Mausoleum of Abu Huraira

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Mausoleum of Abu Huraira / Rabban Gamaliel's Tomb
PikiWiki Israel 10149 rabbi gamliel tomb in yavneh.jpg
The portico facade in 2010
AffiliationIslam, Judaism
RegionMiddle East
LocationYavne, Israel
Mausoleum of Abu Huraira is located in Israel
Mausoleum of Abu Huraira
Shown within Israel
Geographic coordinates31°52′03″N 34°44′36″E / 31.8675°N 34.7432°E / 31.8675; 34.7432

The mausoleum of Abu Hurayra, or Rabban Gamaliel's Tomb, is a maqam and synagogue located in HaSanhedrin Park in Yavne, Israel, formerly belonging to the depopulated Palestinian village of Yibna. It has been described as "one of the finest domed mausoleums in Palestine."[1]

The mausoleum is located on a burial ground, northwest of Tel Yavne, that has been used by Yavnehites for burial since at least the Roman period.[2] Since the early 13th century, it has been known to Muslims as a tomb of Abu Hurairah, a companion (sahaba) of Muhammad, although most Arabic sources give Medina as his burial place. The date of the inner tomb chamber is uncertain.[3] In 1274, Mamluk Sultan Baybars ordered the construction of the riwaq featuring a tripartite portal and six tiny domes together with a dedicatory inscription,[3] with the site expanded further in 1292 by Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil.[4]

The tomb is known to Jews as the Tomb of Rabban Gamaliel of Yavne, the first Nasi of the Sanhedrin after the fall of the Second Temple.[5] The tomb is described as being occupied by a Muslim prayer house, in a Hebrew travel guide dated to between 1266 and 1291,[6] and was frequently visited by Jewish medieval pilgrims.[7] Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War the mausoleum was officially designated as a shrine for Jews by the Israeli government.[3][5]

In all likelihood neither Rabban Gamaliel of Yavne nor Abu Hurairah are buried in the tomb.[8]


Until 1948 the building stood within a walled compound containing other graves (the compound wall and the graves have since been removed). There were two inscriptions above the gateway; one in the name of Sultan Baybars dated 673 H. (1274 c.e.) and another dated to 806 H. (1403 C.E.)[1]

A cenotaph is located in centre of the tomb chamber. The cenotaph is a rectangular structure with four marble corner posts formed as turbans. The four lower courses are made of ashlar blocks, while the upper course is of marble ornamented with niches in gothic style.[9]

Much of the construction materials of the building are reused Byzantine Marble, mainly columns and Corinthian capitals.[2]



Sketch of Mausoleum of Abu Huraira by Clermont-Ganneau, 1874

The ground on which the structure stands, northwest of tell Yavne, has been used Yavnehites for burial since at least the Roman period.[2] Ali of Herat (d. 1215), followed by Yaqut (d. 1229)[10] and the Marasid al-ittila' (Arabic: مراصد الاطلاع‎, an abridgement of Yaqut's work by Safi al-Din 'Abd al-Mu'min ibn 'Abd al-Haqq, d.1338),[11] wrote that in Yubna there was a tomb said to be that of Abu Hurairah, the companion (sahaba) of the Prophet.[12] The Marasid also adds that tomb seen here is also said to be that of ʿAbd Allah ibn Abi Sarh, another companion of the Prophet.[12]

Yavne's population at the time was a mixture of Samaritans, Christians and Muslims.[13]

A Hebrew travel guide dated between 1266 and 1291 mentioned a tomb of Rabban Gamaliel in Yavne that is used as a Muslim prayer house.[6] The following century, another Jewish traveler, Ishtori Haparchi, described Abu Huraira's mausoleum as 'a very fine memorial to Rabbi Gamliel.’ [14]

Ottoman and British Mandate[edit]

In 1863 Victor Guérin visited, describing the site as a mosque.[15] In 1882, Conder and Kitchener described it: "The mosque of Abu Hureireh is a handsome building under a dome, and contains two inscriptions, the first in the outer court, the second in the wall of the interior."[16]

During the British Mandate of Palestine the porch of the building was used for school rooms.[1]

State of Israel[edit]

Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, immigrant Sephardic Jews from Arab countries began to pray at the site due to their belief that the tomb is the burial place of Rabban Gamaliel of Yavne, the first Nasi of the Sanhedrin after the fall of the Second Temple.[5][17] The identification of the site as Gamaliel's tomb was based on the literature of medieval Jewish pilgrims, who frequently mentioned visits to the site. The claim of previous Jewish origin were based on the argument that such maqams (maqamat), as many other Muslim sacred tombs, were originally Jewish tombs that had been subsequently Islamized during the later history of the region.[7] The Israeli Ministry of Religious Services has maintained authority over the site since 1948,[18] and the structure was thereafter appropriated by ultra-Orthodox Jews and transformed into a tomb of the righteous.[19] Gideon Bar cites it as one of many cases of the Judaization of Muslim holy places, where the Jewish heritage of a site has been showcased at the expense of other local cultural traditions.[20]


The first inscription, dated 1274, described how Mamluk Sultan Baybars (reigned 1260–77) ordered the construction of the riwaq.[3] It also refers to the Wali of Ramleh, Khalil ibn Sawir, who was named by the chronicler Ibn al-Furat as being responsible for instigating the famed attempted assassination of Edward I of England in June 1272 in the Ninth Crusade.[21][22]

The second inscription described further construction ordered in 1292 by Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil (reigned 1290–93).

Date Picture Location Translation
673 AH
(1274 CE)
Main inscription on marble slab on door of enclosure, Mausoleum of Abu Huraira.png Marble slab on door of enclosure "In the name of the Merciful and Gracious God. Gave the order to begin building the blessed porch (rewak), our master, Sultan El-Malek edh-Dhaher, pillar of the world and of religion, Abou'l Fath (the father of conquest) Beibars, co-sharer with the Emir of the Believers, may God exalt his victories! The completion of it took place in the month Rebi' I, in the year 673. Was entrusted with the building Khalil ibn Shawar, wali of Ramlah, whom may God pardon, him, his father and mother, and all the Mussulmans."[23]
692 AH
(1292 CE)
Inscription in base of doorway, Mausoleum of Abu Huraira.png
Inscription under the lintel, Mausoleum of Abu Huraira.png
Base of doorway and under the lintel "In the name of the merciful and compassionate God. Began to build this blessed sanctuary (meshhed) of Abu Horeira, may God receive him, companion of the apostle of God, on whom be prayers and salvation, our Lord and our master the very great, learned, and just Sultan, resolute champion and guardian (of Islam), victorious, El-Malek el-Achraf, prosperity of the world and of religion, Sultan of Islam and of the Mussulmans, lord of Kings and Sultans, Abu'l-Feda Khalil, co-sharer with the Emir of the Believers, may God exalt his victory, son of our master the Sultan, hero of the holy war, El-Malek El-Mansur Kelaun es-Salehy, may God water his reign with the rain of his mercy and his grace and the benefits of his indulgence, may he make him to dwell in the gardens of Eternity, may he come to his aid on the day of resurrection, may he make him a place under a wide shade with abundant water and quantities of fruit without stint, may he grant him the reward and the delights he has deserved, may he raise his places and degrees into the..."
"Amen ! The building of it was finished in the months of the year 692, and there was entrusted with its building Aydemir the dewadar ("bearer of the inkstand") Ez,-Zeiny (?) may God pardon him, him and his descendants, as also all Mussulmans."[24][16]
806 AH
(1403 CE)
Inscription on marble slab, Mausoleum of Abu Huraira.png Marble slab "Renewed this pool, the conduit and the sakia, his Excellency En-Nasery (= Naser ed-din) Mohammed Anar (?), son of Anar (? ?), and his Excellency El-'Alay (= 'Ala ed-din) Yelbogha, possessors (?) of the township of Yebna, may god in his grace and mercy grant to both of them Paradise as a reward. Ordered at the date of the month Rebi' I, in the year 806."[25]


