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Abey

Arabic: عبيه
Located in the District of Aley,

Etymology

Origins

Abey

Location

Co-Ordinates
Longitude: 33 ° 48 ’10” N Latitude: 35 ° 42′ 2″ E Area: • City 3.12 km2 Elevation: 1300 m

Discover Abey

Situated in the district of Aley, the village of Abey is one of the most historic locations in Lebanon.

It is bordered on the south by Kfar Matta, on the east by Binay, on the west by Damour and on the north by Ain Ksour. Abey is 15 kms from Aley, 22 kms from Beirut, rising 700-850m above sea level, covering an area of 420 hectares.

The name “Abey” is derived from Aramaic – meaning land dense and compact with trees. The word is still in colloquial use in the Lebanese dialect today – “ebbi” meaning “thick”. Rich in natural springs, it is surrounded by forests of pine and oak

 

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The town of Abey is positioned at the foot of a mountain known as “Jabal al Mutair” – overlooking the capital Beirut and all western parts of Lebanon – the coast extending from the Gulf of Acre in the north, to Tripoli, to Mount Carmel in Palestine in the south, and the mountains of the islands of Cyprus on a clear day.

This unique and strategic military vantage point prompted the Tanukhian emirs of the West in the middle centuries to choose it as their headquarters to repel the Crusaders’ invasions from the shores. And thus began a remarkable chapter in Lebanon’s political, cultural, religious, architectural and academic history …

 

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The history of Abey and the history of the Tanukhi are inextricably woven – one is inseparable from the other, both contributing a significant role in shaping the future of Lebanon.

It is impossible to record the history of Abey without delving into the archives of the Middle Ages.

The Buhturids were a branch of the large tribe known as Banu Tanukh (Sons of Tanukh), customarily referred to as the Tanukhi (alternative transliteration Tannoukhi). In turn, the Tanukhi originated from other Arab clans, including Banu Firas and Banu Abdallah. The Buhturis were cousins to the Arslanis, who also played a significant role in the history of the Mount Lebanon region.

The Tanukhis migrated from Arabia to Iraq in the sixth century, moved to northern Syria, and settled in the Lebanese Mountains beginning in the middle of the eighth century – from the Fatimid then the Mamluk periods. The central Islamic government, initially the Ummayas (661–750) and then the Abbasis (750–1258), encouraged and supported these early settlements because they served as a buffer zone against the Byzantine Romans. 

Abey’s strategic location made it an obvious destination for the Tanukhis, from which to fulfil their mission of protecting the coastal frontiers against the naval raids of the Byzantines. Other Tanukhis also settled in the nearby village of Aramoun.

Aley - Ancient Times

Beginning in 1096, crusaders captured the major cities of the region, including Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beirut. In response – and in order to strengthen the northern Islamic front – the Muslim central government ordered additional Tanukhi tribes, such as the Nakad and Abdallah, to migrate to the region of Abey and assist in guarding it. Within the Abdallah family, historical literature refers to the Emir Ali Ibn Hussein (?-1157) and his son, Buhtur. Because of their location in the area, the Buhturis were referred to as the Western (Gharb) Emirate. 

From Abey, the Tanukhi clans reorganised their forces, launching raids on the Franks in Beirut, and succeeded in preserving the “Emirate of the West”.

Upon the arrival of Sultan Salah Al-Din Ayoubi, after the Battle of Hattin in 1187 AD to conquer Beirut, the Tanukhis position was further strengthened. The Tanukhis supported Salah al-Din in his conquest, which prompted him to recognize their authority over the western mountain, including Abey.

The first Tanukhi emir believed to have settled and built in Abey is Emir Jamal al-Din Haji (?-1222).

Before the Islamic conquest, like other Arab tribes in the Levant, the Tanukhis were Christians, and with the conquest, most of them converted to Islam. Then, before the year 1017 AD, they accepted the monotheistic call, joining the ranks of the Unitarians.

In the 11th century, the Tanukhis were joined in Abey by Qahtani tribes from southern Arabia, such as the Banu Ma’an. By this time, most of the Tanukhis of Mount Lebanon had adopted the Unitarian message, due to their leadership’s close ties with then Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (996-1021).

The Ma’an tribe settled in Mount Lebanon on order of the governor of Damascus to defend against the encroaching Crusaders. Most Ma’ans in Lebanon later became Unitarian. They were later defeated by a rival Qays tribe who had also become Druze, the Qaysi Druze. The central parts of Mount Lebanon – primarily Abey – were described as a Tanukhid stronghold, until the start of the 14th century.

