Sidi Sha’ban Shrine

 

The shrine is located in the farthest north-east part of Al-Bireh and is considered the most important shrine out other seven shrines that exist in the area. It holds a special status for the residents of Al-Bireh and other surrounding villages because visiting it substituted visits to other important holy shrines such An-Nabi Mousa Shrine when travelling is not possible.

 

There is no academic knowledge on Al-Sheikh Sa’ban as it is the case for most shrines in Palestine due to the connection between these shrines and Palestinian religious and popular traditions. Therefore, many oral narratives were passed about the identity of Sidi Sha’ban including two prominent stories, one of which is that the Sheikh came with Salah Eddin Al-Ayounbi from the Arabian West (Morocco) to liberate Jerusalem where he died during battle with the crusaders in Al-Bireh; the first line of defence for Jerusalem. He was buried in Al-Bireh and given the title of an alderman after his death. Then the residents of Al-Bireh built a shrine to commemorate his death in the Ayyubid era.  In another story, Sidi Sha’ban is thought to have been a Sufi Sheikh who chose solitude then was given the title of a Wali (alderman) while his shrine was built in the Ottoman period.

 

The shrine consists of two rooms with two domes on the top. The room located in the west area is the bigger one and was used as a place of prayer. People of the village used to pray in this room evident by a Mihrab in the southern part of the room. In the walls of the room, there are wall niches for candles and lamps. On the northern part of the room, there is a door that has half a round dome. The second room in the eastern part of the shrine is smaller and higher where the grave is located covered by green carpet with a small door on the northern side of the room.