THE MAIN SHRINES IN AFRIN
The Kurds Region (Afrin) has many religious shrines and holy places. Some villages might have more than one shrine represented by an old building, a ruin at the edge of village, or a large rock by a source of water or in an old holy place.
Those shrines, which are spread over mountains, are surrounded by a lot of trees or a large tree. They are also spread out on barren mountains or even valleys surrounded by old trees.
People have special beliefs about those holy places. They were places of worship, or a historical symbol for famous people where the sick were recovered and wishes were achieved through imploring and beseeching them (shrines). Even some people light up candles and oil lamps on Friday nights because those shrines should not be left dark on those holy Friday nights. Maybe such ritual has a connection with lighting fire in Zoroastrian temples. The shrines are often by a graveyard. Inside the shrines were tombs (in the shape of graves) blessed by people. Those tombs represent a shrine of good people. The following are the most famous and common shrines in Afrin region:
1-THE SHRINE OF HANNAN
The shrine of Hannan stands on the south of Mashale which is on the main road between Afrin and Aleppo and it is well-known by all people in Afrin Region.
The original building of Hannan was small and inside it was a tomb. In 1964 Dr.Nori Dersimi widened the building and built a minaret surrounded by a fence and then he turned it into a mosque. Afterthat, Dr.Dersimi already prepared two graves inside the fence for his wife and himself. Finally, they both were buried there after their deaths.
As to the origins of the shrine, says Ibn Al-Shuhna,’’In the village Mashhala nearby Izaz there is the grave of my blessed brother Dawood (the prophet); a village where there are orchards and flowing river…’’And it is a reference to the present village Mashalieh (Me\al.).
About 100m to the north-west of the Shrine of Hannan is another shrine called the Shrine of Pir Jafar which is a small building; its name refers to a holy religious rank in Kurdish (Ezidiyan religion). Also, there is another shrine called the Shrine of Mannan who is the brother of Hannan. It is located on the Mountain of Kafar Jannah and it is also known by people there.
2-THE SHRINE OF MUHAMMAD ALI
The shrine of Muhammad Ali is situated on a valley between the village Holilo and Koran in Rajo town. It is surrounded by oak and olive trees and it is by an old graveyard where there is a nearby tree which is decorated with thousands of small pieces of cloth by prayers and people who took a vow. The shrine of Muhammad Ali is very common and famous in the nearby villages and Wednesday is the proper day to visit.
3-THE SHRINE OF QARA JORNI
The shrine of Qara Jorni is by the bridge built over the Qara Jorni Valley which has a wonderful stream surrounded by large sycamore trees. It is an old-fashioned shrine where people come to visit it on Wednesdays. The history of this shrine is unknown. However, there is a written fixed board on its frontpart,’’ The shrine goes back to a martyr whose name was Hogir; he was a grandson of a Zoroastrian priest from Ain Dara village and he was one of the leaders of Imad-al Din Zanki who was killed in the 11th century on his return from Ruha after liberating it from Byzantium.’’ Its name comes from a large basin from black stone nearby, but it is no longer there now.
4-THE SHRINE OF SULTAN SHEIKH MUSA
The shrine of Sultan Sheikh Musa lies on the plains of Meydana in the midst of graveyard surrounded by oak trees. It has got large historical stony columns which remind us of Roman and Byzantine buildings. It is blessed by people there and therefore a lot of them name their children ‘’Sheikh Mus’’
Ottoman writing, which is engraved on the shrine’s door, dates 1300 A.H./1882 A.D.
It is the shrine of Sheikh Mus Anzali; Ezidiyan have seven flags each one stands for an angel, the greatest flag is Anzal. Anzali is from Sheikh Ibrahim Anzali who was one of Ezidiyan’s Sheikhs. Maybe Sheikh Mus is called Anzali because he is one of Sheikh Ibrahim Anzali’s followers.
5-THE SHRINE OF ABDULRAHMAN
This famous shrine stands on the north of Sheikh Abdulrahman’s village. There is an old hill as well as an old graveyard nearby and there is plentiful spring to the north of the graveyard.
The building of shrine is large which consists of two parts. In its western part is a tomb and there is an old stone near the tomb. On that black stone, it is written in Ottoman,’’ The shrine of Abdul-Rahman Bin Auf’’, for the sake of this religious man in Islam.
6-THE SHRINE OF QAZIQLI
The shrine of Qaziqli is located on the famous mountain top, a top covered with the pine trees. The shrine is a small squared room in the middle of an ancient graveyard as well as Greek ruins where people are frequently named by its name.
However, the name of the shrine Qaziq is Turkish which means pillar or column and the morpheme ’’-li ‘’makes the word an adjective. Thus, it means pillared or pillar worshipper and the pillar worshippers are a group of Christian monks who used to worship on the pillars; Simon Amoudi was the first who worshipped on the pillar in his famous citadel. The way of worship was spread in the region until the fifth century AD. The name of the shrine is most likely connected with a name of hermit who worshipped upon the pillar and was buried there.
