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Wajeeh Nusejbeh visits Dagestan

Nuseibeh said he is deeply touched by the hospitality extended to him and called for close cooperation between both nations

By Jamal Fulani | Assalam | 15 Feb 2013

On Wednesday, February 13, Dagestani journalists met with Custodian and Door-Keeper of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is located in Jerusalem. His name is Wajeeh Yacoub Nuseibeh and he is accompanied by his wife Wafa and daughter Nour Nuseibeh.

Nuseibehs are descendants of Umm Umara al-Ansariya, noble family who lived in the ancient Medina. In the VII century during the reign of Caliph Omar bin al-Khattab, the Nuseibeh ancestors moved to Jerusalem. Orthodox Patriarch Safroni handed the keys of the Church to the Caliph who appointed Nuseibeh ancestors as the door keeper. Since then the family served as custodians of the Church, for already 1363 years by now.

According to family history, when Salah al-Din recaptured Jerusalem in 1191, he promised English King Richard the Lion Heart he would invite the Nuseibeh family to resume their role as custodians.

Since that time, the Judeh family, also Muslims, have been given the key for safekeeping overnight, but only the Nuseibehs serve as doorkeeper.

"It goes from father to son, from one generation to the next," Nuseibeh said. "I was 15 when I first opened the church. As I grew up I realized it is a big responsibility."

To a question from one of the journalists, whether Israeli government take care of Islamic shrines the way Nuseibeh cares for the Church, the guest said: - To be honest, no.

During their stay in Dagestan, the family visited Central Juma Mosque of Makhachkala, Holy Assumption Cathedral, graves of Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in ancient city of Derbent, fortress Narin-Kala a UNESCO heritage site.

Wajeeh Nuseibeh met with government officials, and delivered lecture for students and faculty of both the Institute of Theology and International Relations, and Dagestan State University.

Nuseibeh said he is deeply touched by the hospitality extended to him and called for close cooperation between both nations in the fields of education and cultural exchange.

Church of the Holy Sepulchreis the most revered shrine in Christendomand a major attraction for both pilgrims and tourists. A vast warren of chapels, tunnels and caves, with architectural remnants that date back to the 4th century, it spans a broad range of traditions, from the westernized cathedral of the Catholics to the icons of the Orthodox churches.


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