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Also in the first half of the 11th century, some of those Tanukhi emirs and their followers rose in the Unitarian ranks as missionaries. One of these emirs, Mi’dad al-Fawaresi, who ruled over Mount Lebanon and the city of Beirut at the time, and later settled in Aley, is well known in the Druze manuscripts and oral traditions as a defender of the Tawhid faith. It is partly because of the exploits of Emir Mi’dad that the Tanukhi-Buhturi Emirate can be traced to 11th century Abey.

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Among Abey’s most famous Al-Tanukhi emirs during the Mamluk period was Emir Nasir al-Din Hussein (1270-1350). He is considered the most important Al-Tanukhi emir in the first half of the fourteenth century, and he was credited with preserving Abey – Emirate of the West – as a hereditary feudal emirate, despite its contradiction with the Mamluk concept of feudalism. Emir Hussein committed himself to fighting for Beirut and maintaining security in it and on the coast, extending from Nahr al-Kalb in the north to Damour in the south.

Several Tanukhi emirs built impressive mansions in Beirut, Aramoun and Abey, but Nasir al-Din outdid them all as a builder, spending vast outlays on his edifices. He developed and expanded his father’s buildings, constructing a hammam, a mosque and a dome, which exist to this day.

Such was his standing, Nasir al-Din Hussein is the only Buhturi emir of whom a biographical notice was recorded by the early historians.

Emir Nasir al-Din Hussein was responsible for bringing the waters of Ain al-Shaghour in Hammana to the area of Abey in the year 1317.

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Also during this period, Abey was the residence of Jamal Al-Din Abdullah Buhturi Tanukhi (1417-1479) – known as Sayyed Abdullah Tanukhi – who is revered and worshipped by Unitarians, to this day.

Abey is also considered the village of the young Emir Fakhr al-Din al-Ma’ni II (1585 -1635). It is recorded that he grew up in the village of Abey, after his mother left him with her relatives, until he reached the age of maturity.

Another notable name, born in the village of Abey, is Mundhir ibn Alam al-Din Sulayman ibn Muhammad (? 1556 – c. 1624), also known as Mundhir al-Tanukhi (alternate transliterations: Monzer, Munzer or Mounzer). He was a Buhturid emir of Abey and the subdistrict governor (zabit) of Beirut in 1616–1623. He was a maternal uncle of Fakhr al-Din II.

He came from a distinguished line of Abey’s Tanukhi clan – He was likely the grandson of Nasir al-Din Muhammad, who served as the multazim (limited-term tax farmer) of the port of Beirut in 1567–1569 for the Ottoman Empire, which conquered the area in 1516. Nasir al-Din Muhammad’s father Sayf al-Din Abu Bakr (?-1492) was elected as a successor to Emir Al-Sayyed Abdullah Tanukhi. Sayf al-Din Abu Bakr’s father was Izz al-Din Sadaqa, the second and last Buhturid to be appointed mutawali (governor) of Beirut during Mamluk rule (1291–1516), serving for an undetermined period during the reign of Sultan Barsbay from 1422–1438.

Emir Mundhir built a tower and a saraya (government residence) in Abey in 1576. While governor of Beirut, in 1620, he built a congregational mosque which still bears his name, the Emir Munzer Mosque, located in the city’s commercial center. The journalist Samir Kassir called it “a small jewel of a mosque” and “the principal architectural legacy of Fakhr al-Din’s era [in Beirut]”.

end of an empire

By 1633, after the Ottoman conquest of the Levant, rivalry among the emirs in the mountain region put an end to the influence of the Tanukhs.

This was a somewhat grisly chapter in Abey’s history.

Ali Ibn Muzaffar Alam Al-Din (?–1660), was an emir and leader of the Yamani faction. He was granted the title emir after Fakhr al-Din al-Ma‘ni II was captured by the Ottomans in Astana. In 1634, Emir Ali took control of the Ma’ni estates, killing some of its leaders. He then marched to Abey with his followers, and in a surprise attack during a meeting with the family’s leaders, murdered four emirs of his own Tanukhi relatives (Emirs Yahya, Mahmud, Nasir al-Din, and Sayf al-Din), and ordered the killing of their children so that no Tanukhi emirs survived. It is said that this action was taken because these emirs had supported his Ma’ni opponents.

Historian William Harris described the elimination of the Buhturid-Tanukhi family as the “extinguishing of an illustrious name in Lebanon’s medieval history.”