7-THE SHRINE OF SHEIKH JAMAL AL- DIN
It is situated to the north-west of Jiweque (Coq.) about one kilometer and its building is traditional which is dignified by the nearby villagers from Dargir, Kokanieh and Jweque. The name of Jamal Al-Din is wide spread among the inhabitants of those villages, and it said that Sheikh Jamal Al-Din is the fourth grandfather of Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil, the leader of Muridiehs Movement in the Mount Kurds in the second quarter of the 20th century.
8- THE SHRINE OF THE MARTYR MURAD
It is located on Durimieh plains to the south of Kurkan village by Durimieh Spring. The shrine is well-known in that area.
9-IN SHIYIEH (|IY>)
A-THE SHRINE OF SARUBABA: It is located nearby the village by the main road; it still has a traditional building and there is a large sycamore tree nearby.
B- THE SHRINE OF KHUDIR (XUZIR): It is in the middle of the town’ great cemetery. Ibn Al-Shuhna in Al-dir Al-Muntakhab, p127, mentioned that’’the grave of Joseph ibn Asbat lies in the Sheikh Hadid’’. And this grave is still unknown up to now; maybe one of the two shrines has a connection with the grave referred by Ibn Al-Shuhna.
It is located on an old hill to the north to Mabata and it is especially respected by Alawis sect followers. The shrine is a traditional building nearby plentiful spring water; Wednesday is the day on which people visit where the vows and sacrifices are offered and made.
11-THE SHRINE OF SHEIKH BARAKAT
This shrine is one of the most important Izdiyan’s shrines nowadays. The Ezidyan’s new year celebration is had. It is located on Sheikh Barakat Mountain top and its name in Greek was ‘’Koriphe ‘’or’’ Koripheus’’ which means’’ the top’’ and it is situated to the south of Afrin city about 30 km and it is 870m high . On a mountain top is a level area of squared land which is 68m long and it is surrounded by a large ruined wall; there are huge building stones in the northern side where some crosses and engravings. And the shrine is a squared room which has a dome above and the room has a four stairs cellar below.
The written resources says about the shrine that it is an Islamic shrine after it was once a temple from Greek Age devoted to the goddess Zeus, God of sky and the weather and it is the son of Cronos and Rhea. It is mentioned in the Syrian Geographical Dictionary that the shrine is the remains of ancient worshippers of goddess Jupiter and Scelena from the Roman Times as well as the first century BC and that the mountain was named by a warrior called Muhammad Nofal Barakat who died during the Islamic conquests. However, Sheikh Hussein, the Sheikh of Afrin’s Ezidyans, says that the shrine has a connection with Ezidyans as well as Mir Ibrahim Adham Darwesh, a mysterious religious personality for Izidyans. The name of Sheikh Barakat, which is maybe Sakhir ibn Sakhir ibn Musafer, a son of Sheikh Audey ibn Musafer, has a connection with the shrine. The shrine of Sheikh Barakat is also sanctified by Durouz sect.
12-THE SHRINE OF CHAIL KHANA (~>L XANE)
It is located on the mount Lelon to the south of Arsh Qibar village. In a deep rocky valley which carries its name and the shrine is engraved in a rocky cliff which has dimensions on average from the inside (4m length, 2,5 width, 2m height). There are some natural diggings in its ground where the leaked water from small cracks in the ceiling of the shrine collects and there is a juniper tree in the front of the shrine which is decorated with a lot of colored rags hung by visitors who wish their wishes come true.
As to its name, it is from two words; ‘chail or ~.l’ which means forty in Kurdish and ‘Khana or Xane’ which means ‘house’ or place. Ezidyans say that it was their holy place for mysticism and worship as well as for who wanted to fast for forty days and the name of the shrine is derived from there. Unreliable story tells that Sheikh Audey fasted there for forty days and there were some graves next to the door of the shrine and maybe the graves were the graves of those worshippers in the cave where they died and were buried there. The shrine is visited by different people from various religions and ethnic groups.
13-THE SHRINE OF MALAKODI
It is also located on the mount Lelon some 300 m. Its name’ Malakodi’ is believed to be taken from Sheikh Adi(Audey ibn Musafer). Its site is extremely bumpy and difficult and its building is traditional nearby the previous and the present graveyard of the Ezidiyans.
The shrine was so important for the Ezidiyans in past years where the hermit mystic’s rag was dyed nearby, a religious ritual where the rag of the poor (monk) was dyed and colored in dark brown.
The site of Malakodi has some important landmarks such as a tower called Jundi Tower and the remains of the tower still exist. As for Jundi, he is one of the well-known Ezidiyans in the past. It is said that the tower was built with mixed milk with soil which was successively picked up from the nearby Ezidiyan’s villages for the milk is famous for its purity but water is liable to pollute. The tower had an important religious role; it is believed that the tower was used as a store of the holy damaged rags as well as it was used as a cemetery for some important Ezidyans.
Prepared by: Tirej Soft Center
Translated by: Youness Sheikh Nassan