. To the rear of the shrine is a tree said to

be mirac­u­lous, and, be­hind the sanc­tu­ary, a for­est with cen­tury-old oak trees where vis­i­tors can en­joy a pic­nic. But the main at­trac­tion of this for­est is a cen­tury-old ar­bu­tus tree, known to be mirac­u­lous and full of bene­dic­tions and graces. Lo­cal tra­di­tion says that this tree cured Job of skin dis­ease. Amid green oak trees, the mas­sive ar­bu­tus stands out thanks to its im­pres­sive red­dish color. Devo­tees prac­tice a va­ri­ety of rit­u­als around the tree, like hang­ing string and cloth in its branches. They also take frag­ments of the bark home for good for­tune.

At the en­trance of the shrine, in front of the park­ing lot, pil­grims light can­dles in a small cave. A big foun­tain sit­u­ated there is another at­trac­tion, with the faith­ful who be­lieve in its baraka vis­it­ing it to col­lect wa­ter.

DED­I­CA­TION OF THE SITE

The cen­tral fig­ure of the Book of Job in the Holy Bi­ble, Job is a prophet in the Abra­hamic monothe­ist re­li­gions: Ju­daism, Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam. He is pre­sented as a good and pros­per­ous fam­ily man, who is be­set with ter­ri­ble dis­as­ters that take away all he holds dear, in­clud­ing his off­spring, his health and his prop­erty. He strug­gles to un­der­stand his sit­u­a­tion and searches for an­swers.

Job is an im­por­tant prophet for Mus­lims, men­tioned in the Holy Qur’an. The nar­ra­tive frame of Job's story in Is­lam is sim­i­lar to that in the Bi­ble, al­though in Is­lam the em­pha­sis is on Job re­main­ing faith­ful to God.

While this is the only shrine ded­i­cated to him in Le­banon, there are other sanc­tu­ar­ies in his honor across the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing a mirac­u­lous cave in Urfa (Turkey) and a fa­mous shrine in Salalah (Oman).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.