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The Buhturids maintained a significant degree of local autonomy in Mount Lebanon for nearly four hundred years preceding Ottoman rule. Their rule set the stage for Ma’nid dominance of Mount Lebanon and its environs in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

 

After the rule of the Ma’ni emirs, Abey came under the rule of the Chehabis, with Emir Muhammad Melhem Haider and his son, Emir Qaadan Al Chehabi, settling in the village.

Consequently, Abey later became the base of the Chehab opposition to Emir Bashir II.

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In 1845, among the arrangements of Shakib Effendi, the province of al-Shahar was assigned to the sons of Hamoud Beik Nakadi – Sheikh Qassim Beik Nakadi and his brothers Sheikh Salim beik Al Nakadi and Sheikh Said beik Al Nakadi. As a result, they moved from their home town of Deir al-Qamar and settled in Abey, where they assumed their roles of governing the area.

With the establishment of the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifiyya (Governorate), Abey became the center of the Shahar District of the Chouf District. In 1925, the directorates were abolished and replaced by the District Commissioners within the French administrative division of the State of Greater Lebanon, and Abey became affiliated with the District Commissioner of Aley.

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Abey … A 15th century centre of art and culture

The Tanukh emirs encouraged advances in history, astronomy, language, medicine and poetry. Art and crafts, wood and stone carving, as well as calligraphy, flourished during the second part of the 15th century. Abey had become a cultural hub.

The Tahukhs were interested in the prevailing arts of their time, such as engraving, perforation, and inlaying on wood, stone and gold. Many of them excelled in the art of calligraphy, the most famous of which is Izz al-Din Jawad, who wrote Ayat al-Kursi on a grain of rice in the fourteenth century.

Traces of these artistic merits can still be found in the architectural remains in Abey today.

The literary life of Al Tanukh was characterized by the interest of their princes in poetry, and among the poets of their court was Muhammad bin Ali Al-Ghazi.

Emir Nasir al-Din Hussein was known as a bibliophile and owned a large collection of books. An admirer of the great Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabbi (Abu al-Tayyib Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi al-Kindi) (c. 915 – 23 September 965 AD), he memorized most of his Diwan. He would seek out old editions of Al-Mutanabbi’s Diwan, and acquired four of the oldest copies of his work. Poets sang Nasir al-Din’s praises and authors composed books for him. A renowned calligrapher made a scroll in seven types of calligraphy and presented it to him.

The Tanukhs of Abey had created an intellectual fulcrum, attracting seekers of knowledge, education, art and culture – a legacy which continued into the 1800s, with the establishment of several educational centres whose excellence was acknowledged all over Lebanon and the Levant.

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Abey … An architectural bastion

What distinguishes Abey is its ancient ruins dating back to the eighth century AD.

Abey is an archaeologist’s and historian’s treasure trove, its artefacts unique to Lebanon. Unlike so many villages, where ancient architecture and historic homes were bulldozed with abandon, to make way for (mostly vacant) modern high-rise apartment blocks, Abey is the exemplification of the preservation and protection of our national heritage. Its custodians are to be commended for their foresight, tenacity and dedication.

Ancient archaeological relics – palaces, houses, hammams, carvings – are spread throughout the village. They are all distinguished by their design, inscriptions and decorations, reflecting the art of Arab and Islamic architecture. They are adorned with inscriptions of Arabic calligraphy and geometric and plant motifs, and carvings inside and on the facades.

Some have been fully or partially restored, others are awaiting funds for rehabilitation. 

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Traces of the Tanukhi

• “Tardala” is an archaeological site with the remains of houses, and it is now known as “al-Kharayeb”. The area includes an “ain” (spring) known as Ain al-Day’a. It was the base of the Tanukhis before the Abey neighbourhood.

• The “Honorable Palaces” is an archaeological site dating back to the eighth century AD. It contains the remains of arched vaults and the ruins of al-Alali, which was formerly called the Abey al-Tanukhiya neighborhood.

• The hall of Emir Jamal al-Din Hajji – at its entrance is the oldest emblem of the Tanukh family, dating back to the late thirteenth century.

• House of Emir Sa’ad al-Din Khader, which was started in 1294. In 1315, his son Emir Nasir al-Din Hussein took over, making various additions to the building, including a hammam, a mosque and a dome, tower, garden and water supply. This building later belonged to Emir Sayyed Jamal al-Din Abdullah Tanukhi and was known as the House of Emir al-Sayyed.

• Hall re-built for Emir Nasir al-Din al-Hussein. It later became a seat for the studies of Emir El-Sayyid, and then, by inheritance, a church named after Mar Sarkis and Bacchus. Its construction dates back to the first half of the fourteenth century.

