Let It Be Known: Edition 02, Bayt Al Dajani | Savoir Flair
Palestine
Let It Be Known: Edition 02, Bayt Al Dajani
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by Savoir Flair 3-minute read December 13, 2023

Our ‘Let It Be Known’ series shines a light on personal stories shared graciously by the Palestinian community around us. It is our sincere hope that these tales transcend the impersonal nature of statistics, bringing to the forefront the deeply moving narratives that characterize both Palestine and its people.

article DAVID'S TOMB | GETTY IMAGES

The esteemed Bayt Al Dajani, estimated to be Palestine's largest family, is intricately woven into the historic fabric of Jerusalem. The family proudly bears the dual surname Dajani-Daoudi, a nod to their ancestral role as guardians of the tomb of King David, or Prophet Daud, who reigned over Jerusalem for four decades in the 9th Century BC. Tracing their roots back to the 11th Century, the initial members of the Dajani family journeyed from Fez, Morocco, answering the call of Salahuddin for additional forces to combat the Crusaders.

In the 15th century, a transformative event marked the life of Sheikh Ahmad Dajani (1480–1562). He experienced a profound vision in a dream where Prophet Daud implored Sheikh Ahmad to come to his rescue. This led Sheikh Ahmad to the realization that David's tomb was in dire need of protection. As fate would have it, in 1529, Ottoman Sultan Suleiman The Magnificent issued a decree that appointed the family as the site’s custodians, including the site of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. One of the first acts by the Dajanis was to place a silk cover over the Tomb, adorned with a verse from the Quran.

DAVID'S TOMB | THE DAJANI FAMILY

The family settled in this area, Nabi Daud, for the next four centuries in a conglomeration of 200 houses and apartments surrounding the site. The area became a crossroads for pilgrims on their way to and from Mecca as they passed through Jerusalem, and so the family would host and feed the neediest of these congregations. 

HOMES OF THE DAJANIS IN JERUSALEM | DAJANI FAMILY

By the 19th Century, the Dajanis had become a prominent part of the social fabric of the Jerusalem community, holding important functional, political, social, and educational roles. They even had their own football team which played in the National League. They regularly gathered at the tomb for a family photo on religious holidays like Eid.

THE DAJANI FAMILY AT DAVID'S TOMB | DAJANI FAMILY

But in May 1948, they were expelled, never to return, with Nabi Daud becoming a no-man’s land. After the 1967 war, the Zionists took control of the area and demolished many of the family houses — the rest were converted into Jewish Yeshivas (religious schools). And the silk cover on Prophet Daud’s Tomb was replaced with a Hebrew-adorned one, which remains till this day.

The family is now dispersed all across the world, like most Palestinian families.

(Shared by Dajani family members, Fouad Dajani and Salwa Attiga.)

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