The tomb contains a large hall, offices, and a small Orthodox synagogue. Facilities around the tomb include restrooms, water fountains, a Yahrzeit candelabra, and tables for Seudat mitzvah. The tomb indication itself is covered with a blue ornamental cloth. The tomb is renowned among some Jews as a matchmaking and fertility site.[26][27]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Petersen, 2001, p. 313
  2. ^ a b c Fischer, Moshe, and Tamar Taxel. "Ancient Yavneh its History and Archaeology." Tel Aviv 34.2 (2007): 204-284.
  3. ^ a b c d Taragan, 2002, p.31
  4. ^ M. Fischer, M.,I. Taxel,'Ancient Yavneh: Its History and Archaeology,' Tel Aviv 2007, vol. 34 pp.204-284:'The most famous construction project financed by Baybars in Yavneh was the magnificent addition to Maqām Abu Hureira (the ‘Raban Gamaliel tomb’), which consisted of double stoai with domes (riwāq). The construction activity was carried out in 1274 by the governor of Ramla, Khalīl Ibn Sawīr. The tomb itself existed at least since the beginning of the 13th century, as shown by Alī al-Harawī (1215 CE) and the geographer Yāqūt (1225 CE).'(p.249)
  5. ^ a b c Mayer et al., (1950:22) Cited in Petersen, 2001, p. 313
  6. ^ a b Taragan, 2000, p.70
  7. ^ a b Bar, 2008, p.9, “Following the War, this Muslim tomb with its typical cupola was converted into a Jewish sacred place, gradually drawing more and more Jewish worshippers. The change in Yavneh had a lot to do with the new local Jewish settlers, immigrants who came primarily from Arab countries to settle in the nearby vacated Arab village of Yubna. These settlers adopted the adjacent tomb and reused it as the tomb of Raban Gamaliel. As in many similar cases throughout the State of Israel, the tradition that connected Jews to Yavneh was not unfounded, and was based mainly on the literature of medieval Jewish pilgrims, who frequently mentioned visits to that place. Jewish claim of ownership over this tomb was based on the argument that it, as well as many other Muslim sacred tombs, were originally Jewish sacred burial places that were Islamized during the later history of the region. During the decades prior to 1948 no visible active or large-scale Jewish pilgrimage to Yavneh was recorded, as was true for most of the sacred places that formed the Jewish sacred space later, during the 1950.”
  8. ^ Taragan, 2000, p.117
  9. ^ Petersen, 2001, p. 316
  10. ^ Yaqut, 1869, Vol. 4, p. 1007; cited in Petersen, 2017, p. 58
  11. ^ Jennifer Speake (12 May 2014). Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 1302–. ISBN 978-1-135-45663-4.
  12. ^ a b Le Strange, 1890, p.553
  13. ^ As to the population of Yavneh during the Middle Ages, apart from Muslims (and Christians in the Crusader period), it also continued to be inhabited by Samaritans. The Samaritan chronicle Tolidah, written sometime during the 12th−14th centuries, mentions a Samaritan family that moved from Ashkelon to Yavneh (called here ‘Iamma’), and other Samaritans that left Yavneh and moved to Egypt. According to Ben-Zvi, this event occurred when Yavneh fell to the Ayyubids in 1187 (1976: 108). Therefore, it would seem that the Samaritan presence in Yavneh was continuous and lasted from the Late Roman period at least until the 12th century. As mentioned previously, there are no records from the Early Islamic period about a Jewish presence in Yavneh, yet no records exist that refute such a presence. On the other hand, Benjamin of Tudela (12th century), who passed through Yavneh on his way from Jaffa to Ashkelon, clearly states that there were no Jews living there (Benjamin of Tudela 43).' (Fischer and Taxel, 2007 p.250).
  14. ^ Taragan 2000 p.139 n.11.
  15. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 56-57
  16. ^ a b Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, pp. 442-443
  17. ^ In 1950, following the instructions of J. L. Hacohen Maimon of Israel's Ministry for Religious Affairs regarding the possibility of restoring Muslim edifices in Israel, L. A. Mayer referred specifically to the intriguing memorial at Yavne: "Its legend-creating qualities have lasted till our own days: quite recently we heard of a belief prevalent among Oriental Jews that here is situated the tomb of Rabbi Gamliel of Yavne."The said belief has only gained in strength since then, and over the past three years, during my frequent visits to the site, I have been witness to Rabbi Gamliel's "creeping annexation" of the site, as it were.' Taragan, 2000 pp. 137-138
  18. ^ Doron Bar, ‘Wars and sacred space: the influence of the 1948 War on sacred space in the state of Israel,’ in Marshall J. Breger, Yitzhak Reiter, Leonard Hammer (eds.) Holy Places in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Confrontation and Co-existence, Routledge, 2009 pp.67-91 p.80.
  19. ^ Taragan 2000 p.138
  20. ^ Gideon Bar 2008 pp.7-8.
  21. ^ Timothy Venning; Peter Frankopan (May 2015). A Chronology of the Crusades. Routledge. pp. 375–. ISBN 978-1-317-49643-4.
  22. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, p. 175
  23. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, p. 177
  24. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, p. 178
  25. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, p. 179
  26. ^ Sanhendrim Park in Yavneh, Mapa, Anat Madmoni
  27. ^ The characteristics and tourist potential of saintly grave pilgrimage: Report to Tourism office, Dr. Noga Collins-Kreiner, Haifa University
  28. ^ Petersen, 2001, p. 315


External links[edit]