• The water canal that reaches from Shaghour Abey to Ain Al-Hammam, constructed by Emir Al-Hussein in the year 1317.

• The ruins of an Arab bath (“hammam”) built by Nasir al-Din al-Hussein in the year 1325.

• A mosque and a dome that were transformed after the death of Emir al-Sayyed Abdullah Tanukhi in the year 1479. His body was buried in the mosque and his shrine is a place of great significance until today.

• Al-Tanoukhiyin cemetery next to the mosque.

• Iwan Abey, a Tanukhi building dating back to the fifteenth century, with additions made by Emir Qaadan Shehab. It is known in the Directorate of Antiquities as Emir Qaadan Palace. The property was inherited by Dr. Jamil Kanaan and the Nehme family.

• Saraya is well-known for the plaque that dates its construction to the time of Emir Munther bin Alam al-Din Suleiman, governor of Beirut during the reign of Emir Fakhreddine. He also built the mosque in Beirut attributed to him, which is known as the Emir Mounther Mosque or Al-Nawfra Mosque. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, he made additions to the Saraya, including a tower for carrier pigeons. The building is now the property of the Capuchin fathers, who own more than 70 properties, a number of churches and a monastery in Abey. It is currently operated by the National Center for Development and Rehabilitation.

• Linking the Tanukhiya buildings is an old market known as the “Old Abey Market” whose architectural character is dominated by stone arches and arcades. This market is considered today as one of the ruins of the village, which is expected to be restored.

• The Tanukhi building, where the Capuchins founded their monastery in the seventeenth century, and made additions to it.

• Al-Tanukhi building, in which the American missionaries established the American High School after making repairs, restorations and additions to it.

• St. George’s Roman Catholic Church.

• A canal to carry water from the foot of Jabal Al-Mutair to the Al-Tanukhi buildings.

• Remains of Ras al-Mutair Castle built by Emir Badr al-Din Hussein bin Sadaqa in the late fifteenth century.

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The architecture of the Chehabist period 

• Additions made by Emir Qaadan Chehabi to the Al-Tanoukhi building in which he lived 

• Sabil Turukh Balata over a gutter in 1210 AH, one of the exploits of Emir Qaadan al-Chehabi 

 

• The arch of an ain (spring), known as Ain Ali, which was established by Izz al-Din Amin al-Din in 1607 

• The tomb and dome of Sheikh Ahmed Amin Al-Din built by Emir Bashir Al-Chehabi 

 

• The house of Sheikh Ahmed Amin Al-Din – this was bought by the Public Endowment and is currently a public hall for the town 

 

• The tomb and dome of Sheikh Assaf Amin al-Din 

 

• House of Sheikh Amin Al-Din bin Hussein Amin Al-Din 

 

• House of Sheikh Hussein Aminuddin (owner of the British Embassy) 

 

• Retreat of Sheikh Ahmed Amin Al-Din 

• The Selim Bey Nakad Palace, the Said Hammoud Bey Nakad Palace, and the Gemel Bashir Bey Nakad Palace (currently the National Tanukhiya School) dating back to the year 1845

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Other heritage buildings 

• The American High School and the Evangelical Church were built in 1849 and are among the oldest Evangelical buildings in the Middle East

 

• The Daoudia School dates back to 1862 with additions dating back to 1932

 

• The house of His Eminence, Patriarch Gregory Haddad, which consists of beautiful arcades and arches

 

Religious Significance

What is striking about Abey is the presence of a large number of religious monuments, of both Druze and Christian origin.

There may not be another village in Lebanon that contains seven churches belonging to different Christian sects:

• The Church of Saint Sarkis and Bacchus, built in the fourteenth century during the reign of Prince Nasir al-Din al-Hussein.

• The monastery of the Capuchin Fathers, built in the year 1466, which is today the official and permanent shrine of the jubilee statue of the Virgin in Fatima. Known today as the “carrier pigeon centre”, it bears inscriptions attesting to the date of its construction.

• Saint Maron Church, which was a building dating back to the Tanukh period.

• The Church of Our Lady of El Ma’ounat (Our Lady of Relief) is a Qantash of the Aleppo monastery. Its construction dates back to the fifteenth century.

• The Evangelical Church, which was built in 1846.

• St. George’s Roman Catholic Church, whose construction dates back to 1885.

• The Roman Orthodox Church of the Savior, which was demolished several times and then rebuilt.

Abey is famous also for the shrines of the Unitarians:

• The shrine of Sheikh Assaf bin Saleh Amin al-Din – he is one of the first worshippers who resided in a retreat that he built in Jabal al-Mutair in Abey.

