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Nusaybah clan

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Title: Nusaybah clan  
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Subject: Ghanem Nuseibeh, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Palestinians
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Nusaybah clan

The Nusaybah Clan (Arabic: عائلة نسيبة‎) alternatively spelt Nusseibeh is the name of the oldest Arab family in Jerusalem. The Nusseibeh family has a long history and tight bonds with the Holy Land, Jerusalem, since the days their first forefathers arrived into Jerusalem in the 7th century.

According to tradition, the Nusaybah family took its name from a female companion or Sahabah of the Islamic prophet Muhammad named Nusaybah. She was a member of the Ansar who transferred their political power over Medina to the prophet. Nusayba fought along with Mohammed in battle and was an early example of women taking leadership roles in Islam. Since the arrival of Islam in Jerusalem in the seventh century, the Sunni Muslim family has held the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This arrangement emerged during the days of the second Muslim caliph, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, who hoped to avoid clashes among rival Christian sects for control over the church. Although symbolic, the arrangement has provided the stability the Christians of the city needed, is a symbol of tolerance and inter-religious harmony, and gave the Nusseibeh family a visible role in Christian activities in Jerusalem, which include pilgrimages and visits by Western Christians.

Family roots

Ancestors of the family arrived in Jerusalem with the arrival of Islam in AD 637. They included two companions of the prophet Mohammed - Abdullah bin Nusaybah and Mu'adh bin Jabal, and many others of the Prophet's companions and maternal uncles, descendents of Salma from Bani an-Najjar, a clan of the Khazraj, the wife of Hashim, forefather of the Hashemite Family and mother of its renowned leader Abdul Muttalib, grandfather of Mohammed. The Nusaybah family is a clan of the Khazraj tribe of Medina, known in Islam as al-Ansar, for their support and protection of Prophet Mohammed during his exile from Mecca.[1]

Nusseibeh and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

When the prayer time came, the Archbishop of Jerusalem, Sophronius, invited Caliph Omar, a leading companion of Muhammad, to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Christianity's holiest site. Omar refused fearing that future Muslim generations would claim the church as their own and turn it into a mosque. Omar instead prayed few yards away from the church where a mosque is built now. The Mosque of Omar still stands next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a reminder of the strong Muslim-Christian bond in the Holy Land. Upon entering Jerusalem, Omar signed with the Christians of Jerusalem what became known as the "Covenant of Omar". It guaranteed protection for the Christians to live and worship freely and also protection for the Christian places of worship.

One of the great ancestors of the Nusseibeh family was Ubada Ibn Al-Samet who settled in Jerusalem in the 7th century in the wake of the Arab-Islamic capture of Jerusalem, and who was appointed as a governor by Caliph Omar. It is said that the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were placed in the custody of the family during this period.

The ancient records and manuscripts kept by the various Christian denominations in their monasteries all record the Nusseibeh family’s relationship and that of their ancestral forefathers from the Bani Ghanim al-Khazraj to the Holy Sepulchre, at least since the time of Sultan Salaahudeen (Saladin) more than 800 years ago, specifically since 1192, when Sultan Saladin and King Richard the Lionheart concluded an agreement allowing western Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Sepulchre under certain stipulations. Saladin entrusted the custody of the doors of the Holy Sepulchre to the leading and most renowned Shaikh Ghanim ben Ali ben Hussein al-Ansari al-Khazrajy, the Jerusalemite, and all matters pertaining to it. Ghanim had been born in Burin village near Nablus in AD 562, where his family had taken refuge after the crusader conquest of Jerusalem in (1087) [2]

Notable members

Notable members of the family have included:

  • Anwar Nusseibeh a former Jordanian minister and diplomat to the UK
  • Hazem Nuseibeh Jordanian foreign minister
  • Mohammed Zaki Nusseibeh, is the founding Chancellor of Al Quds University. He was appointed in 1986 to the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem. In that year he was appointed to the Higher Waqf Council of the West Bank. In 1993, he announced the formation of the Al Quds University and became the founding Chancellor and Chairman of Board of Trustees of Al Quds University until 1997. In 1993, he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Muslim Council and in 1997 became Acting Chairman of the Council. In February 2008, Nuseibeh was elected to chair the newly created Jerusalem Fund. Mr. Nuseibeh is also a successful Contractor and Engineer since the 1970s. The Nuseibeh Neighborhood, home for a few thousand Palestinians in East Jerusalem was his first major project. Mr. Nuseibeh is also the owner of Addar Hotel in Jerusalem. In June 2009, Nuseibeh announced that has started developing the first multi purpose commercial building in east Jerusalem, which is expected to house a shopping mall, offices, as well as a boutique hotel with panoramic views of Jerusalem. Mr. Nuseibeh holds an honorary doctorate from Alquds University and a number of decorations including Jordan's medal of Independence. Nuseibeh is married to Mrs. Faida Qutob Nuseibeh and has three sons, Ghanem, Samer, and Zaki, and one daughter, Dana. On December 6th 2014, Mr Nuseibeh was awarded 'Knight of Jerusalem' at a ceremony in Jerusalem attended by the city's leaders.
  • Zaki Nusseibeh, Director of Information in Abu Dhabi
  • Sari Nusseibeh, professor of philosophy and president of the Al-Quds University in Jerusalem[3]
  • Ghanem Nuseibeh civil engineer and founder of strategy and management consultancy, Cornerstone Global Associates


  1. ^ Welcome to and - Home of the Nuseibeh Family
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Webpage of Sari Nusseibeh

Further reading

  • Fischbach, Michael R. "Nuseibeh Family." In Encyclopedia of the Palestinians, edited by Philip Mattar. New York: Facts on File, 2000.
  • Heller, Mark, and Nusseibeh, Sari. No Trumpets, No Drums:A Two-State Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. New York: Hill and Wang, 1991.
  • Muslih, Muhammad Y. The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.
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