 • The shrine of Sheikh Sayyed Ahmed Amin al-Din (?–1809), who took over the sheikhdom of al-Aqal, and resolved a dispute between Emir Bashir Al-Chehabi and Sheikh Bashir Jumblatt. Emir Bashir named him Sheikh “Al-Radi” and constructed a tomb and a dome in his honour.

• The shrine of Sheikh Abu Hussein Mahmoud Faraj (1862–1953), known and revered for his piety and accuracy of conduct.


• As for the true qiblah of the Druze, it is the shrine of Emir Sayyid Jamal al-Din Abdullah al-Tanukhi (1417-1479). He was known for his reformist vision, wisdom and knowledge of all Islamic sects. He spent 12 years in Jamshaq in Syria, where he taught and practiced Islamic jurisprudence and left an ideological history for the Druze of explanations, messages and linguistic interpretations that had a unique impact on developing their vision of heritage.

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Abey … A Beacon of Knowledge and Education

In the 1800s, Abey attracted the cultural elite from Mount Lebanon, Syria and the Levant. This village which had once been a strategic military vantage point to protect Beirut and its coastline from the invaders, now played a leading role in the intellectual and cultural revival movement in Lebanon and the Arab world.

From the Capuchin Fathers, then the American missionaries, and the Daoudia School – these centres of learning and education were graduating some of the greatest minds in Lebanon and the Arab world.

• Monastery and Orphanage of the Capuchin Fathers:

According to historical references, the history of the Capuchin fathers in Abey is related to the influence of Emir Fakhr al-Din II. 

Emir Fakhr al-Din met the Capuchins during his stay with the Duke of Tuscany in Italy. This exchange later led to the presentation of a building in Abey that became a monastery and an orphanage, in exchange for a doctor to take care of the people of the region. The Capuchins left Abey at the outbreak of the French Revolution, to return again and open a school there.

Upon their return, the Capuchin fathers took Abey as a center for their mission, and re-established their monastery and orphanage. They also were concerned about educating people with difficult situations. The monastery and orphanage began to expand in Abey, especially after the arrival of the Byzantine nuns. The Capuchins from Abey then began to open schools for them in all the Lebanese regions.

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• The American High School and the College of Theology: In the first half of the nineteenth century, American missionaries took Abey as a station for their mission, establishing an elementary school in 1835 and a medical center in 1839.

In 1843, missionaries W.M. Thomson and Cornelius Van Alen Van Dyck came to live in Abey and agreed with a group of patriotic intellectuals, including Ibn Abi Al-Muallem Tannous Al-Haddad, to establish the American High School. This American High School was the nucleus of the Syrian Protestant College (SPC) in Beirut, which then became the AUB (American University of Beirut), founded in 1866, and the College of Theology, which moved to Ras Beirut and became the “Faculty of Theology” for the Near East.

The SPC in Abey attracted many highly regarded teachers, including Butrus al-Bustani (1819-1883), the linguist, lexicographer, translator and journalist. And the college produced many students of great note, from all over Lebanon – names like physician Amin Muhammad Halabi, Khalil Hallak and Salim Muhammad Hallak (all from Baaqlin), Dawud Hasan Slim of Jabal al-Chouf, physician Sayed Nasreddine of Abey, judge Muhammad Abu Izzeddine of Abadiyeh, and physician Mahmoud Assaf of Moukhtarah.

Incidentally, the first medical general anaesthesia performed in Lebanon took place in 1865, in the medical centre of Abey. Dr. George Edward Post was known during his lifetime as “the greatest surgeon and botanist in the East.” He was born in New York City in 1838, earned a medical degree from University Medical College of New York, and a doctor of dental surgery degree from the Baltimore College of Dentistry. A Protestant theologian, he accepted a position as professor of surgery and botany in the SPC. In front of his students, he administered chloroform to a dog, put it to sleep deeply and performed surgery on it. Anaesthesia was soon able to be successfully performed on human patients in Lebanon. 

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• Daoudia Mutasarrif

Among the schools whose fame exceeded the limits of Abey, was the Daoudia School, built in 1862. The Armenian-Ottoman Mutasarrif Daoud Pasha, in the time of the Mutasarrifiyya, contributed with the Druze notables in establishing the school known as the “Daoudia Mutasarrif”. The Druze public endowments were combined into one endowment called the Daoudia Waqf to secure the school’s requirements and expenses for education as a free boarding school.

What makes this institution especially remarkable is its having been the only one of its kind founded by the mutasarrifiyah throughout its duration. All other schools owed their existence to missionary activity or private enterprise.

The school today is in the custody of the Lebanese University, which opened an institute of technological sciences there. 

• The Ottoman House of Knowledge

An elementary school of knowledge that was established by the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate in 1895 and continued until the outbreak of the First World War.

• The Sisters of Saint Joseph School

This was an elementary school for girls established by the nuns in the late nineteenth century, teaching the arts of embroidery and sewing.

• The Druze Orphanage – Beit al Yateem

Perhaps one of the most prominent contemporary educational landmarks in Abey is Beit Al Yateem – Druze Orphanage – established by the esteemed scholar Aref Bek Al-Nakadi in 1955. Today it includes about 500 students and provides them with all services such as education, housing, food and necessities.

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Abey … Names of Note from the Tanukhi Era:

• Emir Nasir al-Din Hussein (1270-1350) – He played an important role in protecting Beirut and the coastal areas. The only Buhturid emir whose biography was recorded by the early historians. He brought the waters of Ain al-Shaghour in Hammana to the area of Abey in the year 1317.

• Najm Al-Din Muhammad Tanukhi (?–1305). Son of the famous emir of Mount Lebanon, Jamal al-Din Haji. He fought against the Mamluks but was defeated in 1279.

• Emir Izz al-Din Jawad al-Tanukhi (1305-1385): He administered the business of his emirate, and the management of the Beirut port. He was famous for making Arabic calligraphy and fine inscriptions, including writing the 59-word “Ayat al-Kursi” on a grain of rice, and writing the Holy Qur’an in a size that had previously not been written as small. 

• Sayf Al-Din Yahya Tanukhi (1390–1455). A Tanukhi prince and poet who lived during the time of al-Sayyed Abdullah al-Tanukhi. He was also a wealthy landowner who became an ascetic. He is often compared with the famous prince turned ascetic Ibrahim Ibn Adham (?- 875), since both gave up their wealth to lead a contemplative, spiritual lifestyle. Initially, Sayf al-Din excelled in romantic poetry until he became an ascetic and turned to mystical poetry.

• Saleh bin Yahya : A 15th-century Tanukhi emir and historian who is well-known for his writings on Beirut, in which he chronicles 300 years of the history of that city by shedding light on the Tanukhi-Buhturi principality. He also wrote a book on the prominent imam al-Awza‘i (?-774) from Damascus.

• Jamal al-Din Abdullah bin Suleiman Buhturi Tanukhi (1417-1479) – known as Emir Sayyed Abdullah Tanukhi: A prominent theologian, commentator, and reformer. He was the son of the emir Alam al-Din Sulaiman from Abey. He had four children, three of whom died at a young age and the fourth, Sayf al-Din Abd al-Khaliq Tanukhi, on his wedding day.

Al-Sayyed Abdallah Tanukhi became famous for his asceticism, religious and spiritual insights, and strict ethical code. His moral directives were not always appreciated by his contemporaries, leading him to a self-imposed 12-year period of exile in Damascus. There was also a challenge or a threat to other religious figures as a result of his practices. Later, a mission of sheikhs from Mount Lebanon visited him in Damascus and asked him to return to Abey and teach his reforms.

He has been described as “the most deeply revered individual in Druze history after the hudud who founded and propagated the faith”.

He excelled in Quranic sciences and in the prophetic traditions as well as in other literatures, histories, and linguistics. He wrote commentaries on the Druze scriptural sources. He is mostly famous for writing many books referred to as “al sharh” or الشرح in Arabic, meaning “the explanation”. As their title suggests, these books are a deep explanation of the Epistles of Wisdom (Rasa’il al-Hikmah –  رَسَائِل ٱلْحِكْمَة). Some of his works have survived, but others were lost during invasions or internal wars in Mount Lebanon.

Students gathered around him, studying religious sciences, morphology, grammar, literature, history and anthropology. As they multiplied around him, he began to choose those who had reached a certain stature, sending them to the villages to teach other students. He was considered a beacon of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, his consul was sought from near and afar. His shrine in Abey is still to this day a place of great meaning and importance.

• Emir Sayyed Seif al-Din Abu Bakr Zangi al-Tanukhi (?-1492): He was elected as a successor to Emir Al-Sayyed Abdullah Tanukhi, as Sheikh Aql of the Druze monotheists. 

• Zayn Al-Din Jubra’il Abu Al-Fadl (?–1513): Disciple and assistant to Emir al-Sayyed al-Tanukhi. He gained special status both during the life of al-Sayyed and after al-Sayyed died in 1479 since he continued serving his successor, Emir Sayyed Sayf al-Din al-Tanukhi. 

• Hamza Ibn Sibat bin Ahmad al-Aalihi el Tanukhi (?-1520): One of the most important Lebanese historians in the transitional period witnessed by the Arab Mashreq, in the second half of the 15th century. He left an important history entitled “Sadaq al-Akhbar”, continuing the work of Saleh bin Yahya. He was born and died in Aley, but spent much of his time in Abey, as a student of Emir Al-Sayyed Abdullah Tanukhi.

• Sheikh Seif Al-Din Al-Tanukhi II: Sheikh Akl of the Druze Unitarians who lived about 50 years after Seif Al-Din I. 

• Amira Nassab al-Tanukhi (1546-1633): mother of the two princes Fakhr al-Din and Yunus al-Ma’niin

• Sheikh Badr Al-Din Al-Tanukhi: uncle of Emir Fakhr Al-Din, a historical figure

• Yahya Tanukhi (?–1633). One of the devout emirs whose greatness was appreciated by the community and highly praised by his contemporary al-Sheikh al-Fadil. Emir Yahya was murdered by Ali Alam al-Din.

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• Sheikh Ahmad Sayyed Ahmad Aman Al-Din (?–1809). A prominent pious sheikh from Abey. He was so popular and respected by all the Lebanese factions that both Bashir Chehabi II and Bashir Junblat, two prominent political opponents, attended his funeral and helped carry his casket. A visitation site (mazar) was later built for him in his town and financed by Bashir Chehab.

• Sheikh Ahmed Amin Aman El-Din (?- 1889): Member of the Board of Directors of Jezzine 1881, member of the Survey Committee

• Sheikh Abu Husayn Mahmoud Faraj (1862–1953). An ascetic sheikh who built a place of retreat in the mountains of Abey, and worked the land for sustenance while dedicating most of his time to worshipping God. He shied away from big events and from situations where attention was directed at him. Sheikh Faraj has a visitation site in his hometown of Abey. 

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• Daoud Abu al-Nasr (the Khoury): a writer, poet, journalist and educator in Lebanon and Brazil

• Anbiel Abu Nasr: Vice-President of Parana State in Brazil 

• Ibrahim ibn Khattar Sarkis (1834-85), historian and poet. He compiled an anthology of poetry, a collection of proverbs, and composed more than seventy Protestant hymns. 

• Khalil Khattar Sarkis (1842-1915), journalist, poet and historian. He established his own printing press called Al Adabiyya (المطبعة الأدبية) through which he printed his newspaper and magazine Al Mishkat (المشكاة) (1878). He also published in Beirut the Lisan al-Hal newspaper (1877) and al-Salwa magazine (1914). In addition, he produced an anthology of poetry and a novel. 

• Salim ibn Shahin Sarkis (1867-1926), nephew of Khalil Sarkis, journalist, novelist, poet and historian. Constrained by censorship, he accompanied Emir Amin Arslan to Paris in 1892, helping to set up the Young Turk Society. He published various newspapers and magazines in Egypt and London, before fleeing to America, where he edited Arabic papers in Saint Lawrence, New York and Boston. After returning to Egypt he published his popular literary monthly Majallat Sarkis (1905-24). He also wrote novels.

• Salim Butrus al-Bustani (1846-84): Pioneering Lebanese journalist and story-writer. Born in Abey, he died in Bawarij. He studied with Nasif al-Yaziji, as well as with his father, Butrus al-Bustani, whom he helped in his literary and newspaper activities, editing al-Jiniin, al-Janna and al-Junayna. He wrote dozens of valuable articles on science, politics, literature, history and society. He also served as deputy head of his father’s National School, and as vice-president of the Syrian Learned Society. 

• Assaad Ibn Hasan Ibn Sulayman Sleem (1850–1923): A medical doctor from Abey who graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1881, traveled to Istanbul for further training, and then worked in the British Hospital in Gaza. He was innovative in a number of procedures, introduced new medicines, and authored numerous articles in various publications, such as al-Muqtataf, al-Tabib, and Lubnan.

• Layyah Faris Anton Al-Khazen Barakat (1858-1940): An educator, one of the symbols of the early Lebanese women’s renaissance in the mid-19th century. She was a Christian missionary, writer, temperance activist, and prison reformer, based after 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the first Arab-American woman to write and publish her autobiography – “A Message from Mount Lebanon” (1912). In 1922, a small orphanage for girls was opened by Protestant missionaries and named after Layyah Barakat, in recognition of her fundraising work. She traveled back to her hometown of Abey to attend the opening.

• Patriarch Gregory IV Haddad (1859-1928): An audited theologian and an eloquent orator in the Metropolitan of Tripoli and then Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox 1906-1928. He was known for his humanitarian, charitable and patriotic works in Lebanon and Syria towards all citizens without discrimination. Known in Syria as the “Patriarch of the Arabs”, he defended the Turkish rule and Arab nationalism. He founded churches, associations and schools, especially the Balamand college. Such was his stature, he was received by sultans and czars in Turkey and Russia.

• Nasib Ibn Sa‘id Nakadi (1875–1922): A literary figure from Abey who wrote in numerous publications, including al-Safa, al-Mufid, al-Haris, Lubnan, al-Balagh, al-Muqtataf, and al-Ray al-Am. He also has a collection of poetry and a manuscript titled “History of the Nakadis”. His poetry is diverse, covering topics from love to nationalism, and his articles advocate sectarian and ethnic co-existence in the Middle East.

• Father Victor Sarofim Atallah (1879-1923): One of the monks of the Christian brotherhood, teacher, author of books.

• Sheikh Aref Bey Amin al-Nakadi (1887-1975): Reformer, lawyer, educator, and judge in Lebanon and the Levant. Founder of the esteemed Druze Orphanage – Beit al Yateem

• Dr. Adel Bey al-Nakadi (1891-1926): Educator, lawyer, journalist – and fighter, martyr, member of the “Syrian Arab Association” in Paris, one of the leaders of the Arab revolution of 1925, was martyred in Damascus. 

• Assaad Jamal (1895-1963): An officer in the gendarmerie, who contributed to the modernization of the institution’s systems after the French withdrawal.

• Youssef Iskandar Azar (1896 -?): Poet, journalist, and legal assistant. He published the “Shabiba” magazine (1925)

• Father Murad Al-Haddad (m): Theologian and poet

• Salim Shaheen Al-Haddad (m): Authored an accounting book that the Egyptian government ordered to be taught in its schools 

• Amin Al-Haddad (m): Veteran poet 

• Dr. George Khalil Al-Haddad (m): One of the most prominent surgeons in hospitals in the United States of America

• Eva El-Haddad (m): She held a high administrative position in the Foreign Service in Cairo and Beirut

• Dr. Albert Smith (AD): Doctor of Pharmacy, held a senior management position in an American pharmaceutical company

• Fouad Amin Hamza (1901-1952): Educator, lawyer, activist and diplomat, founder of modern diplomacy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. who served as the personal adviser of King Abdulaziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia. He was granted Saudi nationality and was appointed as a Saudi ambassador to France and the United States, as well as Saudi deputy minister for foreign affairs.

One of his famous books is “Al-Bilad Al-Arabia Al-Saudia”.

reconcile Hamza: Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Turkey

• Dr. Samia Hamza Azzam: Aqila Kamal Azzam, a physician, writer, writer, thinker, and self-taught woman, author of books 

• Nadim Hamza: Master’s degree in history, has been in education for over 30 years, author of “Al-Tannoukhiyun” (1984)

• George Bey El-Khoury (?-1930): Lawyer, observer of the railway administration in Egypt, then inspector general of the railways in Palestine. 

• Alex Raffoul El-Khoury: Writer and historian 

• Murad Abboud Al-Khoury: A 37-year-old sheikh of peace. 

• Youssef Murad Al-Khoury (?-1938): A revolutionary journalist, poet and writer, author of several books 

• Rashid Murad Al-Khoury (m): A veteran poet, educator and writer 

• Emile Issa El-Khoury (m): Journalist 

• Amin Hanna Al-Khoury (m): Educator and interpreter Naoum Pasha ; (See the Sarkis family in Beirut); 

• Selim Shibli: Inventor of the Arabic typewriter in Egypt

• Rasheed Ghaleb Kanaan (m): Veteran poet

• Dr. Jamil Kanaan: Owned by purchase one of the most important Tanukhiya palaces in Abey, and preserved its heritage

• Dr. Marouf Nasr – Known as “Bahrain’s most prominent dentist”, after graduating from the AUB, he went to the Gulf in 1942, when BAPCO (Bahrain Petroleum Company) needed a staff dentist. He held this post for ten years. A close friend of the Ruler, Sheikh Salman, Dr. Nasr was encouraged to establish a private practice and settle permanently in Bahrain.

Heather & Sami Eljurdi

Heather & Sami Eljurdi

Founders • Archivists • Editors

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